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PVC vs. Laminate

For our Pop Up Trade Show Displays, you can choose between laminate and PVC material for your graphics. But how do you know which material to choose? Let us help guide you in the right direction with this bit of explanation.  


At San Diego Sign Company, we do a cold-process laminate in which we print on titanium film and then cold roll the laminate on top. The protective laminate layer creates more of a matte finish, dulling the colors. Please note that laminate has a greater color shift than PVC, meaning the colors may not match. And with twice as much material, laminate is much more expensive.


PVC does not include a covering layer, allowing colors to look their very best. Our PVC is matte as well, but with just a slight luster. If you’re looking for vivid, bold colors for your graphics, PVC is an excellent choice. Also, PVC is printed with UV-curable ink whereas laminate is inkjet printed.

Though both materials have about the same thickness, PVC is a much more economical purchase over laminate. But, it all depends on what you’re looking for and what you like.

Now that you have a little bit more information to help you choose, let’s talk about defects that can happen. Occasionally, bending occurs and/or edges can ding on both materials which can be a bummer. Murphy’s Law states this will happen to you as soon as you take it out of the package. Believe me, this happens to me all the time when I get something new—I scuff my 2-week-old shoe on a concrete step or I drip oily pizza grease onto my brand-new white blouse. Oh, I get it.


Luckily, we have some uplifting news to share about how to handle your PVC or laminate panels. Here’s some simple care advice for when your package arrives and for the long run:


You’ll take it out the opposite way we package it up. So, first, take to the floor, table or any other flat surface so you can lay out the panels horizontally. Unwrap the bubble wrap, and gently roll out the panels on the flat surface. Remove the plastic sleeve (bag) from each panel. Don't rip them off because you'll want to keep the bubble wrap and plastic sleeves for later. (You’ll slip the plastics sleeves back onto the panels, just as you would if you collect(ed) comic books, hoping to keep them in “mint condition”.) Once the panels are laid out horizontally, you’re ready to hang them vertically, using the hanging hardware, onto your display of choice.



When your event is over and you’re ready to go home, pack up your materials in the opposite order you set up. If you’re reshipping the panels, make sure to wrap them back up in bubble wrap and put them back in the case or box they came in. For best results and longevity, always remember to handle with care.

By Victoria Rodriguez

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