How to choose the perfect custom sticker
Are you unsure which custom sticker is right for you?
We've spent weeks creating the most comprehensive resource available online to help you get the perfect custom sticker.
This guide will give you enough information to make the right decision but doesn't get bogged down in technical jargon or too much science.
We've split this guide into 4 sections:
- Choosing the right material
- Should your sticker be laminated; Yes or No?
- Getting the adhesive right
- Choosing the perfect cut
Once you've read this guide, you'll be in the best position to buy the perfect custom stickers for your application.
Experience tells us that too many people buy the wrong sticker and pay more than necessary. This guide will help you make the right decisions, saving you time and money!
Let's get stuck in.
1. Choosing the right material
This is the most important part. Getting this right could mean the difference between your sticker enjoying years of happy sticking and looking great (something we all want), vs disintegrating at the first touch or drop of water.
But don’t worry! It’s easy to make the right decision with the information we’re about to give you...
When we talk about material we mean the layer your design is printed onto.
There are 2 main categories of material to choose from, they are paper or plastic. Here are some highlights of both:
- Durable and hard-wearing
- Suitable for outdoor use
- Options to choose flexible plastics
- Recyclable options available
- Available in many colour options
- Flexible so can go on curved surfaces
- Short-term or indoor use only
- Most aren’t waterproof. If they are it’s not as resistant as plastic.
- Low cost
- Easily recyclable
- Great textured finishes available
- Available in nearly as many colour options as plastics
A useful way to understand what material is best for you is to see what other people do. We have listed some of the most popular uses for each material below:
A common mistake
Many people don’t realise papers and plastic are available in many colours such as metallic, holographic and fluorescent. However, it will be much easier to find plastic stickers in these colours on the market. So, speak to your supplier if you want a colour other than white or clear.
2. Laminated - Yes or No?
Understanding if you need a laminate on your custom sticker or not will save you valuable money.
What types of laminate are available?
The 2 main options are either matte or gloss. This is mainly down to preference.
You can get ‘liquid laminates’ that are clear coatings to help with a bit of resistance, but they don’t get close to the strength of a layer of plastic.
If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you need a laminate on your sticker.
Is your sticker being used outdoors?
For example, on a bike frame. If so, it needs the UV, water and scratch resistance from laminate.
Will your sticker be scratched, rubbed or held repeatedly?
For example, on the back of your phone or laptop.
Do you have a premium brand and you want to give a perception of quality?
The extra layer of laminate gives your sticker the thickness to make it feel premium, like a beautiful thick business card.
If you answer yes to these questions, you don’t need laminate.
Are you looking for the lowest cost option?
The extra layer of laminate adds cost and complexity to the manufacturing process.
Are your stickers for a single-use?
For example, takeaway food packaging or event name stickers. No laminate is needed as they are used for such a short time.
Are your stickers only being used indoors?
For example, for beverage bottles (think fancy gin bottle sticker) or for product marking like a QR code on an electrical product.
3. Getting the adhesive right
Knowing this, and getting the adhesive right is really important to ensure your custom sticker doesn't peel and look bad within a few hours - not ideal.
Whilst there are many different types of adhesive the most important factor is the strength. We will focus on this.
Stickers with a removable grade adhesive are used for applications when you want to remove the sticker after a very short time and to leave no residue.
Most stickers use this material - well over 90%. This is because they’re perfect for sticking to nearly all surfaces (see the list below).
- Galvanized steel
- Powder coatings
- Plastic bottles
This is an industrial-strength adhesive for those hard to stick to applications. Go for these if you’ve used stickers in the past that don’t stick or you’re sticking to one of these materials:
- Low energy plastic - polypropylene and polyethene to be exact. Things that are made from these plastics are; water buckets, wheelie bins, motocross bike fairings.
If you’re selling your stickers to your customers, giving them away as handouts or just unsure about which is best for you to choose the permanent adhesive option. It the best all-rounder and won’t go ruining anything they’re stuck to.
There are 3 ‘strengths’ of adhesive used for sticker and label applications. These are:
4. Individual, on sheets or rolls
Getting this right could save you valuable hours! Choose from; individually cut, sticker sheets or stickers on rolls?
To help explain how important this is we did a test of applying 1000 stickers that we’re 3cm circles. It took 2 hours and 17 minutes when individually cut whereas it took 48 minutes when on a sheet. That’s a saving of 1 hour and 29 minutes, or 65% -
now do I have your attention.
If you’re giving your stickers away at an event, selling your stickers individually or even applying a few hundred to your product packaging, we recommend individually cut stickers.
They are easy to store and often the easiest to buy in small quantities.
If you choose individually cut stickers, then you have two main options; kiss-cut or die-cut.
What’s the difference?
Cut individual stickers to any shape you want. The main difference is kiss-cut only cuts through the first sticker layer whereas a die-cut sticker cuts through the sticker AND the backing paper layer.
This image explains it better than words ever could...
If you’re starting to apply many hundred or even thousands of stickers to products or packaging, we recommend getting your stickers on sheets.
All stickers are kiss-cut through the sticker layer but remain on the backing paper in a sheet form, making them super quick and easy to remove.
Sheets are also great if you want to write on them. Sheets come in many different sizes, but we recommend A4 and A5 if the size of your sticker allows it because this is very easy to distribute.
Custom sticker sheets are also a great option if you want to add a giveaway for a magazine or for logo stickers in product packing (think of the Apple stickers you get with your iPhone). Popping sticker sheets in works perfectly and will get your brand seen.
If you’ve got many different designs, it might be worth adding a title, product code or barcode to the sheet to help you identify each design. This is especially helpful if your designs are very similar and only a few words differ, for example, on ingredients stickers.
Stickers on rolls
The benefits of rolls are similar to sheets because they are easy to apply.
Rolls are particularly useful if your stickers are applied automatically/semi-automatically via a dispenser or machine.
Similar to sticker sheets, stickers on rolls are kiss-cut through the sticker layer but remain on the backing paper in a sheet or roll form, making them fast to peel and apply.
There are many ways stickers on rolls can be applied; here are a few images to get your creative juices flowing.
We recommend getting stickers on rolls if you’ve got a machine to apply them for you. This is easily the fastest way to apply thousands of stickers.
Unanswered questions? Claim your free sample pack
In summary, there are 4 key decisions to make when choosing the optimal custom sticker. They are:
- Choosing the right material
- Do you want your sticker laminated?
- Making your label to stick - choosing the right adhesive
- Getting them cut right - individual or on sheets or rolls
If this has been overwhelming and you simply cannot decide what is best for you, we recommend getting the best all-rounder - a white plastic sticker with a permanent adhesive. It’ll stick to most things and the white material with a gloss laminate that will make your stickers look fantastic!
If you still feel like you need more information, the best option is to get some stickers in your hands so you can test them on your application.
Get a free sample pack from Sticker it
If you have any questions or want help finding your perfect custom sticker please leave a comment below.