The materials used to build your exhibition stand have a drastic impact on its look and feel and will be different depending on the type of stand you choose.

Common exhibition stand build materials include

  • Timber
  • Aluminium
  • Vinyl
  • PVC boards
  • PVC graphics
  • Acrylic
  • Structural plastics
  • Fabric
  • Paper
  • Glass
  • Laminates
  • Paints

From grand attention-grabbing custom-built stands to more price-conscious pop-up stands and banners, each stand type has its own merits and drawbacks.

Exhibitors need to have a clear idea of what their primary aims are for an event. Are you simply looking to have a presence at the event and not too concerned with how impressive your stand looks? Are you looking to make a big statement and broadcast your business’ dominance in the market? Are you focused on getting your brand’s unique benefits across to your customers? Are you concerned about sustainability and reusability? Do you want to save money on repeated exhibiting?

Your answers to these questions will determine the type of stand, and the materials, that are right for your business.

Shell Scheme Exhibition Stand Materials

One of the most obvious differences you’ll see between stands is whether they sit inside a shell scheme or on a space-only ‘pitch’.

Shell schemes are generally the cheapest option and include prefabricated walls framed by aluminium poles and a facia board that includes a stand number and the exhibitor’s name or branding. They will include basic lighting but can sometimes be dark, depending on their position within the exhibition hall.

Exhibitors using a shell scheme will either attach 2D graphics directly to the walls, or use pop-up stands or pull-up roller banners. These branded graphics are usually complemented with modest furnishings, such as a table and chairs or a display unit.

Find Out More: Should you Choose a Shell Scheme

2D printed graphics

The most common visuals used for shell scheme stands are 2D graphics panels or posters. These are typically made from either PVC, fabric or paper and fixed to the wall with either Velcro or adhesive. To put it kindly, this option doesn’t have the best visual appeal.

Graphics are often interrupted by the aluminium frame of the shell scheme and do very little to draw the attention of passers-by, while the facia boards can create a visual barrier that may subconsciously deter visitors from even approaching your stand.

This solution is common amongst exhibitors who simply want a presence at the event for as little financial expense as possible. It’s basic and cheap but still allows exhibitors to have their staff at the events, meeting face-to-face with customers and business partners.

Pop-up stands and roller banners

Free-standing pop-up stands and roller banners can also be used as a low-cost alternative for displaying your brand message. These stands are basic and fairly inexpensive but offer a better visual than their 2D counterparts.

Pop-up stands consist of a collapsible aluminium frame which “pops up” into a freestanding structure and is covered with branded graphics panels. Roller banners, on the other hand, are retractable graphic panels tightly rolled into an aluminium tube. The graphic is pulled out and stretched upright, then held in place with a collapsible aluminium rod.

While both of these solutions look better than 2D graphics, neither provides a particularly attention-grabbing visual. Both contain fully visible aluminium frameworks, while their standard PVC or fabric panels do not wear very well, so look weathered after just a few uses. This weathering causes very obvious seams between panels, which can look underwhelming and take away from the overall stand visuals.

Both solutions have the benefit of being compactable and easy to transport, so can be used for multiple events, however, the continual weathering means that the stand’s visual quality diminishes after each use.

Quadrant2Design Shell Scheme Transformations

Let’s be honest, most shell schemes are pretty boring! The 2D graphics, pop-up stands and roller banners may work for exhibitors wanting a low-cost presence at an event, but they are unlikely to wow your visitors or attract as much attention as you would with a more visually impressive display.

Our shell scheme transformations will break you out of the confines of the shell scheme walls, instead flaunting a spectacular, attention-grabbing visual within the standard shell scheme space.

We liaise with event organisers to remove the ugly framework and facia, replacing them with our all-graphic modular stand solution. We can replace the drab exhibition hall carpet with our Quadrant2Design Photo-Floor, cover the ugly shell scheme walls with our high-quality graphics panels and can incorporate all kinds of bespoke features to make your stand as attention-grabbing as possible.

