VacuForm panels are plastic wall mountings that can be purchased, painted and hung in theatrical environments. They are a quick and easy way to handle some aspects of set design.
They are reasonably common in escape rooms. Some of the common textures that escape room players encounter are Egyptian tomb hieroglyphics, steampunk gears, and brick walls.
While I don’t think that VacuForm is the peak of set construction, I also see few issues with it when compared to regular drywall. It’s fairly affordable and quick to set up. If a designer finds the right panels for their set… I’m in favor of anything that raises quality and keeps timelines and budgets under control. It’s way better than seeing drywall in an Egyptian tomb.
That said, I have one suggestion:
When using VacuForm, ask yourself this one question, “Can the players reach this?”
Can I Reach It?
VacuForm has a lot of flex to it because it’s hollow. If you touch it, it will usually give… a lot. The result is a sharp break in immersion because your brain is telling you that the wall is made of stone or metal, but then it’s plastic.
The easy fix is to fill in the back to provide it more rigidity. It might still feel like plastic, but it won’t give way to my touch.
Touching hollow VacuForm is like a kid seeing Santa Claus in the mall parking lot getting into a 2002 Pontiac Aztek and driving away. Where the hell is his sleigh?