Pipe and Drape for Outdoor Events: Your Guide to Transforming Any Space

Pipe and drape systems are a versatile and affordable way to transform any outdoor space for your next event. Imagine creating a stunning ceremony backdrop for a wedding in a park, defining separate areas at a music festival, or even building a temporary outdoor stage for a corporate gathering. With pipe and drape, all of this is possible, offering a flexible solution to elevate your event’s ambiance and functionality.

Pipe and drape consists of vertical pipes (uprights), horizontal supports (crossbars), and fabric drapes that create customizable walls, backdrops, and partitions. This modular system is relatively simple to set up, making it an attractive option for both DIY enthusiasts and professional event planners. Unlike permanent structures, pipe and drape is portable and can be easily transported and configured to fit various venues and layouts.

What sets pipe and drape apart from other temporary structures like tents or pop-up canopies is its inherent elegance and adaptability. While tents offer overhead cover and pop-up canopies provide shade, pipe and drape allows for more creative expression. With a wide variety of fabrics and colors available, you can customize the look and feel of your event space to perfectly match your theme and vision.

In this comprehensive guide, we will dive deep into the world of pipe and drape for outdoor events. We’ll discuss the essential components, fabric choices, setup instructions, creative ideas, and how to overcome challenges like weather and wind. Whether you’re planning a small backyard gathering or a large-scale festival, pipe and drape offers endless possibilities to transform your outdoor space into something truly extraordinary.

Understanding Pipe and Drape Systems

A pipe and drape system is a versatile toolkit for event design. It consists of vertical pipes called uprights, horizontal supports known as crossbars or drape supports, base plates for stability, and the fabric drapes themselves.

  • Uprights: These vertical poles are the backbone of the system, determining the height of your drapes and the overall scale of your setup. They come in various lengths to accommodate different needs, from intimate gatherings to grand events.
  • Crossbars: Also called drape supports, these horizontal bars connect to the uprights and hold the fabric drapes. They are adjustable in length, allowing you to create different widths for your backdrops, partitions, or walkways.
  • Base Plates: These flat, heavy plates provide stability for the uprights. They are essential for outdoor setups, especially in windy conditions, to prevent the structure from tipping over.
  • Fabric Drapes: The fabric is where your creativity truly shines. It’s the visual element that transforms your event space. Options range from lightweight and opaque banjo cloth to heavier, light-blocking commando cloth. There are also flame-retardant options like Poly Premier, and sheer, decorative fabrics like voile. At Canvas Etc, we specialize in a wide range of fabrics suitable for outdoor use, including durable Sunbrella and Phifertex options, allowing you to create a custom look that complements your event’s theme.

How these components work together

  1. Base plates are placed on the ground to provide a stable foundation.
  2. Uprights are inserted into the base plates and adjusted to the desired height.
  3. Crossbars are attached to the uprights at the desired width.
  4. Fabric drapes are hung from the crossbars using clips or ties.
pipe and drape entranceway to an outdoor music festival

Essential Components and Fabric Choices

Pipe and drape fabrics come in a variety of materials, weights, and textures, each offering distinct advantages for specific uses. Some popular choices include:

  • Banjo Cloth: This lightweight, opaque fabric is a common and economical choice for pipe and drape. It provides excellent coverage and drapes well, making it suitable for backdrops, partitions, and privacy screens. However, it may not be the most durable option for windy outdoor conditions.
  • Commando Cloth: Heavier than banjo cloth, commando cloth offers better light-blocking capabilities and a more substantial feel. It’s ideal for situations where privacy and light control are essential, such as creating changing rooms or sectioning off areas within an event space.
  • Poly Premier: This wrinkle-resistant and flame-retardant fabric is a popular choice for trade shows and events where safety is a concern. It drapes nicely and is relatively durable, making it suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
  • Voile: This sheer, lightweight fabric adds an ethereal touch to your pipe and drape setup. It’s often used for decorative draping, creating a romantic or whimsical atmosphere. However, due to its delicate nature, it’s not the best choice for outdoor events exposed to the elements.

Outdoor Fabric Considerations

For outdoor events, fabric choice requires careful consideration of several factors:

  • Weather Resistance: Choose fabrics that can withstand sun, wind, and rain without fading, tearing, or becoming damaged.
  • Durability: Opt for materials that can handle potential wear and tear from setup, takedown, and transportation.
  • Wind Permeability: Consider using fabrics with some degree of air permeability to reduce the risk of the structure toppling over in strong winds.
  • Opacity: If privacy or light control is necessary, choose an opaque fabric like banjo or commando cloth.

Planning Your Outdoor Pipe and Drape Setup

Planning is key to a successful pipe and drape setup, especially for outdoor events where variables like weather and terrain can come into play. A well-thought-out plan will ensure your vision comes to life smoothly and effectively.

Before you begin assembling your pipe and drape system, take the time to carefully plan your setup. This involves several key steps:

Measure Your Space

Start by accurately measuring the area where you’ll be installing the pipe and drape. Consider the dimensions needed for backdrops, partitions, entranceways, or any other configurations you have in mind. Sketching a simple diagram can be helpful for visualizing the layout.

