What’s the Difference Between a Sticker and a Decal?

window decal

Stickers and decals are often confused with one another. Some people even use the words stickers and decals interchangeably.

If you’re curious about the differences, you’re probably looking to use either of the two in your marketing. Read on to find out the key differences between them and which is more suitable for your promotions.

What Is a Sticker?

Compared to decals, stickers are commonly made with thinner materials such as paper. They often come in different sizes and shapes, and can be printed either in sheets or rolls. Because of its versatility, sticker printing is a traditional tool used by marketers and business owners who want to boost their branding.

Another difference lies in the application of stickers. In general, custom stickers are meant for short-term use and are easier to apply on any surface than decals. Some stickers are limited to indoor use because exposure to the elements can cause the ink to fade quickly. These kinds of stickers are perfect for branded giveaways and freebies for any purchases made by new and repeat customers.

All decals are stickers, but not all stickers are decals. A sticker comes in two layers: the adhesive layer, with the design printed in front and the adhesive material at the back, and the paper backing which protects the adhesive.

Stickers can be difficult to remove from a surface, and some sticker materials require additional effort to remove completely, such as soap and water or a chemical-based adhesive remover.

What Is a Decal?

Decals are stickers used to decorate surfaces found indoors and outdoors. Usually used for decorative purposes, decals can be applied on walls, windows, floors, cars, and trucks. Wall decals can be used to liven up any space in an office, store, or retail space, while window decals are commonly used for advertising products or services to people passing by a small business storefront.

Decals come in three layers of paper and vinyl material that contain the design. Upon application, the design is transferred from the masking sheet to the surface where the decal will be displayed. This is usually done using a squeegee or the edge of a flat plastic card if the design is small enough.

When used outdoors, the durability of specific decal types can be significantly extended through appropriate care and maintenance practices.

Sticker or Decal: Which One Do You Need?

When you need to decide whether you need a sticker or a decal, ask yourself these questions to help you determine which to order:

1. How do you intend to use the product?

Stickers are typically used for logos and branded illustrations, while decals are often used in interior design, decoration, and advertising.

2. How big or how small do you want your design to be?

If you’re looking to design small items such as water bottles, notebooks, laptops, or car bumpers, a sticker is an ideal option. Decals are more applicable if you need to print your design in a large format to make it visible at a greater distance.

3. What kind of surface are you looking to decorate?

Where do you plan to apply your design? Stickers can be used on most smooth surfaces and are relatively easier to remove once you no longer need them. Decals, on the other hand, are more difficult to apply. These are often used for larger surfaces like walls, floors, and vehicles.

4. How long will you be using your product for?

Depending on your need, online printing companies such as PrintRunner can provide you with durable stickers and decals. Heavy-duty vinyl stickers can last up to five years. Meanwhile, some decals can last up to three to five years with proper care.

Promote Your Business With Custom Printed Decals and Stickers

Increase brand awareness and make a lasting impression with high-quality stickers and decals from PrintRunner! Use your store window or car bumper for advertising your products, or hand out fun stickers to your customers to turn them into brand advocates.

Aside from branding efforts, stickers and decals can also be used to complement your other ongoing marketing campaigns. Use free stickers to stir interest and create a buzz around your seasonal promotion. Add stickers to your direct mail to increase open rates. Create your own “selfie station” with a fun decal in the background to encourage your customers to take a photo they’d want to share on social media. Apply window decals to alert passers-by about an ongoing sale or a new product at your store. The possibilities are endless!

Design Custom Stickers and Decals With PrintRunner

Create your custom stickers and decals today, and let PrintRunner bring your design to life. Why do businesses trust PrintRunner?

  • We only use top-quality inks and sustainably sourced paper.
  • Order as few or as many as you need!
  • Get free ground shipping for qualified orders in the US mainland.
  • If you’re unsure what material you need for your project, you can always request our free sample kit.

To get started, upload your own artwork or design your file with our easy-to-use online design tool. You can also use our free downloadable templates to create your own print-ready design in the following file formats: AI, CDR, JPG, PDF, PSD, and PUB.

Need help with your order? Contact our customer service team at 888-296-5760, anytime from Mondays through Fridays and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT on weekends.

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