Waterproof stickers: how are they different & when you need them?

Are you looking to get waterproof stickers? Or are you just curious to understand how they are different to other stickers you may typically buy?

We’re going to explain, in this short article, precisely how they get manufactured and when you should be choosing this type of sticker over the other choices that are on the market. We’ll even go into the negatives so you can understand the compromises you’re making when opting for a waterproof sticker.

Let’s get started!

How do waterproof stickers get made?

Stickers come in many different materials and are printed in many various methods. These are 2 of the main reasons it can be potentially complex to make the right decision.

An essential factor about waterproof stickers is that they’re printed on waterproof materials using inks that are also waterproof.

This image helps to show the different layers you can find in a typical waterproof sticker.

  1. The top layer is a waterproof over-laminate. This is probably the most important part of ensuring the sticker withstands contact with liquids. It’s usually made from plastic, such as PVC or PP.
  2. This is the printed image. A waterproof sticker is made with ink that withstands contact with water, such as UV-cured ink.
  3. This is the coloured vinyl that your design gets printed on. It comes in many colours and is typically white or clear.
  4. The adhesive is also critical to get right. Waterproof stickers usually have acrylic waterproof adhesive on the back, so it doesn’t dissolve.
  5. Finally, we have the paper backing. You will remove this before applying the sticker, so it doesn’t need to be waterproof. Its job is to keep the sticker flat and protect the glue before using the sticker.

What are the negatives of waterproof stickers?

There is only 1 main downside to choosing a sticker that can withstand contact with water, oils and other liquids. 

The downside is that it’s typically less environmentally friendly.

Waterproof stickers and labels are made from recyclable plastics, such as PP and PE, rather than a PVC, which is harder to recycle.

The only environmentally option are bio-based plastics made with PLA films, such as these eco-friendly stickers.

They are waterproof and compostable, which is fantastic. They are, however, slightly less durable than their plastic alternative but will still last years.

However, once you put the printed sticker in a compost environment, it will degrade in only a few months.

When do you need waterproof stickers?

The short answer is more often than you may think.

The reason why is because you don’t always have control of where your sticker or label will be used.

If you’re labelling your product or packaging, it’s clear where you’re planning to use them, so it’s easy to know if you need them to be waterproof.

However, if you’re getting stickers printed for your brand as giveaways or to sell (like in the image below), you have little control over what happens to that sticker.

In these cases, we recommend getting all-rounder stickers that can withstand nearly anything. A solid medium-strength adhesive on a waterproof plastic sticker will do a great job in 99% of cases, so it is a great choice.

And there we have it, everything you need to know about waterproof stickers. We hope you’ve found this helpful, and please share it with anyone you feel would benefit from this advice.

Thanks for reading!