Choose Your Fabric

Select the fabric that aligns with your event’s aesthetic and functional requirements. Consider the desired look (formal, casual, whimsical), the level of privacy or light control needed, and the anticipated weather conditions. For outdoor events, prioritize durable, weather-resistant fabrics like Sunbrella or Phifertex, which we offer at Canvas Etc. These fabrics are designed to withstand the elements while still offering a variety of colors and textures to complement your event’s theme.

Consider Accessories

Think about additional accessories that can enhance the functionality and appearance of your pipe and drape setup. Drape clips help secure the fabric to the crossbars, while weights or sandbags can add stability in windy conditions. Tie-backs allow you to create elegant draping effects, and decorative elements like lights or floral arrangements can further personalize your space.

Setting Up Pipe and Drape Outdoors

Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or prefer professional assistance, understanding the setup process is essential for a successful outdoor pipe and drape installation. Let’s break it down into manageable steps:

  1. Gather Your Tools and Materials: Before you begin, ensure you have all the necessary components: uprights, crossbars, base plates, fabric drapes, drape clips (if using), and any additional accessories like weights or tie-backs.
  2. Assemble the Frame: Start by attaching the base plates to the bottom of the uprights. Then, insert the crossbars into the designated slots or hooks on the uprights, adjusting their length to achieve the desired width for your drapes.
  3. Hang the Fabric Drapes: If using drape clips, attach them to the top edge of the fabric and then clip them onto the crossbar. Otherwise, carefully drape the fabric over the crossbar, ensuring it hangs evenly.
  4. Secure and Stabilize: For outdoor setups, it’s crucial to secure the base plates to the ground to prevent tipping, especially in windy conditions. You can use weights, sandbags, or even ground anchors depending on the surface and expected weather.
  5. Test for Stability: Give your setup a gentle shake to ensure it’s sturdy and won’t easily topple over. Make any necessary adjustments to the base plates or add more weight if needed.

DIY vs. Professional Installation

If you’re comfortable with basic tools and have a relatively simple pipe and drape configuration in mind, DIY installation is definitely achievable. There are plenty of online tutorials and resources available to guide you through the process. However, if you’re planning a large-scale event with complex configurations or have limited time, hiring a professional installer is recommended. Professionals have the experience and expertise to ensure a safe, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing setup. Companies like Quest Events and Tent Guys specialize in pipe and drape installations and can provide comprehensive services to meet your specific needs.

Creative Ideas for Outdoor Pipe and Drape

Let’s explore some inspiring ways to use pipe and drape for outdoor events:

Wedding Ceremony Backdrops

Pipe and drape can create a stunning focal point for your outdoor wedding ceremony. Imagine exchanging vows in front of a flowing white drape backdrop, framed by lush greenery or a scenic view. You can add personal touches like floral arrangements, hanging lights, or even monogrammed fabric panels to create a truly unique and unforgettable ceremony setting.

Festival Entranceways

Make a grand entrance at your outdoor festival with a vibrant and eye-catching pipe and drape entranceway. Use colorful fabrics to set the tone for the event and create a sense of excitement as guests arrive. You can even incorporate custom-printed banners or logos to reinforce your branding.

Outdoor Stage Backdrops

Elevate the look of your outdoor stage with a pipe and drape backdrop. Choose a fabric that complements your stage design and lighting scheme. Whether you’re hosting a concert, play, or presentation, a well-designed backdrop can enhance the visual appeal of your performance area and create a more immersive experience for the audience.

Privacy Screens

Pipe and drape can be used to create private areas within a larger outdoor space. This is particularly useful for events like weddings or corporate gatherings where you may want to designate areas for VIP guests, changing rooms, or catering stations.

Temporary Walls and Partitions

Need to divide a large outdoor area into smaller sections? Pipe and drape can easily create temporary walls and partitions. This is ideal for defining different zones within a festival, separating vendor booths, or creating intimate spaces for workshops or presentations.

These are just a few ideas to spark your imagination. With pipe and drape, the possibilities are truly endless. Don’t be afraid to experiment and create unique configurations that reflect your event’s style and purpose. Whether you’re going for an elegant, rustic, or modern look, pipe and drape can help you achieve your desired aesthetic.

Overcoming Challenges with Outdoor Pipe and Drape

Here are some key considerations and solutions for ensuring a successful outdoor pipe and drape setup:


Mother Nature can be unpredictable, so it’s crucial to choose fabrics that can withstand the elements. As mentioned earlier, weather-resistant options like Sunbrella and Phifertex are excellent choices for outdoor events. These fabrics are designed to resist fading, mildew, and water damage, ensuring your pipe and drape setup looks its best throughout the event. Additionally, consider using waterproof covers for any exposed electrical cords or equipment to prevent safety hazards.

Wind Resistance

Wind can pose a significant challenge for outdoor pipe and drape installations. To prevent your structure from tipping over, make sure the base plates are securely anchored to the ground. Use weights, sandbags, or ground stakes as needed to add stability. If you’re expecting strong winds, you can also choose fabrics with some degree of air permeability, such as mesh materials, which allow wind to pass through rather than pushing against the drapes.

