Best Pipe and Drape Fabrics for Durability: Guide to Choosing for Repeated Use

The best pipe and drape materials for durability are those that can withstand the rigors of repeated use, resist wear and tear, and maintain their appearance over time. In our experience, banjo cloth stands out as the top choice due to its exceptional durability and inherent flame resistance.

Selecting durable pipe and drape materials is a critical decision for event planners, exhibitors, and anyone seeking reliable and long-lasting setups. Pipe and drape systems, consisting of vertical pipes, horizontal drapes, and stabilizing bases, are ubiquitous at trade shows, conferences, weddings, and various other events. Their versatility and ability to transform spaces make them indispensable tools for creating defined areas, backdrops, and privacy screens. However, the longevity of these setups heavily relies on the quality of the materials used.

At Canvas Etc., we understand the importance of durability in pipe and drape applications. That’s why we offer an extensive range of high-quality fabrics, including banjo cloth, and provide custom solutions tailored to your specific needs. Our commitment to quality ensures that your pipe and drape investment stands the test of time, saving you money and maintaining a professional appearance for all your events.

What is Pipe and Drape?

Pipe and drape, also known as event draping or pipe and drape systems, is a versatile and widely used method for creating temporary partitions, backdrops, and enclosures in a variety of settings. This system is comprised of three primary components:

  1. Pipes: Vertical uprights, typically made of aluminum or steel, that provide the structural support for the drapes.
  2. Drapes: Fabric panels that are hung from the horizontal support bars to create the desired visual and functional effect.
  3. Bases: Heavy metal plates placed at the bottom of each pipe to ensure stability and prevent tipping.

Pipe and drape systems are commonly employed at trade shows, conferences, weddings, theatrical productions, and other events where flexible space division is required. They are valued for their ease of setup and takedown, portability, and ability to transform any venue into a professional and visually appealing environment.

How Pipe and Drape Works

The pipes are connected to the bases, and horizontal support bars are attached to the pipes to create a frame. The drapes are then hung from the support bars using clips or ties. The entire system can be easily assembled and disassembled without the need for tools or specialized skills. This makes it a popular choice for temporary installations and events where flexibility is key.

Pipe and Drape vs. Traditional Walls

Unlike permanent walls, pipe and drape systems offer a lightweight, portable, and cost-effective solution for dividing spaces. They can be easily adjusted to fit different room configurations and can be quickly transported and stored when not in use. Additionally, pipe and drape provides a softer, more elegant aesthetic compared to the harshness of traditional walls, making it ideal for events and creative installations.

The choice between pipe and drape and traditional walls ultimately depends on the specific needs of your project. If you require a temporary, flexible, and visually appealing solution, pipe and drape is an excellent choice. However, if you need a permanent, soundproof, or load-bearing structure, traditional walls may be more suitable.

Weather-resistant pipe and drape fabric used for outdoor events

Why Durability Matters in Pipe and Drape

Investing in durable pipe and drape materials is a strategic decision that yields significant benefits in the long run. Whether you’re an event planner, exhibitor, or venue manager, prioritizing durability can save you time, money, and hassle.

Cost Savings Over Time

Durable pipe and drape materials, such as high-quality fabrics and sturdy hardware, may have a higher upfront cost. However, they are less likely to tear, fade, or require frequent replacement. This translates to significant cost savings over time as you avoid the need to constantly purchase new materials or repair damaged ones.

Maintaining a Professional Appearance

Faded, torn, or worn-out pipe and drape can detract from the overall aesthetics of your event or exhibit. Durable materials retain their color, shape, and texture, ensuring that your setup always looks polished and professional. This is especially important for events where first impressions matter, such as trade shows, conferences, and weddings.

Avoiding Disruptions and Safety Hazards

Flimsy or damaged pipe and drape can pose safety risks, especially in high-traffic areas. A sudden collapse or tear could disrupt your event and potentially cause injuries. Durable materials, on the other hand, provide stability and peace of mind, allowing you to focus on the success of your event rather than worrying about potential mishaps.

