The Best Waterproof Sticker Papers for Your DIY Projects
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If you’re into crafting and want to personalize your water bottles, coffee mugs, laptops, or any other items with stickers, labels, or decals, you’re in luck! Thanks to the availability of ready-to-print graphics and electronic cutting machines like Cricut, Silhouette, and Scan-n-Cut, you can now create your own custom stickers without breaking the bank. However, it’s crucial to note that not all sticker papers are created equal, especially when it comes to durability and waterproofing.
In this article, we will explore the best options for waterproof sticker papers that will ensure your decals and labels stay intact even through wear and washing. I have conducted extensive testing to bring you the finest choices available in the market. So, let’s dive in and find the perfect sticker paper for your next project!
What is Waterproof Sticker Paper?
Waterproof sticker papers are exactly what they sound like – self-adhesive papers that can withstand water without bleeding, discoloring, or running. These papers are designed to be printed using your home printer and are generally compatible with both inkjet and laser printers.
Why Waterproof Your Stickers and Labels?
Although stickers and labels can be made from various printable products, most standard sticker papers and labels are not waterproof. This means that if your stickers come into contact with water or moisture, the printed images will bleed or distort. To ensure the longevity and aesthetic appeal of your stickers, it is essential to use waterproof paper.
Waterproof sticker papers are ideal for items such as water bottles, lunch boxes, coffee cups, phone cases, kitchen mixers, cleaning supply labels, soap dispensers, essential oils, lotions, lip balms, car decals, and more.
Important Characteristics of Waterproof Sticker Papers
Sticker Paper vs. Printable Vinyl
It’s crucial to understand the difference between “waterproof sticker paper” and “waterproof printable vinyl.”
Waterproof sticker paper will not bleed or smudge when exposed to water. However, the paper itself may absorb the water and appear faded or discolored when wet. While the image will not distort or smudge, the color vibrancy may diminish when the paper is wet. So, if you’re looking to create truly waterproof decals or labels that both look and function like professionally printed stickers, you should opt for a printable vinyl paper.
Waterproof vs. Water Resistant vs. Weatherproof
In the world of sticker papers, the terms “waterproof,” “water-resistant,” and “weatherproof” are not interchangeable. Let’s clarify the differences:
Waterproof papers remain waterproof even when sprayed, saturated, or submerged in water. Water droplets will bead up on the surface and won’t penetrate the paper. These papers are ideal for labels or decals exposed to water or frequent washing.
Water-resistant sticker papers can withstand moisture and won’t easily bleed or smudge when wet. However, they are not designed to be fully saturated. These papers are most suitable for items that won’t be routinely washed, such as phone cases, laptops, party decor, disposable water bottles, wine bottle labels, etc.
Weatherproof papers are usually fully waterproof and can also endure UV light, making them fade-proof. These papers are best used for items that will be exposed to outdoor elements or significant sunlight, such as car decals, bumper stickers, or garden labels.
Waterproof Does Not Equal Scratch-Proof
While a paper can be waterproof and stay intact when wet, it may not be scratch-proof. In most cases, printable sticker papers have ink that sits on the surface, making them vulnerable to scratches from abrasive substances. Although some papers may be more scratch-resistant than others, none are fully scratch-proof. However, there’s an easy trick to making your stickers scratch-resistant, which I’ll explain later in this article.
My #1 Choice: Avery Waterproof Film Labels
Without a doubt, my favorite waterproof sticker paper from the ones I’ve tested is the Avery Waterproof Film Labels. Here’s why:
Print Quality: The print quality of this paper is comparable to the professional-looking labels found on commercial products like soaps, lotions, and candles. The colors are vibrant, saturated, and the matte finish has a high-quality sheen.
Truly Waterproof: I was able to run this paper under running water for extended periods without any fading, bleeding, or discoloration. Water beads right up on the surface, leaving the image unaffected.
Stain Resistant: Even without a protective laminate covering, this paper can be easily wiped clean of stains and smudges.
(Mostly) Scratch Resistant: Compared to other papers I tested, this paper showed much more resistance to scratches in normal daily use. However, when fully saturated with water, some ink could be scratched off with a fingernail.
Superior Stick: I left glass bottles with these labels in the shower for over a week and ran water bottles with these labels through the dishwasher. Not only did the paper not bleed or distort, but the labels stayed firmly attached without peeling off, lifting up, or creating bubbles. This paper offers superior adhesion.
Label Variety: Avery offers this paper in various formats, including full sheet labels and common pre-cut sizes (e.g., 3″ squares). They also provide online label templates to ensure accurate printing within the label boundaries.
Availability: You can find a wide variety of these label packs with different sheet quantities on Amazon. Additionally, the Avery website offers even more purchase options.
Laser Only: This paper is compatible only with laser or pigment ink printers, which may limit its usability for some households. However, laser printers are commonly found in homes and small businesses, so it’s worth exploring.
