How To Estimate Pipe & Drape Needs When Planning An Event

Get the most out of your pipe and drape rental by making sure you order just the right amount to bring style and flare to your exhibit booth, event or special occasion.

Author - Dazian



If you’re looking for an inviting, dramatic look that makes it seem like you spent a fortune (but you didn’t) and makes setup and tear down a breeze, then a pipe and drape rental display is the answer to your event styling needs. 


A stylish fabric background can provide you with a versatile trade show booth, effective screening for private moments like a dressing room or photo or voting booth, a polished background for a speech, press conference or ceremony, or a stunning backdrop for a theatrical performance or event. 


Perhaps the best part about renting a pipe and drape display is it takes little effort to factor it into your event design. Here’s all you need to know about how to plan and use fabric displays at your next tradeshow, event or special occasion.

Why choose to rent a pipe and drape kit?

If you’ve ever planned an event, you know that standing out from the crowd and leaving an indelible impression on your audience is one of your foremost priorities. 


But it’s not your only priority… time, budget, and flexibility also top the list when it comes to event planning. 


Rather than investing in a cumbersome, expensive setup that is complicated to assemble and difficult to ship and store, renting fabric (drapes) with an easy, modular mechanism to hang them on (pipes) frees up your budget, time, and resources — and alleviates your event-related headaches.


Pipe and drape rentals are:


  • Efficient: It’s an incredibly easy and effective way to make a dynamic impression and/or organize your event space.
  • Versatile: Fabrics come in a range of styles and colors, from multi-use black masking drapery to dramatic metallics, velvets and satins. Pipes are modular and easily adjustable for displays or backdrops of a variety of heights and widths.
  • Affordable: Your choice of materials, length of the rental, and other factors can be adjusted for budget control.
  • Simple to assemble: In most cases, you only need one or two people and as little as 10 minutes to put a pipe and drape rental display together.
  • Portable: A lightweight pipe and drape rental is easy to carry, or if you’re having it shipped, it has much lower drayage costs (storage, transportation to the event, etc.) as compared to other types of displays. 
  • Private: Pipe and drape displays create an intimate, private space for people to conduct their business. For example, it’s a great way to divide up a trade show booth or meeting room to provide salespeople and customers with a quiet, distraction-free space to connect.

What’s included in a pipe and drape rental?

While there’s not a lot to a pipe and drape rental, there are a few items that are included to ensure you have all you need for an attractive, effective, secure, and safe display.


Draping, or fabric, is where you have the most choice, with dozens of colors, styles, finishes, and masking (or opacity) to choose from. 


Bases are the steel foundations that hold the pipes sturdily in place. They come in different weights, depending on the height of the pipes you’re using, as well as the weight of your drapes. For a polished, elegant look you can also opt to cover your base plates with fabric base covers. 


Pipes come in a variety of sizes and widths, and serve two functions: the vertical upright rods give your installation height, and the horizontal support rods or crossbars support the drapes. Made of aluminum or steel, the pipes form the framework of your display. Some pipes are fixed, while others are adjustable. Like bases, if you’d like a more finished, professional look, fabric pipe covers are available.


Accessories: If you want to kick your traditional pipe and drape up a notch, you may want to consider accessories like a valance header that runs across your crossbar pipe, or hanging two layers of fabric on double back wall hangers for a more impressive and dramatic look.

How does pipe and drape rental work?

Renting a pipe and drape display is simple, five step process. 


  1. Decide on your fabric: Consider what you’re trying to accomplish — are you setting up a space where the drapes will be part of the dynamic, eye-grabbing look (i.e. molten lava), or is the fabric playing a utility role, like blocking out light or ensuring privacy (i.e. velvet masking drape)?  Will the drapes be near a light fixture? If so, be sure to let your sales representative know, so they can confirm that the fabric you want to use is flame-retardant fabric.


  1. Spec out the look of your display or backdrop: Because pipe and drape setups come in many configurations, you have a lot of flexibility. Start by sketching out what you’d like your space to look like. Depending on how elaborate your configuration is, you might need multiple sized pipes and drapes. If you need help envisioning your layout, give us a shout! We’re always here to help.


