Paper Stickers vs. Vinyl Stickers

Paper Stickers vs. Vinyl Stickers

Paper Stickers vs. Vinyl Stickers

Paper Stickers or vinyl stickers? Which do you choose? What is the difference?  Which one is best for your application?

Ok, you’ve got something to say and you want to say it loud and clear. You know you need a sticker to get the job done. But which is better, vinyl or paper stickers?

Paper stickers may not be the best option for your work and this is the reason why. The medium is just not as durable as vinyl. You will see a difference in the quality, and more importantly, in durability. It especially affects the final outcome of the following types of advertising purposes.

  • Advertising – When you need a design that will be placed in front of a lot of people.
  • A sale – When your client needs to hold a big sale
  • Phrases or Instructions – Post Instructions on how to use the coffee maker 
  • Events – You want to publicly post a list of everyone in the firm’s who’s having a birthday that month
  • Signs – Like those at the entrance of stores 

Whatever your sign, phrase or instruction ideas, the stickers you design need to withstand wear and varying weather conditions. They are placed on a wall or over a door or on a window. When this is the case, these stickers need to be made of vinyl. Even if all you want to do is give an instruction on the carwash entrance, something that might say, “put your antenna down; ” Or, “we are not responsible for lost items,” you are better off using vinyl stickers. 


Paper Stickers Vs. Vinyl Stickers (Paper is not Durable)

As the graphic designer, you design it, your printer makes the final print, and the drivers deliver it. “Boy,” you think as you examine the first package of paper stickers, “This will make our business jump.” But did you make the right choice? Which did you print, paper stickers or vinyl stickers?

Here is the Problem with Paper

You peel off the back of your sticker to expose the glue. You carefully place it in exactly the right spot, right on the outside wall of your store and it looks great. Then a few short days later, you notice that it looks aged – and by about a hundred years. Unfortunately, the weatherman threw you a curveball. The skies opened and it began raining cats and dogs. The wind is howling at it, and it begins to flap wildly in the wind. The paper begins shredding. The sun emerges over the wet paper. Its rays dry, shrink and fade the once vibrant colors and the ink begins to look like dripping mascara smears. The glue peels and the sticker becomes unstuck and even looks bubbled.

The only message that this paper poster is sending is, “Hurry and peel me off the wall.”


The Message Is The Medium

The medium conveys the message and this is not so easy to do with a disintegrating paper sticker.  In 1967, Marshal McLuhan, professor, philosopher, as well as intellectual, laid the cornerstone of Media Theory in his best seller, “The Medium Is The Message.” As I walked into my favorite pet store the other day I spotted what could have been Professor Mcluhan’s next best-seller if he were still alive to write it, now named, “The Message Is The Medium.”

“Why?” You ask, and I hope you do.” By choosing the wrong medium for your message, it will not come across correctly.  Truth is that a message that does not transmit anything is the worst form of advertising.  

For instance, the purpose of that poor paper sticker in the pet store was a total loss. You will be unable to read the not so good truth message. In the world of advertising, marketing and also in communications that’s like showing up at a gun fight with no ammunition.


What is The Purpose?

If you have an upcoming sticker project, the first question to ask yourself is, “What is the purpose of this piece?”  Who do you want it to communicate with and also where that communication will take place? Then your decision, at least in material choice, will be so easy to make.

An inside job is perfect for a paper sticker. But even then, if that sticker is expected to last for months or years, this medium may not be the appropriate one. Designers should use paper stickers for applications for shipping boxes or packaging, address labels, packing slips and such. You might also use this option in a protected environment where it is not exposed to weather, water, oil or other staining liquids. In these cases, the paper offers a wider choice of weight and texture. It allows for the vibrancy of ink and color and the material costs are usually less than vinyl.

Vinyl Is The Way to Go

The difference between paper stickers and vinyl stickers is that vinyl is more durable. You can also use Vinyl stickers as shipping labels or for any inside applications. But that’s just the beginning of the many advantages vinyl stickers have over their paper counterparts.

Vinyl stickers last longer and hold their color better. They are impervious to weather and don’t fade. Additionally, these stickers are significantly more scratch resistant, stick better and retain their good looks longer. This type of sticker doesn’t bubble or peel, blister or get ratty looking. You don’t require to re-apply it. In the end, those factors can make vinyl the more cost-effective option.

Laminated Vinyl for Extra Protection

You can laminate vinyl in extra protective coatings. This ups their resistance to weather, sun, oil and more. A well-designed and applied vinyl sticker can last up to 7 years. Something no paper sticker in equal circumstances could ever achieve.

Stickers have become such a part of the landscape it’s often easy to not think about them or even overlook them unless you are actively looking to put some to use for your business or personal life. If you’re looking to make your stickers really stand out with attractive, vibrant colors. If you want stickers with a long life, it’s no contest, vinyl rules. But before you take the plunge, do yourself a favor, walk around and look around and observe the different designs available.


The Difference Between Paper Stickers and Vinyl Stickers

Arguably, these can be one the same. Paper and vinyl stickers are images, phrases, photos, designs that stick to a surface. However, there is a difference. And the truth is paper stickers are not as long lasting as vinyl stickers.

Vinyl has a lot of advantages over traditional paper stickers simply because the paper versions can fade quickly. You can easily pull off the vinyl as compared to paper.  Vinyl is long lasting and does not mark with paint, water or oil when these substances spill on them.


  • Paper stickers are ruined if any liquid comes into contact. Paper stickers are limited in use. Also, they can be only used indoors and are destroyed when wet.
  • This medium is only appropriate for labeling, small logo work and in projects where the artwork does not come into contact with water or with inclement weather.


Paper Stickers, Vinyl Stickers?

In the end, let the usage and elements make the decision for you, but it’s hard to argue for paper medium when vinyl stickers offer so much more, especially in lifespan.

Bottom Line

Paper stickers or vinyl stickers, which is best? Really, it is up to you the designer. It depends on where you plan on using the stickers. If these are to be placed on envelopes, labels for jars or pretty paper packaging materials, then you are probably better off using paper. But if you plan on using a design for outdoor use, windows or even as wall art then you want a more durable medium such as vinyl. Don’t worry! When it comes to installation both use similar methods, although most people say that vinyl is much easier to install. So the decision really needs to be based on taste and on where the sticker is going to be located. It is as simple as that.


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