What’s the difference between window decals and vinyl lettering?

Andy Dewhurst

Vinyl lettering and window decals have revolutionised how businesses can decorate their window spaces. Rather than facing the choice of hiring a professional sign writer or attempting to draw window signage themselves, businesses can now quickly order vinyl window decals and lettering for their windows. This works out much cheaper, because it’s also easy to install yourself.

You may be wondering, though, what’s the difference between window decals and vinyl lettering? Which would be best for you?

Window decals

A vinyl window decal consists of an image printed on a clear sheet of vinyl with some means of adhering it to the target window. If you’ve ever printed on overhead projector transparencies with a home printer, you will have already done something similar at home, albeit on a smaller scale. This means that it can accommodate any design, with the use of graphics and colour only being limited by the designer’s imagination.

A vinyl decal is essentially one item, so it is applied to a target surface in one piece. Any unprinted areas in the design retain the transparent nature of the vinyl material. You may think people would notice the edges of the decal, but good quality decals use optically clear material, meaning that people will not notice the clear areas unless they look up close. Many decals are also cut to shape, whereby clear areas can be omitted, or contour cut, whereby the decal is cut to a tight bounding perimeter to reduce this issue further

Vinyl lettering

In contrast to decals, vinyl lettering is not printed but rather cut individually from a sheet of vinyl material. This brings certain advantages and disadvantages.

The most notable limitation is the narrow use of colour and the inability to employ graphics. Assuming that you do not need these, however, vinyl lettering can bring an even more elegant look to a window. This is because unlike decals, vinyl lettering has no clear material to detract from its beauty. It is simply elegant lettering in a chosen colour.

What you may be thinking, though, is how you are supposed to apply these individual letters. How are you supposed to keep everything in line and perfectly spaced, including the dots above letters?

This problem is addressed by arranging the lettering onto a transfer film before sending it to customers. In a simple application process, someone can, perhaps with the help of a second person, easily transfer the perfectly spaced lettering to a clean target window.

Another advantage of vinyl lettering is the ability to swap out certain letters and numbers. For example, imagine you are holding a stock clearance sale. As you approach the end of the sale, you could update your signage to reflect more aggressive discounting.

Note that while vinyl decals and lettering can usually be expected to last for years, not all vinyl is made equal, and like many things in life, you get what you pay for. Lettering made from low-quality vinyl can often crack or peel off before long. At Lettering Direct, we only use UK-made quality vinyl suitable for each application.

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