Matte Only: Currently, this paper only comes in a white matte finish, and a glossy finish is not available. If you prefer high-gloss labels, you can use the laminating instructions provided later in this article.
In conclusion, the Avery Waterproof Film Labels Full Label Sheets are my top choice for making full sheets of 100% waterproof stickers that exhibit excellent durability and adhesion. If you’re willing to explore using a laser printer, these papers are definitely worth it!
Neato Printable Vinyl Papers
In the interest of full disclosure, Neato offered me several waterproof sticker papers to test, and their Neato Printable Vinyl Papers have gained considerable acclaim in the crafting community. While these papers are indeed very good waterproof options, there were a few aspects that made them fall short of being my number one choice. Here’s my assessment:
Print Quality: The print quality of this paper is impressive, with vibrant and saturated colors.
Multiple Finishes: These papers come in both glossy and matte finishes, allowing you to choose the desired aesthetic for your labels.
Truly Waterproof: Similar to the Avery papers, these can withstand running water without any fading, bleeding, or discoloration. Water beads up on the surface, leaving the image unaffected.
Label Variety: Neato offers these papers in various formats, including full sheet labels and pre-cut sizes. Templates are provided, but their accuracy with printed designs is untested.
Availability: You can purchase a wide variety of label packs, with different sheet quantities, at affordable prices on Amazon or directly from the Neato website.
Laser and Inkjet Compatibility: These papers are compatible with both laser and inkjet printers. If you only have an inkjet printer, this is likely your best choice.
Easily Removable: The stickers peel off easily without leaving any residue behind.
Poor Stain Resistance: Without a protective laminate covering, these papers are not stain resistant. Any food or water stains will be difficult to remove.
Sticky: The glossy sticker paper has a tacky or sticky feel to it, rather than a smooth finish.
Not Scratch Resistant: During normal daily use, this paper tends to scratch fairly easily. To prevent scratches, I highly recommend protecting the stickers with a laminated layer, as described later in this article.
Poor Stick: Surprisingly, these stickers did not have the same level of durable adhesion as expected. Over time, most of the cut stickers tended to peel at the corners.
In summary, the Neato Printable Vinyl Sticker Paper is truly waterproof and produces gorgeous labels with great color using either a laser or inkjet printer. While the poor stain and scratch resistance can be mitigated by laminating the labels, the lesser adhesion compared to other papers places them as my second-choice option.
Other Waterproof Sticker Papers
A few years ago, when I started my quest to find the ultimate waterproof sticker papers, it was challenging to find papers compatible with laser printers. After extensive research, I stumbled upon Milcoast waterproof papers for both inkjet and laser printers, and I initially loved them. They were the only waterproof clear sticker papers available at the time. However, it’s important to note that these papers will not maintain their true color vibrancy when wet, as they may discolor slightly. They are more suitable for items that will only get slightly wet or disposable items like party supplies or favors. Currently, these products are not available, but I will update this post if they become accessible again.
Zicoto Printable Vinyls
Zicoto Printable Vinyls have received rave reviews on Amazon, known for their thicker quality compared to most other papers. Initially, I ordered some Zicoto products when they were only compatible with inkjet printers. However, they have since re-released the paper to be laser printer compatible. Once I test them myself, I will update this post with my findings.
Making Labels Scratch Resistant
Finally, let’s address how to make your printable labels scratch-resistant, regardless of the paper you use. After experimenting with various papers, laminating them proved to be essential in achieving professional-quality and durable stickers that can resist scratches and stains.
Fortunately, laminating your printable labels is a straightforward process with Avery self-laminating sheets.
How to Laminate Your Printable Labels
Print your labels or stickers on your preferred waterproof sticker paper.
Place a clear Avery Laminating Sheet, with the sticky side facing down, onto your stickers. Smooth out any bubbles or creases.
Use scissors, a paper trimmer, or an electronic cutting machine like Cricut or Silhouette (set to kiss cut) to cut out your stickers.
It’s important to note that the laminating step will not make just any sticker paper waterproof. It serves as a protective coating against scratches and stains. To ensure the waterproof nature of your labels, you should always start with waterproof vinyl papers.
Watch the Laminating Process!
Below, you’ll find a comprehensive video tutorial on how to assemble both laminated and non-laminated labels. (If the video is not loading, you can watch it here.)
When I initially attempted to DIY my own stickers for water bottles a few years ago, I was frustrated by the lack of true waterproofing I could achieve. However, waterproof printable papers have come a long way since then. Now, you can create professional-quality stickers right at home.
Whether you want to add a cute logo to a coffee mug or create long-lasting labels for your entire home, the products I’ve shared in this article guarantee easy and impressive results. So, go ahead and unleash your creativity with the best waterproof sticker papers on the market!