With its modular design, your stand can be reconfigured to fit any size or shape, so you can reuse it time and time again, maintaining the cost-efficiency of the shell scheme solution.

Space-only Exhibition Stand Materials

As the name suggests, space-only exhibition stands do not include the shell scheme structure and instead sit on an allocated area of the exhibition floor, with all parts of the stand needing to be organised by the exhibitor or their exhibition contractor.

Space-only stands come in lots of different shapes and sizes and can be made from a vast variety of materials. These stands include custom builds, aluminium profile systems, truss systems and bespoke modular stands.

Custom Build Exhibition Stands

Custom builds are one of the oldest types of exhibition stands. They’re grand, purpose-built, single-use structures, installed by large teams of professional exhibition contractors from materials like wood and metal, fixed together with nails, screws and glue, and then either painted or clad with PVC vinyl.

These stands tend to prioritise grandeur over branding and are most appropriate for companies that are already well-established within their sector. They include fewer marketing messages and rely more on the structure itself to attract interested visitors.

Custom stands are often well-lit as lighting can be integrated into the walls of the structure. They can include custom furniture, product displays and almost anything else you might want, as the structure is built specifically for the show.

The biggest drawback of these types of stands is that they can ultimately only be used once. The materials used make dismantling these stands without damaging them nearly impossible and, once built, they are incredibly difficult to transport and store. This is why custom stands are typically torn down and disposed of after each show, with a whole new stand needing to be built for each event.

This makes this system extremely unsustainable, as well as increasingly expensive. Companies that exhibit multiple times a year end up paying almost the same cost for each and every event, without any significant savings. This might explain why even businesses with massive exhibition budgets are increasingly moving away from custom build stands, towards more sustainable and cost-effective alternatives.

Aluminium Truss Stand System

A visually unique stand structure is the metal truss system. These imposing, durable structures are created by connecting large metal trusses together into a frame that surrounds the stand. Lighting and branded banners are then hung from the framework.

This system is most commonly used for staging at large-scale music events or theatres, where the aesthetics of the structure are less important than its functionality, however, they are also used for some exhibition stands.

The structures are characteristically strong and have a very industrial look and feel, which could work well for brands with a USP focused on the strength and durability of their product or service. For other brands, however, its industrial appearance might feel awkwardly off-brand and could take away from the overall marketing message.

While this type of stand structure is relatively cheap the branded visuals do not look very impressive. Cable ties are used to attach plastic outdoor banners to the structure, which can look scruffy and wear very quickly. Because this system only creates a frame for the stand it can be difficult to integrate bespoke features like audio-visual, product showcases or bespoke graphics.

Aluminium Profile Stand System

For exhibitors who want their brand to be the focal point of their stand, a common solution is an aluminium profile system. This system is made up of aluminium bars connected in various shapes and sizes and secured with a twist-and-lock fixing system.

While the twist-and-lock system can be fiddly, it does allow for the creation of some large and impressive structures. Unlike custom builds, aluminium profile systems are highly branded, with graphic panels making up the majority of the visual display.

Graphics are made from either stretched fabric or PVC Foamex panels slotted between the aluminium rods.

A unique benefit of the stretched fabric graphics is that they can be back-lit to really accentuate the branded graphics. The use of fabric does, however, make these panels difficult to reconfigure, as they are made for a particular size. They are also difficult to store and reuse, as they become creased when folded which means their quality look is diminished with each use.

PVC Foamex panels are easier to reconfigure as they are made in much smaller sections. This smaller size does, however, leave more of the aluminium frame on show. These panels are difficult to transport and store and generally wear very quickly, so need replacing more often. While they’re relatively cheap, repeatedly replacing panels does make the system less sustainable and, over time, diminishes its cost-efficiency.

With both panel options, the aluminium frame is visible and tends to break up the brand messaging. Similarly to the truss system, the aluminium lessens the stand’s visual appeal but also means that the edges of the graphics get worn very quickly as they rub against the metal.

