Ranking Signage Surfaces Photo

Super Signage Surface Stand-Off: SURVIVOR-STYLE

Mabz came back for another signage post! If you don’t know her, Mabz (with @chalkedbymabz) and I do a lot of signage projects together (and apart), but mostly together… and we get lots of questions whenever we do. 

When we talk about signage, we’re talking about if a client hires us for their signs for their wedding (like a seating chart or a welcome sign), or a menu (like a chalkboard menu), or big signs for clients (like restaurants). We’ll also do murals or big storefront windows or big menu boards – that kind of thing. Basically, any surface that we can get hired to letter or draw on… 

But there are five surfaces that we work on the most, and we did a little “best to worst” thing.

Technically we did worst to best because we did this “Survivor-Style”. We took the five most common signage types, and we voted on cards like Survivor does. We didn’t look at each other’s card, and we voted one signage off the island at a time (got rid of all the worst ones) until we got to the best one.

This was hard… SO hard. But fun!

Rather watch than read? No problem! You can watch and listen in real-time by clicking the video below!

Let’s Get Started!

Real quick… Before we actually dive in, if you’re a person who’s interested in signage stuff, which I assume you are if you’re reading this, we have a signage course! It’s called Signing Up and you can find it at SigningUpCourse.com. There’s so much more than what we’re covering in this post in the course. ,

 The five most common types of signage are:

  • Mirrors 
  • Glass (like window panes)
  • Chalkboards 
  • Wood 
  • Acrylic (like plexiglass)

We’re decided to vote one off the island. We used little pieces of paper like they use on actual Survivor. We wrote what we thought was the worst one… the one we liked the least. 

It was hard! We like them all, but we had to consider if a client came to us and said, “you can pick whichever one you want”, what would we be the least likely to choose?

I seriously recommend watching the actual video. Mabz and I are silly, and I guarantee you’ll laugh! 

Anyway… We wrote our least likely signage type down, folded our papers in half, and officially voted. We didn’t have the jar thing or Jeff to read the votes, but we both revealed at the same time…

Becca’s Least Favourite: WOOD

Mabz’s Least Favourite: MIRROR

*Although Mabz immediately said she should have said wood instead of mirror.

For me, wood is definitely the worst for multiple reasons. Generally I have to source it for the client, so I have to go to Home Depot, get the wood, sand it, stain it… and even then, it’s usually too bumpy. And the paint seeps through, and you can’t remove mistakes…

Mabz chose mirror because she finds there are less ways to transfer designs onto mirrors. Other surfaces have more ways to do that, which is true – you can definitely do a chalk transfer easier on wood than mirrors. 

Overall, we both decided that 5th place is wood.

Next up for 4th place… we both chose mirror! 

We had just talked about how mirrors are tough, so it wasn’t a surprise it was 4th. Mirror is annoying to transfer anything on to – you usually have to actually draw the guidelines. I do have a chalk transfer hack that caaaan work on mirrors (I have a post about it here), but it can be tricky. You also have to be careful with mirrors because if you look at it from the wrong angle, it can cause issues (I think the word is parallax). It’s kind of like a double pane window. It’s super tricky – you basically have to look at it straight on. 

Now we had chalkboard, acrylic, and glass left..

For 3rd place, I wrote down chalkboard, and Mabz wrote down acrylic. 

Mabz said her decision came down to confidence of fixing mistakes. With chalkboards and glass, she knows how to fix mistakes or issues but not as much with acrylic. She’s had a few circumstances where she messed up on acrylic and REALLY messed it up – no going back… 

But I could say the same thing about a chalkboard though. Most people don’t want actual chalk on a chalkboard – they want a paint marker on a chalkboard. If you screw that up, it’s a whole removal process. There’s also ghosting (which I have a whole post about) when working on chalkboards. Really, I think removing off of acrylic is actually easier than removing off of a chalkboard. 

And the steps to do an acrylic sign are good – you can put your design behind it and trace through it, which is great. On a chalkboard, you can do a chalk transfer, which is great, but it takes longer. 

For Mabz, the fear of the messing up made her choose acrylic for 3rd place.

