The following is some great information about the various types of restrictions and requirements which may be necessary for your show.
Not all cities or venues have the same requirements so be sure to check your show manual well in advance. We will help you find the information and we will go over it with you to make sure everyone has a clear understanding of the show.
1. Space and height limitations.
Double-deck exhibits usually require a minimum footprint of 20-by-20 feet, and at least a 20-foot clear height (the vertical distance from the floor to the lowest underside point of the venue ceiling). Plus, most shows have maximum height restrictions based on booth size. For example, oftentimes an in-line booth space will have a maximum height restriction of 8 feet, and booths around the perimeter of the show hall are sometimes limited to 12 feet in height. Island and peninsula booths will also have some height restrictions, usually anywhere from 16- to 30-foot maximums.
So before you purchase a double deck, examine the floor plans along with the venue heights of the shows in which you typically exhibit. The ceiling levels of some venues are too low to even house a double-deck structure. Plus, since ceiling heights can vary within a venue (Houston and Las Vegas venues are famous for this), the ceiling-height restrictions for individual booth spaces can vary dramatically at the same show.
2. Structural safety and stability.
One of the most basic structural and safety concerns that your double deck has to meet involves weight capacity. You must ensure that the structure can handle the load you intend to accommodate. For example, do you plan to host 10 people at a time in an upper-level conference room, or might there be as many as 30 people on that upper deck at once?
A typical engineering requirement for these structures is that they must withstand 100 to 125 pounds of weight per square foot. While most systems easily meet this requirement, you’ll want to ensure that your double-deck provider understands the maximum number of people you intend to house on that upper level – and that the system is built to accommodate that load capacity.
The number of stairways required is another capacity-specific figure. You’ll usually need two stairways if you plan to have 10 people or more on the deck at one time, and some show halls require you to install a second staircase for any double decks that are 300 square feet or more.
Clearly, there are a number of safety and stability requirements for any double-deck structure. The key to meeting them is to maintain an open dialogue with the engineers constructing your system and to ensure they fully understand how you plan to use your structure.
3. Show regulations.
Many shows welcome the use of double-deck exhibits, but for safety and liability concerns, they include several restrictions for them. For example, in San Francisco and several cities in the Pacific Northwest, the deck has to meet local earthquake codes. In San Diego and Los Angeles, the fire marshal reserves the right to do a flame test to any exposed surface on the show floor (which means he or she can literally hold a flame to the material, and it must not combust within a 30-second exposure). In Orlando, FL, show authorities sometimes go so far as to measure railing gaps and guardrail heights during setup to make sure that your construction matches the submitted drawings.
Since no industry standard exists for double decks, exhibitors (or their suppliers) must investigate the double-deck regulations for each show they attend. Again, if you have a reliable double-deck provider, it’ll do this legwork for you. But it’s always in your best interest to develop a broad understanding of what is required. Some of the more common show-regulation stipulations you’ll run into are: mandatory guard-rail heights of 42 inches, a stair-width minimum of 3 feet, and the placement of fire extinguishers and smoke detectors in specified locations.
4. Local-area regulations.
In most locales, such as Clark County, NV (Las Vegas), Orange County, FL (Orlando), and Cook County, IL (Chicago), local building and fire codes require that double-deck systems meet or exceed the standard for all temporary structures. Each state and often each city and/or county has its own rules, to the point that some states require state-specific structural engineering stamps, and others mandate that exhibitors hire a 24-hour fire-watch official to stand in the exhibit.
Again, your exhibit provider should be held accountable for adhering to these codes. But the exhibitor manual generally doesn’t include all of the local requirements. It’s your provider’s job to seek out local codes and regulations with each venue, county, city, and state in which you plan to exhibit.
5. Fire safety/ADA requirements.
Double-deck structures may require fire-suppression systems and/or smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. These requirements are based mostly on size. In many cities, any structure larger than 1,000 square feet will require a sprinkler system. However, in some cities, such as Las Vegas, you can bypass this rule with a fire break (i.e., a bridge structure between double-deck sections) – thereby eliminating the need for sprinklers. This bridge concept works great for very large decks of more than 1,000 square feet, allowing you to design the segments so no contiguous unit is more than 1,000 square feet. And you cannot cover the top of a second story, as water from the venue sprinklers needs to be able to reach the whole structure.
In addition, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is often a concern for double decks, as there is very little written about trade show-related mandates. If you want to err on the side of caution, then consider an upper deck a public environment. In this case, you should either: a) offer ramps or elevators to the second level, or b) ensure that whatever is offered or available on the second floor is also available on the first floor.
While it seems like there are numerous stipulations involved with double-deck structures, a reputable provider can help you sidestep any issues associated with them. After all, when it comes to attracting attention and making use of the vertical space in your booth, a double deck is definitely doubly effective.