Stickers vs paint stencils. Which one if the better option?

Stickers vs Paint Stencils an honest comparison.

Are you having trouble choosing between stickers or paint stencils for your labelling and marking needs? Do you want to choose the cost effective option but don’t know if the difference in quality if worth it? Don’t worry as Signprint is here to help you decide.

Over the decades we have been asked what type of sticker would be ideal for a client’s needs, but at times a job requires the use of a stencils, this often leads to questions regarding the difference between stickers and stencils and which one is the better option for them. At Signprint we sell both stickers and stencils hence we are able to provide the clients with an unbiased and detailed comparison to help answer which one is ideal for their needs.

Defining stickers and paint stencils.

Stickers for call signs or other marking needs.


Stickers: A flexible label made of vinyl, polyester or paper, among other materials, which is usually designed or illustrated. They come in different sizes and have pressure sensitive adhesive applied to one side that allows the sticker to cling to various surfaces and equipment. Stickers can be seen applied on children’s lunchboxes, automobiles, fruits, industrial machines, equipment, walls, windows and more.


Stencils: A thin piece of material with designed cut outs or gaps which is placed on a surface and pigment applied, this embeds the cut-out design or image of the stencil onto the surface. The stencil is easily applied and is used to produce letters, logos, designs and even art.

Applying paint through a stencil.

Comparing the two.

Despite some similar functions and uses, stickers and stencils are vastly different, with many businesses and industries swapping between the two when necessary. Below we will objectively compare the functions and feature of stickers vs stencils to understand their viability in certain conditions. This might help those trying to decide which one would be ideal for their needs.                                                                                                                             

                                                                 Stickers                                                                                         Stencils

  • Made of a thin flexible film with adhesive to help adhere it to certain surfaces.
  • The stickers are made from different material types such as vinyl, polyester etc depending on the how resistant and durable the sticker needs to be.
  • Stencils are made from metal, plastic sheets, and cardboard along with a few others.
  • The type of paint used depends on the needs of the clients.
  • Sticker can be applied on all types of surfaces. Some surfaces like fibre or wood might require a sticker with a stronger adhesive.
  • The type of surface dictates the strength or tack of the adhesive
  • Temporary stickers have weak adhesive strength that allows it to be removed and reapplied onto another surface.
  • Paint can be applied on all types of surfaces and is a good choice for porous surfaces.
  • Different types of paint last for different durations.
  • Once applied, paint is harder to remove unlike stickers.
  • The sticker material determine the resistance and durability of the sticker. Vinyl stickers are low cost durable options.
  • Stickers can be laminated to add to the lifespan of the sticker.
  • Most stickers have a temperature resistance up to 300°C.
  • There are other types of pigment that are more resistant.
  • The paint can be coated to add more resistance.
  • The stencil itself are made out of ACM, aluminium and polycarbonate.
  • ACM and aluminium are brittle and can be bent and broken while the polycarbonate is light and bendable but hard to break.
  • There are multiple designs and colour choice for stickers.
  • Sticker design can also be customised to the client’s specifications.
  • Most sticker are glossy and eye-catching compared to paint.
  • Stencil designs are usually more limited than stickers.
  • Most general stencils have simple shapes and lettering
  • Custom stencils can be made.
  • Stickers are cheaper than stencils to make, although producing large amount of might cause more than making a sticker.
  • Higher resistant sticker are more expensive than normal sticker.
  • Stencils are more expensive due to the materials required but despite this it is cost effective when used multiple times.
  • Normal paint is generally heat resistant hence it can be a cheap substitute to high resistance stickers.
  • Can be easily applied and removed, without making a mess.
  • Affordable option
  • Variety of sticker types used for different needs. Decorating, labelling, being used as a warning and so on
  • Stencils can be used to repeatedly produce the same design across different surfaces.
  • Does not “fall off” or “peel off” like stickers.
  • Certain solvents need to be used to remove paint.

Which one is better for you?

When choosing between stickers or stencils one much have basic knowledge about the two and understand what is it that they require from it.

For marking multiple equipment and surfaces with the same rudimentary design a stencil is more cost effective than stickers, especially when the conditions require the sticker to have high resistance.

When decorating or labelling rented equipment or surfaces for a short period of time, it is best to use vinyl stickers which are easily removable. The gloss on the vinyl sticker also draws attention towards it making it an ideal choice for making logos or other decorations.

There are many other reason that one might choose a stencil over a sticker and vice versa hence it is best to understand the needs of the job before choosing.

Want our recommendation?

If you are still having trouble deciding, then we at Signprint can help you make an informed decision and choose the right product. You can contact us at to ask any question regarding the products, the cost or even free stickers and stencil samples to help you decide further. Check out our other videos and articles on the learning hub or connect with us on our social media.


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