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Finding the Right Retractable Banner Stand

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Choosing between a retractable and free standing banner stand is the first step. For most meeting and event planners, purchasing one over the other usually comes down to personal preference. If you’re someone who prefers an all-in-one compact look and easy assembly, you’re probably going to go with a retractable over a freestanding banner stand that comes with multiple parts and requires a bit more effort to set up. Next comes the more difficult part, choosing between the endless retractable banner stand options on the market.

The market is flooded with retractable banner stands, also commonly referred to as pull up or roll up banners, that look almost identical to one another making it difficult to be confident in your purchase decision. Although the majority of retractable banner displays have a similar look, they vary quite a bit in quality and price making it essential to do your research before you purchase.

Top considerations when choosing a retractable banner stand:
  1. Length of Use/Quality
  2. Material
  3. Venue Space

Length of Use/Quality

You should first consider how long you plan on using the banner stand. Are you going to use the banner stand for just one event or for multiple events, is it going to be up for a day, multiple days, or months on end? Once you have determined the length of time you need the banner stand for, you’ll want to pay extra attention to the hardware quality and banner material.

  1. One-Time Use

    When planning to use your retractable banner stand only once or dealing with budget constraints it may be in your best interest to purchase an economical stand. However, make sure to conduct proper research on the banner graphic material, finishing, and hardware so that you purchase a stand that will still look professional and hold up throughout the duration of your event.

    Recommended: The Budget & The Value

  2. Short-Term Use

    If you host multiple events a year that require event-specific custom graphic designs, you’ll want to be sure to purchase a retractable banner stand that allows for graphic changes. Since you’ll be using the same stand to display numerous banner graphic designs over multiple occasions, it’s most beneficial to buy a higher quality stand. These stands generally have to be sent back to the manufacturer for a graphic change so it’s essential that the hardware is durable enough to withstand multiple graphic changes. Lesser quality stands may work for some time, but there is a much higher chance for these stands to develop defects causing you to ultimately spend more money to replace the entire unit.

    Recommended: The Classic & The Deluxe

  3. Long-Term Use

    If you’re someone who changes your banner messaging and branding from event to event, you’ll want to invest in a retractable banner stand with an interchangeable cassette base. This type of base will allow you to switch out graphics on-site instead of shipping it back to the manufacturer each time you want to change your graphic. Although cassette bases are on the more expensive end, springing for a top-of-the-line model will ultimately save you money and headaches in the long run. With an interchangeable cassette system, you won’t have to worry about buying new stands ever again.

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Determining the type of graphic material your custom design will be printed on is very important especially for retractable banner stands. Since the banner graphic is housed inside of the base, you want to be sure that the material can withstand being pulled in and out of the base repeatedly without ripping, tearing, or creasing overtime. Not only is it important for the graphic material to be of high quality, but you’ll also want to make sure that the material has good color print and is opaque so that the pole does not show through.

Most commonly used graphic materials for retractable banner stands:
  1. 13 Oz. Vinyl
  2. Curl-Free Vinyl
  3. Reinforced Curl-Free Vinyl
  4. Premium Fabric


  1. 13 Oz. Vinyl

    13 oz. vinyl is one of the most common banner materials on the market. This banner is most commonly used in hanging banners but is occasionally offered in retractables due to its low cost. A great thing about 13 oz. vinyl is that it is extremely durable. It can be used multiple times and is easy to clean. However, since it is so durable, the material is quite thick. Due to its thickness, some manufacturers do not offer 13 oz. vinyl as a material option for retractable banners because often times, it can cause the spring inside of the retractable base to malfunction. Another issue with 13 oz vinyl is when used in a retractable banner stand the material curls inward along the edges of the graphic. 13 oz. vinyl typically comes in a gloss or matte finish but is still known to give off a sheen or glare making this material less ideal for taking photographs or in situations involving heavy lighting such as a stage setting.

