Your exhibition stand is your chance to shine at a trade show or industry event. With so many options out there, choosing the best exhibition set-up can be a challenge. In this article, we will cover all the different types of exhibition stands and displays in-depth.

Types of Exhibition Stands: shell scheme stand with counter and lighting.

There are lots of factors that you need to consider when choosing an exhibition stand, such as budget and ease of assembly. For a simple overview of all the types of exhibition stands, check out this chart.

chart explaining the different Types of Exhibition Stands

The custom-modular exhibition stand is a clear winner. This is a sustainable, reusable and reconfigurable exhibition solution that allows you to display products, AV, and draw in crowds uniquely. Every business is different, and you may find a different solution that will help you achieve your goals.


Here are the five main types of exhibition stand:

  1. Pull-Up And Pop-Up Displays
  2. Shell Scheme Graphics
  3. Modular Displays
  4. Custom-Modular Exhibition Stands
  5. Custom Build Exhibition Stands

If you’re new to exhibitions, you might not know the difference between a display and an exhibition stand.

An exhibition display provides you with a 2D graphic that displays your branded message. These can stand alone, be fixed to the wall of a shell scheme, or be fixed to each other to create a large format graphic.

An exhibition stand has a lot more to it. Exhibition stands are 3D structures built for businesses to showcase their products or services. The walls, or framework, can be clad in your graphics to display a branded message, but you have much more opportunity in terms of structure, design, AV integration and product showcasing.


The pull-up banner is the easiest exhibition display to assemble. You can set it up on your own in seconds. A standard pull-up banner is 2 metres high, and the width can vary depending on your needs.

Pop-up exhibition displays do just that, they pop up. They take slightly longer to assemble, and you need to fix the graphics yourself. Usually, these are printed onto PVC or sheets of fabric, but recently we have seen exhibition stand designers using different materials such as cardboard or honeycomb board.

You will notice pull-up and pop-up displays used within shell scheme spaces. You can use pull up banners as standalone displays, whereas pop up displays can also line shell scheme walls. Their ease of assembly, portability and low cost make them a safe option for first-time exhibitors.

If you can’t decide between a pop-up exhibition display or a pull-up banner, then here are the three key differences:


You can erect a pull-up banner in seconds, whereas a pop-up exhibition display takes longer (depending on the size of your stand and your experience).


Pull-up and pop-up exhibition displays are typically 2m high, but pop-ups tend to be much wider. A typical pull-up banner is 75cm – 100cm whereas a pop-up display is between 2m and 4m.


Pull-up banners are extremely affordable, often costing less than £100. Pop-up exhibition displays vary in price, as they do in size. One of the biggest mistakes exhibitors make is choosing their display or exhibition stand based on its price, rather than its quality or ability to attract crowds in a busy hall.

Although the cost will likely be an important factor, you should see it as a long-term investment.


A shell scheme space is a cost-effective exhibition stand solution. It requires less management as the essentials are included in the package. You have options when it comes to the type of exhibition stand you want to use inside a shell scheme space.

Shell schemes are a type of exhibition stand in themselves because the structure is already there. The flooring is in, there are power sockets and lighting in place and the framework makes for an easy display option.

The framework can be used to display graphic panels. With this style of visuals, the outcome isn’t always perfect. Your branding could be broken up with aluminium poles every metre. If you go for a seamless graphic, that covers the poles, you are relying on the structure and the graphic marrying up perfectly.

The final way to use this type of exhibition stand is to combine the available options. Depending on the size of your shell scheme, you could create a custom modular structure and still have graphic panels in the shell scheme framework. This is most commonly demonstrated with pull up banners and shell scheme graphic panels, which is an extremely cost-effective way of combining different exhibition display options.


Modular exhibition displays are made up of different blocks which link together to give a seamless graphic. It can be constructed for an exhibition and then taken down, stored and reused.

This makes modular exhibition displays a sustainable exhibiting option. Essentially, this type of display bridges the gap between pull-up banners and pop-up displays and the more elaborate exhibition stands we will cover later in this guide.

Setting up a modular exhibition display may be slightly more difficult, but still easily done. The only disadvantage is that your design is limited. This type of exhibition stand is a 2D structure that offers little wow factor when compared with custom-build or custom modular exhibition stands.

