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Finding the Right Free Standing Banner Stand

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For the most part, deciding between free-standing banner stands (or non-retractable stands), and retractable banner stands (also commonly referred to as pull up or roll up banners) comes down to personal preference. One main difference between the two is that free standing banners allow for on-site graphic changes while the majority of retractable banners will need to be sent back to the manufacturer (unless the retractable stand has a cassette-style base). Freestanding banners are also incredibly lightweight, versatile, and typically less expensive than retractable banners. Like retractable banner stands, free standing banner stands also come in a variety of different styles which, you guessed it, makes it difficult when trying to decide which banner stand is the best option for you. However, unlike retractable banner displays that look incredibly similar to one another, the different types of free standing banner stands vary quite a bit in appearance and overall functionality.

The two most common freestanding banner stands are referred to as X banner stands and L banner stands. An X-Stand, also often referred to as a tension back stand, has three aluminum legs and two arms creating its X-shaped frame. The banner graphic features grommets on each of the four corners that attach onto the stand’s hooks to keep the graphic in place. Similar to a fishing pole, the stand’s two legs and arms bend forward when the graphic is attached applying tension to keep the graphic flat. An L-Stand is a 3-piece display that forms an L-shaped back when set-up. These parts include a 13“ inch foot, telescoping center pole, and banner graphic. The banner graphic has tracks on both the top and bottom that clamp onto the head of the pole and front side of the foot. Its telescoping pole allows for multiple graphics of different heights.

There are more sophisticated freestanding banner stand options as well. The first is a hook and loop, or tripod-base stand. This stand has either a tripod or square foot that offers maximum stability. This particular type of stand is extremely versatile, allowing for either a single or double-sided display. With this banner stand you can also display graphics in tons of different sizes, with widths up to 48” wide and 96” tall thanks to its adjustable telescoping pole. Lastly and possibly the most unique free standing banner stand on the market is a rotating stand. This model features a pivoting central hub that tilts and rotates a full 360˚, giving you endless creative possibilities. Not only can you change the angles of this banner stand, you can also adjust the height with its telescoping pole to ensure the banner can be seen at any viewpoint.

To determine which of these four free standing banner stands is the best option for you, consider these important factors:
  1. Venue Space
  2. Length of Use/Quality
  3. Material

Venue Space

When it comes to deciding between the different types of free standing banner stands, the venue where you will be displaying your banner stand should play a major role in your decision-making process. Purchasing a banner stand before identifying the potential obstacles a venue space could present may leave you with an ineffective banner stand.

The main venue factors to consider are floor space and foot traffic
  1. Floor Space

    A banner stand’s main purpose is to display a message to a specific audience. If your banner stand is displayed in a way where your custom graphic is not visible to your audience, your banner stand will not have served its purpose. With that said, banner stand placement is crucial. You want to make sure that your banner stand is displayed in an area that enhances the visibility of your graphic message so it’s extremely important that your banner stand fits well within your allocated space. To ensure this, find out the size and layout of your display area before making a purchase decision.

    Depending on the size and layout of the display area, you can determine the type of base or foot that is best suited for your space. Each of the four freestanding banner stands mentioned have varying footprints and backsides that take up drastically different amounts of space. It’s especially important to be cautious of footprint size when floor space is limited. X-stands require a larger footprint than most free standing displays and therefore take up quite a lot of room which is not ideal if floor space is limited. L-stands, tripod, and rotating base stands all have a much smaller footprint and take up less space which makes these types of stands better options for tighter spaces.

    For spacious settings, the type and size of the footprint no longer presents a challenge. Instead, the size of the banner graphic becomes the focus. To prevent your custom graphic from going unnoticed inside sprawling areas, opt for a free standing display that can accommodate graphics of large dimensions like a tripod style banner stand. This type of stand can display banner graphics that range up to 48” in width and 96” in length.

    x-tend dimension (1)eco dimension (2)

    flex dimension (1)360 dimension (1)

  2. Foot Traffic

    While you want your banner message to be seen, you don’t want it to be too visible that it ends up being in the way. This brings us to a second venue factor to keep in mind - attendee foot traffic. Displaying your banner stand in heavily trafficked areas seems like an effective way to draw in the most eyeballs, right? For other forms of signage such as wall banners and decals, absolutely. However, when it comes to banner stands, fishing where the fish are shouldn’t be taken too literally in a sea of event attendees.

    If attendees have to go out of their way to walk around or squeeze by your banner stand, it no longer serves as a way to showcase your messaging but rather as an obstruction. This also presents an opportunity for attendees to trip on or even knock over your banner stand. Not only is this not safe for your attendees, this could also cause damage to the stand and/or graphic. To avoid this, you’ll want to stay away from heavily trafficked areas where there's a possibility of blocking walkways, entryways, and stairwells.

Length of Use/Quality

To narrow down your search further, decide on a life span for your free standing banner stand. Do you intend to use your banner stand just once, a handful of times, or repeatedly? Based on the usage you intend to get out of the banner stand, you can determine the level of hardware quality you will need in your banner stand.
  1. One-Time Use

    When planning to use your banner stand just once, your best option would be to purchase an economical stand. A great aspect of non-retractable banner stands is that eco-friendly options are available from many manufacturers. With these sustainable one-time use models, you’ll feel great recycling the entire unit after your event while making your event more sustainable.

