Why Labels Stick Differently in Different Surface? - Betckey Labels



Many of you have noticed that labels may fall off on the same or different surfaces such as cardboard, paper, plastic, and fabric. However, not many customers know why this happens. Understanding the science behind how different surface textures influence label adhesion is essential for businesses. In this blog, let’s explore why labels fall off on different surfaces.

Fundamental Knowledge - Contact


Before we talk about how different surface textures affect labels, it's important to understand how labels stick. Adhesive labels work by bonding to surfaces through tiny molecular forces. When you apply a label, the adhesive touches the surface, and the molecules attract each other, holding the label in place.

Simply put, the better the adhesive contacts the surface, the stronger the label sticks. So, before discussing which surfaces affect label adhesion, ensure the surface is clean and free of dust or water, which can reduce the adhesive's effectiveness.

Remember, always clean the surface before sticking on the label.

Surface Shape Matters

The strength of the bond between a label and a surface can be affected by several things, including how clean the surface is, the temperature, and especially the texture of the surface. Different textures change how much of the label touches the surface, which can make the bond stronger or weaker.

Smooth Surfaces

Smooth surfaces are perfect for labels to stick to because they allow maximum contact between the label and the surface. When you put a label on a smooth surface, it sticks evenly, creating a strong and reliable bond. Smooth surfaces like glass, metal, and some plastics let the adhesive spread out evenly, increasing the contact area and making the label stick better.

Rough Surfaces

rough surface

Unlike smooth surfaces, rough surfaces make it harder for labels to stick because they are uneven. The bumps and dips on rough surfaces reduce the contact area between the label and the surface, weakening the bond and making it less stable.

Porous Surfaces

Porous Surfaces

Porous surfaces like cardboard, paper, and some fabrics make it hard for labels to stick because they can absorb moisture and adhesive. When you apply a label to these surfaces, the adhesive can soak into the material, reducing the area for bonding and making the overall adhesion weaker.

To solve this problem, special labels with strong adhesives and materials that don't absorb moisture are used. Additionally, techniques like priming or pre-treating the surface can help labels stick better to porous materials.

Even though porous surfaces can be tricky, they have benefits in some cases. For example, in packaging, cardboard boxes with porous surfaces allow labels to stick well, ensuring the packages stay sealed and intact during shipping and storage.

Irregular Surfaces

irregular surface

Irregular surfaces, with their curves and unevenness, make it hard for labels to stick well. To bond uniformly to these surfaces, labels need to be very flexible and able to fit complex shapes without lifting or peeling off.

In fields like medical device manufacturing, where parts have complex shapes, special labels with high flexibility and stickiness are used to ensure they stay on securely. These labels have advanced adhesives and materials designed to handle extreme conditions and stay bonded under stress.

Understanding how different surface textures affect label adhesion is crucial for businesses aiming for the best packaging and bonding solutions. By keeping up with material science advancements, businesses can improve efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness in the global market.

Surface Material Matters


All Surface

The material of a surface affects how well an adhesive can bond to it because of surface energy. Surface energy refers to the energy associated with creating the surface, which determines how well the adhesive sticks.

Peter Eyland explains that surfaces have energy because work is required to form them. Surface energy is the work per unit area done by the force creating the surface.

For labels, surface energy shows how much the adhesive and the material's surface attract or repel each other. High surface energy means better attraction, while low surface energy means repulsion.

A material with higher surface energy than the adhesive is ideal because it allows the adhesive to spread out well and create a strong bond. This spreading is called "wet-out," and good wet-out ensures maximum contact and strong adhesion. Thus, materials with higher surface energy are easier for labels to stick to.

Surface energy is measured in dynes per centimeter (dyn/cm).

Determining Your Surface Energy


Pouring water on your surface is a simple way to test its surface energy. In this test, water acts like the adhesive. After applying water to the material, observe how the water behaves.

If the water spreads out and pools, it means the water is more attracted to the surface than to itself, indicating high surface energy.

If the water forms beads, it means the water is more attracted to itself than to the surface, indicating low surface energy.

Common High Surface Energy Materials

High Energy

Common Low Surface Energy Materials

Betckey Labels Adhesion


Betckey label adhesive has been tested and is currently the best-performing product of its kind. Labels falling off or not sticking firmly is usually due to the surface not being smooth or having dust. You can test the adhesive strength by applying the label to paper or a bottle.



Understanding the shape of the label surface is the first step in understanding why labels adhere differently to various surfaces, and understanding the differences in surface energy is the second step. However, regardless of the surface shape or energy you are dealing with, the fundamental goal is to ensure maximum contact between the label and the surface.

Remember to clean your surface before applying labels.