Decal VS Stickers | What Is A Decal & Its Uses?

Who knew that a teeny tiny sticker could have so many sub-divisions. In all honesty, I have been using all these kinds of stickers throughout my life not knowing what they were called. But then I had to wake up and realize how desperately ignorant I was when a vendor introduced me to stickers and then I realized there is a significant difference and I need to compare decals vs stickers.

So, I got home and threw myself into a self-imposed research project and the results were quite fascinating. However, before I get started on my decal vs sticker debate, let me warn you beforehand to not get too tangled between the terminologies and new words, just remember the simple rule, ‘All decals are stickers but not all stickers are decals’. With that being said, let’s get down to business!

Decal VS Stickers

The main difference between a sticker and a decal is, that a decal sticker tends to use outdoors to withstand UV weather conditions and water resistance. However, to increase their lifespan lamination is used. And a normal sticker can be a label or colorful sticker that can be applied indoors. Both stickers use vinyl material but the decals are laminated. Decal is a one-color vinyl sticker and the normal sticker is more vibrant and colorful.

They both are printed and cut by Cricut and Sillihoute vinyl cutters. Both stickers have different application processes, stickers have the adhesive backing that can be peeled off and applied to the smooth surface. Whereas, whereas decals can be transferred via heat or water. Those stickers are called waterslide decals.

What Is A Decal?

Decal is short for Decalcomania found in the 18th century and is basically an altered version of stickers. It differs from a sticker as it includes a transfer paper that has a printed image. You can transfer that printed image onto any surface of your choice with the help of heat or water.

All you need to do is peel off the paper covering the printed image and stick the paper with the image onto the desired surface. Then apply heat or water whatever is required and leave for a few minutes. After that, peel the transfer paper, and Voila! Your image is transferred.

What Is The Use Of A Decal?

A decal is an advanced type of sticker and is usually used outdoors where normal adhesive stickers may be subject to wear and tear. Where a regular paper or plastic sticker may get ruined due to rain or sunlight, a decal withstands it all resiliently. It means that you can use decals on gates, walls, windows, and even cars for decorative purposes.

However, using decals requires extra effort as compared to regular stickers but understanding the process is not that hard either. You will just have to read the instructions very carefully before you get started.

What Is A Car Decal?

A car decal is a type of sticker that is specifically designed to be used outdoors. They are different from normal stickers in the sense that they are more resilient to vigorous changes in the environment and last for years before they start to fade away.

What Is A Car Decal?

The best part about car decals is that the colors remain fresh and vibrant for many years despite the direct sunlight or rain falling upon them. It is in fact the easiest way to decorate your cars without involving aerosol sprays or paints.

Vinyl Stickers VS decals

People usually get confused while differentiating vinyl stickers from vinyl decals. Maybe because they don’t really know the significant differences between the two. All in all, they are both the same thing with just a few dissimilarities between color composition and the intricacy of their pattern. However, the following is a brief description of the two, to give you a fair idea of the visible differences between vinyl stickers and vinyl decals.

Vinyl stickers are usually more bright and colorful. The patterns in a vinyl sticker are much more refined and delicate. The patterns are machine printed on vinyl sheets and cut out through vinyl cutters.

On the other hand, vinyl decals are usually composed of a single color and are not as intricate and definite as vinyl stickers. The machining process of manufacturing a vinyl decal is also much simpler than manufacturing a vinyl sticker. You may be wondering about the printers to print the vinyl stickers and decal here are some of the best printers for vinyl stickers.


Are stickers considered decals?

If you are just at the beginning of your decal vs sticker research then you are bound to confuse the two. And you are not completely wrong because all decals are stickers however, not all stickers are decals. There are certain features that differentiate the two.

For starters, decals are a type of stickers that are mostly used outside because they are more resistant to weathering effects of vigorous climatic changes. Whereas, a sticker is a vast terminology that covers many different types within its context.

Why are stickers called decals?

Decals stand for Decalcomania and they are slightly different from regular stickers which is why they are called decal stickers. Certain stickers are called decals because the image is printed on a decal transfer paper which can be transferred onto any surface with the help of the correct application of heat or water. However, all stickers are not decals but all decals are stickers.

Are vinyl stickers the same as decals?

The only major difference between a vinyl decal and a vinyl sticker is in the form of color distribution. A vinyl decal is usually composed of a single color and is not very artistic, however, vinyl stickers consist of various colors and intricate patterns.

So, if you are looking at a monochromatic design it is definitely a vinyl decal otherwise, it is a vinyl sticker. So, in order to differentiate between the two, pay attention to the number of colors used and the design of the pattern.

Final Thoughts

Summing it all up, it is safe to conclude that there is a significant difference between stickers and decals. A sticker is just a vast term that is further divided into different types such as vinyl stickers and vinyl decals.

A normal paper sticker may be made of plastic or paper with an adhesive at the back to make it stick to any surface however, they are prone to wear and tear and thus are not used outdoors. Whereas, a decal is more resistant to weathering effects of the outdoor environment and thus is more frequently used outdoors.


  • Hello, Beautiful People. I'm Olivia and I'll be guiding you on how-to tutorials and guides. I am a mommy of two little angles. My kids are also interested in DIY, Arts & Crafts. So I'm here to serve you some of my previous experience.