Sticker Material and Adhesive Terminology

Sticker Material and Adhesive Terminology

Published by Karen Gendron on 14th Dec 2018

There are many different kinds of Sticker Materials and Adhesives. What you are using your stickers for will determine what kind of stickers you will need. Using the wrong material can result in failure, or overspending for something you don't need.

Sticker Materials

Vinyl - Also known as pressure sensitive vinyl, and is for outdoor use. Thin material and usually white or clear. There are two common methods of producing vinyl films: Calendering and Casting, which will produce calendered vinyl, or cast vinyl.

Calendering - The most common method of producing vinyl films. Uses temperature and pressure to create a vinyl film at a specific thickness and offers speed of production for economic advantages (common when producing economy grade vinyl films). These films are used for general purpose signage and are designed for short to medium-term exposure applications.

Casting - PVC resin, plasticizer, colorant is added with a solvent to create a sheet that is then baked at a high temperature to form a very thin, flexible film, while evaporating the solvent. This allows the film to be highly resistant to heat, sun, fading and distortion.

Cracked and Peeling Vinyl

Paper - Not meant for long term use, and not for outdoors as moisture will ruin them. Cheaper price.

Poly (polypropylene, polyester) - Pressure sensitive synthetic stock that is rugged and durable like vinyl. Comes in white, clear, metallic.

Foil - Pressure sensitive paper stock that is finished with a metallic layer. Best for indoor or short term use.

Static Cling - Thin vinyl with an electric charge to hold to non-porous surfaces such as glass. Can lose static charge over time.

Cut Vinyl - Calendared or Cast vinyl can be cut to shape. It comes in variety of colours and can be cut into specific shapes without printing.

UV coating - Clear, adds sheen to surface, protects from scuff and UV light.

Lamination - Clear poly with adhesive that is applied over printed sticker for protection from abrasion, solvents, UV, etc.

Backer, Liner, or Back-liner - The stock with a waxy side that the sticker is adhered to. Comes in variety of thicknesses and can be printed on.

Slit backer or Crack and Peel Backing - Back liner that is cut through without cutting the sticker. Allows for easy sticker removal from backing

Mask, or Transfer Tape - White or clear low tack material that is placed over cut and weeded vinyl. It allows for the entire cut vinyl design to be removed from the backing, and placed as a whole to desired location.


Permanent - Single application and cannot be easily removed. If removed, will usually leave residue behind.

Low-tack - Meant for removal and is for single use. Once used, will lose tackiness. Leaves little or no residue.

Re-positionable - Low tack, but strong. Used with a stronger material to withstand repeated removals.

Super-tack - Very strong adhesive meant for rough, imperfect surfaces (ie. large machinery).

Freezer Adhesive - Withstands 10 C to -30 C and is for labelling freezer items.