Paper vs. Film Labels: Comparing Label Materials

More than one-third of buyers tend to reject a product when they dislike the label. As with most things, it's all in the small details. The label quality, material, colors, shape, and other characteristics as just as important as the text.

As a business owner, it's important to know when to use film labels and when to use paper labels. Each type has distinctive qualities.

Film labels, for example, are more durable, but the print won't be as sharp compared to film labels. Consumers do read product labels. If the text is barely visible, it could turn them off.

Interested to find out more? Here is what you should know about paper versus film labels so you can make an informed decision and increase sales.

The Advantages of Paper Labels

Paper is one of the most versatile materials on the market. It comes in different types and textures, from gloss and semi-gloss paper to metalized and textured options. Any of these can be customized according to your needs.

Both paper and film are suitable as a facestock. This is the top layer that you print on.

Paper is the most resistant type of facestock and can be made from pulp or natural wood.

Film, by comparison, is crafted from plastic or synthetic materials. It can handle moisture and has excellent tear strength.

However, film labels lack the printability of paper. The latter holds ink extremely well as can withstand high-heat printing.

One of the biggest advantages of paper labels is their versatility. These items are available in a wide range of colors, from pastels to bright shades. Plus, they can be easily customized according to your needs.

Paper labels can also be used to give a vintage, weathered, or handcrafted look to most products.

For example, if you sell antique notebooks or aged wines, paper labels are an excellent choice. They'll complement your products and make them stand out.

Furthermore, paper is generally more affordable than film labels. This makes it suitable for small businesses as well as for store chains selling thousands of products. Some types of paper, such as textured stock, have a higher price tag, but they're mostly used for high-end goods.

But that's not all. Paper labels are also more sustainable than film labels. This material is both recyclable and biodegradable. Plastic products, including film facestocks, are either recyclable or biodegradable.

Are There Any Drawbacks?

Like everything else, paper labels have their drawbacks. Compared to film stock, they have a shorter lifespan and are more susceptible to extreme temperatures, moisture, abrasion, and wear-and-tear. That's why they're typically used for indoor applications.

For example, paper labels may not be the best choice for moisturizers, shampoos, sauces, or foods that require freezing or refrigeration. Spilled contents, condensation, and other factors can damage them.

Despite these drawbacks, nothing can beat paper stock when it comes to print sharpness. Product labels made from this material are ideal for electronics, office supplies, books, decorations, clothing, and more.

The Advantages of Film Labels

By now, you should have a better idea of the differences between paper and film labels. The latter are highly durable and long-lasting, making them suitable for outdoor applications. On the negative side, they lack the versatility and print sharpness of paper facestocks.

Film labels are resistant to abrasion, heat, UV light, moisture, and chemicals. Like paper facestocks, they come in different types, including:

  • Biaxially-oriented polypropylene (BOPP), which is used for specialty foods, beverages, and other products requiring quality labels
  • Polyolefin (POF), which is typically used for shampoos, hair spray, and other beauty products
  • Polyester (PVC), which is suitable for most products that can be used outdoors

BOPP labels, for example, are typically coated with permanent adhesive. This material can replace polyester when the label requires a glossy finish. It's ideal for moisture-rich environments and can be applied to steel, plastic, glass, paper, corrugate, and other materials.

In general, BOPP films are lightweight and recyclable. They act as a moisture-resistant barrier and can withstand ultraviolet radiation.

Polyolefin, on the other hand, is extremely flexible and provides high-tensile strength. It's resistant to tears, punctures, and moisture and can be used for products with irregular shapes.

All film substrates are durable and can resist moisture. Some are transparent, which makes them ideal for a "no label look." Furthermore, film labels are the go-to choice for painted metals, textured surfaces, and contoured bottles.

Film Labels Are Not Perfect Either

The many advantages of film labels come at a cost. This material comes with a higher price tag than paper facestocks, which can deter small businesses with limited resources.

Another drawback is that many printing machines are not designed for film facestocks. Your only option is to buy a special printing machine or hire a printing company that can accommodate your needs. Either way, you'll end up paying more than you'd do for paper labels.

As discussed earlier, film facestocks don't offer the same print sharpness as paper labels. This can be a major drawback if you want your products to stand out.

Let's say you sell protein powder and want to outline that your formula is gluten-, lactose-, and sugar-free.

If you use paper labels, your marketing messaging will be more visible and stand out. This may lead to increased sales and revenue. Plus, you’ll have higher profits because you spend less on the actual labels.

Should You Use Paper or Film Labels?

Both paper and film labels have advantages of drawbacks. Paper is more affordable and versatile, offering a handcrafted look.

Film labels last longer but come with a higher price tag and fail to provide the same print sharpness as paper facestocks. Plus, they are more damaging to the environment.

Label Outfitters can help you make the right choice. We have been selling labels and other computer supplies for nearly four decades. Reach out to our team to discuss your needs and answer any questions you may have!

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