Instructables
Picture of Home Theater Projector Screen on a Budget
If you want to make a good looking, good quality projector screen and you don't want to spend a lot, this is one good way to do it. My total cost for the screen was around $50. I didn't add it up exactly. I got some of my ideas from other instructables and some ideas from AV forums. I wanted to find an article just like this, but it wasn't here, so I decided to post this. I learned little nuggets of wisdom along the way that I will share with you. Feel free to share alterations that you made. I shared my particular measurements throughout as an example. Yours will likely vary, but you can use the same basic principles.
 
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Step 1: Preperation

Before getting started, here's a list of supplies you'll be using:

Tape
Staple Gun, Staples
Wood Glue
Hammer
Measuring Tape
Pieces of 1"x3" Poplar (you'll get the measurements in the instructions)
1" pieces of plastic trim
Paint Roller, Paint Pan
Primer Paint
Paint for the Top Coat
Sandpaper
Chalk
Drywall Anchors
Screws with O-rings
Screws with Hooks



Here we go...
1. Install the projector where it will be

2. Measure hight & width of the screen while the projector is on (mine was 45x102.5).

3. Pick your paint:

For the higher end, you can use screen goo - http://www.goosystems.com/index.php
http://www.theaterthings.com/
There's plenty of info about that product at those sites. I plan to use that some day (when I get more Christmas money). It sounds like a great solution.

If you want to be cheaper, like me, for now, you can select a normal paint.

--at this point I should mention that I found Home Depot more useful than Lowes for several things in this project - 1. they carry Behr brand paint and 2. they cut pieces of wood to length and sell it by the foot--

I went to Home Depot and picked several paint chips from white to light grey. Some AV forums suggested Behr 'Silver Screen" paint (770E-2). This is what I ended up using. When you have grey, it appears to be a better contrast ratio than white does. Also, I used a matte finish because it's less reflective and that's what you want.

So, I suggest picking up several different shades (make Silver Screen one of the options) and get a small stack of each individual color. When you get home, tape all of the chips of one color together so that it makes a square that is about 2-3 square feet in area.

Slap them up on the projector wall. I used painters tape as an adhesive so that it wouldn't mess up the walls. Now, watch part of a movie. Find one with good colors and sections with good blacks. Do your best not to compare the white to the greys, because you may think, "Oh, the white looks better compared to the grey." but remember that when the whole screen is one color you won't notice that. The white may have 'popped' better in my test, but I think I'm better off with the grey (because of contrast ratio). With the black border (very important & addressed later) it looks great.
vushan1 year ago
great instruct
MaskMarvl1 year ago
Looks awesome... Great job! :)
john1712 years ago
Excellent step by step tutorial, and very nice finished project.
How did you build/mount the skirt, and did you use drapery rods for the curtains. Thanks, and again very nice!
tracydanger (author)  john1712 years ago
If memory serves, I simply stapled the skirt to the back side of the screen. Thanks for your comments.
... 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
that could work you could put screen goo on insteed
behan3 years ago
This is exactly what I was searching for, Thanks very much for the excellent tutorial, Your time and effort is going to save me about £150 and for that I am extremely grateful, Thank you very much sir
colorex3 years ago
Yeahhh! The Matrix!
THIS IS A WICKED Instructable!!! Im looking to build a screen for my catering hall and this design works AWESOME!!!!! I can even hang it from the stage and simply pull it back up to the ceiling to store it away when not using it! THANKS SO MUCH FO RTHE IDEAS!!!!!!!
milesduggan4 years ago
 This is exactly what I needed to see! Thank you so much for taking the time to post such an in depth step by step diy screen project! I am going to build mine next week and post a few pics, giving you credit of course! Stay diy!
hms10185 years ago
I really like this idea. please let me know what instructions will go with these specs:

