Question: How Many Different Types of Banners Are There?
Answer: Quite a few if you break some of the major categories into individual pieces. Also, some banners that were popular in past years have all but faded from the scene due to changes in technology and printing.
The main categories in existence today are PVC, or vinyl banners, and fabric banners. Both of these categories are fairly expansive, and I will not go into all the nuances of each material, but I will give a good overview of the more popular choices. Wide Roller Banners
The number one most popular banners in existence currently are PVC, or, more popularly known as vinyl banners. Vinyl banners have the advantage of durability, or at least perceived durability beyond the current view of fabric banners, which I will debunk in a few paragraphs.
Vinyl banners are usable both indoors, and out-of-doors, and with the advent of affordable digital printing in the 21st century, full color banners have become available at fairly low prices compared to a single color vinyl appliqued banner in the ’90’s.
Most vinyl banners will be around 13 oz., which is the weight per square foot of material and also is a fair predictor of wind resistance and durability. Vinyl comes in varying degrees of smoothness as well as in gloss and matte finishes. Many clients prefer the matte finish as it keeps the banners from looking “plasticky.” Gloss vinyl, though, is more frequently used outdoors because it doesn’t start looking dirty nearly as quickly as dust doesn’t stick well to slick surfaces.
Vinyl banner material ranges in weight from 8 oz. per square foot up to 22 oz. per square foot. There is also a lighter weight material that used to be more popular, but is still used where very cheap banners are needed for short term advertising in a lot of locations, as it is typically screen-printed. These banners are known as “poly banners” and are very light weight polypropylene plastic material, which is also, for its lightness, fairly strong.
The other major category of banners, which are increasing in popularity for many reasons, are also a type of poly banner, but they are polyester fabric banners. Polyester has the benefit of being both outdoor durable, but with the dye sublimation printing process used for polyester fabric banners, they also have amazing color durability.
The reason for this durability is that during the heat and pressure application of the printing to the material itself, the cells of the fabric expand and open and accept the ink, which is converted to a gaseous state due to the heat and pressure, and actually is fused with the fabric, becoming an integral part of the material.
This creates a beautiful continuous tone print that, when used with full color printing, appears similar to a photograph, rendering these banners, in this writer’s opinion, the best looking and most durable banners available, both indoor and out-of-doors. There are now many heavier polyester fabrics available for outdoor usage, although by far and away, fabric banners are still mostly used indoors. Part of the reason for this is that the viewing distance is very close as compared to outdoor banners, and fabric simply looks way better than the alternatives like paper posters or vinyl banners or plastic signs.
Within the category of fabric banners, there are several types of polyester materials that are available. The most popular are the poly knit materials, one of which utilizes a stretchy fabric which makes this material ideal for trade show and hanging displays, whereas the non-stretchy version makes attractive banners and can be hung from the ceiling in most trade shows. With weight in the bottom pole pocket, these banners hang smooth, taut, and beautiful.
Other fabrics are the satins, which are hard to keep from wrinkling and must be shipped rolled up, to the sheer fabrics, which contain an image, but can be seen through to varying degrees. There are canvas-like materials that look like artists’ canvas, lightweight knits, medium knits, and heavy-weight knits. Recently, double sided polyester materials have also become available, although they have an almost light gray tint to the fabric due to the black block-out layer between the two layers of white polyester fabric.
In case you couldn’t tell, I am a big fan of polyester fabric banners, and would recommend them to anyone. That having been said, I also don’t denigrate vinyl banners. They’ve been a mainstay of temporary advertising for 40+ years, and aren’t likely to go away any time soon.
If you want to look further into the different kinds of banners, see them here:
Barry Brown has been in the Sign, Banner, Decal and Display Business for over 20 years. It isn’t what he thought he’d do with his life, but he says he knows too much now to do anything else!