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What are the differences between custom stickers and custom decals?




By Naomi J. Golbeck, Decals.com Staff


Your Math teacher likely once told you that every square is also a rectangle. You may or may not have believed them, but technically they were right. I am telling you that every decal is a sticker—yes that's correct. 

Although squares and rectangles have their similarities, they also have their differences and so do decals and stickers.The biggest difference between decals and stickers is what each is best known for. 

Laptop Stickers

Sticker Stigma

Stickers have the nostalgia of youthful decorating fun. Just the word “sticker” reminds us of gold stars in class, arts and crafts with friends or decorating lockers and notebooks.

Stickers have also had some practical applications. We all remember the green-faced stickers your mother placed on household items that she didn’t want you to ingest. But just in case you did, you little troublemaker, the stickers listed the local poison control. Brilliant. 



Boat Decals





Dignified Decals 

Decals give the feeling of maturity. Let’s say that you need custom lettering for your boat's registration. Do you choose sticker lettering or decal lettering? In this case, “decal” naturally has more authority. 

Psychologically speaking, decals have professional appeal; they serve as endorsements on race cars, and as giant advertisements on storefront windows



Technical Differences


Intended lifespan is a major difference between stickers and decals. Decals are meant to be permanent, like floor decals getting walked on all day or wall decals that decorate all year long. Stickers also have a decent lifespan, but people typically intend for them to be removable, like laptop stickers

When properly installed and maintained, these are the expected lifespans of our most common decal and sticker materials:

  • Removable sticker material:1 to 3 years. 
  • Permanent sticker material: 3 to 5 years.
  • Standard vinyl decal material: 3-5 years.
  • High-Performance vinyl material: up to 8 years.


Stickers tend to be smaller in size than decals. They can be mass produced on sheets and can be readily distributed at concerts, charity events, or after voting in an election. We also offer custom labels on label sheets.

Decals are usually printed in larger formats or pieced together to create giant wall artwork. The max print size for a custom vinyl decal is 52” x 120”. In contrast, the max print size for a custom vinyl sticker is 12” x 12”.


There are only a few distinctions between stickers and decals. Remember that you can customize either of them to showcase your branding, business hours, or personal flair. Our custom vinyl stickers as well as our custom vinyl decals work best when applied to smooth, non-porous surfaces, such as glass, plastic or metal.