Materials You Need to Make Waterproof Vinyl Stickers at Home
*Note: I do get a portion on all purchases made through the Amazon links in this article, which help fund my art supplies and small business. Please do not feel obligated to purchase any of the products I recommend.
A couple of years ago, I wanted to expand my product line to include stickers! There were a few things that were really important to me at the time for me to add it to my store:
Quality: I wanted my stickers to last! I had come across some other homemade stickers in the past that didn’t stand up in water, peel up over time, or faded in the sun, and I knew that was not what I wanted for my line.
Cost: There are plenty of quality sticker production companies that I will always stand behind in terms of quality, like Sticker Mule, but the price of production plus shipping didn’t give small businesses just testing a design a lot of profit margin to work with. However, if you value time more than you do cost, Sticker Mule is a great supplier! I use them for my best selling stickers (You get discounts for bulk orders even if there's multiple designs). Making your own stickers takes about 7 minutes for 1 sheet (about 6 stickers), so if you're making stickers regularly, this might be the option for you.
- Variety: The ability to create lots of different sticker designs without having to invest in a ton of inventory was also something I considered. As a creator, I dive into every product hoping that every design will be an instant hit, but the hard reality that only a few designs will regularly sell. Making your own stickers will help keep your inventory levels low in case a design doesn't turn over as quickly as you would've hoped.
The Products I Use to Make Stickers
So — what option did I have left? After weeks of research, I decided to invest in a Cricut Explore Air Machine and make the stickers myself!
The initial investment was high, but I knew that the ability to create products as they are ordered will help me eliminate waste, keep my on-hand inventory lean, and maintain the margins I needed to be successful.
Cutting Machine for those Die-Cuts
At the time, the Explore Air was the newest model, and Cricut has added some new machines since then, like the Cricut Joy, which is a bit more cost effective for those with tighter budgets.
Recently, there have been some issues that I've run into with my Cricut that would make me consider recommending their biggest competitor, the Silhouette Cameo (I've never used the Silhouette, but their machine seems to have addressed these problems):
- Cricut machines can't seem to cut on glossy surfaces. The scanning tool has a hard time identifying the enclosing box when cutting a glossy surface, so you'll run into countless errors (Cricut hacks will be coming in another blog).
- From time to time your Cricut machine will need to be re-calibrated for alignment. If you don't have a thick border between your artwork and the cutline, it's likely that alignment will get wonky over time.
Sticker + Laminate Paper
For the sticker paper, I use waterproof matte vinyl sticker paper from Duradecal.com. I also add an additional satin-finish laminate layer on top of my stickers to provide additional protection of the sticker artwork (also from Duradecal.com). I've used these products for years, and have always been impressed by the quality.
However, since the March of 2020, the manufacturer has changed ownership, and their products have been harder to acquire. I have been in the process of testing new manufacturers to recommend.
Here are some new options that I've tested and have been satisfied with:
- RippedSheets.com Vinyl Permanent Sticker Paper: It's on the pricey end, but the paper is thick, waterproof, and a permanent sticker. It's well worth the price if you purchase 100 sheets or more.
- Avery Self-Adhesive Laminating Sheets: These laminate sheets aren't the satin-finish that I normally would like, but it doesn't have the gloss that would interfere with Cricut machines. *I'm still on the lookout for a good replacement for the matte over-laminate, so if you find one, please let me know!*
Printer & Scanner
I currently use a Canon Pixma Pro-100 printer to make all of my prints, which I also use to print all of my stickers! Make sure to select the "glossy" material type setting to achieve the best quality print.
Finally, to scan my paintings, I use Epson's Perfection V39 document scanner. I personally looked for a scanner that was portable, had a relatively large scanning bed, and could scan at high optical resolutions (This scanner can scan up to 4800 DPI. I usually recommend at least 600 DPI).