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Why do you need stickers that can last outdoors? Stickers are the affordable solution to your labeling, wayfaring, and décor problems! Just a few of the reasons you’ll want to make stickers last outdoors include:
- Labelling your cooler when group camping
- Using stickers as name tags for outdoor children’s activities
- Decorating your thermos or water bottle for hiking/camping
- Labelling outdoor sports equipment
- Wayfaring (marking exits, washrooms, directional signs, social distancing signs)
- Numbering storage lockers or bins, or temporary portable green rooms for outdoor concerts and events
- Decorating planters, windows, gardening sheds
- And more!
Sticker vinyl is very durable, but if you are going to make stickers last outdoors, there are a few things you can do to ensure they stand the test of time. This blog takes a look at how to increase the durability of your stickers. As a bonus, all these techniques waterproof your stickers too, so you can place them on washable items like tumblers.
Outdoor printable stickers
Making these stickers last outdoors starts with a computer or laptop, a printer, and printable vinyl sheets. Don’t start your outdoor stickers on paper sheets, such as what you would use for printing labels. Starting with vinyl is often enough to make your creations last in most sheltered conditions like inside a bus stop or under an overhang on a building. (Royal Elements advises you to be considerate of where you place your stickers, as it is not always welcome or legal to sticker commercial property.)
What is printable vinyl?
Printable vinyl are thin sheets of glossy white, clear, or matte plastic that are formulated to go through a laser or inkjet printer. One side receives the ink, the other side is adhesive. Prior to use, the protective adhesive backing is removed. Printable vinyl can easily be cut into many shapes or can be used in combination with an online template program so you can create rows of identical stickers, one large sticker, or a sheet of random stickers.
When to use each printable vinyl style
Glossy – Use glossy printable vinyl for your outdoor stickers when you have a very colorful design that needs to stand out.
Matte – Matte printable vinyl is great for designs with strong black lines, lots of black and white shading, fonts, and simple but impactful lines (like geometric shapes).
Clear – Clear allows the background of the sticker to “disappear,” leaving only the design on the surface. It’s a great option to show off your creative work, but only if you place the sticker on a neutral or white background.
Doubling the Durability
While printable vinyl is naturally durable, waterproof, and tear/scratch resistant, there is a way to increase the durability of your outdoor stickers even further. To do this, add a laminating sheet – this will help make stickers last outdoors.
A laminating sheet is not printable. It is placed over your sheet of stickers and adhered with a built-in adhesive. The sheet is peel and stick and although it is cuttable, it is best to place it over your sticker sheet, adhere it, then cut the design.
How to place outdoor stickers
It’s so easy to make stickers last outside with peel-and-stick printable vinyl. Just remove the backing and put the sticker on the surface. However, there are a few tricks to get better adherence.
Waterslide: Large, tall, or broad surfaces pose a challenge for placing outdoor stickers. It’s hard to estimate the middle of the wall or judge the best height for maximum visibility. In these cases, choose waterslide printable vinyl. Waterslide has a slow drying adhesive that allows you to slide the sticker around until you find its ideal place.
Clean and dry the surface: Stickers last longer when adhered to a clean surface. Wipe down the area with a wet cloth and dry it thoroughly. Use an alcohol wipe on surfaces where it safe to do so for better cleaning and drying. Alcohol wipes can remove paint, however, so be careful where you use them.
Avoid textured surfaces: Stickers always work best on a smooth surface. If you need to decorate a rough outdoor surface like a wooden shed or a porous one like a brick wall, talk to your local mural artist.
How to Maintain or Remove Outdoor Stickers
You’ll want to keep your outdoor stickers looking their best. Over time, the sun, rain, or wear and tear on the area can cause your stickers to curl or the adhesive to dry up. If that happens, follow these steps to make the adhesive tacky again:
- Gently pull back the curled edge or, if the sticker can be removed without damage, remove it from the surface.
- Apply an adhesive like Extreme Tack, or double-sided tape. Only use permanent adhesives like Gorilla Glue if you own the property on which you are placing the sticker (or have permission to do so) and you are okay with it being permanently adhered there.
- Reattach. Use your fingers or a squeegee to remove air bubbles.
- Avoid simply scratching or pulling the sticker off painted or coated surfaces, as this could damage the finish on the surface.
- Use a hairdryer on surfaces where it is safe to do so. This makes the adhesive tacky enough to melt, allowing you to peel back a corner. With the corner exposed, direct the heat behind the sticker to quickly aid the rest of the removal process.
- A few drops of nail polish remover behind an exposed sticker edge works too, but again, check your surface first. Polish remover will strip paint.
Are outdoor stickers legal?
The answer to this is, it depends. You can always put outdoor stickers on property that you own, but it can be considered vandalism if you sticker property that you don’t own. Sticker bombing, even as an artistic expression, can resulted in being charged if you are caught or the property owner makes a complaint against you.
Even when you use outdoor stickers on your own property, car, or items, you should use consideration. Avoid placing outdoor stickers that:
- Promote hate speech
- That are explicitly obscene
- That obstruct important signage (such as placed over an exit sign)
- In any area that you do not own or have permission
Making outdoor stickers is fun and easy. You can make them for a wide variety of applications, from decorating potting sheds to labeling your camping gear. Use sticker vinyl, not label paper, to start off with the strongest outdoor stickers. Printable vinyl is available in three finishes: clear, matte, and glossy. You can increase the durability of the sticker vinyl even further by adding a laminating sheet. Simply adhere it to the graphic side of your printed sticker sheet and cut out your design(s). To place your outdoor stickers, ensure the surface is clean and dry. Be aware that stickers can harm coatings like paint and other finishes. You can maintain your stickers by making the adhesive tacky again should your sticker start to curl or dislodge. This involves adding new adhesive, and you can choose a temporary or permanent application. You can remove vinyl stickers by gently tugging on them. If this does not safely dislodge the sticker, use a hair dryer to warm the adhesive. It is illegal to place stickers on commercial or government property, and anywhere you do not have permission. You can be charged for sticker bombing on a building, bus shelter, lamp post, etc. because that is an act of vandalism. Be careful of where you place your stickers, and use good common sense to avoid being offensive, hateful, or a general nuisance. With these tips in mind, you can have a lot of fun livening up and organizing your spaces with outdoor stickers.
Royal Elements sells printable sticker vinyl and more in our online store. We love to see the projects you make using Royal Elements products. Post your results online with the hashtag #royalelementsstickers so we can feature your designs on our social networks (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube). Visit https://www.amazon.com/royalelements and https://www.royalelements.com/ today to learn more.