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PVC Decorative Film VS PET Film – Which is Better? Which Should You Choose?

PVC Decorative Film VS PET Film


There are two well-known types of plastic that are taking cover the industry of wallpapers. Both PVC decorative film and PET film have something to bring to the table. If you are interested in renovating your home with some fancy wallpaper, we highly recommend you check out what these two particular wallpaper films can deliver.

To help you along the way, we will be taking a more in-depth look at what PVC decorative film and PET film can bring to the table. How does the two plastic types fair against each other and what are the particular advantages and disadvantages in their application.

Knowing the key differences between the two should give you a clearer understanding of which decorative film you should use. So, without further ado let us help you get a definitive answer as to which is better: PVC decorative film or PET film?

What is PVC Decorative Film?

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a plastic known for its rigidity and durability. PVC wallpaper is designed for longevity. PVC decorative is also known for its amazing heat resistance which makes it another good option for outdoor use. PVC is often found in pipes, hoses, and roofing materials which can give you a good idea of how robust PVC material can be. Now, imagine that toughness with the added flexibility and versatility while also being available in a wide variety of color and design patterns. That is what a PVC decorative film can offer.

A PVC decorative film is relatively new in the market. It is advertised as an eco-friendly material. We have already noted about its versatility in its uses and we were not understating that fact. PVC decorative film can be used not only for wallpapers, but also with flooring, furniture, appliances, and steel – to name a few. PVC decorative film can also be applied to a wide variety of wood surfaces such as plywood, fiberboard, MDF, etc.

The Advantages of PVC Decorative Film:

PVC material offers a lot of benefits to the table. We will be going through all the strengths of this material to give you an idea of what to expect and to give you a better idea if PVC decorative film will fit your specific needs.

  • PVC is Incredibly Versatile

PVC is applied in a wide variety of products and is a common fixture in various industries, not only can it be found in the wallpaper market, it is also seen in the construction business. PVC plastic is an excellent all-around material and it is not that expensive to produce which makes it a cost-effective way to renovate or spruce up your interior décor.

You can also find PVC decorative film almost everywhere as it has become one of the staples in this industry. Because of its availability, you can also find PVC decorative films in a wide variety of designs as it is a print-friendly material.

  • PVC is Cheap

Manufacturing PVC is relatively cheap. This also means that PVC decorative film is way more affordable in comparison to other wallpaper material. This lower price range does not mean lower quality though. Far from it! PVC wallpaper are known to be extremely durable and is the go-to decorative film in most construction tasks.

  • PVC is Tough

Polyvinyl chloride material is also sought-after for its surprising level of durability. PVC decorative film is considerably denser than other types of wallpapers. This level of durability also makes PVC decorative film highly resistant to impacts and deformation that is a common problem with most plastic-based wallpapers. The extra thickness provided by PVC allows for it to retain its smooth form even if it absorbs some bumps here and there.

PVC material is also vaunted for its excellent tensile strength. Standard plastic will usually buckle and warp under a certain amount of pressure. This is not the case with PVC plastic. A flexible PVC material can provide a tensile strength of up to 1,000 to 3,625 PSI which is top-tier in the wallpaper or decorative film market.

In addition, PVC material is incredibly resistant to chemicals and alkalies. You can clean PVC decorative film with cleaning solution without worrying about the chemical damaging or degrading the overall quality of the film.

PVC Material Shortcomings:

While PVC certainly brings a lot of advantages to the table. It also comes with certain drawbacks that you should be aware of if ever you plan on using PVC-based decorative films.

  • Health Concerns in the Manufacturing Industries

This one is solely focused on the development and manufacturing aspect of PVC. Due to the chemical composition of PVC, the method of manufacturing must first meet certain safety regulations. The reason for this is that the chemical compounds that may be emitted during production can release noxious gases that may be hazardous to one’s health.

The good news here is that these risks can be easily mitigated by providing a well-ventilated workspace for those who are manufacturing PVC and by wearing proper PPE gear.

  • Sustainability Issues with PVC Manufacturing

As countries steadily and gradually shift towards a more sustainable and eco-friendlier route when it comes to social and business strategies, PVC will definitely take a hit in the next couple of years. Fact of the matter is that PVC is not carbon neutral. As companies shift towards recyclable and eco-friendly products, PVC may see its stocks go down.

However, many PVC manufacturers are already placing steps in order to adapt to the changing industry. Expect PVC to stick around as it starts to innovate itself to meet the environment-friendly requirements that are being imposed in the industry.

Despite the drawbacks found in PVC, it is still one of the most well-rounded material in the construction industry and it won’t be going away anytime soon. PVC decorative film takes all the strengths of PVC and applies it into the wallpaper construction. This leads to a decorative film that is not just extremely tough and resistant to both impacts and temperature, but also versatile in its presentation.

What is PET Plastic?

PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) plastic is the most commonly used type of plastic in thermoforming. PET plastic is incredibly flexible and can be formed into various shapes and sizes depending on the application when heated. Once it cools off though, it provides excellent durability and flexibility that few plastic materials can match up.

