Custom-printed decals and stickers present quick and easy ways to transform most solid surfaces. They can impart critical information, bright colors, or beautiful design. Stickers and decals can be used indoors or outdoors, and both are quite durable. The best quality decals and stickers are made from either vinyl or polyester material. Both come with an applied permanent adhesive and a slick paper backing that protects the adhesive until you remove the backing to affix your design.
Stickers and decals are pretty much the same things, right? Not quite. You may order the wrong option for your needs if you don't know the difference. That said, understanding the difference between decals vs. stickers is essential to your satisfaction. Yet, Google searches turn up a dizzying array of conflicting opinions and labels that will likely confuse you further. Not to worry — Printmoz to the rescue!
So, to finally address the difference between stickers and decals. Stickers come with two layers, and cut stickers and decals come with three. It seems a small difference, but it has big repercussions!
Keep reading for a full breakdown of vinyl decals, decorative stickers, and vinyl cut stickers!
A decorative sticker is made up of two layers:
The backing paper protects and covers the adhesive.
The design you will affix to another surface has adhesive on the back.
Decals are made up of three layers:
Transport paper on the back that protects and covers the adhesive
The design you will affix to another surface comes with adhesive on the back
Now, you can see that most experts say not all labels or decals are stickers, but not all stickers are decals. A decal is a sticker with an added, transparent transfer film over the top of the sticker portion.
Don't let the common term “decal sticker” confuse you! So many people are unsure of the difference between decals and vinyl stickers that vendors use both terms to attract customers, thereby adding to the confusion.
To better understand the differences between decals vs. stickers, let's first thoroughly investigate their similarities. Stickers and wall decals both share the following qualities:
They come with the adhesive they need to stick to most solid surfaces
They are highly customizable with our free online design tool
They can be made of paper or plastic, but the best are printed on vinyl
They can be made up of any combination of colors, images, and text
They can be cut into custom shapes
They can be used to make additions and edits to existing vinyl banners
They are the quickest and easiest way to customize most surfaces.
With so much in common, you might think you won't care about the difference between custom decals and stickers. But you will when it's time to attach your design to one surface: the wall, floor, bottle, car, or surface of your choice.
Essentially, decals are stickers that are so large or complex that the user needs the aid of the clear transfer layer to affix the smooth surface of the sticker to a surface properly.
Decorative decal stickers are primarily designed for smooth surfaces such as cars, metal, and glass, providing a creative way to enhance their appearance.
Additionally, a vinyl sticker can be used on any other smooth surface you'd like to decorate, including:
storefront glass windows
Now we can dig into how the difference between decals vs. stickers affects you and your project. Decals are typically far larger and far more complex in shape than stickers. That size and complexity would make it too challenging to manage the difference between a sticker and layer by itself without risking wrinkles, tearing, or having it adhere to anything except where you want it attached.
As an example of a complex decal, let's consider how decals and stickers would handle script text. You could use a decorative sticker or a decal to add an inspirational quote to a wall. With a sticker, the text would be printed on a solid vinyl sheet and attached to the wall as a solid sheet.
With a decal, the script text would be die cut, following the outline of each letter, both inside and out. So, a script Y is cut out as a Y shape, with the loop at the bottom also cut out. To maintain the proper shape of each letter and the relative spacing between each letter, the solid, transparent transfer layer holds each letter in place until you have attached the decal to your wall. Then, you remove the transfer layer, leaving nothing behind but the script letters making up the quote label. There is no blank vinyl connecting the decal's letters as there would be in the sticker.