Decals can help businesses in a range of ways, from alerting the public to your business hours or serving as a parking pass for your employees. But how do you know which type of decal to choose? There are pros and cons to both static clings and adhesive decals, and your best option depends on how you plan to use your graphics.

Static Clings

The thin vinyl of a static cling acts as a sort of suction cup, allowing it to adhere to a surface with just a small bit of pressure. Contrary to their name, static clings actually don’t use static electricity at all!

Why you should choose static clings:

  • Because they don’t use any kind of adhesive, static clings are reusable and don’t need chemicals or tools that may damage a glass surface.
  • They’re available in clear or opaque.
  • You can clean a cling easily with mild detergent and water.
  • This is your least expensive option for decals that adhere to glass.
  • With proper maintenance, clings can be repositioned many times. How long clings last is dependent on the manufacturer, ranging from three months for outdoor use to two years for indoor.

There are a few drawbacks to static clings:

  • They are more suitable for indoor use.
  • They won’t hold up in cold temperatures or environments with high humidity—the condensation prevents the cling from adhering.
  • A number of things prevent clings from adhering to glass, including harsh cleaners, dust, dirt, and grime.
  • Static clings must be applied within six months or the material will expire and no longer function properly.

Static clings are perfect for annual membership decals or parking passes.

NOTE:  Less common ‘static-cling adjacent’ materials that are also adhesive free (e.g. GlassApeel) exist and may be better suited for your application. Always consult your graphics supplier for specific product offerings in your area.

Adhesive Decals

Pressure-sensitive adhesive bonds to a glass surface. How well adhesive tacks, or sticks to a surface, is called “wetting out.” Think of water beading on a waxed car versus spilling over an unwaxed car. The more the water beads, the less it wets out, or adheres. The less the water beads, the more it wets out, or adheres. Glass is a high surface energy substrate, so it’s easy to adhere to.

 A scientific representation of “wetting out”.

If you decide to go the adhesive route, you have two options to choose from: removable and permanent decals.

Removable Decals

Removable decals are also called low-tack decals and semi-permanent decals. Their adhesive, or tack, isn’t as sticky as that of permanent adhesive decals.

Why you should select removable decals:

  • Because removable decals have less tack than permanent decals, you can remove them easily for up to three years; however, their bond is still stronger than a static cling.
  • They’re available in clear and opaque.
  • They are good for outdoor use.

There are some drawbacks to removable decals:

  • They’re more difficult to handle and reposition than clings because they can fold over and stick to themselves.
  • They’re not reusable.
  • They’re designed for short-term use. If you leave them on a surface for too long, the bond will eventually become permanent. If this happens, the only way to remove them will be with tools or chemicals.

Window perforated vinyl is a type of removable vinyl with one-way vision.  It allows a print to be seen from one side without obstructing the view of anyone on the other side.

Permanent Decals

Permanent decals use an incredibly strong adhesive bond. They’re designed to last three or more years, with top-shelf permanent decals lasting more than a decade.

Here are some other pros of permanent decals:

  • They’re available in clear, translucent, and opaque.
  • They are the best option to withstand environmental conditions outdoors, such as humidity or cold.
  • They provide the strongest bond of this list.
  • These are designed for long-term use and are ideal for posting business names, phone numbers, and other unchanging business information.

There are, of course, some drawbacks:

  • Permanent decals, like removable decals, are difficult to handle and can stick to themselves, making them tough to reposition during application.
  • They’re not reusable. While they can be removed, it will require tools or chemicals, which can risk potential damage to the surface.

Permanent decals are a great way to post business names, hours, or other information that doesn’t change often on glass surfaces.

Whichever material you choose, be sure to test the product first. If you’re unsure where to start, Graphics Output would be happy to help. You can contact us online, shoot us an email, or call 260-748-0577.