When it comes to window adhesives, the applications are virtually endless. Although the most popular use for any form of window graphic is on storefront windows, these versatile signs can also be applied to home windows or as vehicle graphics on your car window, and can be custom designed to fit nearly any price range or level of complexity.
Whatever the purpose of your window graphic is, once you’ve made the decision to liven up your storefront, decorate your rearview window, or turn your vehicle into an advertisement on wheels, the next step is to choose the adhesive that best fits your needs – whether you want short or long term signage, indoor or outdoor, see through or not.
All of these options are possible, so to help you make your decision a little bit easier, we’ve narrowed it down to the three main types of adhesive – stickers, decals, and clings, and all you need to know about each of them.
The “stickers” used in the signage industry are much like the stickers many of us used as kids; they work wonderfully to spice up a boring surface, but can’t really be repositioned, and won’t re-stick after they’re taken off. Because of this, window stickers are best used for short-term advertisements for promotional products or seasonal specials.
Window decals work in much the same way as window stickers. Whereas stickers are “permanent” and rather unforgiving in the event of a mistake in application, decals are “semi-permanent” and offer a little more wiggle room before the product completely adheres to the window. In addition to more leniency, window decals come with more options – clear, opaque, and perforated….
Clear window decals can be produced in two ways. The first is with a clear back adhesive with the sticky side on the back, and would be placed on the side of the window that it would be viewed from. Alternatively, a clear face adhesive contains the sticky side on the same side as the image, and would be placed inside with the graphics facing outward.
The great thing about clear decals is that they allow visibility (anywhere that they don’t contain a graphic) so that you will be able to advertise your store name and hours without sacrificing the ability to see outward.
Alternatively, you can look at die-cut decals instead of a full sized design. This form of decal is simply printed on opaque vinyl, and then the design you want is cut so that there is no excess material.
Unlike clear decals, opaque vinyl completely obscures the view from either side of the window. While it will still let light in, this type of design offers more privacy as well as a full sized display covering your window.
Perforated window decals are very similar to opaque vinyl except that they do allow visibility – but only from the inside. This effect is created by printing a full sized, full color design onto vinyl with tiny perforated holes that allow you to see out. Not to worry, the holes don’t affect the appearance of the sign, simply the function.
Static clings function differently than any other window graphics in the sense that they don’t actually have any adhesive or “sticky side”. Instead, static clings use the static charge of the sign itself to “cling” to the window. Unlike stickers and decals, clings are a very forgiving type of window graphic in the sense that they can be easily removed and reattached at any time.
Unfortunately static clings don’t fare very well in dry or cold weather – not two things we have to worry about very often in Houston. However, as a general rule, static clings are better suited for inside.
How long will my window graphic last?
Window stickers and static clings have the shortest lifespan, with window stickers being easily removable for up to 12 months and static clings lasting anywhere from 6 months to 2 years depending on the conditions. If the cling is attached to a window with constantly changing temperature, you can expect it to have a shorter lifespan.
While window stickers and static clings have the same lifespan, there is a chance that stickers will leave an adhesive residue if not removed properly or left on too long, whereas static clings have no adhesive and therefore no residue.
Window decals are a more permanent form of signage and can last anywhere from 3 to 7 years, depending on the quality of vinyl used – the better the quality, the longer your window graphic will retain its color and stick.
So here comes the real question… sticker, decal, or cling?
Ultimately, choosing the right type of window graphic really comes down to how its going to be used.
If you’re looking for a short term graphic such as promotional products or temporary advertisements, your best options are either a static cling or a window sticker. If the graphic is going to be something that needs to be repositioned at least once during its lifetime, static clings are a better option, but if your graphic is simply going to stay on your window, a window sticker will do the trick.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more permanent design (anything lasting more than 12 months), your best option is going to a window decal, whether it be clear, opaque, or perforated. At that point, the big decision is based on how you want it to look aesthetically, and what kind of visibility you want.
Regardless of your needs or the type of material and design you choose, window graphics are a great way to increase your business value or simply spice up the back window of your mini van.