You’ve done all the legwork and have your final designs in hand. You’re going to use them everywhere–on your products, packaging, banners, etc. There’s just one problem: you don’t know whether to use sticker paper or vinyl. 

If that's you, you’re not alone. Let’s dive into the differences between sticker paper and vinyl, what they’re used for, and settle the debate once and for all. 

What Is Printable Vinyl? 

Printable vinyl is a polymer-based (usually PVC-based) material that’s weather- and water-proof. It’s also smudge- and smear-resistant and a roll of printable vinyl can last anywhere from five to seven years in harsh outdoor conditions. 

The material is used to create outdoor-specific decals, labels, and stickers because it can withstand harsh environmental exposure. 

What Is Sticker Paper? 

Sticker paper is an adhesive-backed paper-based material with matte and glossy finishes. It usually isn’t waterproof and can’t be used outdoors or withstand frequent handling. 

The paper is used to create stickers or labels that’ll be used indoors, such as on bottles, jars, and boxes, because it isn’t very durable and has a shorter shelf life than printable vinyl. 

Printable Vinyl Versus Sticker Paper

Now that we know what printable vinyl and sticker paper are, let’s explore how they differ from each other.

  1. Material 

Printable vinyl is made from polyvinyl or other polymer-based materials that are waterproof. In contrast, sticker paper is usually made from glossy paper, vellum, and white polypropylene, but it can also be made of polyester or vinyl. 

  1. Durability

If you’re planning to use your banners, stickers, labels, decals, or graphics outdoors, printable vinyl is going to last ages because it doesn’t fade or get damaged by weather elements. It’s incredibly durable.

In contrast, sticker paper isn't durable or long-lasting and gets damaged easily if you use it outdoors or handle it frequently. 

  1. Use Cases

You can use vinyl paper for outdoor banners, labels, and stickers because it can’t be torn off easily, is protected from fading, and is easy to clean. This makes it perfect if you want to put up your banners for everyone to see in rain, wind, or shine. 

But if you’re looking to create labels for a product or promotional stickers for an event, sticker paper will be your best bet because it’s more cost-effective, compatible with many home and desktop printers, and is relatively easy to use. Sticker paper is also available in gloss or matte, giving you some more control over the look and feel of the product.

How to Choose Between Printable Vinyl and Sticker Paper

  1. Consider Why You Need It

Before making your choice, think about what you’re going to use the paper for. Are you going to put it on products, offer it as stickers to customers, or turn it into a banner? 

After that, think about where you’ll place it: outdoors or indoors? Will it be exposed to the environment, such as rain, strong winds, and dust? 

As mentioned earlier, if you need decorative elements for the indoors, you should go with sticker paper. But if you're creating banners and need them to be resistant to harsh environmental conditions, you should go for vinyl paper. 

  1. Weigh Up Its Durability 

The durability of your printable vinyl or sticker paper should match the life of your product. For instance, if you expect your product to last a year, there’s no point in going for the highest-rated vinyl. You should go with sticker paper–it’ll be more cost-effective. 

However, if your product is shooting for five or more years of life, vinyl is going to have the longevity your customers expect. 

  1. Think About the Printing Method 

Once you know why you need printable vinyl or sticker paper, think about which method you’re using. For instance, if you want to use an inkjet printer, make sure your vinyl or sticker paper is compatible with it. 

The Takeaway

While it's vibrant, eye-catching, and fantastic for indoor applications, sticker paper fades quickly, is not durable, and is a pain to maintain. But vinyl paper can be used both indoors and outdoors, can last for years if properly cared for, and is waterproof. 

So, should you only use vinyl? Not necessarily–your choice of paper depends on where you intend to use it, how long you intend to use it, and general wear and tear expectations. So, instead of choosing the “best,” think about which paper fulfills your needs and go with it!

If you decide to opt for printable vinyl, be sure to read our posts on using printable vinyl on shirts and the best waterproof printable vinyl.