Tumor metastasis involves a progressive loss of tissue architecture and dissolution of structural boundaries between the epithelium and connective tissue. The basement membrane (BM), a specialized network of extracellular matrix proteins forms a barrier that physically restricts pre-invasive lesions such that they remain as local insults. The BM is not a static structure, but one that is constantly regenerated and remodeled in the adult organism. Matrix organization also regulates cell function. Thus alterations in the balance of synthesis, remodeling and proteolytic degradation of the extracellular matrix proteins may contribute to a loss of structural integrity. However, the de novo assembly and maintenance of the complex structural properties of in vivo basement membranes remain elusive. Here, this paper highlights the current understanding on the structural properties and the establishment of the BM, and discusses the potential role of self-generated forces in adult tissue remodeling and the maintenance of the BM as a malignancy suppressor.