Decal Buying Guide

Bumper stickers and window decals are one of the best ways for students, family, staff and alumni to show their school pride.  Just look at vehicles around you as you’re driving (while still being safe of course), and you are bound to see bumper stickers, window decals or clings with a school’s name or mascot proudly displayed.  With all the time spent behind the wheel, it’s no surprise that our vehicles also serve as a “mobile billboard” to actively endorse and advertise favorite schools, organizations, musicians, politicians, and charitable causes.

From a business standpoint, decals are among our most popular items for their easy-to-mail size, and affordable price point. There are many options involved when selecting the perfect decal for your desired application.  In this Decal Buying Guide, we’ll break down the three main decal buying considerations and highlight some popular products.

Before we get started, we want to define decal / sticker terminology.  Decal is the overall term that covers the entire product category, including stickers and static clings. Stickers, as the name tells us, refers to only adhesive, sticky-back applications.
Decal Buying Considerations
In addition to determining the decal’s size and shape, there are three main buying decisions to review:

  1. Print Method
  2. Material
  3. Adhesive

We will discuss each of these areas in detail and will also provide artwork tips for specific decal applications.

Decal Size and Shapes

Anything from small to large stock shapes to completely custom shapes can be created in an adhesive or static cling decal.

We offer over 89 shapes and sizes, so rest assured that we can help you find exactly what you need.  Watch this fun, short video from our partner:

Some common shapes and sizes include:

  • Rectangles: 5″ x 7″, or common bumper sticker size: 3″ x 11.5″,
  • Circles: 6″ – 8″ diameter
  • Ovals: 5″ x 8″
  • Squares: 6″ – 8″
  • Octagons: cut from 8″ x 8″
  • Triangles: cut from 8″ x 8″

Some shapes can have either rounded or square corners.  Here is a 2.5″ x 9.25″ screen printed bumper sticker sample:

Bumper Sticker Screen Print

Standard sized (2.5″ x 9.25″), ultra-removable adhesive, screen printed bumper sticker

Custom sizes are available in sizes from 1 to 600 square inches. Using a straight edge cut will save you money compared to a die-cut custom decal. Fully custom shape decals do require a die for cutting, so setup costs will be higher than a standard shape.  However, repeat orders using the same die would not include a die cutting fee for greater cost savings.  A custom die cut shape may be something to consider when looking for a unique- or mascot-shaped decal.

Printing Methods

You can pick from main printing method for standard shaped decals: screen printing and digital printing.

Screen Printing

  • Lasts 3 – 5 years, outdoor durability
  • Most material options – White, Clear Vinyl or Static, and Chrome Vinyl
  • Pantone matching, Metallic, and Fluorescent Colors
  • Higher price point

Digital Printing

  • Lasts 2+ years, outdoor durability
  • Fewer materials options – White Vinyl or White Static
  • Full color, photo-realistic printing
  • Lower price point

One additional printing method, offset printing is used for full color, high definition custom shape decals. This is beneficial when you want the highest level of clarity and detail in your artwork.  High quality printing does, on average, come at a higher cost than screen and digital printing. For any decal printing project, minimum quantities start at 125 pieces.

High Resolution Decal Sample

HD Resolution Decal is created with offset printing

Here’s another video that describes the HD Resolution Decals, including imagery of more samples. If you artwork includes landscape scenery, images of people, or extremely detailed pictures, then HD is the right option for you.  Smaller budget, but still want photo-realistic printing? Then use digital printing methods.

Material Type
Digitally Printed Decals

Decals can use an adhesive or static cling to stick to the desired surface. As mentioned in the printing method section, white or clear polyester vinyl can be used in digitally printed adhesive decals.  White vinyl is the only option for a digitally printed static cling.

Screen Printed Decals

When screen printing an adhesive decal, white vinyl, clear polyester vinyl, and chrome polyester vinyl can be used. Screen printed static clings can be printed on either white or clear vinyl. The static is applied to either the back of the cling or the front for use inside of a window.

Adhesive Type

Choose from the following adhesive options:

  • Permanent – if removed, there will be a residue left behind
  • Removable – can be removed with some effort, no residue will be left behind
  • Ultra-removable – easiest to remove without a residue – this material is used for bumper stickers.
  • Static Cling (no adhesive) – indoor applications only, choose from static face or back
Static Cling

When looking for an indoor application for windows or mirrors, white or clear vinyl clings are the perfect, non-adhesive option.  Clings can be refreshed with soap and water to keep sticking-power. Static clings are flexible and scuff-resistant and easily conforms to smooth surfaces, such as a curved rear window of a car.  Choose from applying the static to the front or the back of the cling, based on where it will be used.

Inside Removable Window Stickers

Select a clear static cling (with a static front) or clear polyester adhesive for affixing stickers to the INSIDE of a car window.  For artwork, we recommend using lighter colors, so the sticker can still be viewed through tinted glass, as shown below.

Decal Inside Window Removable Sticker

Use a white outline around letters, so it’s easily viewed from outside of the vehicle.

 

Bumper Stickers

You can pick either white or yellow vinyl, using ultra-removable Zip-Strips.  One new item is the clear bumper sticker.  As mentioned above for the inside window sticker, we recommend using white outlines around the artwork, so the art will show-up regardless of the color of the bumper.

Clear bumper sticker sample has text outlined in white to make it stand out

Clear bumper sticker sample has text outlined in white to make it stand out

Artwork Tips

Remember these factors when designing for decals and cling applications:

  • Use screen printing for an exact Pantone color match, metallic or fluorescent colors
  • Use digital printing for photo-realistic quality at a lower price than offset printing
  • Incorporate light colors into any design for inside window stickers
  • On a clear background, outline text and imagery in white

Suggested Uses

Custom Postcard Decal can be a cling or sticker

Custom Postcard Decal can be a cling or sticker

Mailings

  • We have created bumper stickers for admitted student mailings, which were part of a Facebook photo contest for one college.
  • The Postcard Decal can mail as a standalone piece or as an insert. You can include multiple stickers on the decal too.
  • Popular for alumni association mailings

Event Handouts

  • Stickers and tattoos are favorite items at community events.
  • Use for Open House Events, Admitted Student Days, Orientation

Get in touch with your Account Manager to discuss the right options for your decals and stickers.