Using a projector is one of the best ways to get high-quality imagery on a massive screen, but there are many other reasons to lose the tube and opt for projection. A DIY projector screen is the best way to view your media on your terms.
Whether you are building a home theater, providing outdoor entertainment, or bring your material to the office or classroom, there are many perks to making your own projection screen. In this article, we explore everything you need to know about making your own projector screen.
What Is a Projector Screen
A screen is a companion tool for a projector. A projector screen is an opaque solid surface a projector transmits pictures and film on to. The projector flashes and magnifies imagery from a distance onto the screen.
Movie theaters are the most commonplace we find projector screens. If you arrive before a movie, you might encounter before you a massive white or light gray rectangle. When the projector is on, the screen is a massive visual display.
School and Work
We also find projector screens in schools and in the office. Usually, these screens are much smaller. Sometimes they retract to roll in and out of sight. Other times, we attach them to a metal tripod for easy transport.
It’s becoming more common for people to bring the cinema experience into their homes with the use of projectors. Movie buffs can’t get enough of the spectacular visual articulation provided by a big screen.
Why Should I Make a Projector Screen
When projecting your favorite movies, video games, photos, or presentations on the wall, it’s essential to have an adequate background for the picture rest upon. Without a good background, the picture quality becomes distorted, and this will impact the viewing experience.
1. Free Wall, Free Screen
Some people find clean, smooth, white, or light gray walls in their home with enough space to project onto. This option works well if you have the walls for it. If you are like so many people who don’t have this wall space, you must buy or make a DIY projector screen.
2. Store-Bought Projection Screen
Other people prefer to go pro and use readymade projector screens. There are thousands of options available for purchase. Smaller projector screens like those wheeled into a classroom are often affordable to buy from a store, but home cinema-sized screens are often expensive. It’s common to pay $500 or more for large projection screens.
3. DIY Projector Screen Benefits
If you don’t have the wall space and don’t want to spend money on a screen to use your projector, there are many benefits for building your own projector screen.
Building your own projector screen means that you get to pick the screen dimensions, materials, and appearance. Customization allows you to take charge and decide every element of its construction.
If you know that you want to watch projections both indoors and outdoors, you can build an easily transportable screen. Some options for secure transport include folding functions or even wheels.
If you don’t want to mount your projection screen permanently, you can build it to accommodate the storage space you already have. Knowing the exact amount of space you have for stowing your screen can factor into the building dimensions.
Some people build their own projection screens to integrate the screen into their space in a way that conceals it from regular view.
In most cases, building your projector screen will dramatically reduce the overall cost. Even with large home theater setups, you can expect to pay less than half for your DIY screen than you would for the grab and go variety.
DIY Project Screen—Here’s How
Now that you’ve decided to build a DIY projector screen, there are some critical decisions, materials, and components you’ll decide on.
Before gathering any supplies or tools, first, determine where you’ll use your screen. If you think you’ll move the screen, take that into your planning considerations.
Measure the Space
Once you’ve determined your location, you can collect essential measurements for your space. Make notes of all the measurements to ensure that you have enough material when you build. This will also make sure that the screen fits appropriately.
Projector Screen Mechanisms
Now, the fun part begins. Start with the mechanism of your screen. Will you choose a pull-down screen for manual use or do you prefer a motorized projector screen? Will you affix your screen to a tripod or will you mount it on the wall or ceiling?
If you are opting for a fixed frame projection screen, what aspect ratio will you choose? Will you go for the classic fixed frame or the more modern curved fix frame?
Projector Screen Fabrics
Once you have a clear idea about the screen location, frame, and set up, you can investigate the most critical part of the DIY projector screen—the projection fabric.
Projection fabric is where your image will project. Take some time to nail down your picture quality expectations here. If building a home theater, you might opt for higher quality projection fabric than if you are making a screen for infrequent use in a classroom. Below are some projection screen fabric options to consider.
Color is another factor when building your screen. Some people swear by white for projection while others claim light grey provides higher contrast in the picture quality of the screening. Ultimately, the decision is yours when deciding on your projection cloth color.
When buying your projection fabric, always buy a single piece of fabric. Unsightly sewing seams distort projected images. As a rule of thumb, make sure you have at least a four-inch buffer on all sides of your fabric. You need some space to work with when attaching the material to the frame.
Black Out Cloth
Blackout cloth is an excellent budget option for screen material. It is sold inexpensively in most fabric stores. On one side it appears as a poly-cotton blend and on the other like wax or plastic. Buy the fabric in an opaque white or light gray material for best results on your screen. This fabric usually comes in white, but if you find gray, it is also suitable.
4K Projection Screen Fabric
If you want to go big, look into buying professional-grade 4K projection screen material. It’s the same material used in movie theaters. It’ll prevent light spill and glares and help bring your projections to life on the screen.
How you’ll mount your screen dictates the equipment you’ll need. Mounting kits, tripods, and screen mechanisms for projection screens are available from various online retailers.
DIY Projector Screen Instructions
For this tutorial, we will teach you how to make a quick and easy, fully mountable, 6 foot by 3 foot 2.39:1 wide-screen cinema projector screen on a budget. You can pull off this DIY projector screen, even if you’ve built nothing before.
If you want to go for a more professional appeal, apply a half-inch dark black border tape to the edges for increased contrast.
To mount your projection screen, gather the wall mounting kit of your choice. This projection screen weighs no more than the average oil painting, so you can even opt to use artwork wall mounting fixtures.
- Staple gun
- Projector Fabric
- Measuring tape
- L and T brackets
- Drill bits smaller than bracket screws
- Four wooden beams 3″ by 1″
- Border Tape (optional)
- Mounting kit (optional)
- Using a saw, cut two beams in half so that each piece measures three feet in length.
- Lay two six-foot beams on a flat surface three feet parallel to one other.
- Lay two three-foot beams near the six-foot beams to form a rectangle.
- Place one three-foot beam in the center of the frame.
- Connect the center three-foot beam to both six-foot beams using T brackets.
- Prime the hole with a drill small drill bit before screwing to prevent splintering the wood.
- Connect the outer two three-foot beams using L brackets.
- Once everything is screwed in tightly, you have your projector screen frame.
Attaching the Screen Fabric
- Clear a clean, flat surface on the ground.
- Lay the screen fabric on the ground flat.
- Place the frame on top of the screen.
- Carefully align the frame so that the borders are equal on all sides.
- Using a staple gun, staple the fabric edge to the top of the frame in one spot.
- Move to the bottom of the frame directly below the first staple and pull the fabric tight.
- Press in the second staple in the bottom position.
Using a back and forth from top-to-bottom motion, continue stapling the fabric to the frame. Staples should be as close together as possible. Pull the fabric tight continuously before stapling it to prevent buckling.
No matter which type of projection screen you build, making a DIY projector screen is a fast and easy way to bring an extra visual dimension to your home, office, or outdoor space. With a little planning, you can break free from the limitations of television with your own flair.