Signbox partnered with Papergrahics to understand and discuss common concerns around incorrectly specified interior décor projects. This article explores the subject of digitally printed wallcoverings and fire ratings
Realising the creative vision of its clients is at the heart of everything that market-leading signage and interiors specialists, Signbox UK, does. Working closely with architects, designers and specifiers to create truly amazing bespoke installations for wayfinding, décor, branding solutions, environmental graphics and digitally printed wall coverings, the business is a proud advocate of the endless creative possibilities available using digitally printable interior décor products, such as digital wallcoverings, which traditional methods of print just can’t achieve. However, direct experience has highlighted a large gap in knowledge and understanding of the legal and practical application requirements of these products and Signbox is keen to promote awareness and understanding among its PSP peers, main contractors and stakeholders in the design & build process. Digitally printed wallcoverings and fire ratings need to be considered as a subject together at the project outset.
Steve Senior, Business Development Director for Signbox explains “We’re a conscientious contractor, and we often see projects awarded to competitors where we can clearly see that the products used are not fit for purpose, and even more concerning, may not follow the correct regulations for wallcovering installations. We aim to help with the awareness for architects, designers & specifiers to give them the relevant information, and promote best practice.”
“We’re working closely with Papergraphics, who are leading the way in digitally printable interior products with their Digimura and Muramour digitally printable wallcoverings. They have spent time with our teams to really support us with product and technical understanding, to ensure we’re at the forefront of this important issue”.
“What many PSPs and installers don’t realise is that they are responsible for ensuring that the products they print and are then installed for wallcovering use, are compliant with building regulations. Everyone within the supply chain shares in that responsibility.”
So what is it that people need to be looking for?
Wallcoverings come under the Construction Product Regulations EN 15102:2007+A1:2011 and must conform to the Building Regulations Approved Document B ‘Fire Safety’. This means they need to be fire rated to EN13501-1 (Euroclass) standard when printed and installed.
To achieve the correct fire rating, EN 13501, the wallcovering has to undergo specific independent testing, which assesses the product performance in relation to smoke release, flame spread and flaming droplets produced. Steve explains “The testing process deals with the wallcovering product itself – which can be tested either printed, or unprinted (something to look out for!), the surface substrate that the products is adhered to, and the specific adhesive product used, to produce an overall performance rating. It’s the complete system that is tested and fire rated.”
“We see contractors competing for projects we are bidding for, specifying and using products that may have a different fire rating, but these aren’t necessarily correct for using on wall installations… The product that competitors install may be fire rated correctly but once this product is printed, paste applied and then installed, it is possible that the fire rating may fall foul of the requirements that the client may have expected. Many projects specify the fire rating for the wall covering but simply adding print will invalidate this rating. “Signbox uses Papergraphics’ Digimura and Muramour wallcoverings, as their entire range achieves the required Euroclass EN 13501 fire rating standard, even when printed, and are all CE certified with a Declaration of Performance, making them suitable for use in domestic, commercial and public interiors”.
Essentially, the key thing to look for is the CE Declaration of Performance (which relates to its reaction to fire (RtF); heavy metals; formaldehyde & vinyl chloride monomers).
“But be careful” Steve continues, “as Papergraphics pointed out to us that an exact replica of a CE mark logo has been in circulation and stands for ‘Chinese Export’.” It really is a minefield.
When installed correctly, a true digital wallcovering that meets all of the correct building safety requirements can truly reinvigorate a space to bring colour, individuality and beautiful depth of design to otherwise under-utilised and potentially bland spaces. It has the ability to enhance an interior environment to the benefit of occupants, whether it be for the purpose of reinforcing a brand and image, or simply to make an indoor space that much more exciting and interesting to the eye.
Is this a new issue/ have the regulations changed?
The fact is that the standards have not fundamentally changed but recent events around fire safety and standards have highlighted that it’s not the product safety standard that matters; it is the application. With the advancement of digital printing technology, it’s also the case that PSPs are increasingly entering the interiors market and need to adopt the correct standards that have always been adhered to by ‘interiors companies’ and ‘traditional wallpaper manufacturers’.
What about when the UK leaves the EU?
An interesting question that came out of recent discussions was “what happens after Brexit”, the answer is that nothing will change. The ISO / EN standard may revert back to BS but will remain the same standard.
We’d like to see more PSPs joining in our call for the printing industry to set the bar high for standards to be adhered to at specification level through to install. We would also be happy for anyone to contact us to clarify any of the points about installation and the standards for different products. To understand more about digitally printed wall coverings and fire ratings please do talk to our sales team. Also see some additional detail https://www.signbox.co.uk/resource/digital-wall-covering/