Candle product and packaging designed with custom sticker

How to print stickers: everything you need to know about sticker printing

Reading time: 13 minutes

Stickers are a fun and tangible way to bring your brand to life; there’s nothing more satisfying than peeling and placing a freshly printed sticker to promote your burgeoning business. But before you get there, you might need some guidance on how to print stickers.

Whether you’re considering printing stickers in-house or opting for professional services, we’ve got you covered. You’ll find practical printing tips for a hassle-free process, and insights to help you choose the best method for your stickers, ensuring top-quality results.

We’ll then explore the wide range of materials, formats, and finishes at your fingertips, from glossy and metallic to eco-friendly and matte options. This article is your go-to guide for sticker printing.

Table of contents

If you want to print professional-looking stickers at home, consider investing in a specialized sticker printer, like Cricut or Silhouette machines, which can print and cut stickers. However, for basic sticker printing, a regular inkjet or laser printer will do.

Inkjet printers are preferable for high-quality color printing, while laser printers are better for text-heavy designs and bulk printing. The key is to use the correct sticker paper compatible with your printer type. Once printed, you’ll have to manually cut your stickers using scissors or a craft knife for more intricate designs.

Types of stickers you can print at home

When printing stickers at home, you’re limited to a few basic sticker materials (read on for everything you need to know about the different types):

  • Matte sticker paper
  • Glossy sticker paper
  • Vinyl sheets
Format-wise, your two main options are…
  • Sheet stickers. Printing on A4 or letter-size sticker sheets is the most common at-home practice.
  • Die-cut style. While you can’t print true die-cut stickers at home, you can manually cut your stickers to mimic this style.
sticker design created on 99designs by VistaPrint

Sticker design by Jose Antonia Varela

You can then manually laminate stickers for added durability, though this requires extra cost and effort.

Pros of home sticker printing:

  • Freedom. You can design and print whatever you like, and have fun experimenting!
  • Quicker results. No need to factor in order time when you DIY.
  • Cost-effective. Small-scale projects without the need for bulk orders are cheaper printed at home.

Limitations of home sticker printing:

  • Quality. Home printers probably won’t match the quality of professional printing services.
  • Durability. Home-printed stickers may not be as durable or waterproof as those made professionally (unless you use specialized materials).
  • Time and effort. Manual cutting, especially for intricate designs, can be time-consuming and difficult to get right.
If you do decide to print your stickers from the comfort of your home, you’ll need the following equipment:
  • A computer for designing your stickers (ideally, with graphic editing software like Adobe Illustrator, or web-based alternatives like VistaCreate)
  • A good-quality inkjet or laser printer
  • Ink or toner cartridges
  • Sticker paper compatible with your printer
  • Cutting tools, like scissors or a craft knife
  • Ruler for measuring and ensuring straight cuts
  • Laminating sheets (optional)

However, if you need your stickers to look top-notch and you don’t have the time to hand finish them, you might want to consider printing stickers using a professional service…

Professional sticker printing services

While printing stickers at home offers more control and can be cost-effective for small quantities, the quality, durability, and professional finish you get from a printing service like VistaPrint are usually unmatched.

How to print stickers with VistaPrint

Printing stickers with VistaPrint; Source: VistaPrint

Let’s go through the pros and cons of professional printing to solidify whether you will opt for a DIY approach or decide to outsource…

Pros of professional sticker printing:

  • Quality. Professional printers use advanced equipment, resulting in superior print quality and durability.
  • More choice. Access to a wider range of materials and finishes, including weather-resistant options.
  • Bulk order. Professional services can handle large orders efficiently.
  • Intricacy. Advanced machines can cut complex shapes, providing cleaner and more accurate results.
  • Time-effective. No need for you to spend time printing and cutting; the service handles everything.

