A Fifty-dollar Projection Screen You Can Be Proud Of

[Lou] wrote in to share the fifty-dollar projection screen he built in his home. We’ve seen several of these projects lately. Unlike the one used at a lake cabin, or the other that fills an awkward alcove, this version doesn’t use fabric for the screen. He actually painted it right on the wall.

The key to achieving a great end product is to make sure your wall is flat. [Lou’s] instructional video (embedded after the break) shows how to patch holes in the wall, and repair high spots. Before beginning the process he uses his projector’s grid feature to map out the portion of the wall that will be used as a viewing area (that’s the grid seen on the screen above). Once the area has been marked with masking tape and carefully repaired he paints it with bright white or silver paint. You might also consider a paint additive for better results. We’ve seen sand blasting beads used for this purpose.

A frame is added to the area to make it look like a proper screen. This is nothing more than molding covered in black fabric. [Lou] stretches the fabric around the molding, using duct tape to hold it in place until it can be stapled down.

31 thoughts on “A Fifty-dollar Projection Screen You Can Be Proud Of

  1. My church recently added a new audio/video system, for the benefit of the elderly and hard of hearing. While we did not go to quite the level of detail as this guy, we did paint the screens for our projectors onto the wall instead of buying fabric screens.

    1. Yeah, it looks it.

      I’m pleasantly surprised … I honestly wouldn’t have thought off the shelf white wall paint applied with a roller would provide such a sharp and consistent reflection!

      Kudos to the guy.

  2. I hate to be mean but typos? Title should be ‘projection’ screen not ‘project’. Last sentence of first paragraph, he actual(ly) pain(t)ed it on the wall? That’s dedication to the cause. Sand plasting beads should be sand blasting beads. Other than that, neat! The more write-ups of these screens around the higher the chances I’ll add one to my next home :P

    1. Before your start to critique other peoples posts with pedantry misnomers, check your own grammar and sentence constructions. I would take the time to pick them out, but I’ve got better things to do. Ciao

  3. Clicking on the first link in the article I get a page saying “This Connection is Untrusted”, what’s going on there?

    Also I discovered browsing the comments on this site with a touchscreen device makes it all too easy to accidentally press the “report comment” button when swiping the screen to scroll up/down, I accidentally pressed it on two comments a few minutes ago, oops!
    Shouldn’t the report comment function be a two-tier system where you have to confirm you’re reporting the comment like most sites?

      1. I agree with Dave, honestly it seems that all of his posts have spelling mistakes. It’s like he purposely does it.

        This is the 21st century (no, not the insurance company), we have spell check! Use it!

      2. @Willy: Dave had a point, but he lost his grip on it when he took the comment personal (“My 7 year old (…) Your mom must be so proud”). That’s what I’m objecting to.

        Effective communication means addressing the issue without throwing in abusive comments.

  4. A little editorial effort will result in an infinitely better experience. As others have pointed out, there are numerous typos in the a summary and title.

    Poor spelling leads one to believe you have little regard for your position and gives an overall impression you are a dunce.

    Poor grammar is generally accepted as long as the reader believes you know the meaning of the words you use, however there does seem to be a knee point where intelligibility is impaired.

    You may be an incredibly intelligent and bright person, but unfortunately the world will judge you by your words, it is important that you take more care in your posts.

    Readers do not expect New York Times editorial skill, however they do expect more than has been demonstrated.

  5. Before you build, look online. I bought a cinema grey 82″ powered 16:9 screen for $40.00 shipped and it’s new in the box. did not have the controller but two relays fixed that.

    there is SO MUCH surplus in screens out there you are better off buying than building.

      1. Yeah, you really wanna’ look around first. I got my powered Da-Lite screen for $100.00 from the classifieds.

        When I rolled it down all the way I was surprised to see a Horizontal seam, and another screen.

        It might have been a custom order screen from da-lite, I’m not sure. I cut it on the seam, and re-worked it. Now I have two screens, motorized and hanging 142″ theaters baby!

  6. My projection room has white walls. I have always just shot onto the wall with no screen or special paint. Ten years ago the projectors were just barely bright enough to pull this off with blackout blinds etc. Thew newer projectors have many lumens to spare though. Whenever someone “new” comes over to watch a movie, they usually ask “where is the TV?”, as the couch faces the entertainment center, and above it is a blank wall where most people expect the TV to be. The projector is ceiling mounted and not terribly noticeable, even the contractor who installed my U-Verse didn’t spot it till I turned it on.

  7. Get a DIY GF!

    We did our entire 1920’s apartment from the ground up, and she did all the picky work. Professionals still boggle at the quality of our work. (Except for IT pros, who can’t swallow my poor CAT6A implementation.. but it works)

    Pix or it didn’t happen: Extreme DIY 2009/2010

    You can use artificial moulding for this (just paint it and glue it on the wall): e.g. Imperial moulding. I’m gonna show her this project, maybe it’s time to re-do our livingroom :D

  8. not sure if it would be better, but there are additives for paint, microspheres, or radiant or thermal barrier, that would be more expensive, but may give better results than blast media, and its considered “nano-tech” and that just sounds cool. they can be purchased in dry form and are made to add to paints, will flow better than blasting media. not sure if they would work any better, or at all, as they are primarily an insulator, but do add reflective properties. neat project, looks really nice.

  9. Not to be a negative Nancy because this is a good DIY project but I’ve built my own already and there are a few different ways you may want to go about this.
    1) If you own a home like I do you may not want to go this route. I used some drywall with 3 equally spaces horizontal stand offs (3″x1″) so I could pick up a couple studs I then mounted some 10′ sheets of drywall to that, cutting off the extra and matching my screens ratio and added about 4″ on all sides for the felt. I then used joint tape and joint compound and feathered it out at least 12″ out. This took maybe 4 applications followed by sanding. It was annoying but worth it in the end. This way, if I ever sell the house I just have to take it down and fill in some screw holes.

    2) There is actually a little better way of doing this if you are going to do it on the wall like this. Do like the video, but then tape off the area a few layers thick with tape. Go high enough to get over the texture on the wall. You will need lots of drywall mud, but just fill in up to the level of the tape and sand smooth. Either do like the video and make a velvet border or just glue or staple it directly to the wall.

    3) Believe it or not, there is a gray color that is best for contrast. Search around some of the Projector forums and you will find different paint recipes involving pure white with a hint of red to make a slight tan color, then add silver craft paint from craft stores like Michaels. There just as many screen recipes out there as DIYer opinions :) but they really are better than pure white.

  10. Oh, and adding those micro glass beads was an epic failure. I made many test swatches before I laid paint down and the beads just get covered up with paint and are basically useless. I could maybe see using a clear coat with them. That said, who wants 15lbs of glass beads? lol.

  11. My commercial screen only cost $70 — and I can take it with me when I move (and I have moved twice since I bought it). Seems to me, if this cost him $50 to paint, then this is going to cost him another $50 later on when he has to move (or maybe from his safety deposit!) :-P

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