Film Labels vs. Paper Labels - Which Is The Best Choice For My Labels?

There is often a lot of conversation about the difference between paper labels and film labels. Many have struggled to determine which is best for their products. In the following article, we’ll break down the key features of these respective label types in the hopes that you’ll discover which is best suited for your new label needs. 

What Is A Label Facestock?

All labels, be they paper or film, begin at the facestock. Facestock is essentially the basic material to which the top coat, which is the label’s inking and gloss among other surface features, and its adhesive are applied. The top coat is the label's top, of course, which is the part of the label that is visible when applied. The adhesive is added to the label's back, or bottom. The liner is affixed to the back of the adhesive, but that’s a matter for another time. Label stock come in large master rolls, and the combination of facestock, adhesive, and liner can also be referred to as the substrate. 


How To Choose Between Paper & Film - Pros & Cons

Now both paper and film labels have certain respective advantages and disadvantages. Film labels are made of a polyethylene or polypropylene material, but if that’s too much of a mouthful, just think of them as a type of plastic.


Film Labels - Greater Flexibility And Durability

This film material is one that offers great flexibility and durability. 

The flexibility of film labels allows them to conform and fit about the shape of your product container. This is best used for bottles or containers that are of an unusual shape. Note, however, that it's important to understand that for tapers and bevels a special die shape may need to be used to keep the label from wrinkling when applied, even if a film label is chosen.

What’s more, film labels can be purchased in various metallic or clear varieties to provide labels with a clear appearance or a metallic sheen.These characteristics may help to give your labels a unique look, like a no-label, see-through, look. 

When speaking in terms of durability, we aren’t just referring its ability to resist wear and tear. This material can stand up to certain environmental conditions such as extreme heat, and extreme cold, water and even oil.


Paper Labels - More Affordable, Different Aesthetics

Of the options, film substrates are the more expensive of the two. The added cost is minimal when its durability is given space the cost-benefit equation. 

Now let’s delve into the properties and qualities of paper labels. Due to the natural texture of paper, image quality and clarity can be better in paper labels than film labels. The ink can adhere more easily to paper, leading to more detail in the printed image, with sharp and resounding clarity. 

Paper labels are typically white, but are available in a wide range of fun and vibrant colors. Varying the color of the paper adds new aesthetic qualities and opens up avenues for artistic expression, and eye-catching design. There are variants of paper material such as brown kraft or textured wine label paper that can grant the label a rustic look. 


The only downside to this kind of label material is its diminished durability. See, this material is not as resistant to conditions such as water, direct sunlight, or wear and tear.

How Do Label Finishes Work To Add Durability?

Lamination and varnish can work to strengthen the material, and stretch out their lifespan. Even with lamination, however, paper label durability won’t be comparable to that of film. But again, paper label material is the cheaper of the two label options, making it a great choice for less strenuous environments.


Designing Your Labels? Need Help? Graphic Design Services Are Available

Hope this has been informative. If you'd be interested in seeing pricing for your labels, then get started on your free custom label quote .

If you would like more information or are interested in having a professional label designer help out on your labels, you can also reach out to our customer service representatives by dialing 800-750-7764. LabelValue is open Monday through Friday, and we’d love to help you turn your branding vision into a reality.