Custom banners get your brand noticed and your message remembered. Choose from retractable banners for trade shows, tabletop banners, portable banners, banner stands, and many other choices. There are a wide variety of materials used for printing banner artwork to fit your event needs. You can even add on banner accessories like banner lighting, banner shipping cases, and brochure holders to customize your advertisement.

But how do you choose between the various banner stands? What is the difference between cheap banner stands and more expensive options? How do you decide which type of material to use for your custom banner? This custom banner buying guide explains usage considerations, the differences in banner materials, the types of banner hardware available, and optional add-on accessories for your marketing needs.

Types of Banners

Retractable Banners

Retractable banners are typically printed on a vinyl or polyester film material and are also known as window shade banners, because they pull up and retract down, similar to a window shade. Retractable banners can be either single or double sided to fit your advertising needs. They are available in an adjustable width and height, or they can have a set width and height. Once the banner artwork is printed, it is rolled into its retractable base unit, where the artwork is secured and protected during storage and shipping. Some retractable banners have a profile that holds the artwork on the top, and a leader on the bottom that allows the artwork to curl around the roller.

Retractable banners need to be handled with care in order to protect the artwork and the unit surrounding the artwork. One way retractable banners get damaged is by allowing the banner art to fling back into the base unit uncontrolled instead of slowly retracting it back into the base. Another way retractable banners can get ruined is from an impact to either side of the base where the retracting function is located. Hard-sided shipping cases are a good investment for retractable banners if you want to use the banner for multiple events.

Banner Stands

Banner stands are typically a non-retractable banner and are also known as post-up stands. Unlike retractable banners, banner stands are not secured into a base unit, so the artwork will need to be handled in order to display it on the banner hardware. Banner stands are usually more delicate than retractable banners because the banner artwork is separate from the hardware. The hardware and the artwork can be either stored together or separately, but art should be protected to ensure it doesn’t get scratched or damaged. To display the artwork, it is typically affixed to the banner stand by hooks. Some banner stands include a metal profile bar at the top with a ledge that a pole can be hooked onto holding up the banner art. A banner stand’s lifetime is dependent upon careful handling of the artwork.

Pop Up Banners

Pop up banners are also known as pop up displays, accordion style banners, collapsible banners, or pop up booths and are typically sized 10’x10’ or larger for use in trade shows, conferences, and event booths. Pop up booths usually have a quick setup time of ten minutes or less with no tools required for assembly. Some pop up banners have art pre-attached, and others come with the artwork and hardware separate, requiring the art to be attached once the hardware is assembled. Portable displays differ from pop up banners because not all portable displays are pop up banners, but all pop up banners are considered portable displays. Pop up banners are common for trade shows and larger events.

Hanging Banners

Hanging banners help shout your message from the rooftops and make great sale banners, trade show banners, grand opening banners, and more. They are useful in retail stores, heath and fitness clubs, restaurants, and many other indoor or outdoor applications. When buying a hanging banner, it is important to consider your installation requirements for the hardware that securely hangs the banner.

Metal Grommet Holes

Grommet holeMetal grommet holes that allow rope or cable to be looped through are the most common choice for hanging banners. They can also be utilized to secure your banner to a fence for outdoor applications. A reinforced grommet hole is added to each of the four corners of the banner for easy suspension. Grommet hardware is necessary for hanging your banner taut and maintaining the quality of the banner. Metal grommets can be applied to vinyl banners, mesh banners, fabric banners, and canvas banners.

Pole Pockets

Pole bannerPole pockets offer another method to hang your banner. Pole pockets can be added to the top and bottom of the banner so that poles can slide through to hold the banner in place. Pole hanging banners are great for carrying banners during events, like parades. Pole pockets can be applied to vinyl banners, mesh banners, fabric banners, and canvas banners.

Banner Shipping & Storage Cases

Typically, banners come in one-way shipping boxes that are not for re-use. If you need to ship a banner from a trade show to the office or to another show, shipping cases are a wise purchase. Banner shipping cases protect the banner and artwork during travel and storage. Shipping cases are compatible with UPS, FedEx, and other shipping companies. Some banner cases can even be converted into a professional counter for use during shows offering space for custom-wrapped graphics and storage space.