Building a modular exhibition stand is similar to building a tent. You connect poles to form a pop-up structure which you fix graphics on to. The result is a large graphic that looks like several banners or pop-ups stuck together to fit your space.

Basic modular exhibition stands are good options for exhibitors on a low budget, however, these stands will leave you with elements of the structure on show. The feet take up a considerable amount of floor space, something worth noting if you need room for a meeting area or to display products.

In terms of structure and design, this exhibition display lacks anything extraordinary. Essentially, the basic modular stand leaves you with a large graphic wall. You can bend or curve it (depending on the system) but you won’t be able to showcase your products or draw in a crowd with additional design features, integrated AV and lighting.

Modular corner exhibition stand. Two open sides stand. Orange and white. Literature display, tv, lighting, and furniture.


If you are serious about exhibiting, and understand the value of having a huge presence at a trade show, there are two options when it comes to the type of exhibition stand you need. The first of these options is a custom-modular exhibition stand.

A custom-modular exhibition stand has all the perks of a basic modular exhibit. It is a reusable system that is easy to pack away, transport and store, but a custom modular exhibition stand is also 100% reconfigurable. This means you can use it at every event and adapt the shape of it to suit your needs.

What makes this type of stand better than its basic counterparts is the design. A custom-modular exhibition stand gives you a unique solution that will stand out. It can be built to your specs, to fit any floor space, including shell scheme and space only.

Walking around an expo, you’ll notice how many businesses use basic displays with cabinets. A bespoke custom-modular exhibition stand allows you to build showcases into your exhibition stand, use seamless floor to ceiling graphics, lighting, and AV to attract attention. Have a look at our portfolio to see how effective these features are.

Custom modular exhibitions are an example of sustainable exhibiting. The framework is reusable and reconfigurable, so you can continue to use your stand throughout your entire exhibition calendar. Yet, there is absolutely no compromise on design – this type of exhibition stand will look great and is a fantastic conversation starter.

HB Ingredients recently won the Best Small Stand Award at the Ice Cream and Artisanal Food Expo. They used custom design elements to create their own immersive ice cream parlour experience. This would not have been possible without using this type of exhibition display.

Although this type of exhibition stand is a little more expensive, you should see it as an investment because you can reuse your stand many times. Overall, the exhibition stand cost per show will be less, while the impact will be greater.


The second type of exhibition stand that serious exhibitors want is a custom-built stand. These stands tend to be the belle of the ball as they sit in prime locations and are built according to your specifications.

A custom-build exhibition stand has the advantage of being unique. Often, exhibition stand contractors will go out of their way to design something gravity defying. The entire exhibition stand is built at the event for you, using materials like MDF, PVC, metal, glass, paint and vinyl, so the only limit is your imagination.

Custom-build stands give you authority at a trade show. Others will know they are more expensive than other exhibition displays, and the prime locations help to establish your brand’s reputation within the industry.

You can build whatever structure you want, including meeting rooms and office spaces. The shapes that can be constructed offer you a real competitive advantage.

However, the disadvantage of custom-builds is the cost and the generally negative environmental impact. Each stand is built for one event, often using harmful materials, and with few reusable elements. After the show, the custom-build stand is likely torn down and disposed of. It’s easy to understand the negative effects that this could have on the environment and your business’s reputation.

The single-use of a custom-build exhibition stand means that you can expect to pay the full price of the stand every time you attend an event. This is the exact opposite of the way the pricing system works with a custom-modular type of exhibition stand.

Another point worth noting is that, despite being known as custom-builds, your exhibition stand contractor may try to limit the amount of graphics you use on your stand. With the cost of materials and labour to consider, graphic design and printing will likely be cut back on to reduce costs.

Type of exhibition stand: Three open sides peninsula stand. Grey. Counter, showcases display, high-level branding, lighting among its features.


Making sure you choose the right exhibition stand is imperative to your success at a show. Your team will perform better if they feel confident about the way the stand looks. This guide tells you everything you need to know about the five different types of exhibition stands to help you make the right choice.

Custom-modular exhibition stands come out on top for sustainability, dynamic design, cost-effectiveness and impact. However, depending on your needs, you may find a better solution in this exhibition guide.

Find out more about the different exhibition stand materials

If you’d like to speak to one of our experts and talk through your options, then give our design team a call on 01202 723 500 or email them at

For more useful tips, see more of our exhibiting guides.

types of exhibition stands: custom-built exhibition stand