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Ask the Expert: How Do I Choose the Right Film for My Wall?

This simple question comes with a complicated, but manageable, answer: "It depends." The answer is based on many factors such as the substrate type, texture of the substrate, paint type, exposure conditions, durability, size of the graphic and how the graphics are printed.

3M details a process you can use to choose the right film (or films) for a wall in 3M™ Instruction Bulletin 5.37 - "A Guide to Understanding and Applying Graphics to Common Smooth and Textured Wall Surfaces". This bulletin outlines most scenarios you will come across. It also explains the use of the wall test kit, which is the most important piece in determining what film to use. Following is a quick summary.

Wall Test Kit

  1. Order the 3M Wall Test Kit through your local 3M sales representative or distributor.
  2. Wipe the wall with a cloth, such as the Scotch-Brite™ High Performance Cleaning Cloth.
  3. Make a measured reference guide to pull the film at the recommended rate.
  4. Apply three samples of the same film to the wall.
  5. Using a rivet brush, with firm pressure, make three circular motions to firmly adhere the film strip. Repeat this step with each sample.
  6. Wait a full 15 minutes before testing.
  7. Using the spring scale, pull at a rate of 1 inch per 5 seconds, and record the results.
  8. Refer to the Interpreting Scale Values table (page 13 in Instruction Bulletin 5.37) to select the appropriate film.

Following this process should increase your ability to provide the correct film for the wall. This, in turn, can help you earn greater confidence from your customers – so they know who to turn to for their next project.

Film test strips are used to help determine the appropriate film to use on a wall.

For more information on graphic materials, visit or locate a 3M distributor.