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The Difference Between Decals, Stickers & Labels

If you are a business trying to get some brand recognition and communicate with your audience, decals, stickers, and labels provide an affordable and effective solution. Even though people use these terms interchangeably, there are differences between the three. There are also some similarities.

All three options are comprised of at least two layers. They feature a paper backing, usually a type of wax paper or equivalent, and an adhesive layer the design is printed on. Decals, stickers, and labels all have unique qualities and will perform differently depending on how they are used. If you are looking to purchase one of these items, you will need to consider your intended use, the size and quantity required, the placement location and application surface, and the lifespan you require.

Identifying Decals, Stickers, and Labels


It’s important to note that even though all decals are stickers, not all stickers are decals. Decals are typically designed for the outdoors and have an additional protective paper layer covering the printed design. They may be transferred from one surface to another without damage, depending on where they were initially placed. The average lifespan of decals is approximately three years when installed on an outdoor surface and closer to five if used indoors.


A sticker can be a label, but not all labels are stickers. A sticker is made from cut vinyl or printed onto an adhesive material. They are also available without a design, so you can draw or write on them yourself. Many things can be qualified as stickers, including stamps, labels on bottles, adhesive screen repair kits, and more.


A label is simply a sticker that contains information. This can be a diagram, instructions, delivery address, and food label, among others.

What to Consider Before Purchasing

Intended Use

Decals, stickers, and labels share many similar qualities. That said, their key differences arise from what you want to use them for, the sizing required, and where you are going to place them.

Size and Quantity

Labels and stickers are usually smaller in size and applied to items such as water bottles, laptops, and product packaging. Decals are often larger and typically applied to things such as windows, walls, vehicles, and floors.

Because of their larger size, custom decals are often ordered in smaller quantities. For example, a business might order one window decal and one decal for their wall. In contrast, someone may order 5,000 stickers with their company logo to give to employees and customers during a community outreach program. The intended use of labels means that they are sold in rolls and come in large quantities.

Application Surface

There are several types of decals suited for different applications. For example, a decal that goes on the wall is different from one that goes on the floor, and both are different from a decal meant for the window. Be sure you select the option that best matches the surface you will be applying it to.

More often than not, stickers are used for small format advertising and applied to smooth surfaces. If your intended use requires something easy to install cleanly, stickers are perfect. They are also an ideal way to get your brand noticed, as many people tend to decorate their notebooks, water bottles, laptops, and belongings with stickers.

Lastly, labels are primarily used on product packaging, such as bags, jars, cans, and bottles. They can be quickly and easily installed on many items.


Although decals, stickers and labels are relatively inexpensive, they are still an investment. As such, their lifespan is an important factor to consider. Of the three, decals typically last the longest, followed by stickers, then labels. If you want something that will last more than a year, you cannot go wrong with custom vinyl decals. Alternatively, if you are looking for something quick and easy to install that will be less permanent, you will want to go with a label or sticker.

Product TypeUsageSizeApplication SurfaceLocationLifespan
Wall DecalsBusinesses, home decorSmall to LargeWallsIndoor5+ Years
Window DecalsBusinesses, home decorSmall to LargeWindowsIndoor and Outdoor3+ Years
Vehicle DecalsVehiclesSmall to LargeGlass, Metal, and Other Vehicle MaterialsOutdoor3+ Years
Floor DecalsEvents, Businesses, Grocery StoresSmall to LargeFloor- Hardwood, tile, laminate, concreteIndoorVaries Depending on Use
Boat DecalsBoats, Items Submerged in WaterSmall to LargeSmooth Wood, FiberglassIndoor and Outdoor5+ Years
Bumper StickersVehicle BumpersSmallVehiclesOutdoorVaries Depending on Use
StickersLaptops, Water Bottles, Notebooks, etc.SmallSmooth and Flat SurfacesIndoor and OutdoorVaries Depending on Use

Get Quality Decals, Stickers, and Labels with The Sign & Graphics Manufaktur

If you would like to learn more about decals, labels, and stickers, contact us today. We can help you select the best option for your project and help you create a custom design that looks beautiful and gets the message across.

We provide a wide array of services, including custom decals and sticker services, large format textiles, and printing for a variety of applications and branding strategies. Reach out to us by calling 1-800-834-1766.

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