  • Projection Medium: LCD (3.5 Inch Panel)
    • Contrast: 500:1
    • Brightness: 1000 ANSI Lumens
    • Resolution: 640x480
    • Audio Output: 2W x 2
    • Lamp Power: 175W
    • Display Mode: 4:3, 16:9
    • Optic Properties:
Lens: Manual Focusing
Projection Distance: 1.0-5.0 Metres
Projection Size: 30-150 Inches (Diagonal)
  • TV Tuner Properties:
- Color System: PAL/NTSC
- Frequency Bands: VHF-L, VHF-H, UHF
- Antenna Impedance: 75 Ohm
  • Inputs: Composite, S Video, VGA, Computer Audio, Audio In, TV Antenna In
  • Outputs: Audio Out
  • Power Source: 110V AC
  • Dimension: 320x250x110mm (L x W x H)
  • Manufacturer Ref.: RLK3Z842H956
tracydanger (author)  hms10185 years ago
I'm not exactly sure what you're asking. There's a section in the instructable that talks about projecting an image onto your wall so that you can measure the size that your screen needs to be. You must decide what aspect ratio you want to go with. I like the ratio they use for movies like Starwars & Matrix. So pick a movie, project it onto the wall and then measure. I explain how to calculate the cutting measurements in the instructions. Every projector and room situation is different.
That's exactly what I was looking for. Thanks
pyroxp75 years ago
Wow! This is extremely nice! I i"m gonna try this!
tracydanger (author)  pyroxp75 years ago
Thanks. Let me know if you have any questions. (I'm actually getting ready to upgrade my projector since I got enough gift $$ for Chirstmas. I may post a comment about how I picked one out. A friend gave me some good resources.)
bFusion5 years ago
My wall is a very similar to yours, and I have been meaning to make a screen for quite some time. My issue is that I would have to assemble this in my basement and essentially have to break it apart if I ever plan on moving. I would just paint the wall, but I don't want to paint it again when i move. One thing I'm planning on trying is getting a good fabric and weight the bottom so it's taut and just hang that... that way I can roll it up when not in use. I should take some measurements of my basement stairway to see if I can manage this though, this looks really nice.
tracydanger (author)  bFusion5 years ago
Actually, this screen is very thin & short (from the side - i.e. about an inch thick or less & only the height of the screen), so it's incredibly easy to get through doors or up stairs (and lightweight). If you made one like the one I made, there would be no issues having it in the basement and then moving it out when needed. When I first put it up, I was taking it off the wall & storing it in a back room, but since that area is pretty much only used for a home theater now, I just leave it up all the time.
The issue I have isn't with thickness, it's with sheer size. My projector currently displays about a 110" screen in my basement. I don't think I'll be able to physically move it in and out of there since my house is older and the stairs are fairly steep. It's good to know about how thin it is though, if nothing else I can make it "breakable" so when I do actually move I can preserve the painted fabric and just rebuild the frame... that is, if the painted fabric would fold/roll well without chopping.
tracydanger (author)  bFusion5 years ago
Good luck. Enjoy.
keppoch6 years ago
Wow! This was a particularly well done Instructable. The extra detail you went into takes into account the various skill sets of the viewers. What comes quite naturally to some simply leaves others in the dark ( without a screen). Quite simply an excellent addition to a surpurb resource for the 'do-it-your-self' builder'! - You have the gift of teaching. -
Hi there! Great instructable! I was just wondering; what projector did you use? The image is amazing. If you can't give me a name, can you maybe give me the brand, resolution, aspect ratio and display technology? or whatever information you can? Thanks in advance.
Ah, thanks I will be seeing into it then.
Actually, the image is not amazing. The picture is deceiving. The projector is an old beast (large) - a SharpVision XG-E1000UB. It used to be in our church's auditorium and was replaced by something more up-to-date and since it was not being used, it was given to me. So, for a free projector, yes, it is great, but you can easily see pixels if you're looking for them. It's basically obsolete and I would recommend getting something else. I hope to use birthday & Christmas money to upgrade to something that's at least 720p. I know I'm gonna keep an eye out for Black Friday specials right after Thanksgiving. By the way, the aspect ratio on this projector is simply 4x3 and movies watched in letter box are projected in such a way that the black bars bleed above and below the screen. The black borders help minimize their impact. Hope that was all helpful.
jcdj6 years ago
i made one of these, im not geting enough light from the over head, i wuz wondering if i could just replace it with a worklapmp bulb (thats REALY bright) would that break or melt anything inside, because it will be left on for hours?
angelwill266 years ago
Would love to see your instructable on the speakers, I'm looking to do something like that. How did you get the wires fed through the holes and down to the base board??? Thanks
Yeah, i just bought a cheep projector from ebay (im 16) and i was wondering if any one knows, does all projectors have a 4:3 and a 16:9 setting? it is an dell 1100mp. I only paid 280 with 123 hours on bulb... so i think its a good deal also
tracydanger (author)  poolshark1620066 years ago
I know not all projectors have those two settings (because mine doesn't), but maybe all newer ones do - I'd expect any newer projector to have those options. I've actually been wondering if any projectors have other preset ratios since there's plenty of movies & TV shows that have disparate aspect ratios (it's kinda annoying to have to readjust the zoom all the time. I wish it could be a 'click of the button' thing).
ok thanks, i want to build a screen for my projector before it gets here (got of ebay) so it will be all ready, but im pretty sure that it said on the Dells website that it has the 16:9... well i hope it does cause im building it tomarrow!..
DIY Dave6 years ago
Looks nice in the light and in the dark.
mel45766 years ago
Cool post, I think that is a pretty creative idea!

Home Theater
that theater is awesome (I'm really jealous!!!!) obviously but now know I love star wars as well (profile icon)
slimguy3796 years ago
Great, I just went to walmart picked up 3 yards of clothe for $3, built the frame out of left over lumber, and am presently in the process of hanging it. but this is an awesome project. and Mel4576 I've got stained beautiful hard wood where my projection is (no other place to project on) and wouldn't ruin the beautiful wood!! so in some conditions is type of "oversized canvas" is needed keep up the great work Tracydander, ROCK ON!!!!!!!!!!
Sorry I accidentally put Mel4576, instead of cpotoso, sorry Mel4576
carlos66ba6 years ago
How about just projecting on a white wall? It works pretty well for me (I have a home theater that way and I am quite satisfied with it). Total cost: 1 can of paint. Total time: about 10'.
bhunter7366 years ago
Excellent! To keep your shopping together, you could use drop cloth from Home Depot, it is a canvas material and comes in many sizes. It will cost more though. I think a small one, about right for this project is about $15. Also, I have thought about using a polystyrene insulation sheet. They are only a few dollars and come in 4 foot by 8 foot sheets, plain white on one side and can stand up on their own. All this and a whole sheet only weighs about 3 pounds. It might be hard to paint, it is a smooth plastic coated surface.
tracydanger (author)  bhunter7366 years ago
I actually thought about using a canvas material/drop cloth from Home Depot and decided against it. 1. I ended up spending less, 2. I feel like the material I got was better (smoother and stiffer) and 3. I could buy a custom length.

Not a bad idea though, especially if the drop cloth comes in a size close to your particular measurements.

Polystyrene would be a cheap, very quick way to get a screen - paint free. At our church, we have a coffee house kinda thing with a band and we have a projector that projects onto polystyrene and it looks just fine (not to the videophile I imagine). Here's a link to the set up when it's not using the projector: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8490405@N08/566295643/sizes/l/
Cool! Really cool! If I get a projector, then I'll plug in Guitar Hero... and guitar hero my way to victory on the big screeeeeeeeeennnn! Nice job!