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Why are vinyl decals so darn popular?

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Many people will choose to search for "vinyl decals" over "stickers" when they're looking for gifts for friends. What is this obsession with vinyl, and is it really all that hot?

So why the obsession with vinyl? Folks know that, for whatever reason, “vinyl decals” is an indicator of quality. When you get a vinyl decal, the material is going to be thicker, probably weatherproof, and it will have good “tack” (stickiness) for adhering to surfaces.

“Stickers” are the kind of thing that you give children, but vinyl decals? Those are for adults. Even if those vinyl decals are just opossums. For some reason, in the last decade or so, the term “vinyl decals” has risen to prominence, almost over the word “sticker” — but let’s be real, “sticker” and “decal” are the same damn thing nowadays: some sort of material that can be stuck to a smooth surface for kicks and giggles.

What materials are good for vinyl decals and stickers?

But vinyl isn’t the only material in town. Vinyl is the most well known and popular, but it’s also one of the most expensive for producers to acquire and use. Most printable vinyl decal paper is made for one-off crafts, not producing bulk decals. There are more affordable materials that also rank high on all of the qualities that stickers and decals need: good “tack”, good print quality, and weatherproofing.

My favorite decal material is actually Online Label’s polyester. It’s made for laser printers. It’s got a thinner feel than vinyl, but holds up great outside — and apparently is even more tear resistant than vinyl is! I did a test where I left several types of sticker material outdoors for months – and the polyester decals looked as good as they did on day one.

Online Labels also offers a vinyl. It's more expensive, listed under their specialty materials, but it's a good material. It also did well in my outdoor test, and this is the material that I use whenever I'm designing for vinyl. Plenty of other sticker supplies come in vinyl, as well.

How are holographic stickers made?

You may see specialty stickers like holographic ones making their rounds in your favorite bulk sticker shops. I don’t offer them — yet — but I can tell you how they’re made. Most holographic stickers start with a normal material, like vinyl or polyester. Then, the producers laminate on a holographic finish, also known as a “foil” to certain parts of the sticker. Holographic stickers can require special equipment, which makes them hard to produce in a small shop.

Should I try other sticker types?

Yes! Vinyl is only a small portion of the sticker market, and you could be missing out on lots of experiences by only sticking to vinyl (see what I did there?). I”m a big fan of polyester for my everyday stickers; it's easy to print on, durable when weatherproofed, and the adhesive holds up great.

Price is an important (but not the only) factor when making commercial buys or deciding what materials to use for your shop. It's also an incredibly important factor for buyers. Why buy a $7 tiny sticker when you can buy 3 for the same price?

Are vinyl decals eco-friendly?

The short answer is, it depends. Vinyl is made from oil-based products, which are not eco-friendly in the least. The paper backings for vinyl stickers are not generally recyclable either. However, using vinyl stickers to showcase the art you love, or extend the life of a product by hiding dents or blemishes, means that you maximize the use of the product. Finally, it's really up to vinyl manufacturers to green their businesses - you as a consumer can only do so much.

why are vinyl decals so darn popular


4 comments on “Why are vinyl decals so darn popular?”

  1. […] Vinyl decals are really popular to sell on Etsy as a Cricut business because they're easy to make and ship. You can customize with just a little bit of effort. The only real hiccup is getting your customers to understand how to apply vinyl decals to various surfaces. But as long as you include great instructions, most of your customers should be happy. […]

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