PET is similar to PVC in terms of application. It is not just used in creating decorative film as it is often used in manufacturing other consumer products such as food container and packages. When it comes to PET films, it is commonly used in solvent-based coating applications and printing. PET plastic can also be used in creating face shields and masking applications. It is also common to find PET film in print labels for other products and produce.


The Advantages of PET Plastic Film:

As with PVC film decorations, films that feature PET plastic also comes with some impressive advantages that elevate it from typical wallpaper/film products.

  • PET Plastic is Also Versatile

While we are specifically tackling PET plastic’s application in the decorative film market – we cannot just skip over its fantastic versatility. PET plastic can be thermoformed into a wide variety of shapes and applications. PET plastic is also exceptionally lightweight while also being quite robust that it can easily withstand impacts and environmental factors, making it an excellent decorative film for outdoor application.

  • PET Plastic is Durable

Similar to PVC, PET plastic is also rigid and dense which provides it top-notch durability in comparison to most decorative film materials. PET also does not warp or curl. It can stay perfectly flat after being unrolled even without the use of adhesive. PET films are also UV-resistant which gives them excellent longevity. However, this quality does not mean PET film is the perfect choice for outdoor use, as you will find out later in this article.

  • PET Film Has an Exceptionally Smooth Surface

Unlike other materials used in making decorative film or wallpapers, PET does not require any polishing of finishing to give it its smooth and supple texture. PET, after thermoforming, will have neatly sealed edges. Since PET won’t require extra steps in regards to finishing, manufacturers can save a significant amount of time and avoid those additional wastes.

  • PET Film Has an Exceptionally Sharp Detail

PET plastic, when being used to manufacture decorative film, can be designed to have a top-notch opacity and clarity with its white point. This gives printed PET film to have some exceptionally vibrant and detailed designs that few other decorative film materials can offer.

PET Plastic Shortcomings:

As with PVC material, PET plastic also has its fair share of limitations in its application in the decorative film industry. Here are some of the drawbacks that you should be aware of when it to PET films.

  • PET Film is Suitable for Indoor-Use Only

PET decorative film is designed to be displayed up-close and indoors. While PET plastic is known for its exceptional UV-resistance, the printing of pattern and other designs are optimized for smaller frames only, such as window -sized display. If you are looking for a substantially large design that requires excellent detail, it is best to stick with PVC-based decorative films.

  • Printer Compatibility is Rather Limited

Because of the level of detail in patterns and designs that PET film can offer, this material is only compatible with certain types of inks. PET film is compatible with IV, Eco-Solvent, and Solvent inks. The smooth surface that PET films have results in far more detail that you will surely appreciate up close. However, if a different ink is used in the printing process, then don’t expect it deliver the same level of quality detail.

PVC VS PET Decorative Film – Blow by Blow Comparison

Now, let us take a more in-depth look and compare the specifics between PVC and PET decorative films. This should help better compose a clearer image about the differences between the two and as to which type of decorative film is better suited to what you need.

  • Eco-Friendliness

One of the biggest factors to consider here is with the environmental effects of both plastic materials. Both PVC and PET-based films will both contain a considerable percentage of oil. However, PVC is known to contain up to 60% salt which is a highly renewable compound. This renewability gives PVC an initial edge in this category. That said, PVC-based material is still in its infancy in regards to recycling. The reason for this is that most municipalities in the U.S. do not accept Grade 3 plastic when it comes to recycling.

PET, however, is known to be the most recyclable type of plastic in the world. This also applicable to PET decorative films as well. In comparison to where PVC is at in recyclability, PET is certainly at the forefront of this movement.

       Round 1: We have to give PET the nod here as it has proven itself to focus on being environment-friendly more so, than other plastic-based materials – PVC included.

  • Pricing

While PVC started making its mark for its durability and cost-effective production, it seems that PET is quickly gaining up to it in this category as well. PET decorative films are far more affordable compared to PVC decorative films. Overall, most PET products, such as decorative films are at least 20% less expensive than its PVC counterparts.

      Round 2: PET is once again the clear victor here.

  • Durability

Both PVC and PET are excellent for thermoforming and can deliver virtually equal durability and tensile strength. Both are also extremely resistant to weathering and temperature.

      Round 3: Both PVC and PET are on equal footing in this aspect, so we will reward this round to both for a majority draw.

  • Aesthetic Qualities

The smooth surface of PET film makes for an excellent canvas if intricate patterns and designs are your goals. However, this also limits the size that PET film can provide as designs are best suited for window to door-sized frames. As a decorative film, PET is still an excellent option as long as you use simple and abstract designs.

However, if you are looking for a more personalized and specific design for walls, you cannot go wrong with choosing PVC decorative films as it can retain the detail of the imagery even in an exceptionally large canvas.

       Round 4: This one is a rather difficult round to judge as it is subjective to what an individual need. We will pass the decision-making for this round to you, the reader.

Final Thoughts

Both PVC and PET decorative film have their own specific strengths and weaknesses. However, PET is certainly gaining traction in the industry and is becoming the standard material in Western regions due to certain restrictions imposed by their governments in regards to protecting the environment. At the moment though, PVC decorative film still offers the more well-balanced and safer option. Expect to PET film to overtake the industry in the near future though.

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