Additional Benefits of Durability

  • Sustainability: Durable materials have a longer lifespan, reducing waste and minimizing environmental impact.
  • Versatility: High-quality pipe and drape can be used for a variety of events and settings, maximizing your return on investment.
  • Ease of Maintenance: Durable fabrics are often easier to clean and maintain, requiring less effort and resources to keep them in top condition.

Top Durable Pipe and Drape Fabrics

The fabric choice plays a crucial role when it comes to selecting the best pipe and drape materials for durability. Let’s explore some of the top contenders known for their exceptional longevity and performance.

Banjo Cloth

Banjo cloth is a tightly woven, inherently flame-retardant fabric that has earned a reputation as one of the most durable options for pipe and drape. Its tight weave and inherent flame resistance provide exceptional strength and resilience, making it ideal for high-traffic events and frequent use.

Pros of Banjo Cloth

  • Exceptional Durability: Banjo cloth is known for its ability to withstand wear and tear, making it a long-lasting investment.
  • Inherent Flame Resistance: Unlike some other fabrics that require additional treatment, banjo cloth is naturally flame retardant, meeting the stringent NFPA 701 standards for fire safety.
  • Opacity: Its tight weave prevents light from passing through, ensuring privacy and creating a clean, professional look.

Cons of Banjo Cloth

  • Weight: Banjo cloth can be heavier than other fabrics, which may require sturdier hardware for support.

Ideal Uses for Banjo Cloth

  • Trade Shows: Banjo cloth’s durability makes it perfect for trade show booths that experience high foot traffic.
  • Conferences: Its professional appearance and flame resistance make it suitable for conference settings.
  • Theaters: Banjo cloth is often used for masking and creating backdrops in theatrical productions.


Velour, known for its plush, luxurious appearance, is another popular choice for pipe and drape. Its soft texture and light-absorbing properties make it ideal for creating elegant backdrops and masking unwanted areas. However, it’s important to note that velour typically requires additional flame retardant treatment to meet safety standards.

Pros of Velour

  • Luxurious Appearance: Velour adds a touch of sophistication to any event or setting.
  • Sound Absorption: Its dense pile helps to reduce noise and echo, creating a more pleasant acoustic environment.

Cons of Velour

  • Flame Retardancy: Most velour fabrics need to be treated with flame retardant to comply with safety regulations.
  • Durability: While velour is durable, it may not be as resistant to abrasion as banjo cloth.

Ideal Uses for Velour

  • Weddings: Velour’s elegant appearance makes it a popular choice for wedding ceremonies and receptions.
  • Theaters: Its sound-absorbing qualities and luxurious look make it ideal for theatrical backdrops and curtains.
  • Photo Booths: Velour creates a rich and textured background for photo booths.

Poly Premier

Poly Premier is a versatile and wrinkle-resistant fabric that has gained popularity in the pipe and drape industry due to its affordability and ease of maintenance. It is a synthetic fabric known for its smooth texture and ability to drape well, making it suitable for a variety of applications. While not as inherently durable as banjo cloth, Poly Premier offers a good balance of strength, aesthetics, and cost-effectiveness.

Pros of Poly Premier

  • Versatility: Poly Premier can be used for drapes, backdrops, table skirting, and other decorative elements.
  • Wrinkle Resistance: Unlike some natural fabrics, Poly Premier resists wrinkles and maintains a smooth appearance even after repeated use.
  • Affordability: It is often a more budget-friendly option compared to heavier fabrics like banjo cloth.

Cons of Poly Premier

  • Durability: While durable, it may not be as resistant to abrasion and tearing as banjo cloth, especially in high-traffic areas.
  • Flame Retardancy: Poly Premier may require additional flame retardant treatment to meet safety standards.

