You have a vision for a printed sticker but then you come to a crucial decision: should you print it on vinyl or paper? Both have their own set of pros and cons, so it is worth knowing which medium is most suited for your project.
Printable Vinyl: The Heavy-Duty Champion
Vinyl stickers are more durable, and often tear-resistant and even sometimes waterproof (if you buy the right kind). They are more resistant to harsh elements, including UV sun exposure, oils, water, scratches and tearing. This usually comes at a higher price, but for outdoor use this is something to definitely look past as it could be the difference between your sticker lasting one week from one year. The color won’t fade, and the material won’t degrade or bubble, making it an excellent choice for bumper stickers, sports equipment, coffee mugs (sometimes even being dishwasher safe!) and more heavy-use applications.
Printing is also effortless, with vinyl stickers being as thin as 3mil or thinner- not much different than plain printer paper. Vinyl is also compatible with cutting machines and is also easily cut by hand with scissors. Adhesion is permanent but leaves no residue- perfect for projects where you may need to remove or replace stickers!
Printable Sticker Paper: Amazing for indoor and low impact Projects
Don’t count printable sticker paper out too soon! It can be an amazingly efficient, cost effective way to create beautiful decals, which can also last for a very long time indoors. This would be the right choice if you are printing labels, wall stickers, or other uses where harsh exposure to liquids and abrasions won’t be an issue.
Plain or glossy sticker paper is usually much thinner, resulting in fewer printer jams and an easier cutting experience. Regular sticker paper can last for years given the proper care when indoors or away from rain and direct harsh sunlight. For projects that aren’t meant to last long, such as packages, school projects, and other temporary crafts, sticker paper will do just fine.
Consider the Goal of Your Sticker Project
Looking to print off hundreds of sheets of stickers? Printable Vinyl Stickers will be very costly. In this case sticker paper may be more suited just to cut costs by over 50%. However, nothing would be worse if your goal is to advertise your small business and with regular sticker paper, only to find that after a week the image is faded or washed out by the weather. Smaller hobby projects, such as miniature die-cast car models are probably better for printable vinyl for the added durability and quality of the prints.
Both sticker paper and printable vinyl can come in many specifications, such as clear, glossy white, and matte white, though usually the ink locks into printable vinyl much better. Sticker papers and printable are manufactured specifically for different types of inkjet and laser printers, so make sure to read the labels by the manufacturers closely. Some customers complain that the ink washes away, doesn’t stick, or takes a long time to dry, which is a matter of incompatible printer or ink/toner types.
The Verdict: Printable Vinyl is The Way to Go!
If you don’t mind investing a little more money into your craft, printable vinyl is definitely the better option due to the overall durability and water-resistance. If you aren’t worried about long-lasting printed decals, then sticker paper is just fine, however don’t be surprised if your image fades or starts to look washed out after a couple months. However, for jar labels and paper packaging printable sticker paper will work just fine!
Bonus Tip! Laminate All Your Stickers for Permanent Protection
Simply by placing a clear, one-sided laminating sheet over your sticker paper can make a world of a difference. These incredible PVC sheets will lock all moisture out, prevent tearing, will allow your stickers to become dishwasher safe, and protect them from UV light which will cause fading. For projects that are meant to last for years, such as mail box designs and bumper stickers, laminating is an absolute must.