Stickers vs Decals: 10 Key Differences You Need to Know

Stickers and decals are two popular ways of adding a personal and commercial touch to your belongings, whether it’s your car, storefront window, or water bottle.

However, despite their similar appearance, these two types of adhesive decorations have distinct differences that set them apart.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the 10 key differences between stickers and decals that you need to know in order to choose the best option for your needs.

So whether you’re a sticker fanatic or a decal enthusiast, read on to discover the nuances of these fun and creative embellishments.

1. Composition

Stickers and decals are composed of different materials that can impact their appearance, durability, and cost.

Stickers are typically made of vinyl or paper with an adhesive backing, while decals can be made from a range of materials such as vinyl, polyester, or even fabric.

Vinyl is the most common material for both stickers and decals, as it is durable, versatile, and can be printed with high-quality graphics.

Polyester is also a popular material for decals, as it offers superior clarity and a more professional look. In fact, fabric decals are becoming increasingly popular due to their eco-friendliness and versatility.

When it comes to composition, stickers, and decals differ in their printing methods too.

Stickers are often printed using digital or screen printing techniques, while decals can be printed using a variety of methods such as dye-sublimation or heat transfer.

2. Adhesive

The adhesive used on stickers is typically designed to be low-tack, which means they are easy to remove without damaging the surface they were applied to.

This makes them ideal for temporary or promotional purposes, like sticker giveaways or adding a fun touch to a product package.

Decals, on the other hand, are designed to be more permanent, with a stronger adhesive that makes them suitable for long-term use.

They are often used to brand company vehicles, display safety or instructional information, or add decorative elements to walls or windows.

3. Application method

Stickers are typically easier to apply, as they can be simply peeled and stuck onto a surface.

As just covered, they are ideal for quick, temporary applications or for those with minimal experience in applying decals.

Decals, on the other hand, can be more difficult to apply due to their larger size and more complex designs.

They often require a transfer paper or backing to apply the decal accurately to the desired surface.

This makes them a better choice for more permanent applications, such as wall murals or storefront signage, where precision and longevity are important.

Both stickers and decals should be applied to clean, dry surfaces for maximum adhesion. Either way, when applying stickers or decals, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

4. Size

stickers on laptop

Decals can be made in larger sizes, which makes them perfect for creating large-scale graphics or murals.

They can also be cut into custom shapes and designs, giving users more creative flexibility.

On the other hand, stickers are limited in size due to the materials used and the printing process.

While stickers can be made in larger sizes, the larger the sticker, the more difficult it can be to apply, and the more likely it is to peel or fade over time.

While decals are best used for brandings or promotional purposes, such as signs on storefront windows, or vehicles, stickers are a great choice for applications on personal items, such as laptops, water bottles, or phone cases.

5. Durability

Decals are generally more durable than stickers due to their thicker material and protective coating, which can resist damage from weather, UV exposure, and scratches.

This makes them a great choice for outdoor use or high-traffic areas where longevity is a top priority.

However, high-quality stickers can still offer a reasonable level of durability, especially if they are made from durable vinyl material and printed with UV-resistant inks.

Additionally, stickers can be laminated for extra protection against scratches and abrasions.

This makes them a good choice for indoor use or temporary applications where cost and flexibility are more important factors.

6. Customizability

Stickers are often produced in smaller quantities, making them ideal for personal use and small-scale promotions.

They can be easily customized to include unique designs, logos, and images, and can be printed in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes.

With the advancements in digital printing technology, stickers can be printed on a variety of materials, including paper, vinyl, and even fabric.

Decals, on the other hand, are typically produced in larger quantities and are more commonly used for commercial purposes.

While decals can be customized, they are often produced in limited colors and designs due to the nature of the manufacturing process.

However, some companies specialize in custom decal production, allowing for a wider range of options.

Ultimately, the level of customizability of stickers and decals depends on the chosen printing service.

7. Application surface

Stickers can be applied to a wide range of surfaces, including walls, laptops, notebooks, and other objects.

Decals are typically used on hard surfaces like glass, plastic, or metal, where they can securely adhere without the risk of peeling or lifting.

This makes decals ideal for use on vehicles, storefront windows, and other hard surfaces where they can be seen by a large audience.

Stickers, on the other hand, may not adhere as well to certain surfaces and may not be suitable for outdoor environments where they may be exposed to various elements.

8. Removability

When it comes to removal, stickers are generally easier to remove than decals.

Stickers typically use a less aggressive adhesive that allows for easier removal without leaving residue or damaging the surface they are applied to.

This again, makes stickers a better choice for temporary applications, such as promotional materials or decorations.

Decals, on the other hand, use a stronger adhesive that is meant to provide a more permanent bond.

While this can be an advantage in terms of durability, it can also make decals more difficult to remove. In fact, they may leave residue or damage the surface they are applied to if not removed carefully.

However, there are some types of decals that use a removable adhesive, such as wall decals, which can be easily removed without damaging the surface.

It is important to choose the right type of sticker or decal depending on the intended use and the level of longevity desired.

9. Intended use

window car sticker

Stickers, with their more aggressive adhesive, are typically better for use on curved or irregular surfaces such as water bottles, laptop covers, or car windows.

They can conform to the shape of the surface and adhere more securely.

Decals, on the other hand, are better for use on flat surfaces such as walls or furniture where the design will not need to wrap around a curve.

They tend to be larger and more detailed than stickers and can be used to create intricate designs or murals.

In addition to the surface type, intended use can also impact the material chosen for the sticker or decal.

For example, outdoor decals typically need to withstand weather and UV exposure, making vinyl a popular choice.

Indoor decals may not need to be as durable, allowing for the use of other materials such as paper.

10. Cost

When it comes to cost, stickers are generally more affordable than decals.

Stickers can be mass-produced at a lower cost per unit, making them a great option for businesses or individuals on a budget.

In addition, sticker designs can be simpler and use less material, further reducing costs.

Decals, on the other hand, tend to be larger and more intricate, requiring more material and a higher production cost.

However, it is important to note that the cost of stickers or decals can vary greatly depending on the material, design, and production method chosen.

Therefore, it is always a good idea to shop around and compare prices before making a decision.

Stickers vs Decals – The Verdict:

Stickers and decals are two different materials that serve different purposes, making it challenging to determine which one is better.

While stickers are usually more affordable than decals, the materials used and the application method can make a significant difference in their durability and customizability.

Stickers are commonly made from vinyl or paper with a low-tack adhesive, which makes them easy to remove without damaging the surface.

Decals, on the other hand, are designed to be more permanent and are often used for branding, instructional, or decorative purposes.

They are made from a range of materials, including polyester and fabric, and require more precision in application.

Ultimately, the choice between stickers and decals depends on the intended purpose, the desired level of customizability, and the surface on which they will be applied.