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What’s the Difference Between Stickers, Labels and Decals?

5 Minutes Read

Many people often use these terms interchangeably. The consensus is that they are slightly different. 

Stickers or labels are often printed materials like paper, synthetic papers and they are mostly associated with indoor applications such as for laptops, mailing labels, etc.

Decals are typically printed on synthetic substrates, such as vinyl self-adhesive film (PVC) or polyester self-adhesive film (PET) and they are usually used for outdoor decoration on vehicles, equipment etc.

An easier way to differentiate them is to categorise them by the following 3 criteria.

A. Type of materials (or substrates) used.
B. Type of adhesives used.
C. Printing methods.

A. Type of material (or substrate) used.

These are commonly used materials. 

  • Vinyl (PVC) – clear, white, reflective or glow in the dark.
  • Paper.
  • Synthetic paper such as YUPO.
  • Polyester (PET)
  • Polycarbonate (PC)

Every material type has its properties. For example, paper breakdowns when exposed to the weather. Polyester is non-tear able. Certain PVC reflects light. The choice of material is dependent on the function of the printed substrate. 

B. Types of adhesives

These are commonly used adhesives. 

  • Permanent adhesive – strong, difficult to remove, and leaves residues behind.
  • Removable adhesive – not as strong as a permanent adhesive but it does not leave any residue.
  • Repositionable adhesives – similar to removable adhesive, it does not leave residues but can be reapplied. 
  • Heat-activated adhesive – adhesive only works when heated to a certain temperature.

Every adhesive has its properties. Example, there are varied adhesive strengths. The choice of adhesives used is dependent on the application used.

C. Printing methods

These are commonly used printing methods. 

The choice of printing methods depends on the chosen material, job size, application (i.e. Indoor or outdoor use)

In truth, it doesn’t matter if you know the differences between stickers and decals as long as they serve their intended purpose to decorate or advertise. If you are still unsure about what type of sticker to look for, you can always contact us at Million.com.sg and we will gladly assist you to create a suitable sticker, decal or label.


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