Stickers come in endless different logos, designs, phrases, words, and symbols. They’re widely used as a form of self-expression in a person’s interests or beliefs.
Regardless of the design of the sticker, they generally come in two finish options: matte and glossy. Each finish has their own pros and cons, depending what you want to use the stickers for.
So, matte vs glossy stickers: what’s the difference? Which ones are best? Matte stickers have a lower shine and color contrast but work great for legibility in lettering and pastel colors. Glossy stickers have a high shine and reflect a lot of light, giving them greater color vibrancy but lowering quick legibility.
Matte and glossy stickers are both great to use. If you’re trying to choose which one works best, you’ll need to know the details of each one, how they differ, and what they’re best used for.
Matte stickers are made with a more satin feel. They have a smooth appearance and reflect only a small amount of light through a soft sheen.
They’re generally soft to the touch, but not slick. The surface of a matte sticker is more flat when compared to the high shine of glossy stickers.
Matte stickers can come in regular paper form or in a vinyl form. Cheaper matte stickers are generally thin paper, while higher quality but more expensive matte stickers are made with vinyl.
Paper matte stickers are ones that are more prone to tearing, ripping, and scratching, while vinyl matte stickers have the strength and durability to withstand twists or warps that may rip a paper sticker.
Are Matte Finish Stickers Waterproof?
Speaking of durability, many people often wonder if matte finish stickers are waterproof. The answer? It depends on the material (although you can waterproof stickers yourself).
Paper matte stickers are not waterproof. If you get a droplet of water on the sticker, it will warp the paper material and cause tearing, discoloration, and flaking of the paper.
If it’s a vinyl matte sticker, it’s more likely to be waterproof. Vinyl is a more durable material that can withstand exposure to water better than paper.
It also depends on the company. There are plenty of sticker companies that sell matte stickers, and each one will generally provide an overview of the durability of their stickers when it comes to water, tearing, and other normal wear and tear.
Glossy stickers are made to have a high shine that reflects a lot of light. The high shine makes for a slick surface that feels similar to plastic.
As the glossy surface reflects the light, it often gives the sticker the appearance of having a white or yellow spot over the surface. Glossy stickers often have to be viewed out of direct light or at just the right angle to be seen fully and legibly.
However, the high shine tends to make the colors pop and contrast in a way matte stickers don’t.
Glossy stickers typically come in vinyl or a thin, clear, plastic-like material. Each of these types of material have a fairly high durability, resistant to traditional tearing and scratching that happens with paper stickers.
Are Glossy Stickers Waterproof?
Generally, glossy stickers tend to be waterproof (and if they aren’t, you can waterproof stickers yourself).
Just as with matte stickers, it will depend on the company. However, since glossy stickers are made with a high shine, this type of finish has a naturally water resistant quality.
This doesn’t mean that every glossy sticker will be waterproof, or that even the ones that are water resistant can’t be damaged with water. It simply means that they hold up better against water drops and accidental splashes or spills.
This comes in handy for when you’re looking for a sticker to put on your water bottle, which will need to be washed routinely, or on your car, which will be rained on.
What Is The Difference Between Glossy And Matte Stickers?
For a quick overview of the difference between glossy and matte stickers, check out the video below. Sticker Giant does a great job of highlighting the key differences in appearance in under a minute.
The main differences between glossy and matte stickers are shine/light reflection, color vibrancy, and legibility.
When it comes to shine, glossy stickers have a much higher shine than matte. They reflect a lot more light, giving them a surface that looks almost water-like in direct sunlight.
Matte stickers have a flat finish that doesn’t pick up the light the same way that glossy stickers do. While this may make them seem dull to some people, it’s the reason that matte stickers have a higher legibility, though it’s also the reason they have lower color vibrancy.
Because matte stickers don’t allow a lot of light on the surface, their colors can sometimes appear more muted. They don’t have a vibrant contrast between colors.
Glossy stickers, on the other hand, have a great color vibrancy. They have high contrast in their colors that really pops when seen in the light.
When it comes to legibility, matte stickers have better performance. Because they don’t reflect the light, you can read any words or phrases on them no matter what angle you’re viewing the sticker. You can also see the design better if it has a lot of details.
Glossy stickers are harder to read because part of the design tends to be obscured by a light patch. You’ll have to look at a glossy sticker from different angles to piece together exactly what the phrase or image is.
For a more in-depth exploration of matte vs glossy stickers, check out the video below from The Paper Llama. She makes her own stickers, matte and glossy, on sticker paper. In the video, she does a great job of comparing the two finishes in detail.
What Type Of Sticker Is Best?
Although it may seem like glossy stickers are best because of their high durability and color vibrancy, matte stickers have their place too.
Glossy stickers are best for items that are used on-the-go, or may experience higher wear and tear through usual use. Some examples would be:
- Water bottles
- Phone cases
- Labeling jars, cans, or other containers
Matte stickers work best for paper craft projects and other paper items. Their low shine makes them blend seamlessly with a paper item while still adding a popping design. Some items matte stickers work great on would be:
The important thing to remember is that while there are items each type of sticker works best on, they can both be used interchangeably.
A matte sticker, if made from vinyl, can certainly be used on a water bottle or laptop. A glossy sticker would still look great in a scrapbook, giving a new textured finish that stands out from the paper background.
For a quick summary of glossy vs matte stickers, check our at-a-glance table below.
|Characteristic||Glossy Stickers||Matte Stickers|
|Finish||High shine||Lower shine|
|Color Vibrancy||Vibrant colors||Soft, more muted colors|
|Readability||Low legibility||High legibility|
|Durability||High durability with most materials||High durability with only some materials|
|Uses||Best used for water bottles, laptops, phone cases, cars, and labels on jars, cans, or other containers||Best used for planners, notebooks, scrapbooking, and other paper crafts; can be used on other items if made with vinyl|
Where Is The Best Place To Buy Stickers?
Now that you have a better idea of how each type of sticker differs, you may be wondering where you can get your hands on a pack of stickers.
We have some recommendations for the best places to buy stickers below.
Amazon, as usual, is a great place where you can get the best deal for your money. They have listings of huge sticker packs, like this pack of 200 vinyl stickers, for only pennies per sticker.
The only downside to buying your stickers on Amazon is that they won’t always have the specific design or logo you may be looking for. If you’re interested in more customizable stickers, try one of the other two options listed below.
Etsy is a fantastic place where small business owners can make handmade, custom items tailored for each customer.
The best part is that you get exactly the sticker you want while supporting small, local businesses over bigger corporations.
3. Online Sticker Companies
Another option aside from Amazon and Etsy would be to use an online sticker company. These companies specialize in creating custom stickers, both in matte and glossy finishes.
These companies are for those who have their own design or logo that they want turned into a sticker. You can send in your design, choose your size and shape, choose whether you want matte or glossy, and have your own custom stickers ready to go.