What is the difference between Printed Vinyl Decals and Cut Vinyl Decals?

large die cut decals

Advertising With Professional Decals

Vinyl decals provide the opportunity to create an original and outstanding design for both commercial and personal use. In business, design is of crucial importance. There’s one critical deciding factor that always leaves customers scratching their heads – the difference between cut and printed vinyl decals.

Although these two mediums are often mistaken as being synonymous with each other, there are key distinctions that should be noted in order to make the best possible choice for your design needs.

Here are some valuable insights into how printed and cut vinyl decals compare:


Both printed and cut vinyl require a vector illustration that creates the cut path for the decal’s specific graphic. With printed decals, the inks are absorbed onto a single sheet of the transfer medium and the decals come out as one piece. This makes the transfer onto the receiving surface quite simple. On the other hand, cut vinyl is produced with a tiny blade which cuts into the vinyl according to the specifications of the vector design.

Weatherproof Decals


While both mediums are adhesives, the application of a printed vinyl decal is much easier than its counterpart. Like putting on a sticker, its installation is simply a matter of peeling off the paperback, sticking the print to the application surface, and rubbing it firmly. The process for a cut vinyl is similar but has a few extra steps and requires more diligence to install. This is because there is no vinyl background to aid the process and the transfer tape needs to be removed after application.


With printed vinyl, the options for creativity and design are truly limitless. The graphics can be printed in any color, making it ideal for customized and detailed artwork.

In contrast, cut vinyl decals are usually available in a finite number of colors since the process is more intricate. It can become even more complicated depending on the complexity of the graphic.

Technically, you can have a multi-colored cut decal but in practice, a printed decal may serve you better if this detail is of paramount importance. To produce a cut vinyl with a variety of colors, each layer of vinyl would have to be cut and taped separately. Imagine what a hassle that would be! This intricate process, however, is ideal for lettering, numbering – and better yet, it gives the illusion of hand-painted artwork.

vinyl decals


Both printed and cut graphics can be laminated to ensure that they withstand moisture, fading, heat, and general weathering. However, cut vinyl has a significantly longer lifespan than printed vinyl. Cut vinyl decals can last between 8-10 years as opposed to the 1-3 year lifespan of printed vinyl.

Overall Finish

Cut vinyl is very thin because it has no transparent background. This makes it optimal for affixing to surfaces like brick, concrete, tile, and stucco, as it will conform to the texture of the surface that it is applied to. Conversely, printed decals have a clear background and are made from a thicker vinyl. This means that it may not be the best option for textured surfaces. The background is generally optically clear so it won’t be visible unless one goes very close to the surface.

Key Takeaways

There is no doubt that both printed and cut vinyl decals can yield excellent results. However, the ideal medium for your business will depend on the specifications of the artwork and the need that it serves. Are you looking for ample detail and design options? Printed vinyl is the way to go. If longevity and overall finish trump customization, then cut vinyl decals are the best bet.