what is the difference between a sticker and a decal?
A question that we get asked a lot of the time is what is the difference between a sticker and a decal? The truth is that there is no defined answer, as different people, businesses and websites use these terms interchangeably. Online searches can be confusing and are often had to distinguish between the three. But we can begin to clarify the true differences with a quick online search in the New Oxford Dictionary. This will help to break down the definitions into something that can be separated.
Sticker (n): an adhesive label or notice, generally printed or illustrated.
Label (n): a small piece of paper, fabric, plastic, or similar material attached to an object and giving information about it.
Decal (n): a design prepared on special paper for transfer onto another surface such as glass, porcelain, or metal.
This shows that the items are all linked closely. A sticker can be a label, and a label with adhesive backing is also known as stickers. At Sticker Time we define the term “sticker” as our custom vinyl lettering and bumper stickers, They can also be adhesive graphics, die cut vinyl letters and wheelie bin stickers. All sorts of stickers are flooding the market.
The more heavy-duty stickers are printed on vinyl as this incorporates UV stabilisers to avoid fading in the sun and are laminated so that water and wet weather does not affect the adhesive or integrity of the custom vinyl decals you have purchased
Labels are often the term used to describe the adhesive products
Labels are often the term used to describe the adhesive products that are printed to papers or foils, things that are not suitable for outdoor use. They are not weather resistant, with no UV stabilisers and are non-laminated. These include address labels, shipping labels and foil seals. They are generally paper-based, not vinyl, and supplied on rolls instead of individually or sheets.
Their uses include packaging, paperwork, items of clothing, and other products which are not intended for use outside. Decals are often referring to adhesive graphics which are used outdoors, or in places where they are exposed to weather or other harsh conditions. They include wall decals, which needs to be washed every so often, so they are made from vinyl so that they do not deteriorate during the process.
The New Oxford Dictionary defines them as something that is transferred from one medium to another, which is true for many decals such as those used in model building, or waterslide ceramic decals, or transfers used in tile and other ceramics.
The confusion between stickers and decals
The confusion between stickers and decals comes from the vinyl cut lettering and adhesive graphics that are known as decals. This is because they are transferred from the sheet to the prospective medium, therefore they are a type of decal. A traditional sticker is removed from the backing, whereas a vinyl decal is transferred from the masking sheet to a smooth surface.
This is why we refer to vinyl cut lettering and graphics with a masking sheet as decals, although they also fall under multiple other categories. This is why the term vinyl cut stickers are also thrown around referring to the same items.
Although this is somewhat of a drawn-out answer to the above question, it somewhat distinguishes the slight differences between the terms stickers, labels and decals. When you are looking for something specific, especially for your business, it is best to speak directly with our friendly team here at Sticker Time, because our expert staff will be able to point you in the right direction in terms of materials and sticker type so that you get the desired results. The material will directly affect the sticking of the label to various surfaces.
Paper stickers for one can not withstand the elements, so they will deteriorate with exposure to the rain and wet, and they also lack the UV stabilisers which will cause them to fade if in direct sunlight for extended periods.
On the other hand, custom vinyl lettering and adhesive graphics are decals which can be used effectively outdoors, such as for bumper stickers and shopfront lettering. No matter your desired design, we have the answers to ensure that you get exactly the right product for your needs.