Ideal Uses for Poly Premier

  • Trade Shows: Poly Premier is a popular choice for trade show booths due to its affordability and wrinkle resistance.
  • Corporate Events: Its versatility and professional look make it suitable for various corporate events.
  • Weddings and Parties: Poly Premier can be used for creating backdrops, table skirting, and other decorative elements for weddings and parties.

Commando Cloth (Duvetyne)

Commando cloth, also known as duvetyne, is a heavy, opaque fabric known for its light-absorbing properties. It is often used for stage masking, creating dark environments, and controlling light spill. While less common for drapes, commando cloth can be a durable option for specific applications where light absorption and opacity are priorities.

Pros of Commando Cloth

  • Opacity: It effectively blocks light, making it ideal for creating dark spaces or controlling light spill.
  • Heavy Weight: Its weight helps it hang straight and resist wrinkles.
  • Sound Absorption: Commando cloth can help to dampen sound and reduce echo.

Cons of Commando Cloth

  • Less Common for Drapes: Due to its weight and specific properties, commando cloth is less frequently used for drapes compared to other fabrics like banjo cloth or velour.
  • Flame Retardancy: It may require flame retardant treatment to comply with safety regulations.

Ideal Uses for Commando Cloth

  • Theaters: Commando cloth is often used for stage masking and creating dark environments in theatrical productions.
  • Photography Studios: Its light-absorbing properties make it useful for controlling light spill in photography and video studios.
  • Special Effects: It can be used for creating special effects in theatrical productions and haunted houses.
Side-by-side comparison of different pipe and drape fabrics

Pipe and Drape Hardware for Durability

While the fabric choice is crucial for the overall durability of your pipe and drape system, the hardware components play an equally important role in ensuring a long-lasting and stable setup. Let’s delve into the key factors to consider when selecting pipe and drape hardware:

Pipe Material: Steel vs. Aluminum

The two most common materials for pipe and drape uprights are steel and aluminum. Each material has its own advantages and drawbacks that should be considered based on your specific needs and budget.

  • Steel: Steel pipes are known for their exceptional strength and durability. They can withstand heavy loads and are less likely to bend or warp under pressure. However, steel pipes are heavier than aluminum, which can make transportation and setup more challenging.
  • Aluminum: Aluminum pipes are lighter and easier to transport, making them a popular choice for events that require frequent setup and takedown. However, aluminum is not as strong as steel and may be more prone to bending if not handled carefully.

The choice between steel and aluminum pipes depends on factors such as the size and weight of your drapes, the frequency of use, and your budget. If you prioritize maximum strength and durability, steel pipes are the way to go. However, if portability and ease of setup are more important, aluminum pipes may be a better option.

Base Types: Weighted vs. Flat

Pipe and drape bases provide stability and prevent the system from tipping over. The two main types of bases are weighted and flat.

  • Weighted Bases: These bases have built-in weights, usually made of steel or concrete, that provide a low center of gravity, making them very stable. Weighted bases are ideal for high-traffic areas and outdoor events where wind resistance is a concern.
  • Flat Bases: Flat bases are lighter and easier to transport than weighted bases. However, they rely on friction to maintain stability and may not be suitable for windy conditions or uneven surfaces.

The choice between weighted and flat bases depends on the environment in which you’ll be using your pipe and drape system. For outdoor events or areas with high foot traffic, weighted bases are recommended for their superior stability. However, if portability is a priority and you’ll be setting up on a flat, indoor surface, flat bases may suffice.

Choosing the Right Pipe and Drape for Your Needs

Selecting the ideal pipe and drape system for your specific needs requires careful consideration of several factors. By understanding your requirements and weighing the available options, you can make an informed decision that ensures your investment is both durable and well-suited for its intended purpose.

Frequency of Use

The frequency with which you’ll be setting up and taking down your pipe and drape system is a critical factor in determining the most suitable materials. For frequent use, especially at events that involve travel and transportation, prioritize lightweight aluminum pipes and bases for easier handling. However, if your system will be set up for extended periods or in high-traffic areas, opt for sturdy steel pipes and weighted bases for enhanced stability and durability.

