decal VS sticker

Decal VS Sticker: What’s The Difference?

Everybody loves stickers!

Whether they’re covering your car, fridge, or notebooks—or you collect them in binders like Pokemon cards—everyone loves a good sticker or decal. They can make political statements, make you laugh, be sweet or cute or cool. The options for stickers are pretty much as endless as the stars!

And that’s only one reason why we love them.

Wait a second—we mentioned the word decal in there. When it comes down to decal vs sticker, is there really a difference? And if so, what is it?

Keep reading for the breakdown.

What Is a Sticker?

Guess what? A sticker is exactly what you think it is: an adhesive label with some illustration on it. They are typically printed on paper, plastic, or vinyl—anything that has a pressure-sensitive adhesive on one side.

They’re a decoration; they’re promotional, functional; you name it! 

To apply a sticker, you simply remove the sleek back layer of paper, revealing the sticky adhesive. Place this in your designated spot, press evenly, and voila! Sticker stuck.

What Is a Decal?

Here’s the crazy part. You’re going to want to sit down for this. 

Decals are stickers (sometimes even called transfer stickers). Always. But stickers are not always decals.

What the heck does that even mean?

Well, decals have the same uses and purposes as stickers—only with a different application process. Otherwise, they check all the same boxes as stickers. 

Decals were first invented by Simon François Ravenet, who perfected the art of “décalquer,” or copying by tracing. Over time, this word shortened to “decal.” There was a little bit of a decal craze in the 19th century!

A decal is layered like so:

  • The top layer, or face-stock, made from either paper or film
  • An adhesive layer beneath that 
  • A silicone coating, or release layer, gets applied to the upper side of the backing
  • A paper or film then lines the bottom layer

To apply a decal, choose a spot (such as your vehicle) that you want to apply it. Clean that spot with alcohol to ensure nothing gets between the surface and adhesive! Once the area is clean and dry, you can begin.

Remove the backing. For smaller stickers, you can remove the full backing with no problem. For larger stickers, remove pieces of the backing at a time.

Place the exposed sticky parts where you want your decal to be. Flatten the sticker with something like a credit card, or even your hand. For larger stickers, peel as you stick.

While the decal dries in place, leave the transfer tape on. Then peel off the transfer tape and check for air bubbles!

Decal vs Sticker: Sisters from Other Misters

At least, that’s what we’re sticking to.

Decals, stickers, even labels—they’re all a part of the same family. And we love them all equally.

When it comes to the decal vs sticker debate, have you decided that decals do it for you? If so, we’ve got something for your vehicle! (And remember to always remove it carefully to avoid damage!)

Click here to request a custom decal! We can make you anything at any size!

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