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Pop-up VS Tension Fabric Trade Show Displays: Which to Buy

By Todd Millett on March 06, 2017

The key difference between a classic pop-up display design and a tension fabric display is in the graphic format. Pop-up displays utilize multiple roll-up graphic panels that hang vertically and piece together to form one larger graphic presentation. Tension fabric displays have one large graphic printed onto a large piece of fabric that is expanded onto the display frame. Which of these options you should use for your trade show booth ultimately comes down to two considerations: appearance and convenience. 

Pop-up and Tension Fabric Display Appearance Comparison

The attractiveness of either type of display is a matter of personal preference. We have worked with many clients with both pop-up and tension displays, and it is clear there is not a unanimous outlook on which one is more aesthetically appealing. Some prefer the modern look of a nice tension fabric structure like our Formulate Displays, while others prefer a classic pop-up configuration like our Coyotes.

Tension Fabric and Pop-up Display Visual Comparison


Convenience and Handling Comparison of Pop-up and Tension Fabric Displays


Tension Fabric Displays are lighter weight and require less space to transport. A 10' size tension fabric display can almost always fit into one standard case, whereas a pop-up style display of this size often requires two trade show cases. This is mainly due to the ability for the fabric graphic to fold into a more compact size. 

Display Setup

For the average display, the setup times are very similar, although it varies between different tension fabric frame styles. Most common tension displays are designed with tubular framework, but some expand similar to a pop-up with a tension fabric graphic on the front instead of panels. While it usually takes longer to set up a standard tubular tension fabric frame, the graphics easily slide over the frame, saving the extra steps of hanging channel bars and aligning panels.

Coyote Pop-up Display Setup

Formulate Tension Display Setup

Durability & Graphic Cleaning

Tubular tension fabric display frames are slightly more durable since they have less moving parts. However, a good quality display frame of either type will be close in comparison to the other as far as durability. 

Another consideration for durability is the graphics. Pop-up display graphic panels need to be treated with caution to avoid getting creased or damaged. This is not an issue with fabric. Most tension fabric graphics can also be machine washed and mounted on the frame to air dry. However, it is important to avoid permanent stains on the fabric. In most cases, dirt or grease can be wiped off panel graphics with water or a mild soap solution.


Now that you've read our comparison, which is the best for you? If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us for more details!



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