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Drape Support Rods - How to Use and Choosing the Best Size

Posted by JC on 12/27/2017 to Pipe and Drape
A picture of a Drape Support Rod Crossbar used for pipe and drape displays.

In this article, we focus on the pipe and drape component piece called a Drape Support Rod. Also known as a crossbar, crossbeam, “top bar”, horizontal pipe or pole, this is the pipe that sets the width of your display, and the piece that you use to hang your drapes.

No matter which term you use, the Drape Support Rod is an important element of the overall structure of your pipe and drape backdrop.


How does the Support Rod work in a pipe and drape display?

Diagram of where the Drape Support Rod goes in the pipe and base framework

It’s super easy to use a crossbar in your pipe and drape set-up!

First, you need to put your drapes on the pipe, before completing the set-up. The drapes aren’t shown in the picture above (so that you can see the pipe and where it fits in the overall framework), but you would slide the crossbar through the rod pocket that is sewn on your drapes.

Our Support Rods have a metal hook at both the left and right end of the pipe. You simply place that hook inside of any of the slots that are located on our Uprights (vertical pipes), as shown below:

Putting the crossbar hook into an Upright pipe

You’d do this with each end of the crossbar -- no tools are required and it takes only seconds to hang!


What Crossbar size do you need?

Most Drape Support Rods are adjustable between a certain range of widths. By having the ability to telescope, the pipe can be set to different sizes quickly and easily, and this helps your system be more versatile to meet the needs of different events.

The standard sizes that we carry are:

3 to 5 Feet Wide

4 to 7 Feet Wide

6 to 10 Feet Wide -- most popular!

7 to 12 Feet Wide

8 to 10 Feet Wide Break Apart (ideal for transporting in smaller vehicles)

8 to 14 Feet Wide


To choose the right size, it’s important to know the width of the area that you’re trying to cover.

For example, if you’re covering a space that is 28 feet wide, then two of the 8-14 foot Support Rods (each extended out to the maximum 14-foot width) would work perfectly.

For a 30 foot wide span, three of the 6-10 foot Support Rods (each extended out to the maximum 10-foot width) would do the job.


How about covering odd sized areas?

We know that it’s not always as simple as covering 30 feet with perfect 10 foot wide crossbars. It’s great when you have such an easy measurement, but sometimes your area is bit more complex.

Ideally, you want each section to be as uniform in width as possible.

If you have an odd sized area to cover, it’s best to find the crossbar size that will give you at least somewhat even intervals as you cover the entire span.

For example, if you’re covering 45 feet in width, you could use:

Four 6 to 10 crossbars (to cover 40 feet) + One 3 to 5 foot crossbar (to cover the remaining 5 feet).

But we wouldn’t necessarily suggest using that combination, since you’d have 4 sections that are 10 feet wide and 1 narrow section that is 5 feet wide:

Uneven sections are not ideal

Besides requiring more Uprights, Bases, and Drape Support Rods than you might otherwise need to cover this 45 foot wide span (see below), this configuration may not look the best when you hang your drapes -- it will be difficult to achieve the same level of gathering in the drapes throughout the entire span, especially in the small 5 foot section.


Instead, we’d recommend using four 7 to 12 foot crossbars, each extended to about 11-feet 3-inches wide (4 * 11.25 feet = 45 feet).

Doing it this way would make the entire 45 foot span more uniform in appearance, as each section would have the same width:

Even sections are much better

Here, you’re still covering the same 45 foot width, but you need less pieces overall (saving you money!), and you have even sections throughout the span, which will also look great when you hang your drapes.

Knowing the area that you’re trying to cover is vital, so make sure you have those measurements before deciding on your Drape Support Rod sizes. And of course, if you would like another pair of eyes to make sure your pieces are right, we’re always happy to assist!


Features of our Drape Support Rods

Our pipes feature two useful features that help speed-up your set-up time, and help them last longer.

Crossbars with convenient button stops for measuring and metal hook ends for durability

1. Button stops for fast and easy measuring

For quicker set-up, our Support Rods feature a button stop that pops-out at the most popular widths for easy measuring. This is shown as a close up view on the left portion of the detail photo above.

For example, our 6-10 foot wide Drape Support Rod has a button stop that pops out at 8 feet wide, and again at 10 feet wide, because those widths are most commonly used sizes in that model.

However, the crossbar doesn’t have to be used at a button stop interval. The button stops are just there for speed and convenience, but you can set your Support Rod to ANY dimension in the given size range of the pipe (regardless if you need it set to one of the button stop increments).


2. Metal hook ends that last longer

For added durability, our Support Rods have a metal hook that is set in cast aluminum. This is shown as a close up view on the right portion of the detail photo above.

There are crossbars out there that use a metal hook set in a plastic end piece, but we opt to use a rugged all-metal hook end so that our pipes can last longer and be used for many events to come!


Hopefully you now have a better idea of what Drape Support Rods are, how they work, and you have an idea of the process to determine the best size for your set-up. We work with pipe and drape every day, so if you have any questions at all, or need advice, please contact us -- we’re happy to help!


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