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What’s the Difference Between Stickers and Decals

December 13, 2021 4 min read


If you are about to buy a decal or sticker, then you’re probably wondering what the difference is between them. Both stickers and decals offer similar features, including the ability to customize your project and use it for application on large and small surfaces.

What is a Decal?
The term decal refers to stickers used outdoors. It can be attached to various surfaces. All decals are a type of sticker, but not all stickers are decals. The most common medium used for printing decals is vinyl. Vinyl decals are developed and cut from vinyl rolls for transferring or attaching to other surfaces like glass, plastic, or metal at Vinyl Mayhem. Decals are most commonly used for decorative or advertising purposes either on a storefront, inside a building, or on the exterior of a vehicle.

What is a Sticker?
Stickers are vinyl labels that can either be printed or cut from vinyl, and they are durable enough to be used for the outdoors. Most stickers have two layers: A peel-off paper layer and an adhesive-backed decorative layer on the back. Stickers include stamps, water bottle labels, and automotive vinyl decals.

Stickers are most commonly used for labels, logos, or informational purposes such as on product packaging.

Factors for Using Stickers vs. Decals
Although sticker manufacturers claim stickers are smaller than decals and can be attached to laptops and water bottles, there is no truth to the notion that decals are only used for large applications like car wraps and window advertisements. Your project's color, quantity, and purpose affect how you choose your stickers or decals.

Color and imagery
Since vinyl decals are cut and shaped from a single roll of vinyl, they are monochromatic. You could make vinyl decals in several colors, but the process for creating decals is complex. Each part of the image is cut from various vinyl rolls before forming the final image. Decals take a bit more time to make and use more resources, so they are likely more expensive.

Stickers can be made using wide format digital printers or screen printing. They can be cut into various shapes, including rectangles, squares, circles, and ovals. Stickers often depict more vivid colors and imagery than decals because of the use of high-resolution printers. We create vinyl stickers by printing directly onto vinyl that is backed with an industrial-strength adhesive and is moisture-resistant. Our printers are capable of producing clear, colorful vinyl stickers with intricate designs.

Size and quantity
The smaller size of stickers tends to make them more economical to buy in bulk. Businesses may choose to buy stickers with their brand to distribute to staff and consumers.

Generally, decals can be purchased in lower quantities due to their size. A company could order wall decals for their physical store and car decals for their fleet of company cars.

Surface application
Applying vinyl stickers to a cool, debris-free surface is easy with a clean, lint-free cloth and glass cleaner or rubbing alcohol. If vinyl stickers are applied in direct sunlight or heat, the number of visible air bubbles under the sticker can significantly increase. Outdoor vinyl stickers have a lifespan of 3-5 years, depending on the environment and the maintenance.

To apply decals, you simply need to remove the liner from the front of the decal. Rub it down lightly onto your chosen surface to ensure it adheres, and then use a squeegee or plastic card to remove bubbles. You can then peel off the transfer tape gently from the decal. Depending on how many colors are contained within your decal, you may need more time to apply it.

The use of vinyl stickers as a form of advertising crosses multiple sectors and can be found in various settings. These stickers look great on windows, signboards, and almost any hard surface.

You can decorate your office or rental home using vinyl stickers without damaging the walls. Small, company-branded automotive vinyl stickers can increase brand awareness and grab the attention of the customer. You can even include your social media handles in your stickers to get people to visit your website and social channels.

For those who want a long-term solution, decals may be the best solution. Make your home a little more personal with a vinyl decal of your child’s name or inspirational quotes. You can use car decals on your vehicles for personalization. How you use this type of decal depends on the purpose of your vehicle. Your car window decal can be used for advertising.

Since fleet vehicle advertising is 15 times more recognizable than any other form of ad, you can create eye-catching, bespoke wraps for them. Apply American flag sticker sets and custom bumper stickers to your car to give it character and make it instantly recognizable in your community.

Find High-Quality Stickers and Decals at Vinyl Mayhem
Vinyl Mayhem is a prestigious one-stop solution for vinyl stickers and automotive vinyl decals with over 25 years of experience. We offer custom bumper stickers, printed stickers, and all aspects of corporate branding using the latest technology and equipment. Start your project by visiting our website or sending us an email.