What Are the Different Types of Rubber Stamps?

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When you enter your favorite stationery store, you’ll likely see a whole bunch of rubber stamps on display.

While it’s tempting to just grab the first one that strikes your fancy and call it a day, you should first give some thought as to which type of stamp you should get.

So, what are the different types of rubber stamps?

In a nutshell, there are four types of rubber stamps:

  1. Wood handle or traditional rubber stamps
  2. Self-inking stamps
  3. Pre-inked stamps
  4. Changeable stamps
  5. Embosser stamps

You might be familiar with some of these already. Or, probably, you own one or two.

But if not, here’s what you need to know.

What Are the Different Types of Rubber Stamps?

Wood Handle Stamps or Traditional Rubber Stamps

Wood Handle Stamps

As the name suggests, these kinds of stamps have a wooden handle. Wood handle stamps are the traditional type of stamp. They’re great for beginners because they are very straightforward to use.

For this type of stamp, the design gets etched into a rubber block, and that rubber gets mounted on wood as a base or handle.

If you purchase rubber stamps, it usually comes with a separate ink pad. To use it, you simply press the stamp into the ink pad. Then, press it down on the paper, and lift it off. This will leave an impression of your image or design on the paper.

Wood handle stamps may take up a lot of space on your desk due to the separate ink pad and the wooden handle.

Compared to self-inking stamps, wood handle stamps can be a hassle to use  for high-volume and repetitive use. However, the quality of the impression is usually better than self-inking stamps, and the design is more visible.

Pros of Wood Handle Stamps:

  • Customizable; you can even make your own custom stamp
  • Wood handles make it easier to hold and control the stamp
  • Suitable with different types and colors of ink
  • Suitable for a variety of stamping surfaces

Cons of Wood Handle Stamps:

  • Needs a separate ink pad to use
  • Less convenient to use
  • Can be heavier compared to other rubber stamp types
  • Requires maintenance

Self-Inking Stamps

Self-Inking Stamps

So, what is a self-inking stamp? Self-inking stamps usually have a plastic frame that holds both the stamp and the ink pad. Unlike wood-mounted stamps, the ink pad for self-inking stamps is not separate; it is built-in into the stamp.

The name self-inking stamps comes from the fact that you don’t need to re-ink the stamp after each use; it automatically reinks itself after every impression.

Thus, you can stamp on paper directly every time. That’s the charm of self-inking stamps.

You need to reink or replace the ink pad when it runs out of ink, though. It uses water-based ink, which is best for porous surfaces like fabric and paper.

Self-inking stamps are great for repetitive and high-volume stamping due to their ability to self-ink. However, the impression is not as high-quality as other stamps. Thus, self-inking stamps are better for speed but not for precision.

Pros of Self-Inking Stamps:

  • Convenient and time-saving
  • Ideal for repetitive tasks
  • Integrated ink pad prevents mess
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Easy to use with a simple push-down mechanism

Cons of Self-Inking Stamps:

  • Limited ink color options
  • Potential for ink smudging, especially if using low-quality ink
  • It may require re-inking after extensive use
  • Can be more expensive than traditional stamps upfront
  • Limited sizing options

Pre-Inked Stamps

Pre-Inked Stamps

If you are looking for that clean and crisp impression, pre-inked stamps will do the trick. It will look like you printed the design and not from your stamp — imagine getting that level of detail. That’s why pre-inked stamps are great for professional use and will be very legible.

Pre-inked stamps use oil-based ink, and they are great for shiny or glossy surfaces. This type of stamp has a built-in ink cartridge for refilling ink.

You might be thinking, ‘Isn’t it the same as self-inking stamps?’. Yes, they are pretty similar, but self-inking has ink pads and pre-inked doesn’t. Pre-inked stamps have ink reservoirs instead and the level of detail each stamp provides are worlds away.

Generally, there are two types of pre-inked stamps. The first type of pre-inked stamp utilizes gel technology, and the other uses a UV Flash system.

The downside of pre-inked stamps is you need to stop after 3-4 stamps to let the ink settle before you can continue with your stamping. It does not give the speed and efficiency of a self-inking stamp, but its precision is top-notch.

