Pros and Cons of Different Types of Label Materials

Several factors can play into choosing a label material, such as cost, appearance, and durability. In general, label facestocks are separated into two categories: paper and film. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages, so choosing a specific type of paper or film depends on the specific needs of your pressure sensitive labels.

Paper Facestocks

Paper is an incredibly versatile type of label material. Paper facestocks can be made to feature several characteristics depending on the needs of your label. These options largely depend on what look or feel you’re trying to achieve and include:

  • Semigloss
  • Gloss
  • Textured
  • Linen
  • Felt
  • Estate
  • Metalized

In addition to variety, paper product labels are generally less expensive than film stocks. This combination of cost-effectiveness and versatility is extremely valuable, especially for products where pricier options aren’t necessary. Certain paper stocks, such as a textured or matte-coated stock for wine labels and other products, can end up being more expensive, but these are usually used on premium, high value products (wine, craft spirits, etc.).

On the downside, paper film stocks are more susceptible to the elements than specialty films. For example, paper isn’t waterproof. Certain stocks are made with wet strength paper that slows the penetration of water, but even those will eventually become saturated. However, that tradeoff may be worth it depending on your situation and budget.

Paper film stocks also tend to be less durable than films, potentially ripping or wrinkling over time if care isn’t taken during the application process. However, thicker paper or overlaminates can be used to make this less of an issue.

Image of paper product labels.

Film Facestocks

If paper doesn’t offer the performance capabilities required for your labels, you should consider film facestocks. These highly durable, long-lasting plastics are extruded to imbue them with specific characteristics, such as resistances to the following:

  • Water and moisture
  • UV light
  • Heat
  • Chemicals
  • Abrasion

Another advantage to film is that you can modify its opacity, which can range from completely opaque labels that won’t allow light to harm a product to clear covers that provide a “no label look.” Digital label printers offer a few different film options, each with their own benefits and purposes. These include:

  • Polypropylenes (BOPP) – This rigid film features high tear resistance and can be clear, white, or metalized. These capabilities make them a great fit for beverages, specialty foods, and other prime labels.
  • Polyester (PET) – A film designed for maximum durability. Polyester labels are great for products that will be outdoors, as it features great temperature, UV, and chemical resistance. These labels can be clear, white, or vinyl.
  • Polyolefin – This film is extremely soft and flexible. That makes polyolefin labels perfect for squeeze applications for beauty products and or flexible packaging where the label needs to look good and stay legible, even after it’s contorted into different shapes.

Of course, all these added benefits come at a cost. Film stocks tend to be more expensive than paper, which is a huge factor for many jobs. Another factor is that certain printing and applicator machines aren’t made to use film facestocks. If that’s the case, you may need to invest in a new applicator or stick with paper.

Image of a film facestock label.

Get the Right Materials for Your Labels

Sorting through the advantages and disadvantages of packaging materials and choosing the right material combinations can be difficult without the help of a good digital printing company. Not only can it be tricky to find the right facestock for your label, some material options need to be specially ordered while others are regularly available.

At Blue Label, we provide companies with both paper and film labels and can work with you to determine which material option best matches your needs and fit within your budget. Contact us today to learn more about your material options and to talk with us about your label design or project.