Ground Anchoring

Outdoor venues often have uneven terrain, which can make it difficult to achieve a stable pipe and drape setup. To compensate for uneven ground, adjust the height of individual uprights as needed or use leveling shims under the base plates. Ground anchors, like stakes or augers, can be used to secure the base plates on softer surfaces like grass or sand.


Integrating your pipe and drape with outdoor lighting can create a magical ambiance for your event. Uplighting can be used to highlight the drapes and create a dramatic effect, while string lights or lanterns can add a festive touch. Consider using battery-powered or wireless lighting options to avoid tripping hazards caused by cords.

DIY pipe and drape setup for outdoor events

Real-World Examples

Outdoor Wedding

A picturesque meadow transformed into a dream wedding venue with the help of pipe and drape. White fabric drapes, hung from elegant uprights, created a romantic backdrop for the ceremony. Additional drapes were used to create a private changing area for the bridal party and a charming reception area. The soft, flowing fabric added a touch of elegance to the natural setting, creating a magical ambiance for the special day.

Music Festival

A sprawling park became a vibrant hub of music and energy, thanks to strategic pipe and drape installations. Colorful drapes in various heights and widths defined different stages and areas, creating a sense of separation and visual interest. Pipe and drape also served as backdrops for food vendors and merchandise booths, adding a cohesive and professional look to the festival grounds.

Corporate Event

An outdoor corporate event exuded sophistication and professionalism with the help of pipe and drape. Crisp white drapes were used to create a sleek backdrop for presentations and speeches, while black drapes provided a stylish backdrop for the networking area. Pipe and drape partitions also helped create breakout spaces for smaller discussions and meetings, maximizing the functionality of the outdoor venue.

Quilt Show

A large tent was transformed into a warm and inviting space for a quilt show using pipe and drape. Neutral-colored drapes lined the walls, creating a backdrop that didn’t detract from the vibrant quilts on display. Pipe and drape was also used to create individual booths for each quilter, providing a sense of privacy and organization. The overall effect was a cohesive and welcoming environment that showcased the artistry of the quilts.

These examples demonstrate the diverse applications of pipe and drape for outdoor events. From intimate weddings to large-scale festivals, this versatile system can be adapted to suit any occasion and venue. The key is to let your imagination guide you and explore the endless possibilities that pipe and drape offers for creating unique and memorable outdoor experiences.

Resources and Inspiration

Pipe and Drape Suppliers:

  • Canvas Etc.: We offer custom-printed fabrics and expert advice for creating unique and eye-catching pipe and drape displays tailored to your specific event. Our wide selection of outdoor-suitable fabrics ensures durability and longevity for your outdoor installations.
  • Pipe and Drape Online: A leading online retailer specializing in pipe and drape systems, hardware, and accessories. They offer a wide range of products, including various fabric types, pipe sizes, and base plate options. Their website provides detailed product information, tutorials, and customer support to assist you with your pipe and drape needs.

Rental Companies:

  • Quest Events: This event production company offers comprehensive pipe and drape rental services, including delivery, setup, and takedown. They have a team of experienced professionals who can handle everything from small gatherings to large-scale events.
  • Tent Guys: Specializing in tent and event rentals, Tent Guys also offer pipe and drape solutions for various occasions. Their expertise in outdoor events ensures your pipe and drape setup is secure and weather-resistant.

Online Tutorials:

  • YouTube: Numerous instructional videos demonstrate how to assemble, install, and decorate pipe and drape systems. Search for “pipe and drape outdoor setup” or “DIY pipe and drape” to find helpful tutorials from experienced users and professionals.
  • Blogs and Articles: Many event planning websites and blogs offer informative articles on using pipe and drape for outdoor events. These resources often include tips, tricks, and creative ideas to inspire your own designs.

Elevating Outdoor Events with Pipe and Drape

Pipe and drape systems are a game-changer for outdoor events, offering a versatile and affordable way to transform any space. Whether you’re hosting an intimate wedding ceremony, a vibrant music festival, a professional corporate gathering, or a creative quilt show, pipe and drape provides the tools to create a unique and memorable atmosphere.

Key Takeaways

  • Versatility: Pipe and drape can be configured into countless layouts to suit any event’s needs, from backdrops and partitions to entranceways and stage designs.
  • Customization: With a vast selection of fabrics, colors, and accessories, pipe and drape allows for endless personalization to match your event’s theme and aesthetic.
  • Durability: By choosing weather-resistant fabrics like Sunbrella or Phifertex from Canvas Etc., your pipe and drape setup can withstand the elements and ensure a successful outdoor event.
  • Ease of Use: Pipe and drape systems are relatively simple to assemble and dismantle, making them a practical choice for both DIY enthusiasts and professional event planners.
  • Professional Assistance: For large-scale or complex installations, consider partnering with experienced rental companies like Quest Events or Tent Guys to ensure a seamless setup.

If you’re ready to elevate your next outdoor event, explore the endless possibilities of pipe and drape. Contact Canvas Etc. to discover our wide range of fabrics and custom printing options, or consult with our experts for guidance on choosing the perfect pipe and drape solution for your needs. Let us help you create a truly unforgettable outdoor experience!