  2. Curl-Free Vinyl

    The most commonly used retractable banner graphic is curl-free vinyl, also known as stay flat print or vinyl. Like the name suggests, curl-free vinyl does in fact resist curling. Since curl-free vinyl is the most popular graphic material used for retractable banner displays, there are many different manufacturers who supply it. As you may guess, this means that not every curl-free vinyl material is exactly the same. Different curl-free vinyls are of different qualities and have shorter or longer life expectancies so be sure to choose a material that will stay flat or curl-free during the time you plan to use the banner (whether that be days or weeks, months or years). Another thing you’ll want to keep in mind with this material is that the sides do have the potential to fray if caught on the edges of the base. It is important to be mindful while retracting the material into the base.

  3. Reinforced Curl-Free Vinyl

    A third type of vinyl graphic is reinforced curl-free vinyl. This is the highest quality of vinyl material on the market. This vinyl encapsulated fabric resists creasing and will stay flat through multiple events without fraying, ripping, or tearing. Unlike other vinyl print media that tends to skew towards blue or yellow hues, reinforced curl-free vinyl has true clean white providing exceptional print quality that is vibrant and crisp.

  4. Premium Fabric

    The final commonly used graphic material is fabric. Premium fabric graphics stay flat while providing long-lasting vibrant print that won’t dull overtime. Out of all banner materials, fabric photographs the best and appears most professional under harsh lighting. Like with any fabric, there is always the concern of fraying or staining so fabric banners should be used indoors and handled with care. Fabric materials also tend to be less opaque than vinyl graphics. To combat this, be sure to have a coating finish added to the back to keep light from showing through the fabric. Since there are various different fabric materials on the market, keep in mind the texture, thread count, and print quality to determine the best suited fabric for your needs.

    It is important to keep in mind that most of these commonly supplied banner materials vary in level of quality depending on the manufacturer. To make sure the quality aligns with your needs we recommend asking for samples of the materials when shopping online.

Venue Space

The physical aspects of the banner stand are not the only things that you should be considering in your search. The space where you will be displaying the banner stand should also play a crucial role in your decision-making process.

Venue factors to consider:
  1. Setup and Ceiling Height
  2. Square Footage and Layout
  3. Foot Traffic


  1. Setup and Ceiling Height

    If quick and easy setup is a must on your checklist, you’ll want to make sure your retractable banner has a telescoping pole. Telescopic center poles make setup and take down a breeze. Retractable banner stands range from 7-9 ft. If you do not have someone to assist you, setting up or taking down your banner stand may present a challenge when it comes to hooking or unhooking the graphic from the top of a 9 ft pole. Unless of course, it is a telescoping (or telescopic) pole that allows you to not only adjust the height, but to lower before hooking or unhooking the graphic. Although most venues have over 9ft tall ceilings, you can never be too safe. With a telescoping center pole, you can adjust the height of the banner graphic to accommodate any ceiling height so you’ll never have to worry.

  2. Square Footage and Layout

    You should also keep in mind the square footage and layout of the area you plan to display your banner. You don’t want to purchase a giant banner stand that’s going to be blocking a pathway or leave you no room for other necessities such as tables, chairs, etc. On the other hand, for a larger setting, it’s best to go with a stand that can hold a graphic with a large height and width so that your banner is seen.

  3. Foot Traffic

    Lastly, consider the attendee foot traffic. If your banner is going to be displayed in a crowded area where people will be walking, you may want to go for a banner stand with a low profile base rather than a base with a swivel foot that attendees could potentially trip over.

In Conclusion

When it comes to choosing a retractable banner stand to purchase, it really depends on your specific event needs. Remember to keep in mind the length of time you will be using the banner stand to help you determine the quality of hardware and graphic material you will need. Once you have determined the physical aspects that you want in a banner stand such as size, pole style, and type of base, make sure these features line up with your venue space.

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 free standing banner stand might suit you better? Check out "Finding the Right Free Standing Banner Stand" here

If you have any questions about retractable 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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