decal vs sticker

Sticky Solutions: The Difference Between Decal vs Sticker

How many times have you heard the words “decal” and “sticker” used interchangeably? Is there even a difference? 

If not knowing drives you crazy, it’s time to find out the answer. Not only will it give you bragging rights to your friends, but it will silence that annoying, questioning voice that pops into your head each time you hear the words. 

Decal vs. sticker: the inner turmoil ends today. 

(Spoiler alert: there is a difference.) 

What Is a Sticker? 

Remember when your teacher told you all squares are parallelograms but all parallelograms aren’t squares? The same concept applies here. 

All decals are stickers but all stickers are not decals. 

Stickers are adhesive pieces that individuals use for a variety of reasons, from labeling to giving a funny shout-out for drivers staring at bumpers in traffic.  

Stickers are made from a variety of materials:

  • Vinyl
  • Litho stock
  • Latex
  • Foil
  • Plastics


Stickers do not involve any transfer. There is only the sticker itself and a single piece of paper which covers the adhesive. 

To place a sticker, individuals peel off the paper over the adhesive and place the entire piece on their car or item. 

Some stickers are completely blank, allowing individuals to draw or write on them for effect or information. 


People use stickers for everything from creating tamper-resistant seals to demonstrating expiration dates on food to entertaining children. 

They are even used in healthcare. 

Because they are so prevalent, most people have used stickers several times in their lives.


Durable stickers last for years (just ask any parent whose child decided something needed decoration). If unaltered by the elements, some stickers last for decades. 

The length of time a sticker remains glued to its surface is determined by the quality of the materials that made it and if it is laminated. 

Thus, longevity, efficiency, and creativity are their main advantages. 

What Is a Decal? 

A decal is a sticker, but it contains some prevalent differences

Decals are the fancier version of stickers. They are elaborately designed and tend to look more professional because of the transfer process. 

Creators make decals to be seen, so they are often used outdoors. These stickers are usually made from vinyl. 


There are three layers to the typical decal: a back and front piece of paper and the decal itself. 

Unlike stickers, individuals must complete a transfer process to apply a decal. Owners remove the paper covering the adhesive layer. Then, they place the decal on a surface, and the image transfers directly onto the item.

Any negative space isn’t transferred to the item; only the decoration itself transfers.  


Decals are commonly found on cars and are a great form of marketing. They are also used for decorations, on personal items and as a means of identification. 

Government-funded vehicles are easy to identify because of their decals.


Decals may not last as long as stickers but they have clear advantages that make them so desirable. 

First, they create a professional and finished look to an item or vehicle. Second, decals are easy to remove and don’t damage surfaces. Finally, they are a fun way to enhance appearances and share a bit about yourself or your company. 

Decal vs. Sticker: A Final Answer

No longer will the decal vs. sticker dilemma plague your dreams. Now, you know the differences between the two. 

And it’s time to find your own! 

Check out our selection of career decals and discover the perfect match for your vehicle. 

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