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How do we make our outdoor prints weatherproof? Thoughts from the Product Guy

It’s really difficult to set expectations when you’re selling a brand new product concept online.  Before COVID we were displaying our prints at various shows, or inviting folks to come and see them in our backyard/showroom but that opportunity quickly went away. Many people expect to see something like a canvas-wrapped print when they open their package and are surprised when they see something very different.

So, when a potential customer emails us to ask a somewhat technical question about our weatherproof outdoor prints, they land with our Product Guy.  And since our Product Guy is really just a frustrated scientist, or professor, that potential customer gets a thorough answer.  A VERY THOROUGH ANSWER!  I thought it was a good idea to share a recent exchange as we  receive many questions from folks who are trying to understand how our unique prints are produced and why.

Question:

I couldn’t really tell from the descriptions or the images on your site, but are the prints mounted on some sort of a solid back so that they stay flat? Or if not, how are they kept flat and solid for outdoor hanging purposes, since they aren’t in frames for protection?

Answer:

Our artwork is printed on a thin, flexible ABS plastic sheet with lightfast, UV-cured inks. When we were designing the product, we looked at using both rigid materials (like a mounted poster) and actual frames, but neither was practical.  It was just too expensive to produce and to ship.  We needed a solution that not only remained durable and held its shape on a fence all year round, but also one that enabled us to ship anywhere across Canada for free – regardless of size.  So, we chose a flexible material that can be shipped flat or rolled, reducing costs for ourselves and our customers.

Our prints install with an aluminum screw device called a standoff.  There are many reasons we chose to use standoffs, their contemporary look is really appealing and while they support the artwork, they don’t take it over.  But the coolest thing about this approach to framing is that the artwork doesn’t mount flush to the fence surface (as it would with a frame) so moisture, insects, leaves, etc. will not accumulate and cause rot or damage to the fence.  They actually allow the fence to “breathe”.

We chose to use ABS plastic intentionally – this is the same plastic used in plumbing pipes and Lego blocks.  If you’ve ever stepped on a Lego block, you’ll know just how durable they are!  Many cheaper plastics will crack in the cold, but our prints are designed to stay outside in all seasons and weather conditions for years. I’ve had prints up for five years now and they still look great.  This is why we’re very confident in offering our five-year replacement guarantee.

It was also important to make installation easy for our customers.  We created a template that is the same size as the artwork.  A customer simply tapes the template to the fence, drills through the appointed pilot holes for each standoffs and voila! You’ve got a perfectly placed print.

And you’ve just taken your patio decor to the next level!

John, Product Guy, Off the Wall On the Fence