DIY projection screens

May 30, 2004

projection-screenA good home theater projection screen can easily cost as much as some projectors. I won’t make any assumptions as to whether they’re worth it or not in this article. Rather I want to share some info and links to alternative solutions. Obviously motorized, aspect ratio, masking screens like Stewarts Director’s Choice and Da-Lite’s dual masking system are specialty products that can’t be easily replicated by the average do it-yourselfer. What we’re talking about here is making your own fixed mount screen on a budget. For the sake of consistency most of the examples I’ll use are 16:9 screens but a 4:3 screen is just a simple change in math, should that be what your after.

One popular method with do it yourselfers has been to make a frame out of wood and “skin” it similar to a painters canvas with a material, from any fabric store, called “drapery black out material”. It isn’t actually black but a white rubberized product that’s white on one side. My description may sound a little crude but, as you’ll see in this example, the finished product can look extremely professional.


Other solutions for a “diy” project actually involve purchasing commercially prepared gels and paints. While not adhering to the true do it yourself nature of things, these products still offer a cost savings over a manufactured screen. If you have a flat open empty surface that you’d like to use as your projection surface or a flat smooth board or similar material, then check out diytheater.com’s high contrast screen coating kits. These kits allow you to mask off your “screen” area, to the desired aspect ratio and size, then “paint” it in. Anyone who has ever projected images onto a bare white wall with favorable results (author included), should be able to appreciate this method as you can improve the gain while keeping the over all project very simple. Another high contrast screen coating material of interest is screengoo, from Goosystems.

One last and overwhelmingly simple idea, if your overall desired screen size doesn’t exceed 4’x8’, is a product from parkland plastics called “Poly-Wall” in brite-white which can be found at Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement. Much more informaton on the the subject can be found in this thread on AVS.

Note: This article isn’t indicative of our philosophy toward do it your self projects. You’ll never see an “how to make your own speakers” or subwoofer type of essay here. It’s just not the kind of thing we’d ever undertake because of the relative difficulty of such a task. However a screen such as described in the above article we feel is more than worth the cost to reward ratio.



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Projection Screen's


Comments

  • bob jones

    I have been researching this screen thing for months. I’ve tried everything. There is a man on ebay who sells the material used by da-lite and draper for a fraction of the cost of a manufactured screen. My screen is now just incredible. I also bought the black velvet trim from him. This screen was 1200.00 from draper and I paid 120.00 for a 4ft by 8ft screen. Being a projectionist from the 60’s I know what I’m talking about. this stuff is fantastic and I wish all of you the best. If you can’t find him on ebay his email is luv2kruz@adelphia.net. Tell him his customer Bob Jones sent you. You will be extatic with the results. good luck!!

  • bob jones

    I have been researching this screen thing for months. I’ve tried everything. There is a man on ebay who sells the material used by da-lite and draper for a fraction of the cost of a manufactured screen. My screen is now just incredible. I also bought the black velvet trim from him. This screen was 1200.00 from draper and I paid 120.00 for a 4ft by 8ft screen. Being a projectionist from the 60’s I know what I’m talking about. this stuff is fantastic and I wish all of you the best. If you can’t find him on ebay his email is luv2kruz@adelphia.net. Tell him his customer Bob Jones sent you. You will be extatic with the results. good luck!!

  • simon

    The Dalite model c is a fantastic projector screen suitable for any projecting requirements at home, rumour has it the have it considerably cheaper than anywhere else second hand

  • simon

    The Dalite model c is a fantastic projector screen suitable for any projecting requirements at home, rumour has it the have it considerably cheaper than anywhere else second hand