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DIY Home Theater Screen in 10 Steps

Picture of DIY Home Theater Screen in 10 Steps
Building your own screen for a home theater protector can give you an excellent picture and still save you dollars you can put towards the projector or your sound system. It also allows you to have any custom size screen that your situation might call for.
 
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Step 1: Determine the size

While not really part of the building process, I thought I'd start here since it can take a fair amount of thought and can greatly influence the building materials you use. If you're looking at making a screen, you're already under a certain set of constraints like the size of picture your projector can throw. This of course is a factor of where your projector is located, its zoom range, your room layout and so on. You should also consider your seating distance, and how that impacts viewing angle and pixel visibility. Then you need to consider the aspect ratio of the screen (4:3, 16:9, 2.35:1). There's a bunch of great web pages on choosing a screen size, so I won't go into all that.

What I will point out is that you want to consider your building materials as you pick a screen size. Lumber and paneling is easiest to get in 8' lengths and king size sheets are only good for about 100" wide. Given the building material factors I sized down from an initial 100" wide to 96" wide. That's still 110" diag for a 16:9 screen so it's plenty large. Not only that, but the trim around the frame will add about 5" to the width, leaving me with just a couple of inches of width left on each side in my space.
salmander6 months ago
When I built my screen, I started with a 4x8 sheet of what is called "form ply" or Medium Density Overlay plywood. It is an exterior plywood that has a layer of resin-impregnated paper on one or both sides; used to make roadsigns or reusable concrete forms. It would mean that you would then have the backer board required for stiffness, but not need the bed sheet. Would save about $40 off your materials cost. Projector Central recommended an untinted white semi-closs as the best choice for paint (much cheaper than the Silver Screen), and I used a short-nap roller like you did, sanding between coats. The screen size is 2.00:1, but you could trim it to be 16:9 if you wanted to. The MDO is best at 3/4" thickness (doesn't even need a frame), but I used 3/8" with a dadoed 2x3 frame all around for less weight. Bonus: I can mount it outside for our backyard movies because it is weather-resistant! (The photo is my daughter's "drive-in movie" birthday party.)
IMG_8399.jpg
cavit8 salmander2 months ago

Nice idea. You'd be constrained to a 48" vertical height but it would be handy for a portable screen as you've said.

nickels1 year ago
I'll be making my screen next week. I am a little confused on how you connect the trim to the frame (step 12). Any chance you can give a few more details on the size of the L brackets, how many you used, and how you attached them to the screen? Thanks!
flaming_pele! (author)  nickels1 year ago
There's certainly room to improvise when you get to this point, but here's what I did: I think I was unhappy with using just a few brackets in 6-8 locations - the trim didn't hug the screen well enough all around - so I actually ended up using lengths of L-shaped molding (i.e. wood trim). I screwed the molding to the screen edge (through the wrapped fabric), then attached the facing trim to that.
screen-trim1.png
flaming_pele! (author)  flaming_pele!1 year ago
Here's a look edge-on from the side of how it came together.
screen-trim2.png
Very crisp and clean.... My wife and I are looking into doing the same project. My mother-in-law goes to goodwill all the time and gives us these really big picture frames with glass. Instead of hurting her feelings and throwing them out, i was wondering that since the glass is a very flat surface with no imperfections. Can't I just paint over that with behr silver screen paint?........any feedback would be great


Thanks
flaming_pele! (author)  lance_spikes2 years ago
Sounds like it's worth a shot! You'll save yourself a lot of effort of (not) building the frame and stretching the fabric if you like the result.

I think the glass might actually be too smooth, though. The texture of fabric (even it feels smooth) has a nice quality when light hits it. The painted glass may show more of a hotspot (bright spot) effect - especially if your projector is prone to uneven brightness. Then again, if you apply the paint with a fine nap roller, it might give it the right amount of texture to prevent too harsh a reflection.

Good luck and good viewing!
docrings3 years ago
Nice DIY write-up... I'll be using your tips when I build my screen next Summer upon my return from military service overseas... Cheers! Doc Rings Okinawa
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