Definitely a common question these days...FOAM BOARD! is the simple answer.
What is foam board (aka foam core, foam core board)? it's this really cool stuff that is best explained by the experts, so I will refer you here. You can also look here, and here.
There are a gazillion options for your walls, and I have tried several different looks. I have used colored draping that I hung over the supplied walls or drapes using metal S hooks (lots of ironing involved, in my opinion they always looked a little too drapey and not quite sleek enough). I have used painted canvas that I equipped with silver grommets on the top edge for hanging, and again, although less drapey than drapes, still not easy to keep flat and smooth looking. So far, short of building custom walls out of wood, which I have never felt compelled to use (for a few very key reasons that I will mention below*) Foam board has been my best wall choice to date in terms of ease, expense and overall look.
*Wooden walls would be ideal for certain situations, using sheets of plywood or ie: super easy to paint, super easy to drill into (think shelves, hooks, anything really), however, for me, unless you live around the corner from where you will be exhibiting, or have a budget and can hire a carpenter/handyman/painter, delivery van and installer, well, you are likely not even reading this blog post, because you have an unlimited budget and all of the above staff on hand...if you do have the budget and staff on hand but are still here reading this blog post, first off, hi! and if you need a new booth concept and want to hire someone to do that part, call me now. (seriously).
So, back to foam board.
We use the large 4' x 8' sheets, so far, in white. You can buy black or white at most art stores or art supply companies and some offer custom colors or an array of colors that you can choose from. The price difference between the white and black and color is usually quite substantial, if you have the time during set up, Foam board can be painted using acrylic paint and a roller, so you could actually make it any color you want! Our supplier of choice, by far, is http://www.utrechtart.com/
I repeat! BY FAR! why? Not only do they deliver in a bunch of show cities, if they don't deliver, their customer service is so amazingly outstanding that once, in DC, they actually sent an employee with us to help us walk the many sheets of foam board to the convention center from their retail store (many blocks)...see why we love them? ...and guess what? that's not all, I have another amazing story to tell you about them a little later.
Factoid: Foam board is light and easy to move around and lift, 10 or 20 sheets together?, not so much, it gets heavy and rather awkward to maneuver.
Foam board will run you about $17 to $22 per sheet (4' x 8' sheet, or 48" x 96") the 2 thicknesses that you will usually find are 1/2" or 3/16th", we use the thinner 3/16th thickness and the prices here are for this thinner version. You can usually buy foam board in boxes of 25 sheets, you will see this online alot, but most places will sell it to you per/ sheet. http://www.utrechart.com/ will sell you the number of sheets you need, you do not need to buy a huge box. A great solution is also to call some other exhibitor friends and order together, this way you can share a box or a few boxes if necessary. Utrecht Art will deliver to the Javits Center usually for FREE, depending on which day you need it. For the gift fair, it's usually perfect for their Friday delivery and almost always arrives at around noon. We organize to have someone available to run out front and receive it- or a few people if the order is big. This door to door delivery in NYC is a trade show exhibitor's dream!!!! While we are ordering foam board, we usually order our flooring with Utrecht Art also, depending on what we are using, our last show, and this upcoming show, we used, and will be using a glossy mounting board for our flooring, it worked perfectly! More on the floor a little later...
Are you finding this information helpful? have I told you anything you didn't already know? are you looking forward to what's next? let me know, leave a comment.