Banner Lighting

Banner lighting illuminates your message and helps it stand out. When buying banner lighting, it is critical to ensure the lighting has an attachment mechanism that is compatible with your banner stand hardware. Some options clamp to the pole behind the banner stand, while others clamp to the profile at the top of the banner. Halogen lights are not recommended for banners because they heat up and could potentially damage the banner artwork. Halogen lights are also not allowed in Las Vegas convention centers. Most manufacturers offer LED lights to replace halogen lights because they remain cooler and last longer.

Add-on Shelving & Brochure Racks

Some retractable banners allow for an add-on shelf, tabletop, or brochure holder for convenience. These banner stand accessories allow you to display additional items, hand out related collateral, or provide extra space for materials or a writing table.

Adjustable Feet

Some banner models include adjustable feet which can help with stability when displaying the banner. Convention center floors are not always level, so adjustable feet can help in these situations.

Types of Banner Material

Whether you want a shiny or matte banner, heavy or lightweight, weather-proof or scratch-resistant, banners come in a wide range of materials that offer different benefits. These materials can range from single-use banners to long-lasting banners for many years of advertising. Banners are available in many different materials including vinyl, fabric, mesh, canvas, and more to meet the demands of the placement and setting where your banner will be displayed.

vinyl banners close up

Vinyl Banners

If you want low-cost pricing and basic materials for your banner, then a vinyl banner is the best choice. Vinyl banners range from a cost-effective 12oz. vinyl to a more durable 18oz. vinyl. An 18oz. banner is recommended for outdoor applications because it will wear better against the elements. Artwork is typically printed digitally on vinyl. To finish the banner, the edges can be hemmed for reinforcement and grommets can be added for hanging.

Recommended for:

  • Indoor & outdoor events
  • Short-term use
  • One-time use
  • Budget advertising

polyester film banners

Polyester Film Banners

Higher quality banners use an advanced polyester film that is scratch-resistant. The material is durable, long-lasting, and features photo image quality. Grommets can be added to polyester film banners. They make great indoor banners and with proper care can last for many events.

Recommended for:

  • Indoor events
  • Long-term use
  • Banner stands

fabric banner material

Fabric Banners

If you want a thinner, lightweight banner material for an indoor or outdoor setting, a fabric banner is a great option. Fabric banners provide a cohesive look and accurate color-matching when paired with an all-fabric booth at a trade show or event. Fabric banner artwork is printed through a dye-sublimation process that deposits color onto the fabric and lasts for years. When printing on fabric, as with any printing project, it is recommended to view a color proof on the actual material prior to going to print because colors may look different on fabric versus paper, vinyl, or other materials.

Recommended for:

  • Indoor events
  • Event booths
  • Large graphics

Outdoor banner mesh

Mesh Banners

If you want to advertise outdoors, mesh banners are a great option that will stand up to the weather. Mesh banners are designed to allow sound and air to effortlessly pass through because they have crisscrossed fabric fibers in their construction. They provide a professional look without the interruption of wind slits that are used for vinyl material.

Recommended for:

  • Outdoor events
  • Flags

Polyethylene banner material

Polyethylene Banners

Polyethylene banners are a step up in quality from standard vinyl banners. Polyethylene banners resist curling and hang straight after being wrapped around a retractable banner roller, making them a good choice for portable displays. The print quality of Polyethylene is higher than vinyl, so the printed image features more clarity and finer type.

Recommended for:

  • Indoor events
  • Long-term use

canvas banners

Canvas Banners

Canvas banners feature a specialty fabric recommended for indoor use only. The heavy-duty material has the thickest feel compared to other types of banners. Typically, canvas banners are used for high-end backdrops at trade shows and other events. Canvas banners are usually finished at the ends and have a pole pocket for easy display, but grommets can also be added. These banners are higher priced due to the material and the finishing work needed after printing.

Recommended for:

  • Indoor events
  • Backdrops
  • High-end advertising


Peterson, Michael. “Signage 101 – Banner Finishing Options.” Blog,, 11 July 2018,

“Types of Banner Materials.” Signs of Success, Https://, 16 May 2018,

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