The PVC Banner Materials Buyer's Guide

What Makes A Great Banner?

Who This Page Is For

How To Choose The Right Banner Material

Price, Material, Front Lit, Back Lit
Blockout BannersMesh Banners, Finish, 
Outdoor Banners, Indoor Banners,
Fire SafetyStock & Availability

Working With Ultraflex Europe

Advantages Of Working With Us
Quick Access To Customer Service Links
Contact Details


What Makes A Great Banner?

PVC banners are a staple of the super wide format printing industry, serving advertising campaigns around the world. PVC substrates are used for printed adverts on banners, billboards, building wraps, truckside adverts, tier dressing and other display systems, from Leicester Square to local shopping centres.

Consumers usually pay little attention to the banner substrate itself, focusing instead on the printed imagery. This is how it should be, but for people involved in the printing business, banner materials matter a great deal.

This advice is for businesses who need to purchase PVC banner material; either switching away from existing suppliers, or buying banner substrates for the first time on a new job for a customer. The weight, feel, durability and quality of the banner material will all impact the final printed result, and will affect your customer’s satisfaction with the print job.

Finding the right banner material (and supplier) helps you:

  • Run your department more efficiently
  • Get jobs out the door on time Minimise returns
  • Cut back on overtime and waste
  • Achieve high quality print runs each time

Ultraflex Systems Inc, of which Ultraflex Europe is a part, is one of the world's leading suppliers of PVC substrates. We have over 25 years’ experience creating innovative, high-quality banner substrates for the global advertising market, with materials used in signage solutions across the world.

We care about quality. We care about price. We care about delivery. We care about making your job easier and helping you deliver fantastic products for your client each and every time.

PVC Banner Material Guide

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Who This Page Is For

This is written for anyone involved in the wide format printing industry. Most of our customers operate grand or super-wide format machines on multiple print platforms, on widths between 3.2 m and 5 m. Most have need of a diverse range of printing substrates and coatings. This webpage will set out the different options available to you and explain how to make the right media decision and secure the service you deserve.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch by phone on +44 (0) 1767 677100, or email us on

How To Choose The Right Banner Material

How do you choose the right type of banner material for your application? Obviously price is an important factor, but from a production point of view this isn’t the only, or even the most important consideration. Cheap material isn’t cheap at all if it comes with a higher than average level of returns, wastage or production errors. Cost should be competitive and reflect the value and durability of the material.

Let’s look at price determinants first, then go on to explore other factors, including the types of banner material, finishing, fire safety, availability and customer service.

What Makes A Great Banner

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What goes into determining how much a banner actually costs you? There are the costs of operating machinery, utilities and labour of course, but these are stable overheads unrelated to the cost of the material itself, so we won’t deal with them here. Direct costs include the material itself, delivery costs and the time needed to wait for delivery. Indirect costs encompass returns, failure and downtime


Types of material are dealt with below, but a higher quality base cloth and print surface will affect the quality, strength, and machine run – ability as well as the final material cost of the product. Price will also vary based on whether the substrate is designed for frontlit, backlit, blockout or mesh applications and it’s fire rating. When working with a supplier such as Ultraflex, you will have a wide range of materials to choose from, each available in a variety of sizes to suit your client’s requirements.


The physical cost of delivery will vary from supplier to supplier. Sometimes it will depend on whether the item is currently held in stock, or if it has to be ordered in. As well as this, the time required to wait for delivery is also a cost factor. Longer lead times require greater advance planning and come with a greater risk of delivery errors. At Ultraflex, we offer next day and same day deliveries for any product held at our warehouse in Cambridgeshire.


The price of returns should also be factored into the total cost. On the rare occasion when things go wrong, what return and replacement policy does the supplier offer? In particular, who pays the cost of sending the item back? Before placing an order, read the terms and conditions carefully and decide if there are any hidden costs that bump up the real term price of the order.

