An exhibition stand is a vital component of any company. So, choosing what type of trade stand best suits your business is a big responsibility and is essential to getting it right the first time. In the world of exhibition stands, the words modular and custom are frequently used, sometimes even combined! But what truly is a modular stand, and what is a custom stand?

We are here to set the record straight, helping you avoid confusion when the all-important time comes to decide what stand your company should go for.

In this post, we will cover 

  • What is a modular exhibition stand?
  • What are the advantages of using a modular stand?
  • What are the disadvantages of using s modular stand?
  • What is a custom stand?
  • What are the advantages of using s custom stand?
  • What are the disadvantages of using a custom stand?
  • What are the similarities?
  • What are the key differences?
  • What does an industry expert suggest? 

Large peninsula exhibition stand for Hotel Runner, including rotating branding feature by Quadrant2Design

What is a modular exhibition stand?

A modular exhibition stand challenges traditional one-time-use solutions, commonly known as ‘build ‘n’ burn’ displays. The structure of a modular exhibition stand is made up of flexible segments that lock together.

This structure can be disassembled and reconfigured to create different-sized or shaped stands for upcoming events. A regular attendee with a variety of stand spaces would find this hugely beneficial.

Medium sized corner exhibition stand for Simply Cartons at the Packaging Exhibition Show NEC

What are the advantages of using a modular stand?

  • It allows for more sustainable exhibiting in that they use fewer resources to manufacture, transport and build and are genuinely reusable solutions.
  • Modular frameworks collapse down to a fraction of their erected size, particularly useful with storage in mind.
  • They’re safe and easy to assemble without the need for tools, solvents or chemicals.
  • Modular stands are quick to build, reducing the time and cost of the installation.
  • Among exhibiting solutions, modular stands are by far the most cost-effective.
  • Modular exhibition stand features are easily integrated into the hardware, allowing creative freedom on each reconfiguration.
  • They can be used for both shell-scheme and space-only exhibition spaces.
  • Endless reconfiguration possibilities are available.
  • Modular solutions are extremely versatile. They can be repurposed for: conference sets, roadshows, award ceremonies, pop-up displays and corporate events.

What are the disadvantages of using a modular stand?

  • Structures larger than 200 square meters start to become less cost-effective as the need to use a modular system decreases.
  • The initial investment is needed, so it may be difficult for those with lower budgets to access a quality modular solution that is robust enough and flexible enough for a long-term exhibiting program. Height can be a limiting factor, structures above 4m can trigger certain building regulations which can become complicated, time-consuming and costly.
  • Modular solutions are generally lightweight, so they are not ideally suited to mounting particularly large or heavy products or displaying directly to their framework. Luckily Quadrant2Design have developed a series of mounting options that allow larger and heavier products to be mounted, compared to most modular solutions.
  • Two-floored stands also known as ‘double-decker stands’ are not achievable with a modular solution. As previously mentioned, larger weights are an issue. A modular system will not be able to meet structural requirements; this is more suited to a custom build.

Large open peninsula exhibition stand for Kersia. Produced by Quadrant2Design.

What is a custom exhibition stand?

A custom exhibition stand is usually a one-off showpiece, completely bespoke and tailored to organisations exhibiting needs for a specific event. The custom stand is built from a range of materials including MDF, aluminium, glass or acrylic.

Aesthetic source, green custom build stand.

What are the advantages of using a custom stand?

  • Custom stands can create some of the most unique experiences at a trade show. With the level of creativity having little limits, it can allow organisations to create some never seen before solutions, which will undoubtedly not go unnoticed in a crowded hall.
  • As custom build stands can include stronger supporting structures such as wood and aluminium, height and weight are no longer seen as a restriction. Heavily integrated product displays are more easily achievable and a double-decker stand design can be safely constructed.
  • The use of a custom build stand can act as a true representation of the brand being exhibited. Whether the stand will bear a powerful message or promote a new product or service, the stand can express its company’s corporate identity in any way it wants to make a potentially greater impact.

What are the disadvantages of using a custom stand?

  • The obvious concern about purchasing a custom stand is the costs involved. The materials, labour and payment for floor space will add up extortionately, potentially impacting the overall ROI after the event.
  • The negative environmental impact that comes along with custom-build stands in significantly more than a modular solution. After the show, the stand is likely to be torn down and disposed of, never to be used again.
  • Transportation of custom stands becomes more complex are larger vehicles are needed. This is due to either the sheer amount of materials or the size of each component that makes up the stand.

Medium white and blue exhibition stand 8m x 3m. Two open sides corner stand for the Medical Industry.

What are the similarities between a modular and custom stand?

Both modular solutions and custom builds are capable of being stand-out displays in an exhibition hall. It all depends on the stand contractor and of course, the design. The two stand options can have eye-catching features to enhance the visitor’s experience on the stand, creating a unique immersive feel each time.

Modular stands and custom stands both require an initial investment. The investment for custom builds is high for each event, conversely, the first investment for a modular stand may be high, but will significantly drop for subsequent uses.

What are the key differences between a modular stand and a custom stand?

The versatility of the modular solution is very effective for businesses that attend a variety of conferences, meetings, corporate events etc. Whereas, the custom stands, due to their size and complexity, are generally only suitable for events with large floor plans.

A secondary key difference between a modular and a custom stand is the ability to compact.  A modular stand is portable because it can compact into a fraction of its size, making transportation and storage logistics much simpler in comparison to a custom build stand.

A modular exhibition stand installation will not require tools, chemicals or solvents to construct the framework and attach the graphics. Custom exhibition stands will a use range of tools, solvents, paints and considerably more labour hours to get the structure ready.

Finally, the most recognisable difference between the two stand solutions is the environmental impact. A modular solution as we know leaves a very small impact as all components to make up the display are completely reusable. Custom exhibition stands are tailored to one event for each build, causing a hugely negative impact when it comes to sustainability.

What does an industry expert suggest?

Here at Quadrant2Design, we consider ourselves experts in the exhibition industry. We have been operating in it for 23 years, gaining valuable knowledge on what type of stand will best suit a customer’s needs and requirements.

If your company has a particularly large budget with the intent to create an out-of-this-world display for each event, custom-built stands are your answer. You will no doubt receive great attention from both visitors and competitors, however, the costs as discussed are significant.

If you are a company, regularly attending a variety of events, with the intent to invest in a stand, but would like to keep the costs low after the first use; the modular stand solution is your gateway to exhibiting sustainably and cost-effectively.


Quadrant2Design specialise in custom-modular stands with our unique yet brilliant, Prestige Events System. We have mastered the arts of combing the two, creating some of the most fantastic-looking displays at events, whilst remaining reusable.

Our in-house professional art workers create engaging designs to be printed on premium seamless substrates, whilst our CAD technicians apply the features to take your stand a level above any competition.

Over the years, we have perfected the combination of custom and modular to be the most successful and sustainable way of exhibiting, so If you are in the market for a modular exhibition stand or want to find out more information about the solution, please email us at or call 01202 723 500.