custom step and repeat banner

Vinyl vs. Fabric: Custom Step and Repeat Banner Comparison

Step and repeat banners provide an undeniable sense of class and professionalism to an event. You can have even greater control over the impression they make by carefully considering whether you want a vinyl or a fabric product.

The material you choose for your custom step and repeat banner will have huge consequences for the product’s usability and the amount of value you get out of your investment. To help you make a smart choice that complements your priorities, consider the following buying criteria and each material’s pros and cons within them:


Vinyl backdrop banners are hugely popular for many reasons, but the main one is their affordability. The invention of digital-based graphics printing transformed the sign-making world, offering organizations of all sizes access to graphics that could be made quickly relative to the labor-intensive and often expensive process of hand-painting signs.

Vinyl step and repeat banners are available in a variety of material weights, finishes, plasticizer types and inner mesh weaves (scrim). Even the best vinyl plasticizers will eventually migrate out of the material, allowing it to fade and crack usually between one to three years. Fabric step and repeat backdrops do not have this issue, making them last far longer for repeated uses.

So when thinking about price, also consider if the material type you purchase can last your intended lifespan and provide the visual quality you need for your project goals.

Production Time

Fabric step and repeat banners take longer to cut, hem and dye, with the typical printing process completed within a few days, or a week, depending on the intricacy of the banner. Vinyl screenings can be performed much quicker, with some signs being ready to print and ship within 24 hours.

Image Quality

Most vinyl signs are screen-printed, and most fabrics are printed using a process called dye sublimation.

Screen printing allows for sharp, bold graphics that typically look great at a distance. However, the plastic-like finish of most vinyl products can make graphics look blurry or bleed-y, even if they are actually quite defined.

Dye sublimation has the opposite set of qualities: graphics are softer but allow for a greater range in colors, creating a richness that vinyl-screened hues may lack. Lettering, logos and other graphics can come across much more professional-looking.

Also of note: vinyl step and repeat backdrops can often have issues with light and camera flash glare, making fabric step and repeat products better for press events.

Outdoor Use

Vinyl products are waterproof, and with the right scrim, they can be windproof. Their heavier weight and stiffness also resists drifting or billowing, something even heavy fabrics may have issues with. Fabric step and repeats will not become damaged by rain, but soaked fabrics lose a lot of their visibility as the material darkens and becomes translucent.

For these reasons, vinyl materials are typically recommended for outdoor applications.

Storage and Transport

Fabric materials offer a huge advantage regarding how they can be stored and moved. They fold up like a flag and are lightweight, allowing them to be carried in a small tote. Unlike vinyl, they do not permanently wrinkle and can be quickly ironed before an event.

Vinyl materials will often be much heavier, weighing several pounds for an 8’ x 10’ backdrop. Because the material can retain wrinkles, rolling vinyl up is the best way to store and transport it. Just imagine trying to tuck an eight foot long, seven-pound roll into your vehicle when considering taking a vinyl backdrop on the road.

Verdict: Which Custom Step and Repeat Banner to Buy?

As you may have guessed, the material you choose will vary based on your situation.

Vinyl step and repeat backdrop products may be better for:

  • Events without much flash photography
  • Upcoming events where a quick, cheap solution is needed
  • Outdoor events
  • Events without much travel distance
  • One-time or limited repeated use

Fabric step and repeat backdrops may be better for:

  • Events with significant press coverage or bright lights
  • Events you have time to plan ahead for
  • Times where quality matters over price
  • Traveling events like trade shows, tours
  • Anyone concerned with storage
  • Long-term repeated use

Get the exact product you need for custom step and repeat banner printing in Phoenix by contacting AZ Banners. We will help you decide whether vinyl or fabric is the right material for you and advise on which type of fabric or vinyl matches your intended use. With fast printing, expert design consulting and shipping anywhere in the U.S., we are your best choice for custom banners and step and repeat backdrops.


Contact the step and repeat banner experts at AZ Banners to get started today! Request a quote online or call 480-718-0544 now!

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