Material selection is fundamental to the POP display design process. Material options should be carefully considered at the very beginning of the design process because of the downstream implications that materials have on display economics, visual impact, functionality, manufacturability, and a variety of other factors. Welcome to Part II of our blog series on the most common materials used in making POP displays. In Part I of our series, we discussed acrylic and PVC. If you missed it, you can check it out here. Today we’ll discuss wood.
Wood is a broad category so we’ll highlight the most common material options:
Solid Wood– Solid wood is a natural timber product that is milled from trees. It is different from engineered wood or wood composite products such as MDF which we will discuss below. There are lots of species of wood, including less expensive softwoods like pine as well as hardwoods like mahogany.
To make the Mr. Boddington counter display shown below we used solid pine with a dark stain and black edge banding. We incorporated brass rods and direct printed the gold logo on this wood retail display.
There are many different options for painting or staining solid wood as well as more interesting finishes such as the example below where we torched the wood and then applied a clear coat.
Plywood– Unlike solid wood, plywood is an engineered material made by gluing thin strips of wood veneer together. Plywood is strong and lighter weight than some other types of wood composite materials like MDF, and it can be finished by painting, staining, or applying a laminate.
We made the goTenna endcap retail display below using unfinished plywood for the back panel to achieve a raw, rugged, outdoor look to match the décor of REI stores.
In most cases, however, we use a more finished plywood material such as China Birch or Baltic Birch. These types of plywood can be purchased unfinished so they can be painted, stained or finished with a high-pressure laminate, for example. They can also be purchased pre-finished which provides a nice, smooth surface that is ideal for screen printing or directed printing graphics like we did on the Blu3 display shown below.
Birch plywood can also be easily combined with solid wood or other materials. In the counter display shown below we used pine plywood for the base, solid pine for the frame, and birch plywood for the back panel.
Another example of combining birch plywood with solid wood is the beer display we manufactured below for Estrella Damm.
MDF– MDF stands for Medium Density Fiberboard and is an example of a wood composite material that is commonly used to make POP displays. It is stronger, denser, and more expensive than particle board, but cheaper and heavier than plywood. MDF can be purchased raw, but it is more common with a black or white melamine or laminate finish, both of which have smooth surfaces and are excellent for direct printing. As an example, we made the dress display shown below using MDF with a white melamine finish and direct printed graphics.
MDF can also be finished with a wide range of custom laminates to achieve many different looks. We made the Minted MDF retail display shown below using MDF and applied a premium custom laminate.
Bamboo– Bamboo is technically a woody grass. Bamboo plywood is another example of an engineered product that is great for making bamboo retail displays. Although it is more expensive than traditional plywood, it is incredibly strong, beautiful, and one of the most environmentally friendly materials available. An example of a bamboo plywood display is the Coola cart we made below.
A second bamboo example is the Coola sunscreen dispenser cover shown below. This example shows bamboo plywood’s beautiful and interesting edges and the way it can be laser engraved to achieve natural looking permanent branding.
Although a number of other derivative wood products exist, solid wood, plywood, MDF, and bamboo plywood represent an excellent range of materials to be considered in the POP display design process.