Vinyl Decals vs Stickers - What is the Difference | Printmoz
Stickers vs. Vinyl Decals - What is the Difference?
stickers vs. declas

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 vinyl. Both come with an applied adhesive and a slick paper backing that protects the adhesive until you remove the backing to affix your design.

Decals and stickers are pretty much the same things, right? Not quite. If you don’t know the difference, you may order the wrong option for your needs. 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 that are likely to confuse you further. Not to worry — Printmoz to the rescue!

The Difference Between Decals and Stickers

So, to finally address the difference between stickers and decals. Stickers come with two layers, and decals come with three. It seems a small difference, but it has big repercussions!

What is a Sticker?

Stickers are made up of two layers:

  1. The backing paper that protects and covers the adhesive.
  2. The design you will affix to another surface comes with adhesive on the back.
sticker diagram

What is a Decal?

Decals are made up of three layers:

  1. The backing paper that protects and covers the adhesive,
  2. The design you will affix to another surface comes with adhesive on the back, and
  3. The flexible transfer layer that is on top of the design.
decal diagram
Now, you can see what most experts say all 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.
What is a Decal Sticker?
Don’t let the common term “decal sticker” confuse you! So many people are unsure of the difference between decals and stickers that vendors use both terms to attract customers, thereby adding to the confusion.
Similarities Between Decals and Stickers

To better understand the differences between decals vs. stickers, let’s first fully investigate their similarities. Stickers and decals 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 to 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 the wall, floor, bottle, car, or surface of your choice.

Choosing Between Stickers and Decals
Essentially, decals are stickers that are so large or complex the user needs the aid of the clear transfer layer to properly affix the sticker to a surface.
transfer decal
Why Do Decals Need a Transfer Layer?

Now we can dig into how the difference between decals vs. stickers affects you and your project. Decals are typically far larger and/ or far more complex in shape than stickers. That size and complexity would make it too challenging to manage the sticker 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 either a 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. In order to maintain the proper shape of each letter and the relative spacing between each letter, the solid, transparent transfer layer holds each of the letters 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. There is no blank vinyl connecting the decal’s letters as there would be in the sticker.

Printmoz: Your One-Stop Print Shop
For custom printed decals and stickers, banners and signs, and much more, Printmoz is your premier partner. When you need top-quality printing on a budget with speedy turnaround, you can count on us to deliver.
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