Pros of Pre-Inked Stamps:

  • No need for a separate ink pad
  • Provides clear and sharp impressions
  • Ink lasts longer and offers more impressions than others
  • Can create more detailed and intricate designs

Cons of Pre-Inked Stamps:

  • Can be more expensive than other types of stamps
  • Limited in size options, usually available in standard sizes
  • May require more pressure to create a precise impression on certain surfaces
  • Not applicable for high-volume and frequent use

Changeable Stamps

Changeable Stamps

Most stamps have fixed designs that you cannot easily change. The design gets carved into the rubber block and is permanent.

But what if you constantly need to change it? Perhaps a stamp for dates or names? Then you need a changeable stamp.

Changeable stamps come in two types. The first one is Alphanumeric band stamps. These stamps come with a rotating rubber band, which allows you to change the characters easily. These stamps are perfect for marking dates or unique codes.

The other type of changeable rubber stamp is Ribtype handle stamps. These stamps come with a set of individual rubber stamps engraved with letters or numbers and a wooden handle. Each engraved rubber stamp has a ribbed back, the same with the wooden handle.

To use it, take one rubber stamp and slide its ribbed back into the wooden handle’s ribbed surface. This will hold the stamp in place. The wooden handle can hold multiple stamps in place. Then, you can use it like your traditional rubber stamp.

Pros of Changeable Stamps:

  • Allows for quick and easy customization
  • Applicable to various purposes by simply changing the text
  • Eliminate the need for carrying multiple stamps
  • No customization is needed

Cons of Changeable Stamps:

  • May have limited design options
  • Risk of smudging or misalignment
  • Frequent changes may lead to faster wear and tear
  • Setting up the desired design takes longer than others

Embosser Stamps

If you don’t want to use inked stamps, then you might want to try embosser stamps.

But, what is an embosser? Unlike rubber stamps that use ink, embossers use pressure to make an imprint.

How? Embossers are a metal-clamping tool. When you buy an embosser, it usually comes in two pieces: the handle and the embosser insert (or die plate). The insert is a metal plate with an engraved die on it. Then, you place the insert into the handle.

If you put a piece of paper in between the embosser and press, the paper will be imprinted with the design from the insert.

You might be thinking, “Doesn’t that damage the paper?” Technically, yes. The embosser stretches the paper to create a raised impression. The imprint is the damaged part. But this does not rip the paper, it just leaves a permanent mark.

Once a paper is embossed, it will be hard to erase the impression. This is why embossers are used to authenticate official documents.

Pros of Embosser Stamps:

  • Doesn’t need ink to make an impression
  • Leaves permanent imprint
  • Can be used for various paper materials

Cons of Embosser Stamps:

  • Imprint can’t be erased
  • Embossing on thick materials can be challenging
  • Quality of impression relies on the pressure applied

What Are Clear Stamps?

Clear stamps use clear or transparent materials such as acrylic, polymer, photopolymer, or silicone as the medium for the stamp design. Since they are transparent, you can easily position the stamp impression over a surface.

However, clear stamps are not rubber stamps. Rubber stamps are made of rubber, but clear stamps are made of a clear or transparent material that is not rubber.

It’s just that some people use the term ‘clear rubber stamp’ to refer to clear stamps.

Compared to rubber stamps, clear stamps are more affordable and easier to store. Clear stamps come in an acetate sheet for packaging and storage.

To use clear stamps, remove the stamp from the acetate sheet first. Then, place the stamp over an acrylic block which serves as the handle. Ink the stamp. Finally, make an impression.

You can use different clear stamps in one acrylic block handle, so it saves space.

However, due to its clear or transparent nature, clear stamps may get ink stains or turn yellow. Any discoloration will be visible.

Generally, clear stamps are not as durable as rubber. Of course, factors like storage and usage will affect the lifespan of the stamp.

Pros of Clear Stamps:

  • Easy to align and position on paper

  • Compact and easy to store

  • Affordable compared to traditional rubber stamps

Cons of Clear Stamps:

  • The impression is not as crisp as rubber stamps

  • Not as durable as rubber stamps

  • Can stain or discolor easily

Benefits of Rubber Stamps: Why Use Rubber Stamps?