Hidden Costs: Failures & Downtime

Failures and downtime are costs that very few suppliers will be happy to talk about openly, but they can easily increase the cost of your banner production over time. Failures can’t entirely be eliminated, but the risk can be greatly reduced by choosing a supplier with a well-established reputation for quality and a transparent supply chain. This will allow you to verify the quality of the material before ordering. Failures and downtime can also be minimised by avoiding the cheapest materials, which could be more susceptible to damage during printing.

PVC Banner Material Guide

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Choosing your banner material is not always straightforward, because the substrate depends on the banner format you’re going to need. Within each format there are normally several choices of substrate. The industry standard is PVC, but you can also get polyester canvas banners and even polyethylene or PET banners in some formats.

The two main types of advertising banner are frontlit and backlit varieties, so let’s look at these first. Then we’ll take a brief look at some other commonly used types of banner.

Front Lit & Back Lit Banners

What is the difference between a frontlit and a backlit banner, and when might either type be used?

While frontlit and backlit banners are different, they share important similarities. From a design point of view there isn’t much difference. Care should be taken to make the best use of the light sources used in each case, so careful consideration should be given to colour balance, especially with backlit banners. Both types of banner require specialist installation to assemble and configure the lightbox on site.

Front Lit Banners

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Front Lit Banners

Are designed to be mounted with lights pointing at the front of the banner. Substrates will vary in opacity and durability.

Advantages of Front Lit Banners

  • Available with a matt finish to reduce reflection
  • UV durability can be improved by the use of a liquid laminate
  • Welding hems and or eyeleting will depend on final application and the quality of the sub straight
  • Works well with large and grand banner formats, making frontlit media perfect for roadside billboards, sports stadium advertising etc.
  • Can be used without an external light source if required Some can be stretched and used for longer periods without losing tension

Front Lit Banner Substrates

Frontlit banners use a composite PVC-coated scrim cloth. There are a variety of custom compositions that give varying durability. More details and technical specs can be found on our website, but some of our most popular substrates are:

  • Ultima Supreme 500 GSM
  • Ultima Pro 450 GSM
  • Ultima Pro Eclipse 450 GSM (White / Black)
  • Super Print 440 GSM
  • Campaign Banner 440 GSM

Print compatibility: UV, solvent, eco-solvent, latex

Campaign Banner

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Back Lit Banners

Are designed to be lit from behind by lights at the back of the banner stand. There substrates are specially designed to have high light transmittance characteristics and are particularly suited to digital printing. Print quality is important to both types of banner, but it is especially critical to achieve the right blend of complementary colours on banners with a light source at the back.

Advantages of Back Lit Banners

  • Backlit banners can be used outdoors or indoors
  • Well suited to large exterior Flex Face applications as well as exhibitions, airports, stations and instore POS
  • Extremely clear, visible banner images, even in poor weather and lowlight environments
  • Can be printed on the reverse to improve image contrast and depth
  • Sturdy, extremely durable substrates are available

Back Lit Banner Substrates

A variety of substrates from 500 - 680 GSM in weight with fire ratings. Our backlit substrates have unrivalled fade resistance combined with excellent tear and tensile strength. See our website for full technical data. Our most popular substrates are:

  • Ultralon IV 680 GSM
  • Vulite Supreme 500 GSM

Print Compatibility: Solvent, UV and latex printing

Back Lit Banner

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Blockout Banners

Blockout banners have the advantage of not letting light through, whereas frontlit and back lit media do. Blockout substrates are typically heavier and require an even smooth surface on both sides. These media are great for large double-sided event banners, lamp post applications and window display. Blockout banners usually cost more than other PVC banners due to their more complex construction. There is also the option of using a frontlit banner with a black back, which can be lighter than a standard Blockout banner. This can be especially useful when being used in outdoor event branding applications.