Our Exhibition Stand Materials

Quadrant2Design’s exclusive Prestige Events system takes brand focus one step further, with wrap-around graphics panels that completely cover the aluminium structure and provide a seamless, brand-centric visual.

As the best exhibition stand system on the market today, a big part of this is the unique materials that we use in the construction of our stands. All of our materials are chosen (or in some cases created) for their durability, adaptability and sustainability.

The hardware

A question we sometimes get asked is “are your modular stands the same as pop-up stands?” – The short answer is no.

While both the Prestige Events System and pop-up stands are collapsible and reusable, that’s where the similarities end. Our system is vastly more complex – it is reconfigurable and can contain a whole variety of integrated bespoke features.

The core structure consists of durable but lightweight expandable aluminium frames that are linked together to fit any stand shape or size. The frames are given extra rigidity by strengthened magnetic bars, which use pressure to hold the stand in place.

The hardware is loaned to our customers for free as part of our free-hire plan and, because of its durability, it can be used over and over again while maintaining an extremely long lifespan. When it does eventually retire, the materials are recycled, saving on our carbon footprint.

The graphic panels

Attached to the magnetic bars are high-quality graphic panels, which are expertly designed by our 3D design team and printed using the very best state-of-the-art Epson printers.

The panels are made of a bespoke printable polyester-based substrate with a polypropylene laminate that is unique to us and tailored to our stands. Panels can be easily rearranged for stand reconfiguration, making them reusable even across stands of different shapes and sizes.

Compared to the PVC and stretched fabric panels that other companies use, ours are much more durable, which prevents obvious wear and tear such as scuffs or damage to the edges. This durability, combined with their adaptability, means they can be used over and over again, making them a much more sustainable option.

Our Quadrant2Design Photo-Floors are also printed in-house using high-spec UV printers and the high-quality material prevents damage under the constant battering of visitors’ feet, ensuring that the bright, vibrant graphics remain so even after years of use.

Bespoke Features

Bespoke features such as display showcases, shelving, backlight graphics or engraved edge-lit acrylic can be seamlessly integrated into the Prestige Events System. These features are all created in-house and made from the very best spec materials.

Find out more about our bespoke stand features.


We exclusively use LED lighting, because LEDs are longer-lasting, brighter, more sustainable and less likely to blow than lightbulbs. They offer exceptional illumination while costing significantly less in electricity charges.

LEDs are also much more versatile than lightbulbs, as evident by our vast array of lighting features.

LED Video Wall

Our newest stand feature, the LED Video Wall integrates large-scale digital display into our all-graphic modular stand solution.

This new stand feature is highly adaptable and offers a vast variety of unique uses.

Unlike TV walls, our Video Wall uses seamlessly interconnected LED modules to allow a single graphic to flow, without interruption, across entire walls.

Through the strategic use of materials, the Prestige Events System combines all of the attention-grabbing grandeur of a custom build stand with uniquely brand-centric visuals and an outstanding level of sustainability and cost-efficiency, to produce the very best exhibition stand solution on the market.

Because our materials are so durable and reconfigurable, our returning customers are able to make savings of up to 70% which also makes the Prestige Events System a highly cost-effective option over the long term.

The other stand systems we’ve covered are all offered by a variety of companies, each with their own processes, specifications and materials. This makes it difficult to predict the quality of the stand you’ll ultimately receive, as this can change drastically from supplier to supplier.

As the UK’s exclusive provider of the Prestige Events System, Quadrant2Design has complete quality- control and can guarantee that all stands are manufactured and built to the very highest specifications from the very best materials. It is our exclusivity that has allowed us to adapt and improve the system over the years, so we can now offer all kinds of bespoke adaptions and unique integrated features.

For more information on our stand materials, or for help with your next exhibition stand project, contact our design team on 01202 723 500 or email