Should you get a rubber stamp? My answer will always be a resounding, “Yes!” Rubber stamps are great for so many reasons. They make your life easier. How?

Check out these benefits:

  • Consistency: Rubber stamps can produce consistent, repeatable impressions.
  • Efficiency: Rubber stamps are a quick and easy way to add information to documents or products.
  • Accuracy: Rubber stamps can ensure accurate placement and alignment of information, reducing errors and improving readability.
  • Customization: Rubber stamps are customizable with specific text, logos, or designs to meet your needs.
  • Cost-effective: Rubber stamps are a cost-effective alternative to printing or labeling, especially in large quantities.

How to Choose the Right Rubber Stamp for You?

After learning about the different types of stamps, the impulsive buyer in you might be itching to go to the nearest craft store.

But before you do, there are some things you should consider first:

Purpose and Intended Use

If you are unsure which type to choose, the first thing you should consider is what purpose you need a stamp for.

Do you need a stamp for personal use, or is it for business purposes? Do you need it for paper or glossy surfaces? These questions should help narrow down your options.

Frequency of Use

How often you use your rubber stamp will also help determine the right stamp to choose. For example, if you need a rubber stamp for frequent use, then a self-inking stamp is the best option. But if you only need it occasionally, a traditional stamp will do just fine. How often you clean your rubber stamps is another factor, too.

Design and Customization Requirements

The right type of stamp for you will vary profoundly on the design and the level of customization you need. Pre-inked stamps are great for business logos as it provide intricate designs with fine details. Changeable stamps are great for temporary designs that you want to change regularly, like dates.

What are the Different Types of Stamps?

Apart from rubber stamps, you may have heard of other stamp types. Each type of stamp has its unique properties and is used for different purposes.

To prevent confusion, here are some of the most common types of stamps:

  • Postage stamps: Postage stamps pay for the delivery of mail. They get printed with different denominations to indicate their value.
  • Custom stamps: These stamps imprint an image or message onto a surface, such as a document or envelope.
  • Signature stamps: Signature stamps sign documents in place of a physical signature.
  • Date stamps: Date stamps mark the date on papers or envelopes. They are often used in businesses to keep track of paperwork.
  • Notary stamps: These are used by notaries public to authenticate signatures and certify documents.

What Are the Different Types of Rubber Stamps (FAQs)

How Many Types of Rubber Stamps Are There?

There are four types of rubber stamps:

  • Traditional Rubber Stamps: These stamps consist of a wooden or plastic handle with rubber blocks attached.
  • Self-Inking Stamps: Self-inking stamps have an integrated ink pad that automatically re-inks after each impression.
  • Pre-Inked Stamps: Pre-inked stamps come with a built-in ink reservoir containing a specific amount of ink required for impressions.
  • Changeable Stamps: Changeable stamps allow you to change the design or message on the stamp easily.

What Type of Print Does a Rubber Stamp Create?

A relief print is the type of print that a rubber stamp creates. A relief print is a type of impression where the image appears as a mirror image of the object used to make the print.

Do Stamps Have to Be Made of Rubber, or Can They Be Made Using Other Materials?

Stamps do not have to be made specifically of rubber; you can use other materials as well. For example, foam, linoleum sheets, or even potatoes are suitable for stamp-making.

What Type of Rubber is Used on Rubber Stamps?

Red rubber is the most common type of rubber used on stamps. Red rubber produces designs in fine detail. That’s why when you shop for rubber stamps, you’ll see that most of them use red rubber.


I hope next time you visit your craft store, you’ll be able to recognize these stamps and confidently make the right purchase.

But if you like shopping online as much as I do, then check out our collection of rubber stamps. I’m sure that you’ll find something to help with your next project.

So, which of the four types of rubber stamps is your favorite? And which one do you think is the most useful?

Let us know in the comments!

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What Are the Different Types of Rubber Stamps?

How Are Custom Rubber Stamps Made?

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Make Your Own Stamp?

What Is a Book Embosser?


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