What Are The Most Common Types Of Trade Show Booths

What Are The Most Common Types Of Trade Show Booths

What Are The Most Common Types Of Trade Show Booths

A trade show is a great place to network with potential clients and showcase your company's goods and services. Trade show displays are the most effective and powerful visual presentation to grow your business. 

To draw visitors to your trade show booth, you must present your brand positively and provide the best experience possible. This all boils down to selecting the right type of trade show booth for your brand. 

However, there are many types of booths to choose from and it can be challenging to find the best booth display style for your company. 

The best exhibitor booths for your event will depend on what you're displaying, how much space you'll need, where your show will be held, and the configuration options that are available. 

Types of Trade Show Displays

Before selecting a display, weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each type of booth to get a realistic estimate of your return on investment. Keep your target market and other potential customers in mind to increase your chances of success. 

Below are the most common types of trade show booths and the advantages and disadvantages of each. 

Tension Fabric Displays

Tension fabric displays stretch large graphics over aluminum poles to create eye-catching walls and exhibits. This type of trade show display creates a unique, professional, and modern appearance. 

10ft Waveline Flat
10ft Waveline Flat

Tension Fabric Display Pros:

  • Modern Look
  • Modular
  • Easy to assemble 
  • Portable
  • Many accessory options
  • Easy to refresh

Tension fabric displays are very popular for a reason. This type of exhibit is both easy to handle and looks both elegant and modern. 

Since tension fabric displays break down into very compact poles, you can often fit an entire 10ft display or more in a single lightweight shipping case. 

What makes them portable, also makes them easy to assemble. Simply fit the poles together and install the graphic to quickly create your trade show booth.

Tension fabric displays are also adaptable in the sense that you can mix and match all types of panels to create unique display layouts of all sizes. When you're ready to update your messaging, just order a new graphic and install it on the correct panel. 

Due to their versatility and popularity, many accessories like lights, shelving, product displays, monitor mounts, etc. are available.

Tension Fabric Display Cons:

  • Not as sturdy as heavier display styles
  • Light can shine through the display
  • Wrinkles can happen

There really aren’t many disadvantages to tension fabric displays if you understand what you’re ordering. If you’re looking for a heavy-duty sturdy display booth, tension fabric exhibits are likely not the right choice. These displays are lightweight and easy to move by design. 

Since these large graphics are made up of stretch fabric, light can sneak through them if you have a light source like a large window behind the exhibit. This really won’t be an issue in the vast majority of booth spaces but it is something to be aware of. 

If the graphic is not installed correctly or completely, you can see wrinkles. It’s essential to follow the instructions and make sure you complete each step. This will go a long way to ensuring your booth look polished and professional. 

Extrusion-Based Displays

Extrusion-based displays go by different names and cover a wide-ranging category as numerous types of exhibit styles can fit into this mold. The most common characteristics of an extrusion-based system are that they use metal extrusions with cut-out channels to build the framing and silicon-edged fabric graphics (SEG) for the visual components. 

SEG are fabric graphics with silicon edging on the edges that is installed by sliding the silicon edge into the channels running along the metal extrusion frame. 

10x20 XRline Extrusion Based Trade Show Display
10x20 XRline Extrusion Based Display

Extrusion-Based Displays Pros: 

  • Edge-to-edge graphics
  • Sturdy feel
  • A lot of accessory options
  • Modular

One of the big draws to extrusion-based displays is their large edge-to-edge graphics. These graphics are essentially wrinkle-free and have a clean modern look. In addition, these displays are modular in nature meaning you can add panels to create a larger display or remove panels for a smaller layout. 

Many exhibitors like the sturdy feel this display style offers. They are a little heavier than the standard aluminum click-in-place tension fabric frames but not as heavy-duty as a Truss. They also offer a large number of accessory options such as monitor mounts, shelving, lighting, etc. 

Extrusion-Based Displays Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Complex Assembly

While many people like the sturdy feel, it is naturally heavier to assemble and ship. When you have a heavier-duty display you will sacrifice some portability.   

Extrusion-based displays can have the most complex assembly of any of the displays on this list. Some extrusion booths will need to use some minor tools for building and dismantling but some won't, it just depends on which style you’re looking at. Since the display is heavier, it has a little more bulk than some lighter-weight options. 

Full SEG graphics looks great when assembled but they do take longer to install. You will have to take your time installing each graphic into the frame and make sure they properly fit into the entire extrusion channel. If one part is not installed correctly, it will show. 

Backlit Displays 

Backlit displays come in different shapes and sizes. There is no one type of backlit display style.  For example, tension fabric displays and extrusion-based displays, have numerous types of backlit versions. 

Below are few examples. These are not the only options but these are some of the more popular backlit display types.

The Wavelight backlit display type uses a click-in-place aluminum tube frame. LED light arrays are then hung on the frame and a pillowcase-style tension fabric graphic is pulled over the frame and zipped shut at the bottom. 

10ft Wavelight Trade Show Display
10ft Backlit Wavelight

The Infinity display type uses a slim slide-together aluminum extrusion frame with LED lights built-in the top and bottom and large SEG fabric graphics on the front and back

10x20 Backlit Infinity Booth
10x20 Backlit Infinity Booth

Casonara 360 backlit displays use click-together aluminum extrusions to build a front and back frame which are then connected by smaller aluminum extrusions. LED light arrays are then hung in the middle. To finish off the backlit exhibit, four separate SEG graphics are installed on the frame. One in the front, one in the back, and one on each side. 

10ft Backlit Casonara 360 Trade Show Display
10ft Backlit Casonara 360

Backlit Displays Pros:

  • Eye-catching visuals
  • Great value
  • Modern look
  • Set tone and mood

Backlit graphics make it easy to stand out. They are a great way to highlight key components of your branding with a modern trade show booth. 

