Diversified Labeling Solutions

Label materials 101



When it comes to choosing a label, there can be a lot of factors to consider. Even though pressure sensitive labels all contain the same basic composition: liner, release coating, adhesive, facestock, and an optional topcoat, there are different materials to choose from for each component. Discover more about the material options for each layer and help your customers get the best labels for their businesses.

Label Liner Material Options

The two main categories of label liners are paper and film. The choice between the two depends on your customer's product and environment and deciding which material ultimately serves both best.


Paper liners are the most common for pressure sensitive labels. This popularity is partially due to paper being the more cost-effective option, but these liners are also very customizable and come in various weights and colors.

Paper Liners Are:

  • Coated with silicone for easy label removal.
  • The most popular liner material.
  • Generally the most cost-effective option.
  • Available in a variety of weights.


Film label liners are more durable and resistant to the elements than paper. These liners are consistent in thickness and are less likely to tear. Film liners with die-cut labels are also typically more stable than their paper counterparts, resulting in fewer machine jams.


Film Liners Offer:

  • Consistency in thickness and tear-resistance.
  • Fewer machine jams than paper liners.
  • More resistance to the elements than paper.
  • Less label curling due to environmental factors. 

Linerless Label Option

While traditional pressure sensitive labels include liners, choosing a linerless label can be more sustainable. Not using a liner and minimizing the label's materials can offer your customers a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution.

Label Adhesive Options

When assessing your customer's labeling needs, some factors to consider for choosing an adhesive include strength, flexibility, longevity, and resistance to moisture or chemicals. Rubber and acrylic are two types of adhesives typically available for label printing, and both have pros and cons.

Rubber Adhesive


Rubber adhesives typically offer quicker initial bonding to surfaces than acrylics. Additionally, rubber adhesives are preferred if the label needs to adhere to a curved or uneven surface due to their flexible shaping abilities.



These adhesives can react poorly to extreme heat, cold, and exposure to other elements. For this reason, rubber adhesives are known to turn yellow over time and aren't meant for longevity. Also, regarding the printing process, rubber adhesives can be harder to convert.

Acrylic Adhesive


Acrylic is the most common adhesive material in the label market for a variety of reasons. Unlike its rubber counterparts, these adhesives can withstand more chemical exposure and high heat levels. The acrylic adhesion's shelf life for indoor and outdoor use is much longer than that of rubber.



These adhesives may offer a long-term bond once cured but do not offer the same level of initial tack at which rubber excels.

Permanent, Semi-Permanent, and Temporary Label Adhesives


To best suit the needs of what the label is adhering to, there are multiple strengths of adhesives available to choose from. At DLS, we offer permanent, semi-permanent, and temporary varieties.


Permanent, Semi-Permanent, Temporary sections

Permanent Adhesive

Permanent adhesives form the strongest bond to most surfaces and typically can’t be removed without an intentional removal method, such as moisture or scraping.

Semi-Permanent Adhesive

Semi-permanent adhesives are stronger than temporary but still require some effort to remove.

Temporary Adhesive

Temporary adhesives hold the label in place but allow easy removal without damage or leaving behind residue.

Sustainable Label Adhesives

Like other layers of a label, there are adhesive options that are environmentally friendly. These options include water-based, low VOC, flake away/wash away, biodegradable, and repulpable adhesives. 


The facestock of a label is typically the most recognizable since it’s the printed part. Like the liner, label facestocks are manufactured in two main material categories: paper and film. While both facestocks create a high-quality label, choosing one over the other has specific advantages.

Paper Label Facestock

Labeled fish packaging

Paper facestocks are the most cost-effective solution of the two materials, which can be a significant consideration for small businesses or facilities with limited resources. Typically, paper is also more customizable in the selections of color and texture to suit different needs and offers sharper and higher quality print.


With various paper facestocks to choose from, customers can customize the look and feel of their labels. Some premium paper facestocks, like the ones on a wine bottle, can be textured or matte to provide a more custom or higher-end appearance and feel. Potential downsides are that some paper facestocks, while economical, can be flimsy and sometimes rip or wrinkle over time. In some cases, paper facestock may require the use of a topcoating to increase its durability.

Film Label Facestock

Three shampoo bottles

Film facestocks, on the other hand, are more durable and long-lasting than their paper counterpart. Film materials are less porous and can withstand more heat, moisture, or chemical exposure. For this reason, film facestocks are more suitable for outdoor products, toiletries, or food products that can potentially damage the labels.


In general, film materials are more flexible and tear-resistant than paper. The print doesn't have the same sharpness as paper facestocks, but these labels are typically smooth to the touch and built to last.

Sustainable Label Facestocks

If your customer prioritizes environmentally friendly labeling solutions, sustainable facestock options are available. Both paper and film facestocks can be sustainable under the right circumstances. For instance, post-consumer recycled paper or film indicates that the facestock is produced from recycled material. Recyclable facestocks also make it easier to recycle the labels. Sustainably sourced and certified or biodegradable non-tree sourced paper facestocks are also an excellent option as are plastic films made from non-petroleum products.

Facestocks and Label Print Methods

Printing methods, such as thermal transfer, can require specialty facestocks. Additionally, aqueous Inkjet printing will sometimes require the addition of a primer to allow the ink to cure to the facestock. Ultimately, your customer's label print method can help determine which facestock is the right fit.

Typical Facestocks Offered at DLS:

Paper Facestocks

  • Uncoated
  • Laser
  • Matte Litho
  • Direct Thermal
  • Thermal Transfer
  • Latex
  • Semi-Gloss
  • High-Gloss
  • Cast Coated
  • Fluorescent
  • Laminated Foil/ Metallic Paper

Film Facestocks

  • Kimdura
  • Polyester
  • Polyethylene
  • Polymide (Kapton)
  • Polyolefin
  • Polypropylene
  • Polystyrene
  • Tyvek
  • Valeron
  • Vinyl



(If your customers are looking for a specialty facestock, please contact one of our label specialists.)

Label Topcoat Options

Optional topcoats can provide extra protection and added visual appeal to your customer's label. There are two types of topcoats available: varnishes and laminates.


Cannabis container with varnish
UV Spot Varnish Under Blacklight


Two barbeque rib rub label rolls
Matte and Glossy Laminate Options

Varnish is a clear liquid coating applied to your customer’s label during the printing. This coating will preserve the label and prevent minor scuffs or scraping and is available in a glossy or matte finish. Add varnishing to the whole label or utilize spot varnish for unique contrast in look and texture.

Lamination is a thin layer of film adhered to the surface of the label. Laminates offer even more protection and are the go-to choice for labels exposed to the elements or chemicals. Customize this topcoat by choosing between various appearances such as metallic, iridescent, or holographic films.

We Can Help You Choose the Right Label Materials for Your Customers

When considering the best type of label for a product, it's important to ask your customers the right questions about their needs. Do they need labels that offer versatility or temperature resistance? Does the product or environment have a lot of moisture that can damage the label? Is the goal for it to last a long time? Contact us, and our label industry experts can help you answer these questions and choose the materials to build the best label for your customer's job.


Contact Us