Event Type

The type of event you’re hosting plays a significant role in material selection. For outdoor events, choose fabrics that are UV-resistant to prevent fading and deterioration caused by sunlight exposure. If noise reduction is a concern, consider fabrics like velour that offer sound-absorbing properties. Formal events may call for elegant fabrics like satin or velvet, while casual gatherings might be well-suited for more affordable options like Poly Premier.


Budgetary considerations are always a factor when choosing pipe and drape materials. While investing in high-quality, durable materials like banjo cloth may seem costly upfront, it often proves to be a wise decision in the long run due to reduced maintenance and replacement costs. However, if you’re on a tight budget, explore more affordable options like Poly Premier, which still offers decent durability and versatility.


The visual appeal of your pipe and drape system is crucial for creating the desired ambiance at your event. Consider the overall theme and color scheme of your event when selecting fabrics. For a classic and elegant look, opt for neutral colors like black, white, or ivory. If you want to make a bold statement, choose vibrant colors or patterned fabrics. Texture also plays a role in aesthetics, with options ranging from smooth satin to plush velour.

Caring for Your Pipe and Drape to Maximize Lifespan

Proper care and maintenance are essential for extending the lifespan of your pipe and drape system, ensuring that it remains in top condition for years to come. By following a few simple guidelines, you can protect your investment and keep your pipe and drape looking its best.

Proper Storage

When not in use, store your pipe and drape in a clean, dry environment. Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures, humidity, or direct sunlight, as these can degrade the fabric and hardware over time. Disassemble the system and store the pipes, bases, and drapes separately to prevent damage and make transportation easier. If possible, use storage bags or covers to protect the components from dust and debris.

Cleaning and Maintenance Tips

Regular cleaning is crucial for maintaining the appearance and longevity of your pipe and drape. Most fabrics can be spot cleaned with a mild detergent and water. However, it’s essential to check the manufacturer’s instructions for specific cleaning recommendations. For more extensive cleaning, consider professional dry cleaning services.

Inspect your pipe and drape system regularly for any signs of wear and tear, such as loose threads, frayed edges, or damaged hardware. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage and ensure the safety of your setup.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

To ensure the longevity of your pipe and drape system, avoid these common mistakes:

  • Overloading: Don’t hang heavy objects or decorations from the drapes, as this can strain the fabric and hardware.
  • Dragging: Avoid dragging the bases across the floor, as this can scratch and damage them.
  • Improper Storage: Storing pipe and drape in damp or dirty conditions can lead to mold, mildew, and other damage.
  • Neglecting Maintenance: Regular cleaning and inspections are essential for identifying and addressing potential issues before they escalate.

Making an Informed Decision for Durable Pipe and Drape

Durable pipe and drape systems are more than just backdrops—they are investments in the success and longevity of your endeavors. Selecting the right materials and understanding their care and maintenance are crucial steps in ensuring a visually appealing and long-lasting setup.

Key Takeaways

  • Prioritize Durability: Choose fabrics like banjo cloth, known for its exceptional strength and inherent flame resistance, for high-traffic events and frequent use.
  • Consider Alternatives: Explore other options like velour for its luxurious appearance and sound absorption or Poly Premier for its affordability and versatility.
  • Choose the Right Hardware: Select steel or aluminum pipes and weighted or flat bases based on your specific needs, considering factors like frequency of use and event type.
  • Proper Care and Maintenance: Extend the lifespan of your pipe and drape system through proper storage, regular cleaning, and timely repairs.

At Canvas Etc., we are committed to providing you with the highest quality fabrics and expert guidance to help you make the best decision for your pipe and drape needs.

Ready to Create a Lasting Impression?

Explore our wide selection of durable pipe and drape materials and custom solutions at Canvas Etc. Let us help you create an unforgettable event experience that stands the test of time. You can also read our guide on how to use pipe and drape for outdoor events.