For me, I prefer acrylic because it’s really pretty. You can like paint the back in lots of ways and colours… there are so many ways to fancy it up.

We REALLY struggled to choose 3rd place. If we called it a tie and picked both chalkboard and acrylic for 3rd place, glass automatically won 1st place… but does it deserve it? 

For me, I was very set that chalkboard was #3. I asked Mabz if we could agree that acrylic is prettier than a chalkboard. She said they’re very different looks – chalkboards are more rustic, but she doesn’t do rustic looking chalkboards. We definitely agreed that acrylic has more possibilities. 

Mabz begrudgingly agreed that chalkboard is in 3rd place.

Only acrylic and glass remain.

I chose acrylic for 2nd place (which left glass for 1st place). 

Mabz chose glass for 2nd place (which left acrylic for 1st place)…

And this didn’t even make sense! She tried to vote acrylic in 3rd place, and then said it was number 1. She changed her mind. ?

I chose acrylic because acrylic and glass are the same level of easiness to work with because you can put your design underneath and trace through, but glass is easier to remove mistakes. The only downfall with glass is you could break it (which was the biggest factor for Mabz). 

But with acrylic, you could scratch it… this is hard. There are A LOT of things to think through with this… 

Mabz said she found choosing hard. But if a client said they weren’t sure about glass or acrylic, she would probably say to do acrylic because it’s more lightweight. If it falls or if somebody bumps into it, it’s not going to crash and break. But that’s thinking of a sign that’s moveable and not a window. (I was thinking of a sign like a seating chart.) Mabz said if it was a seating chart, she’d still pick acrylic in first place. 

I was honestly going to let Mabz win since she bent to my opinions on wood and chalkboard, but we got to talking more and more about acrylic versus glass. For the record, I like glass and acrylic very much – they’re close! But with acrylic, it’s EXPENSIVE. If someone wanted a big seating chart, that’s like a $200 piece of plexiglass. Glass can be expensive too, but you can get it secondhand often. You can take it out of a picture frame and replace it later. It’s SO much easier to reuse glass. Acrylic is terrible for the environment because it’s a lot harder to reuse it. 

 and stuff like in biotech and hand, you can like take it out of a picture frame and it can be reused. Whereas acrylic is much harder to reuse. It looks bad for the environment. I didn’t know that well can make sense because people don’t reuse it.

Overall, we both firmly agreed on wood in 5th place and mirror in 4th place. (Mabz said she wasn’t thinking properly when she put mirror in 5th place.) 

Glass and acrylic truly are so so close though. They just have different end goals. Also, not that many people would come to me and ask me to do a glass seating chart. It’s only when they have a picture frame or an old antique window. More people ask for acrylic because it’s easier to source it in the right size, and it’s easier to transport…

So do we do this?

Nope, we can’t end in a tie.

We finally decided on a final order:

Acrylic is lighter too, so it can win. Acrylic and glass are VERY close though. Acrylic is lighter and easier to find while glass is heavier and more breakable (but more environmentally friendly). They’re close FOR SURE. They both have pros and cons, but realistically more clients would ask for acrylic. And if someone came to me and if I could make them an acrylic seating chart, I always say for sure. 

Okay so the order from best to worst: 

  1. Acrylic 
  2. Glass 
  3. Chalkboard 
  4. Mirror 
  5. Wood

We did it! We solved it. 

Honestly though, I like all of these. If a client came to me and asked me to do any of these, I would say yes. It’s just a matter of what tools you use, how long it would take you to do each one, etc. 

And That’s A Wrap!

Speaking of tools… we actually have a really cool download.

It’s called the Ultimate Signage Toolbox. We have all of our favourite tools with little explanations for what we use it for. You can download it for free HERE

Hope you enjoyed this post. Again, I definitely recommend watching the video to get the full experience of our episode of Survivor. 

If you’re still reading right now, leave us a comment down below and give us your ranking from worst to best – we’d love to know! 

Here’s another signage related post we think you’ll like! 

And finally, your dad joke…

What do you call the last living shoe?
The sole survivor.

Tell me what you thought!