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Are custom labels weatherproof?

In this article, we're going to be explaining what being weatherproof actually means and how to get genuinely weatherproof labels.

To kick off, what is the short answer to the main question - are custom labels weatherproof? Yes and no - it's all about choosing the correct material. Before we get on to the subject of weatherproof materials, what does being weatherproof mean?

What does weatherproof mean?

The definition of weatherproof is "able to withstand exposure to weather or the elements".

In other words, if something is weatherproof, it won’t be damaged or affected by bad weather conditions like rain, snow, wind, or sun (for quite a while).

So, when people ask if custom labels can be weatherproof, they’re really asking if they can be exposed to the elements without being ruined.

And the answer to that question is - it depends on the material of the label.

Some materials are more weatherproof than others, and some aren’t weatherproof at all. It’s important to choose a weatherproof material for your custom labels if you want them to last.

What materials are weatherproof?

The weatherproofness of a label material usually depends on two main things - how long it lasts before fading in the sunlight and its resistance to water or other chemicals, such as solvents.

There are a few different label materials that you can choose for your custom labels that will handle exposure to both the sun, rain & chemicals. They are:

The reason all of these materials come with a permanent adhesive and withstand these harsh conditions is because we add a plastic laminate over the printed image.

This thin layer of plastic keeps water & chemicals away from the ink, so it cannot harm it. It also has UV-blockers in to protect the image from fading.

What makes a material weatherproof?

The most important part of the material used to make a label weatherproof is the over-laminate.

This is the thin layer of plastic that goes over the top of the printed image and protects it from the sun, rain & chemicals.

The over-laminate is what makes your weatherproof labels weatherproof - without it, they wouldn’t be weatherproof at all because the ink would be exposed to the elements.

This image shows the construction of our most popular white vinyl material, which is also waterproof:

Split view of a white vinyl sticker with each material layer numbered

This is what each layer represents:

  1. This is the important part - a clear plastic over-laminate that protects the printed image.

  2. This is the ink layer that gets printed to create your design. It's protected by the laminate.

  3. The white plastic layer is very stable and withstands water & most chemicals.

  4. The acrylic adhesive is also extremely stable, so will withstand rain and UV exposure.

  5. The bottom layer is the paper backing. This is removed during application, so doesn't need to withstand the elements. Its main jobs are to keep the label flat and to protect the adhesive until it's applied.

Which materials aren't weatherproof?

The worst option is paper labels - these are not weatherproof.

The problem with paper is that it’s very absorbent, so if it gets wet, it gets soft and is susceptible to tearing. Sometimes the ink can smudge, making the label unreadable. Paper labels will also fade in direct sunlight quicker because there is no protective layer of laminate.

We also offer eco-friendly white and eco-friendly clear labels.

These are made from a renewable resource (wood pulp), and they are compostable and recyclable. Unfortunately, because they’re made from wood pulp and not plastic, they are less stable than plastic stickers. In simple terms, this means when the material gets wet, it can expand or contract.

Our eco-friendly materials will withstand exposure to sunlight and even some rain and other chemicals, but only for short periods of time.

If you want your labels to be weatherproof and last outside for over 1 year, eco-friendly labels aren't your best choice, and you're better off sticking with one of the materials on the weatherproof list.

Clear die cut water bottle sticker applied to a stainless steel bottle in the dishwasher

How can I make my weatherproof labels last even longer?

If you want your weatherproof labels to last as long as possible, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Apply them to clean, dry surfaces - if you apply them to a wet, oily or dirty surface, the adhesive won’t stick as well, and the label will come off more easily.

  2. Store them in a cool, dry place. Yes, these are custom outdoor labels, but if you store your labels in a humid environment, over time they may start to peel at the edges.

  3. Avoid exposing them to harsh chemicals - some chemicals can eat away at permanent adhesive on your labels, causing it to degrade.

If you follow these simple tips, your weatherproof labels should last for years, no problem!

Custom waterproof labels vs custom weatherproof labels - what's the difference?

People often confuse weatherproof and waterproof labels, thinking they mean the same thing. They don’t!

Weatherproof means that the labels can withstand exposure to weather conditions like sun, rain and snow. Waterproof labels, on the other hand, mean that the labels are impervious to water - they will not be damaged if they are submerged in water.

The biggest difference is then the exposure to sunlight and to harsher weather conditions such as hail or snow.

The laminate protective layer on custom labels gives them added protection to the sunlight and these other harsher conditions.

Clear die cut sticker applied to a water bottle held under a tap with running water

The final word

If you're looking for labels that can withstand the elements, you'll want to choose weatherproof labels. These labels are designed to resist fading in sunlight and damage from moisture or chemicals, making them ideal for products that will be used outdoors or in other harsh environments.

When selecting weatherproof labels, be sure to choose a material that is compatible with the surface you'll be applying the label to. Weatherproof labels are an essential tool for any business that needs to create durable, long-lasting products.

Maybe you are now curious to learn more about how to order waterproof labels? You can check out our waterproof labels FAQs here or head over to our help centre here.

If you have any questions about weatherproof labels, label printing, or need help finding the right label for your project, please contact our customer service team today. We're always happy to help!