Limitations of professional sticker printing:

  • Cost. Generally more expensive than DIY, especially for small batches.
  • Order size. Some services have minimum order requirements, which may not suit smaller projects.
  • Order time. Professional printing may have longer lead times compared with printing at home.
  • Customization. Relying on a service for the entire process, from printing to cutting, can lead to less personal results.
Here’s the process of printing stickers through professional printing services broken down:
  1. Submit your sticker design to the printing service. This can be a design you’ve created or made with the help of a template or designer. For instance, with VistaPrint, you can either upload your own design, use a template, rely on VistaPrint’s design experts, or turn to designers from 99designs by Vista. 
  2. Choose from a wide range of materials (vinyl, polyester, paper, etc.) and formats (die-cut, kiss-cut, sheets, rolls).
  3. Approve a digital or physical proof of your sticker provided by the printer before the print run.
  4. Your stickers are printed using advanced printing technology, including options for high-quality ink and precise color matching.
  5. Stickers are cut into the desired shape and finished with any treatment required.
  6. The final sticker product undergoes a quality check before being packaged and shipped to you.

The choice between the two printing methods depends on your needs, budget, and project scale. But as professional printing is increasingly accessible, we recommend printing your stickers online—it’s a quick and efficient way to print the most professional-looking, high-quality product.

Sticker sheets

An example of sticker rolls; Source: VistaPrint

Stickers printed on a long roll of backing paper provide an efficient printing method for producing large quantities of stickers. 

Uses: Whether used for product labeling, packaging, or retail, sticker rolls streamline the distribution process.

Pros: The stickers’ design can differ, and the roll can be used in manual or machine labeling applications. Sticker rolls’ convenience, speed, and versatility make them indispensable when large quantities of stickers are needed.

Cons: Sticker rolls require a certain scale of operation to be cost-effective.

Die-cut stickers

Die-cut stickers

An example of die-cut stickers; Source: VistaPrint

Die-cut stickers are custom stickers cut to the exact shape of the design using a precision-cutting tool. Unlike standard circular or square stickers, die-cut stickers can take on any shape the design requires, whether a logo, word, or image. This customization allows for a more personalized and eye-catching look.

Uses: Perfect for creating promotional materials and custom merchandise, die-cut stickers are also a popular choice for event giveaways and product labeling.

Pros: Their ability to be cut into the unique shape you require helps your sticker to stand out, making the design more engaging. Die-cutting offers clean and precise edges, enhancing the overall quality of the sticker.

Limitations: Die-cut stickers are generally more costly due to the custom-cutting process, which can also be more time-consuming and extend the production time compared to standard stickers.

Kiss-cut stickers

Kiss-cut stickers

An example of kiss-cut stickers; Source: VistaPrint

Kiss-cut stickers are made by cutting through the sticker layer without cutting through the backing paper, creating a custom shape that’s easy to peel off. This cutting method provides the sticker with extra backing, which can be printed with additional designs or information, adding value and functionality. 

Uses: Whether used for promotional, labeling, or decorative purposes, kiss-cut stickers are practical and visually appealing.

Pros: The extra backing makes these stickers easier to peel off—useful for intricate designs—and provides more space to print on, increasing creative potential. The backing also protects the sticker’s edges, reducing the risk of damage or curling.

Limitations: They can be slightly more expensive than standard stickers due to the precision cutting process. The surface area is larger than die-cut stickers, which might not be ideal for all applications. Not all sticker materials are suitable for kiss-cutting, especially very thin or fragile materials.

Sticker materials

Paper stickers

Paper stickers

An example of paper stickers; Source: VistaPrint

Crafted from trusty adhesive paper, paper stickers are the classic choice in the sticker world, renowned for their versatility and wallet-friendly prices. 

Uses: Mainly used for indoor labeling, paper stickers are ideal for product and packaging labels, and are a popular choice for marketing and promotional materials.

Pros: You can’t beat paper stickers when it comes to print quality with wallet-friendly prices, making them ideal for large-scale or budget-conscious projects. Colors appear vibrant while text appears sharp. Uncoated paper stickers can be easily written on—great for labels or name tags. Often made from recycled or biodegradable materials, paper stickers can also be more environmentally friendly.

