Pipe and drape, whether it’s fixed height (a set height that cannot be changed) or adjustable pipe and drape kits, provide a great way to add a professional backdrop to any type of event. But before you debate investing in satin drapes or heavy Velour theater curtains, it's good to know the common terminology used in the pipe and drape industry.
The more terms you know, the more informed you'll feel about your own pipe and drape set-up. Here are some of the most common terms you should know before you choose a pipe and drape backdrop kit:
- Base: The base of your pipe and drape kit -- literally and figuratively -- is found in the base plate. Your bases serve as the foundation of your display, and it's what keeps everything secure. Different pipe and drape kits require or otherwise include different weights for the bases. Base plates typically range between 6 and 61 pounds; the proper weight for your backdrop depends on the height of your upright pipes, the weight of the drape fabric you choose, and it can also factor in whether or not your system will be used in a high foot traffic area or not.
- Upright: Uprights, or vertical poles, are the pieces that set the height of your pipe and drape kit. They have slots at the top that allow the crossbar (horizontal pole) to hook into, which in turn holds up the fabric drapes. Uprights can be fixed as a single piece that doesn’t adjust, or they can be adjustable and allow you to customize the height of your kit. Fixed height uprights are the less expensive option, but keep in mind that they will lack the versatility and flexibility of adjustable models.
Important questions to ask include: “Will I always be setting my backdrop at the same height (where fixed uprights would work), or will I have different height requirements for different events (where adjustable uprights would be better suited)?” and “Will I need to transport or store my uprights? (and if so, you’ll want to make sure that you can fit a fixed upright in your vehicle or storage area)”.
- Crossbar: The crossbar is the horizontal rod that sits at the top of the upright pipes and holds up your drape panels. The crossbar is typically adjustable when it comes to width, and sizes are typically available anywhere between three feet and fourteen feet depending on the model. For example, we offer the following crossbar sizes. The first number is the narrowest it can be set to (minimum width), and the second number is the widest that it can be set to (maximum width):
3 feet to 5 feet wide
4 feet to 7 feet wide
6 feet to 10 feet wide
7 feet to 12 feet wide
8 feet to 14 feet wide
- Drape: The drape is the fabric that hangs from your crossbar, and is a vital component to your pipe and drape kit. Drapery fabrics come in a wide range of colors, styles, and materials, including sheer, satin, and velour, to name only a few. Your choice of material, style, and color is really a matter of personal preference, and likely to be specific to the event and/or your client. So while it’s difficult for us to offer guidance on what would be the “best choice”, we do have some general advice that we hope you’ll find to be helpful.
First, consider how important certain qualities of the drape are...do you need it to be light blocking? Fire retardant? Both? Neither? Is it going to be used as a backdrop for a wedding, or are you using it to mask an area of your building that is undergoing construction renovations? Simple questions like these can help you narrow down the options and make it easier for you to refine your choice from there.
Secondly, you’ll want to choose a drape height that is at least the same height as your upright pipes (though you may want them to be even longer so that they pool on the floor -- this is especially common with sheer voile drapes). If you are using adjustable uprights, you’ll want to make sure that your drapes are long enough to fully hang down at the upright’s maximum height.
For example, if your adjustable upright height range is between 6 feet (shortest) and 10 feet (tallest), you’ll probably want to get 10 foot tall drapes so that you can use them when they’re set to the tallest height. Unless you are 100% sure that you’ll never be setting your adjustable pipe and drape display taller than a certain height, go for the drapes that will work with the tallest height that your uprights can be set to.
- Fullness: Fullness refers to the amount of bunching that the drapes on your pipe and drape kit has, and, like your choice for drape fabric and color, this is also a matter of personal preference. Note that fullness is also commonly referred to as “gathering”, but we’ll be using the term “fullness” for simplicity.
The fuller the fabric, the more bunching there is in the drape. A drape with zero fullness means the fabric is flat, with no bunching.<
The choice for how much fullness you’ll need (or want) depends on what you’re using your kit for. For instance, if you need your kit for a theater backdrop, you'll almost certainly want a fuller drape to create a more pleated look. If it’s being used to divide a room, then perhaps a more bunched appearance isn’t as important, and so you won’t necessarily need more fullness. Consider what you’re using your kit for and what appearance that you want your drapes to have, and this will help determine the level of fullness that is right for you.
It's no secret that adjustable pipe and drape kits (and fixed kits as well) make for efficient and stylish backdrops for a wide variety of events. In fact, the U.S. party and event planning industry employs roughly 134,000 people, and pipe and drape kits are often used at professional events. To learn more about pipe and drape terminology or backdrop drapes, contact Pipe and Drape Online today.