Corner Guards are used to protect finished wall corners from damage, especially in high traffic facilities like healthcare and hospitality. But there is a large range of available types so in this guide we will break down all the main types of corner guards, lengths, and widths and explain the benefits and main applications of each.
Not all corners need corner guards. Only facilities that have a lot of traffic, specifically with carts, gurneys, luggage, wheelchairs or other hard objects moving through the halls need corner guards. And they need them because the time and the cost for repairing a finished wall is very high.
If a finished corner is damaged the drywall needs to be repaired and then the wall paint matched and then painted. If it was a hard hit the corner bead might also have to be replaced in which case all the drywall from the floor to the ceiling would need to be patched.
Because corner guards are made from vinyl or plastic, they resist dents and scratches. They’re not painted so there is nothing to chip off.
While you can get corner guards in many different materials, most corner guards are either some kind of plastic or steel. And among those plastic is by far the most common.
The three main types of plastic corner guards are polycarbonate, vinyl, and non-pvc.
Polycarbonate Corner Guards are smooth and shiny, very strong but show scratches more than vinyl because of the lack of texture. They are available as clear or colored. They are the least expensive option.
There are three adhesive options: self-stick tape, screws, or nails. Keep in mind that if you use a clear polycarbonate corner guard you will see the tape through the corner guard.
Clear corner guards are usually used for corners that need protection but whose interior design is less important. They are regularly used for retail and back of house applications.
Colored polycarbonate corner guards are used in similar scenarios to clear but because they can hide their fasteners (because it’s not clear) and match paint colors, they can be used in other areas where the interior design is important. In addition to retail and back of house they are also frequently used in hotels and hospitality.
Vinyl corner guards have the same strength as polycarbonate but have a haircell texture that accomplishes two things: first, it hides scratches better than polycarbonate and second, it gives the corner guard a more matte finish, drawing less attention to itself.
The two most common types of vinyl corner guards are standard and surface mount retainer corner guards.
Standard vinyl corner guards are similar to polycarbonate in their shape and adhesive option (tape, screws, or nails). Because of the surface finish
Surface mount retainer corner guards have two additional features: an aluminum retainer and end caps. The aluminum retainer is secured to the wall with screws and then the vinyl cover is snapped on over it. If needed, end caps are then added to the top and bottom of the corner guard to give it an elegant, finished look.
The benefits of this type of corner guard is that it allows for the covers to easily change if they are damaged or the paint on the adjoining walls change. The cover sits off of the aluminum and thus provides space for cover to flex when there is a strong impact.
Surface mount retainer corner guards are used in hospitality, healthcare, and senior living facilities.
Some projects and facilities require PVC-free products and so corner guards are available in PVC-free material. The most common material is PETG. All of our corner guards are available in PETG upon request.
Corner guards are available in widths from ¾” to 3”. The width you need depends on two factors: aesthetics and traffic.
First, the width of your corner guard depends on how much you want it as part of the design of your space. The smaller the width, the less you will see it and vice versa.
Second, the more traffic and specifically the more traffic with carts and gurneys the higher the probability of damage is and the higher the probability of wider area of damage over which you need to protect. Thus the more traffic, the larger width you should purchase.
Corner guards are often sold in 4’ and 8’ lengths and as with width, the length is determined by both aesthetics and utility. Some designers will want full height (from floor or baseboard to ceiling) corner guards and some will prefer to have them terminate at 4’.
Regarding utility, whether you need the top half of the corner protect depends on whether you have the types of traffic (e.g. coat racks) that are tall enough to damage at that height.
The other length consideration is the long package charge that Fedex and UPS have added in the past few years. Any package 48” and over and 96” and over have additional charges. In order to avoid this charge we often ask customers if they would prefer us to cut the corner guard to 44” or 92”. In most cases this will not be a problem because they are frequently cut down before installation to allow for the 4” of baseboard at the bottom.
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