The Dos and Don’ts of Environmental Graphics Installation

By Phase 3
February 15, 2024


Our recent post about environmental graphic design (EGD for short) was just the tip of the iceberg. EGD is a discipline that integrates various design elements, including signage, graphics, wayfinding, and architectural features, to create a pleasing and branded experience within a physical space. The primary goal of EGD is to make an environment more functional, informative, and engaging for the people who use the space. EGD can be used in any interior or exterior public space, including shopping centers, healthcare facilities, museums, schools, parks, and office buildings. The post detailed the design process for EGD in an office environment. In this article, the Phase 3 environmental graphics team offers practical do’s and don’ts for the installation process because, as we know, execution is equally important as ideation. Let’s start with the all-important site survey.

The Site Survey

A site survey is an in-person visit to the space to be changed by the design and installation team.

  • Do Schedule a Site Survey.
    This is critical. The installation team must see the site to understand the necessary installation elements. Just providing the measurements of a site is not enough information. Without a site survey, installers may not understand the unique characteristics of the space. In our experience, we always find a surprise or two during the site survey which, if not addressed, could result in a delay. Declining a site survey is ill-advised as the cost for any reprints or additional trip charges because of mistakes that could have been avoided is the client’s responsibility.
  • Do Schedule More than One Site Survey if Needed.

    For a space that’s under construction, a site survey may be done before the design and production phase and another again before installation. It may also be necessary to schedule several site visits if the space changes due to construction.

  • Do Think Like a DIY Installer.

    It can be helpful to walk through the installation area like you are installing the elements yourself. Ask yourself what tools and items you would need. What would you do to prepare? What furniture or building elements are in the way? This will lead you to inform your installers better.

  • Don't Forget to Include the Designer. 

    Consulting with the designer during a walk-through can help with the extra touches they've added to the design work with the space. This is especially critical for projects that include 3D elements or lighting.

  • Do Provide All Pertinent Details to Your Installer

    After the site visit, submit all appropriate details to the installer. These details should include:

     - Measurements of the space, including height

     - Photos or videos of the space

     - Substrate, condition, and texture of the surfaces

     - Location of the space (address, floor, room, or office number)

     - Access codes to the building

     - Load-in location/door/dock number

     - Elevator access information

     - Availability of equipment and supplies like a lift or ladder

     - Graphics or elements to be removed

    Once the site visit is complete and your installers have all the pertinent information, you can schedule the installation day and make preparations. Following this next list of dos and don'ts will help the installation go smoothly without delay or extra expense.

Preparing for Installation Day
  • Don't Wait too Long to Prepare All Surfaces for Installation

    Before installation, ensure all surfaces are clean, smooth, properly primed, painted, and cured. We recommend gypsum board finish level five. Too much surface texture impedes the stickiness of adhesives and will make installation challenging.

    Surface preparation includes:

     - Repairing holes, loose wallboard joints, chipped or peeling paint, or any other damage to like-new condition.

     - Cleaning surfaces before priming and painting.

     - Priming surfaces with a primer that is compatible with the top paint coat. Two coats may be required.

     - Painting surfaces with a quality semi-gloss topcoat. Do not use matte paint or paint with silicone, graffiti-resistant, or texturizing additives.

    The goal is to achieve a good bond between the substrate, primer, and paint so that the graphic adhesive has a smooth surface to adhere to. 

    But most importantly, do not wait too long for this step. We recommend a minimum of 14 days and preferably 30 days for new paint to cure before installation. 

  • Do Clean the Installation Space 

    Cleaning includes not just the installation surfaces but the entire environment. Graphic installation may be one of the last steps of a new construction or renovation. New signs or graphics need to be installed in an area free of construction dust or dirt.

  • Do Make Sure All Stakeholders Know About Installation Day

    Installers are professionals and are accustomed to working in public spaces. Installation can occur during business hours if you rope off the space and inform everyone using the area.

  • Don't Rush the Installation Process

    The installation time depends on the size of the project. Simple installations can take a few hours, and large projects can take weeks.

  • Do Be Clear About Your Timeline with Your Installer

    To ensure the installation process runs smoothly, it's helpful for the installer to understand your timeline from beginning to end. This helps avoid costly delays. The team also needs to know when you have scheduled construction or permit walk-throughs so that they can complete the work and clean up the area.

  • Don't Plan to Use Adhesive Graphics on Textured Surfaces

    Some surfaces will not accept adhesives. These surfaces include raw or unpainted wood, textured plastic substrates, substrates with poor bonds between paint and the underlying structure, substrates with multiple layers of paint, rubber, silicone, and flexible plastics.

  • Don't Use No/Zero or Low VOC Paints on Graphic Surfaces

    These types of paint reduce the performance of adhesive vinyl. Our experts suggest using High VOC paint instead. If you use Low or Zero VOC paints, your installers may need to repaint the area or take extra steps to install the graphics, delaying your timeline.

  • Don't Forget About the Weather

    For exterior projects, it's essential to consider the elements for installation. Not just rain and snow but cold weather can affect how adhesives perform. Chilly days are not ideal for installing many permanent graphics.

The Phase 3 EGD team helps businesses experience benefits beyond adding a splash of color to their walls. Our exceptional comprehensive environmental design approach collaborates with clients to articulate a clear message that informs, aligns, and educates internal and external audiences through physical spaces. The results are engaging, interactive, and immersive. Best of all, the results are brand-right.


But design is just the beginning of the process. Installation is a critical phase. When the installation team is involved from the beginning, your project is much more likely to succeed. Contact us today for more information about how Phase 3 can transform your business space.