  • Blockout 610 GSM
  • Ultima Pro Eclipse 450 GSM (White / Black)

Print compatibility: UV, solvent, eco-solvent, latex

Mesh Banners

Mesh banners, due to their porous construction, have greater wind resistance than other banners and are popular choices for outdoor advertising in exposed conditions. Mesh banner material can be purchased in a variety of sizes, from 1 m width rolls up to 5 m or more.

  • Speaker Mesh 210 GSM
  • Strip Mesh 270 GSM
  • Mesh Pro 270 GSM
  • Mesh Supreme 3 305 GSM

Print compatibility: UV, solvent, eco-solvent, latex


Your choice of banner material is also influenced by the type of finish you need, largely depending on whether you need the banner for indoor or outdoor use.

Outdoor Banners

The standard finish is a tough PVC layer overlaying a heavy polyester scrim (woven fabric). For frontlit media, an additional finish of PVC is applied to the front side to enable a smooth print surface. Double sided Blockout banners benefit from an opaque liner in the middle with a heavy duty blockout vinyl on both sides, giving the material complete opacity. If you’re using a mesh PVC, then selecting the right material with appropriate durability is important. The wind loading of a Mesh PVC banner on a fence at ground level is much lower than a large banner on a stadium, venue or scaffolding

Indoor Banners

As viewing distances are often important then a banner with a smooth surface is desirable. The addition of a fire rating may be required. For free-standing banners you may require a PET material to prevent the edges of the banner curling when installed on a banner stand.

Mesh Banner

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Fire Safety

Fire safety is an extremely important consideration for both indoor and outdoor banners. Selecting a supplier that can offer fire rated Banner materials UEL offer a range of Banner PVC substrates that are B1 fire safety rated.

Stock & Availability

Your choice of banner may often be determined by the stock and availability your supplier holds of the required substrate. If your customer requires printing at short notice, supplier reliability becomes paramount. What stock do they hold of different substrates, and are they able to offer a viable plan B if your first choice is not available? The amount of stock a supplier holds is not the be all and end all, but it pays to verify a supplier’s material supply chain before you establish an ongoing relationship.

Stock and delivery bring our discussion away from physical banner material and onto considerations of supplier choice and customer service. In the next section we will introduce our way of working, how we are able to fulfil a wide spectrum of customer requirements and why you can depend on our range of banner substrates.

Working With Ultraflex Europe

At Ultraflex we are something of a veteran in the world of banner material suppliers. The business group of which Ultraflex Europe is a part, which includes our international headquarters in the USA and subsidiary branches in Mexico & China is the largest specialist digital print media supplier in the world. Our stock and experience ensure that you get the right material for the application on time, so you can concentrate on producing print that brings back your customers again and again.

Advantages Of Working With Us

Our market position, stock profile and level of industry expertise create a strong proposition for working with us as a supplier. We have one of the best ranges of PVC banner material of all manufacturers, and have established a reputation for quality with print businesses of all sizes around the world.

Most customers report consistent results over time, a lack of quality issues and ease-of-use for all our banner materials. Consistent quality gives our customers complete faith in working with our materials. We also place a great premium on customer satisfaction and service delivery, never losing focus on personalised, individual service.

The advantages of working with us can be summarised as:

  • High stock levels
  • Competitive prices
  • Sustainable product supply
  • Reliable quality
  • Fast turnaround
  • Low freight cost
  • Media that works with a wide range of profiles

Knowing that you can rely on a product reduces the risk of issues in production. We don’t expect customers to place trust in us on the strength of our word, but rather from the reliability of our service delivery and our available inventory on all orders.

We can advise on the most appropriate substrate for your project. We can supply material rapidly when a rush job comes in and we can help you find a solution when you don’t have time to hunt around.

PVC Banner Material Guide

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Contact Details

Ultraflex Europe Ltd (UK)
Tel: +44 (0) 1767 677100

If you are based outside Europe you may wish to contact our regional offices in New Jersey, USA or Zapopan, Mexico.

Ultraflex International Headquarters (USA)
Tel: +01 800-368-7858

Ultraflex Mexico
Tel: +55 3182-3632

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