  1. Get real measurements and other specs of the space.

Be sure to double check the dimensions of the event space where you’ll be erecting your pipe and drape backdrop or display. If you’re planning on an 8’ high display, and the ceiling at your event venue is only 7’ high, you could be in trouble if your pipes aren’t adjustable. Paying attention to where your display is situated can also affect your selection. For example, if you’re putting up a trade show booth in a busy thoroughfare, you may want to consider heavier drapes to block out sound.


  1. Estimate how much pipe and drape you need to rent.


Once you’re clear on both the space and your desired layout, you’re ready to start preparing to order your pipes and drapes. Over all, you need to consider three aspects:


Height: How tall is your display?


Width: How wide (deep) is your display and how long a drapery run is it? 


Fullness: Fullness adds depth and dimension to your display or backdrop. It reflects the width of the panel and how much bunching you desire. 




For tradeshows and other industry events, the standard size for pipes is fixed height 8′ uprights (vertical). A common size for exhibition booth space is 10’ x 10’, so that’s a good size for your crossbar drape support (horizontal). To give you a range of options for the depth of your booth, you may want to work with a 6′-10′ telescoping pipe.




Drapes bring the drama — and the appeal — to your display. The trick is to hang them properly… because the truth is that most are the industry-standard pocket drapery, which are not pre-pleated. So to get that appealing, gathered look, you’ll have to bunch up the drapes by hand when you arrange them on the crossbar. This means you have to calculate “fullness,” to order the right amount of drapes.

Don’t panic — this is a relatively easy formula and we’re always here to help you with your calculations!


Here are the different levels of fullness:


1) Totally taut, 0% fullness

Benefits: Covers a large space, very economical 


Fullness Formula


Take the area you want to cover and multiply it by 1.

Divide that number by the width of the drapes (panels) you want to use to get the number of drapes to order.


For example: If you are covering a 200’ space and you want to use panels that are 10’ wide: 

200’ x 1 = 200’ / 10’ panels = 20 panels to order.


2) Somewhat full to relatively full, 25%- 50% fullness 

Benefits: The most common degree of bunching, still relatively economical, an attractive look for most medium-to-heavyweight fabrics


Fullness Formula: 


Take the area you want to cover and multiply it by 1.5.


Divide that number by the width of the drapes (panels) you want to use to get the number of drapes to order.


For example: If you are covering a 200’ space and you want to use panels that are 10’ wide: 

200’ x 1.5 = 300’ of total fabric width/10’ panels = 30 panels to order


3) Very full , 75% – 100% fullness

Benefits: A full and luxurious look, with very reduced transparency and sound, able to use finer, lighter fabrics, like pre-pleated Milano drape, and also provides extra fabric fullness for last-minute maneuvering, as needed.


Fullness Formula: 


Take the area you want to cover and multiply it by 2.


Divide that number by the width of the drapes (panels) you want to use to get the number of drapes to order.


For example: If you are covering a 200’ space and you want to use panels that are 10’ wide: 

200’ x 2 = 400’ of total fabric width/10’ panels = 40 panels to order


For more information on calculating fullness, please check out our post on transforming a space with a simple pipe and drape rental.


  1. Get your pipe and drape rental quote and place your order.


While working with pipe and drape for any display or backdrop is a simple and convenient options, it’s also easy to get confused — especially if you’re new at this or are putting together a complex, multi-level layout. Don’t be shy! We are happy to answer any questions you might have, and are also here to help you use flexible pipe and drape in the smartest, most efficient and cost effective way possible.


Pro tip: Just as you must consider the size of the venue, you should always keep in mind how you’re transporting and storing your pipe and drape installation. If you’re renting the items and bringing them to the venue yourself, let us know! You want to be sure that tallest pipes — the uprights — fit in your vehicle. You can always choose to work with an adjustable or break apart option for easier transporting. 


Using pipe and drape rentals for just the right purpose and effect is a smart, affordable way to make your event look fabulous. And you’re not alone — when you work with us, we’re happy to help. The Dazian team is here to help set up your pipe and drape environments for anywhere from a trade show or convention, to a wedding, corporate event, or other special celebration. We’re your fabric partners behind the curtain, and we’re ready to help you transform your event. So talk to us, and let us know how we can help you with your pipe and drape rental!



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