    Recommended: The Eco & The X-Tend.

  2. Short-Term Use

    When planning to reuse the same stand for numerous events, you’ll want to purchase a stand with a longer hardware warranty than the economical models as well as upgrade to a higher quality banner material such as reinforced curl free vinyl or fabric. If you plan to change your messaging, make sure replacement graphics are offered from the manufacturer.

  3. Long-Term Use

    The more usage you intend to get out of your free standing banner stand, the more important it is to invest into a higher quality, premium stand. There are plenty of cheap stands of lesser quality that are great for an event or two, but if long-term use is anticipated, your best option is to go with a great quality model that can withstand wear and tear.

    Recommended: The Flex & The 360˚


When it comes to selecting a banner material, it is important to establish the purpose of your graphic. Will your custom design change from event to event or stay the same across multiple events? If the purpose of the banner graphic is to showcase a company logo or branding that does not change, you’ll want to choose a high-quality banner material that is known to look professional and holdup from event to event. Although higher quality materials are more expensive, this is a smart investment in the long run. Instead of replacing the graphic after every use or every couple of uses, you will save money by continuing to reuse the same banner graphic over and over. If the purpose of your graphic is event-specific such as recognizing event sponsors or displaying the day’s agenda, it’s more than likely that you will only need the banner graphic for one event and you could save some money by going with a more economical banner material. After nailing down the purpose and design of your custom graphic, you should now be able to confidently choose a banner material.

The five commonly used graphic materials for free standing banner stands:
  1. 13 Oz. Vinyl
  2. Bio Print
  3. Curl-Free Vinyl
  4. Reinforced Curl-Free Vinyl
  5. Premium Fabric


  1. 13 Oz. Vinyl

    One of the most prevalent materials used for event banners in the industry is 13 oz. vinyl. This material is very durable so it can withstand multiple uses. One major flaw with 13 oz. vinyl is that it does not resist curling. While 13 oz. vinyl is not curl-free, the curl of the material is limited and generally appears flat in stands that use tension in all four corners (like X-frame banners stands). With 13 oz. vinyl, you can choose either a gloss or matte finish. However, it is important to note that with either finishing, this material is still known to give off a glare which may present a challenge for taking photographs and in brightly lit settings .

  2. Bio Print

    Bio print, also referred to as eco paper, is an eco-friendly paper-based material which is offered as an economical option for free standing banner stands by some manufacturers. Not only is this graphic material cost-effective, it is also 100% recyclable, making it a great option for one-time use. Since this material is made of extra thick paper products, it is recommended for one-time use only.

  3. Curl-Free Vinyl

    By far the most popular material used across all banner stands is curl-free vinyl, often called stay flat vinyl. As the name suggests, curl-free vinyl is in fact curl resistant. Being that curl-free vinyl is a very popular material for all types of banner stands, it is supplied by nearly every retailer. Since it is so widely distributed by many different manufacturers, this implies that certain curl-free vinyls differ in quality and life expectancies when it comes to resisting creasing. That being said, make sure to select a curl-free vinyl that will resist curling throughout the entirety of its intended use.

  4. Reinforced Curl-Free Vinyl

    The highest quality of vinyl material you can purchase is reinforced curl-free vinyl. This vinyl coated fabric material provides exceptional print quality that lasts through multiple events without ripping, creasing, or tearing. With a reinforced cur-freel vinyl banner graphic, your custom design will appear vibrant and crisp for many events to come.

  5. Premium Fabric

    Premium fabric banners are the most appealing material visually. Fabric banners have a non-reflective finish which gives the material a flat, matte appearance. Through the dye-sublimation printing method, ink is actually absorbed into the fabric providing high quality imagery that won’t dull with time. Unlike other materials, fabric absorbs light allowing it to photograph well and appear professionally under heavy lighting. Fabric materials do tend to be more transparent than vinyl graphics. To prevent light from showing through the banner, you can have a coating applied to the back side of the graphic.

    Depending on the manufacturer, these banner materials tend to range in quality. To ensure you purchase a banner graphic with the level of quality to match your needs, we recommend requesting material samples to test when shopping online.

In Conclusion

Selecting a free standing banner stand to purchase heavily depends on your specific event needs. Throughout your banner search, remember to keep in mind the venue space where you will be displaying your banner stand as this will help you determine the physical aspects that you want in your banner stand (such as size, pole style, and type of base). Be sure to also note how often you will be using your banner stand in order to distinguish the quality of the hardware and graphic material you will need. Considering all of these key factors will not only simplify your banner search but also leave you feeling confident about your free standing banner stand investment.

Madison Avenue, Inc. has a family of free standing banner stands to fit any need. For a side by side look at our full banner line, check out our Banner Stand Comparison Chart.

Think a retractable banner stand might suit you better? Check out "Finding the Right Retractable Banner Stand" here!

If you have any questions about free standing banner stands or wish to talk to one of our in-house experts, please do not hesitate to call us directly at 301-470-1500 or send us an email to info@meetingsigns.com.



Courtney Zgraggen
Written by Courtney Zgraggen

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