Limitations: Paper stickers aren’t resistant to water, oil, or other environmental elements, limiting their outdoor use. They’re also more prone to wear and tear compared to vinyl or polyester stickers.

Vinyl stickers

Vinyl stickers

An example of vinyl stickers; Source: VistaPrint

Made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC),—a robust and flexible plastic material—and known for their resilience, vinyl stickers are a step up from paper stickers, especially when it comes to outdoor use. There are various types, including standard, clear, and heavy-duty options.

Uses: Vinyl stickers are ideal for decals, outdoor or industrial signage, and promotional materials that involve exposure to the elements and need to withstand wear and tear. Businesses often choose vinyl stickers for labeling products that are exposed to water or need to be refrigerated, like beverages and cosmetics.

Pros: Vinyl is waterproof and resistant to weather elements, including rain, sunlight, and extreme temperatures. Vinyl stickers showcase more vibrant colors and sharper details than other sticker materials. They can stick to various surfaces and are available in glossy, matte, and even reflective finishes.

Limitations: They are generally more expensive than paper stickers and PVC is not biodegradable, posing environmental concerns. Writing on vinyl stickers can also be a challenge, especially if they have a glossy finish, making them less functional.

Foil stickers

Foil stickers

An example of foil stickers; Source: VistaPrint

Foil stickers have a shiny, reflective quality that instantly catches the eye, making them an excellent choice when you want to make a statement. 

Uses: These metallic stickers are ideal for adding a touch of luxury to packaging, especially with beauty, food, and beverage products. Foil’s shiny quality is great for branding, promotional and marketing materials, and crafting attention-grabbing logos, labels, and business cards. 

Pros: Available in a range of colors, foil stickers can be customized to suit various designs, and the metallic finish adds a luxurious and high-end look.

Limitations: Generally, these stickers are more expensive than other materials due to the metallic foil component. Their flashy nature might not be suitable for all types of branding needs.

Kraft stickers

Kraft stickers

An example of kraft stickers; Source: VistaPrint

These stickers are made using kraft paper—a durable, brown-colored material that gets its name from the German word ‘kraft,’ meaning ‘strength’.

Uses: Kraft stickers are particularly suitable for organic and artisanal product labeling, packaging, and branding.

Pros: With their earthy look and environmentally friendly appeal, kraft stickers are favored by eco-conscious or artisanal brands. Naturally stronger and more tear-resistant than standard paper, kraft paper is also recyclable and biodegradable, appealing to environmentally-conscious consumers. The natural brown color and texture offer an organic look and feel that can make products stand out.

Limitations: The brown material can alter how colors appear, which may not be suitable for designs requiring vibrant, true-to-color printing. Like most paper products, kraft stickers are not waterproof, making them less suitable for products exposed to moisture.

Static cling stickers

Static cling stickers

An example of static cling stickers; Source: VistaPrint

These stickers are made from a flexible vinyl material that clings to surfaces using the power of static electricity.

Uses: Static cling is often used for promotional or decorative retail window displays and car decals. It’s also a great choice for temporary signs at exhibitions or trade shows.

Pros: Unlike traditional adhesive stickers, static cling stickers are perfect for temporary uses since they don’t have a sticky back and leave no residue. These user-friendly stickers are easy to apply and reposition without needing professional installation. They can be removed and reapplied multiple times, making them cheaper and more eco-friendly in the long run. Clear static clings are also ideal for storefront applications as they allow for visibility through windows.

Limitations: Static clings work best on smooth, flat surfaces like glass and are less effective on textured surfaces. They are less durable compared to adhesive-based stickers and therefore unsuitable for long-term outdoor use. They can also lose their static charge in extreme temperatures or when exposed to water or humidity.

Polyester/polypropylene stickers

Polyester/polypropylene stickers

An example of polyester stickers; Source: VistaPrint

Polyester and polypropylene stickers are synthetic plastic materials known for their durability. 