In recent years, backlit exhibits have become more affordable, portable, and accessible. They provide a lot of impact at your event for a reasonable price. 

A backlit graphic gives your booth a sleek, current, high-quality look. Using LED lighting to backlight and illuminate your display feels very modern on the show floor. 

Mood and tone are often overlooked with backlit displays but it’s a huge advantage for this display style. The contrast of backlit colors and visuals allows you to convey an atmosphere and mood such as futuristic, playful, formal, etc. in a way that other display types have a hard time replicating. 

Backlit Displays Cons:

  • Electric required
  • Hard case for shipping recommended

Backlit displays are very popular and they really don’t come with a lot of drawbacks. One semi-drawback could be that for a backlit display to work, it needs electricity which means you will need to order and pay for electricity at your events. While this is an added cost, the impact of your booth will easily outweigh the price. 

Some display types can ship in soft bags but in order to protect the components of your backlit display, we recommend purchasing the hard shipping case. You can likely get away without one for a while by using a sturdy shipping box but for the long haul, we recommend a hard shipping case. 

Truss Displays 

Truss booth displays add structure and a distinctive appearance unlike any other, helping you stand out from the competition. 

20x20 Aarhus Truss Booth
20x20 Aarhus Truss Booth

Truss Display Pros:

  • Industrial look
  • Heavy-duty
  • Go together like a big erector set
  • Modular 

Truss displays are great if you’re looking for a heavy-duty industrial-style display. The metal framing is visible, and the large graphics are easy to install. 

A big benefit of Truss displays is how modular they are. You can often make numerous exhibit layouts with a single Truss display purchase.


Truss exhibits screw in place without using tools and truly fit together like a full-scale version of an erector set. 

Truss Display Cons:

  • Bulky
  • Heavy

While Truss displays offer a nice industrial look, that comes with added bulk. This extra size and weight will increase the labor cost, the storage space needed, and shipping costs.

As your display grows to a larger booth size, the assembly time need will quickly increase. We recommend hiring show services to build any of our 20x20 Truss displays due to the height and frame weight, the equipment needed, and the additional hours of assembly time. 

Pop-up Displays 

Pop-up displays is a term that is often used interchangeably to describe numerous types of displays. A true pop-up display is one you can literally pop up and set in place in just moments. 

8ft OneFabric
8ft OneFabric

Pop-Up Displays Pros:

  • Easy assemble and take down
  • Portable
  • Large graphic area

Pop-up displays are one of the easiest booths to assemble and take down. The accordion-style frame is lifted up and snaps into place. To disassemble, just un-connect the frame and slowly let it fall back into place. Because they are so simple, they work great for a single person setting up the event booth alone. 

Their simple setup is one of their greatest advantages. In fact, with many pop-up displays like the OneFabric display, you can leave the graphic on the frame after the first installation. 

Pop-up displays are generally very portable. They fold down into a small bundle that can easily be packed into a hard shipping case. 

Pop-Up Displays Cons:

  • More traditional look
  • Fewer accessory options
  • Priced similarly to more popular display styles 

Pop-up displays certainly have a place in the display industry and offer a lot of value in many situations but if you’re looking for a modern styling, these are probably not the best avenue for your brand. 

Most pop-up displays use an accordion-style frame which offers a very simple assembly but limits accessory options like monitor mounts, shelving, etc. 

Even though these displays are a little more traditional, the price point is not significantly lower than new style exhibits. This is due to the fact that the frame takes a lot more resources and time to produce than many of the newer styles. 

Retractable Banner Stands 

Although banner stands technically aren't a type of trade show booth, they are a very common element in them. There are retractable banner stands, tension banner stands, and many more. They can be used as a stand-alone for any special event or as the back wall of a trade show booth. 

Orient Banner Stand
Orient Banner Stand

Retractable Banner Stand Pros:

  • Quick Assembly
  • Cost-Effective
  • Portable

Banner displays are a cost-effective, adaptable, and powerful tool that can be used to brand your business or highlight a product feature in your trade show booth, office lobby, networking event, etc. 

Retractable Banner stands are one of the easiest displays to assemble as you simply insert the provided stabilizing pole in the back of the base of the display then pull the graphic up, out of the base, and rest it on a hook connected to the stabilizing pole. 

While banner displays bases vary slightly, most are roughly 3ft wide by 1ft deep which makes them very portable and versatile. Generally, the graphic will pull out of the base to be somewhere around 6.5ft tall. 

Retractable Banner Stand Cons:

  • Limited Graphic Space
  • Lost Tension

Banner displays are meant to be simple, cost-effective display signs. These are generally smaller in size and offer limited graphic space compared to most booth types.

Be careful to not pack too much information or visuals into a banner graphic as they can quickly look cluttered and overwhelming. If you find your retractable banner is starting to look too busy, consider ordering a bigger display or refining your message. 

Banner stands can be a little particular in how you open and close them. If you pull too hard, you can pull the tension out of the graphic which would then need to be repaired. If you drop the graphic into the base, you can damage the graphic itself or also shift the tension. If you handle and ship the display with care, it should work well for a long time. 


While the above displays are not the only types of trade show display booths available, they are some of the most popular styles with exhibitors. Your brand may rely on a standard exhibition booth and can include add-ons and accessories to differentiate yourself from the crowd.

Are you ready to design a high-quality trade show booth that fits within your budget? MODdisplays offers many types of booths that will help you look your best and save you time. 

Choose a backlit option for your display, such as the Wavelight tension fabric displays, or browse our selection of 10 x 10 trade show booths today! 

May 23, 2023
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