Backyard Movie Screen




For a great summer night out, don't try to find a drive in movie.... Make your own!!

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Step 1: Cut Your Pieces

I have a pair of PVC cutters, but apparently they were designed for smaller pipe. With the 1 1/2 inch pipe, I found it was easiest to just use a hack saw and miter box.

You will need the following lengths (all in 1 1/2 inch, schedule 40, type 1 PVC):

  • 4 legs- 24 1/4 in.
  • 2 frame verticals- 63 1/4 in.
  • 2 frame horizontals- 110 3/4 in.
  • 2 'risers'- 9 1/4 in. (I used the leftovers from cutting the 10 ft. PVC down to make the horizontals)

You can make the dimensions whatever you like, though! This size fits my screen, which I made to be 16:9 widescreen.

You will also need the following PVC fittings (again, all 1 1/2 in.)

  • 4 knockout plugs
  • 2 90 degree elbows
  • 4 drain T's

Step 2: Assemble the Legs

To keep the frame easily transportable, it is important to NOT glue it completely together!

The different fittings I've glued together make it really easy to not only assemble with one person, but it stays together very well. (Mine is still up in the backyard from a movie last night :) )

  1. Glue 2 legs into a drain fitting
  2. Glue the knockout plugs into each end
  3. Set aside to dry!

Step 3: Assemble the Top Piece

By gluing the fittings in this way, the bungee cords that hold the screen to the frame will help hold everything together, while still making it easy to set up and tear down

  1. Glue the 90 degree elbows to the ends of a 110 3/4 frame horizontal piece
  2. MAKE SURE the elbows are in the same orientation before the glue sets!! (which is quick!)

Step 4: Assemble the Verticals

  1. Glue a drain T onto the bottom of each 63 1/4 in. vertical piece
    1. Make sure that both drain T's are in the same orientation
    2. I made mine curve upward (not the picture), so the frame has rounded 'edges' around the screen
  2. Glue the risers onto the bottom of the drain T
  3. That's the last of the gluing!

Step 5: Lay Out the Pieces and Assemble!

Lay out all the pieces to see how the frame goes together, then assemble!

  1. Connect the verticals into the top piece
  2. Fit the lower horizontal (only 'plain' pipe, nothing glued to it)
  3. Pop the legs on
  4. Lift the frame by the top pipe to stand it up!

Step 6: Make Your Screen

Since I am reusing a screen from a previous frame, I don't have photos for making the screen... But here's how to do it!

  1. Get your material- any large, white cloth will work (mine is actually an old table cloth!)
  2. Final screen size: 108 1/2 in. x 56 in.
    1. Allow an extra 2 1/4 in. around the edge, as you'll need to overlap the hem for the grommets
  3. Sew around the edges to finish your movie screen!

Step 7: Add the Grommets

The grommets allow for the screen to be easily attached to the frame. You will need:

  • 32 grommets: 3/8 in.
  • 36 canopy ties: 10 in. (the bungee loops with the plastic ball on one end)

Grommet placement wasn't an exact science... I measured them about 10 1/2 in. apart, but moved them a little to make them look even. Either way, these measurements will get you mostly there:

  • Along the top and bottom of the screen, place grommets at:
    • 1, 11 1/2, 22 1/4, 33 1/2, 44, 54 3/4, 65 1/4, 75 3/4, 86 1/2, 97, 107 1/2
  • Along the bottom, place grommets at:
    • 3/4 (in the top row) 10, 18 1/2, 28, 36 7/8, 46 1/2, 54 7/8 (in the bottom row)

I've included pics on how to put in the grommets, but there should be instructions with any grommet kit you buy

Step 8: Hang Your Screen!

I start hanging the screen by the corners, then go across the top, down the sides, then along the bottom.

But you can do it your way :)

The only spot you will need 2 canopy ties in 1 grommet will be at each corner. This keeps the screen in place best.

Step 9: Enjoy!

Adjust your projector and enjoy a good flick with friends!

1 Person Made This Project!


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25 Discussions


3 years ago

Any suggestions about screen material(s)? I also like the potential light weight. My application is for a swing out screen mounted near the corner of a large room. The screen would hinged on one end and swing out about 45° from the wall when in use, but lie flat against the wall when stored.

2 replies

Reply 3 years ago

Several years ago, I purchased some projection material from Carl's Place ( Excellent for a DIY project like this. [I also assembled a PVC pipe frame, but mine was designed to stand against a wall - I use it for teaching soccer referee clinics in facilities that don't have a screen available]


3 years ago

What is everyone using for a projector? Any recommendations?


3 years ago

Awesome. Just did this. Great project, takes a couple of hours.


3 years ago

great project!!!!!

for those looking for a screen material, I used a white bed sheet sewn to a black one. Instead of grommets I folded the edges over and sewed the length of each side leaving the ends open to slide the pic through. To help with the bending, I put a piece of rebar inside the pvc, I only used 1/2" pic as my set up is different, depending on your set up this could get a little heavy. You could also use metal electrical conduit inside the pvc to add rigidity.

Just a few thoughts

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

sorry should say slide the pvc through...gotta love auto correct


3 years ago

wonder how a white shower curtain, or a white poly propylene tarp would function. You could purchase a number of materials and try each one at night to see which one works best.

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

I tried the vinyl shower curtain liner with non-satisfactory results. It is too thin and not reflective enough to use with even a little ambient light.


3 years ago

This is fantastic ! It's practical with easilyu-obtainable materials and not too labour-intensive. Thanks !


3 years ago

Nice DIY movie screen! Adding a support beam across the middle would prevent sagging in the fabric.


3 years ago

Lips! Love that movie.

We generally project our neighborhood movies on to our 16' garage door because the wind we usually get in Kansas doesn't play nice with the PVC frame screens. However, after putting new siding on the house, the white garage doors look a little funny, so...... it may be a screen like yours after all! I will probably add some anchor points to stake it down for the wind. Great Instructable!! Thanks!

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

You could try weighing down the base by filling the bottom with sand, or other heavy stuff (If it's water tight, water? Sand's probably best)

You could also opt for larger pipes for the bottom pipes, and longer, to provide more weight and better leverage.

Depending on the wind you might need to stake it though.


3 years ago

Adding a vertical beam right in the middle will allow it to resist distortion caused by screen tension and frame will keep it's rectangular shape.

2 replies

Reply 3 years ago

Try white refllective.. Dense material.. Works best with low light lumens from projectors.


Reply 3 years ago

if you add two 45 degrees at the top and two the bottom to make the vertical support offset and inch or two, you would not want the center support to be in contact with the screen material.


3 years ago

Science fiction double feature!


3 years ago


Any suggestions / advice on a projector and sound equipment?

1 reply
Mark 42jfite

Reply 3 years ago

Yeah, I was wondering about affordable projection equipment too.

I still have my old Kodak Carousel slide projector.
Back in the day, I used to buy a new carousel for each set of slides... intended to buy a second projector so I could synchronize my slide shows.

I can remember the days when every missionary family had a good quality slide projector.


3 years ago

You could add a black border around the outside edge of the screen. This helps to reduce eye strain.
And to add extra strength to the frame, simply buy more pvc that is slightly smaller diameter than the original tubing. It should be a snug fit inside the larger PVC tubing, but will fit, and add extra support to prevent flexing