Sampling Custom Film and Wall Covering Projects

Sampling Custom Film and Wall Covering Projects

“Great – can you send me a sample?” That’s how about half our phone calls seem to end. A sample is probably the most valuable tool a designer has. You can talk all day, look at drawings, read material specs – even photos. But nothing compares to feeling and seeing a physical piece of the material itself. In other words, sampling custom film and wall covering projects can prove ideal.


Why is sampling so important? We occasionally have clients who due to time constraints want to leap right past this step on their project. But sampling is a lot more than a box to check. On custom projects especially, sampling is absolutely crucial. In this blog we break down why and give a behind-the-scenes look at our custom sampling process.

The Importance of Sampling Custom Film:


Your Computer is Lying To You

If you’ve received an elevation for a custom printed film or wall covering, you may have seen this note at the bottom: “Color Shown For Illustrative Purposes Only. Final Will Match Approved Sample.” If you’re not a designer, you might not know how drastically different color can look on screen versus printed. Or even from screen to screen.

Everyone’s computer monitors are calibrated to read slightly differently, and will change over time if not frequently recalibrated. Your screen might be slightly brighter, your coworker’s might have a blue tint. These variations matter very little for most work. In design however, it can matter a lot.

A physical sample of the final material ensures you are getting exactly what you are expecting. Not just color – but texture, glossiness, transparency, vibrancy. The sample is an opportunity to discover any unexpected issues – a color you loved on the website, actually is a little too saturated when you see it in person.

Context is Everything

It’s not just a matter of seeing and touching a sample for yourself. It’s being able to see it in context. A material you love in your office isn’t necessarily a material you still love in the final space in combination with the flooring, furniture and lighting. Having a physical sample means being able to ensure that the material works in harmony with everything else existing or going into the space.

Everything’s Different When 10 Feet High

A piece of wall mural art that looks pristine on a 12 inch computer monitor can look very different at full height. Small misalignments or mistakes that are nearly imperceptible on the screen become very obvious blown up 10x the size you were working at. Detail-oriented suddenly has a whole new level of meaning when prepping for large format printing. We custom print every sample at 100% scale so you can see what your art will look like at the final size.

Besides a good way to catch errors, full-scale samples are vital to quality check any pixel based art. We enhance images for print, but there are limits. And if your artwork is using photography, it will always be less crisp printed 10 feet high compared to 6 inch high on the computer. Sometimes in sampling it becomes apparent that the original art simply will not work at the desired height, in which case we will work with the client to find an alternative.

Getting Started

If you’re a designer, architect, or contractor it is useful to have a collection of samples to refer back to for future projects. For these clients, we offer a binder of our most popular materials and print processes. This is a great reference when choosing materials for future projects.

Standard Film

Not every project is an artistic masterpiece. Sometimes you just need a simple frosted band to give an office privacy. For cases like these that don’t have any custom aspects, we mail you a standard sample card. These are film cards with a 4.5 inch x 6 inch material swatch.

Custom Film Strike-Off’s

Custom printed window film projects require custom samples. In these cases, we provide a 12×12 piece of the custom printed material using the final artwork. Film properties can alter the look of the artwork in ways the clients might not expect, so we find it important to use the actual art in sampling rather than rely on standard stock samples for custom projects. This way you can be certain the colors and transparencies are exactly what you want.

Gradient Film

In order to see the full transition of a gradient, we print these custom gradient film samples at a 6 -inch-wide x full height sample of glass. This allows you to tape the film up where it’s going to install and confirm it’s what you want. Is it opaque or transparent where it needs to be?

Wall Covering

Wall murals commonly are our largest print projects, plus they tend to use jpegs and other pixel graphics frequently. As we discussed above, size and pixel art can frequently mean unexpected surprises for clients. Therefore we print our largest samples for these projects: a 24 inch x 36 inch rectangle of the material.

Sampling is a Must

In the sample stage, it is common for us to receive feedback from the client, make changes, and resample until it’s perfect for the project. We don’t want our prints to be “good enough,” we want you to love them. Sampling custom film is vital for that. To get your project (and samples) started – contact MetWest today!

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