Uses: Ideal for machinery and safety labels, outdoor equipment, and car decals, these stickers are often used for labeling products exposed to water, oil, or chemicals, such as food containers or cleaning products.

Pros: Known for their resistant quality, these plastic stickers are suitable for harsh environments. They don’t rip, tear, or fade easily, ensuring a long lifespan. Polypropylene stickers are quite flexible, making them suitable for uneven surfaces. Both materials support high-quality printing with sharp details and vibrant colors and are available in glossy, matte, and clear finishes.

Limitations: Polyester and polypropylene stickers are generally more expensive than paper or vinyl stickers. Being synthetic, they are less eco-friendly and take a very long time to biodegrade.

Each sticker material option has its unique strengths, so consider the setting in which the sticker will be used, its required longevity, and the visual impact you aim to achieve.

Sticker finishes 

Glossy finish

Glossy-finish stickers

An example of stickers with glossy finish; Source: VistaPrint

Stickers with a glossy finish flaunt a shiny, reflective surface that enhances color vibrancy.

Aesthetic pros: Eye-catching graphics, photos, and vibrant color schemes.

Practical pros: Generally offer good protection against moisture and fading.

Matte finish

Matte-finish stickers

An example of stickers with matte finish; Source: VistaPrint

Matte stickers have a non-reflective, flat finish that provides a softer, more subtle look.

Aesthetic pros: Elegant and professional designs, easy readability.

Practical pros: Resistant to smudges and fingerprints.

Satin finish

Satin-finish stickers

An example of stickers with satin finish; Source: VistaPrint

Satin finish stickers boast a balance between matte and glossy, offering a slight sheen without high reflectivity.

Aesthetic pros: A sophisticated look that’s not overly shiny.

Practical pros: Combines the durability of glossy with the subtlety of matte.

Metallic finish

Metallic-finish stickers

An example of stickers with metallic finish; Source: VistaPrint

A metallic finish is best for premium branding, special occasions, or decorative purposes.

Aesthetic pros: Lends stickers a flashy—gold, silver, or bronze—appearance.

Practical pros: Varies, but often similar to glossy finishes in terms of moisture resistance.

Textured finish

Textured-finish stickers

An example of stickers with textured finish; Source: VistaPrint

A textured finish provides stickers with a tactile surface, such as a linen or sand texture.

Aesthetic pros: Useful for specialty products or artisanal branding, where a unique touch is desired.

Practical pros: The extra layer of material adds to the sticker’s durability.

Laminated finish

An example of stickers with laminated finish; Source: VistaPrint

This finish involves an additional protective layer being applied over the sticker, either in matte or gloss.

Aesthetic pros: As well as providing extra protection from the elements, lamination makes your sticker design appear bolder.

Practical pros: Lamination increases longevity, UV protection, and water resistance.

Holographic finish

Holographic-finish stickers

An example of stickers with holographic finish; Source: VistaPrint

A holographic finish provides a rainbow-like effect that changes with the light and angle.

Aesthetic pros: Makes promotional materials and branding elements more eye-catching and unique.

Practical pros: Similar durability to metallic finishes, offering decent protection and moisture resistance.

Clear finish

Clear-finish stickers

An example of stickers with clear finish; Source: VistaPrint

A clear finish creates transparent stickers with no background while maintaining the visibility and color of the design.

Aesthetic pros: Useful for windows, glassware, or anywhere a “no-label” look is desired.

Practical pros: Good resistance to moisture and fading.

Decided on how to print stickers for your brand or project?

You should now intricately understand the difference between how to print stickers at home and through professional printing services, and the resources needed for both methods. A clear understanding of all the different types of sticker stocks, formats, and finishes will also help inform your sticker printing journey.

All in all, this playbook has set you up for sticker success.

If you have your sticker design ready, go ahead and print it. If not, check out our design tips, create your design using VistaCreate by Vista, or connect with one of the 99designs by Vista designers.

Ready to create some stickers for your brand?

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