Painting Your Projector Screen
For many, a true home theater is one that has a projector and screen. This type of setup can range in cost from a few thousand to tens of thousands or dollars. Most of the cost goes into the projector but a good percentage is also taken up by the screen. Ara’s Black Diamond II screen goes for about $2700 online. Today we are going to discuss a way to save as much as 95% on the cost of screen and still have a high quality experience. All you need is some specialized paint, elbow grease, and a weekend. We’re talking about painting your screen onto a wall.
There are do it yourself kits out there that include everything in one box or you can go to your local Home Depot and really save some money. We’ll discuss the Home Depot option a bit later in the post. The two main DIY kits we have found are:
Goo Systems – Kits include
DIY Theatre – Kits Include
Home Depot – Kits Includes (N/A)
Planning and Lay Out
Once you have found a suitable wall for the project make sure that there is enough space for the size screen you want and be sure to leave two to three inches on all sides for the border. Determine the size of your screen. You can do this mathematically but the easiest way to do it is use an online calculator. Projector Central has a nice one that will tell you what size screen your projector will support given a specified distance. Of course you can always mount your projector and turn it on and pencil out the corners of the screen. That is another benefit of painting on a screen, you can get a custom size that is perfect for your room!
Mask off the area of the screen. Then use a fine grit sand paper to make the wall as smooth as you can. This will assure that you have a consistent image on the screen without any hot spots. Once you have completed the sanding clean up with dry lint free cloth. Finally you’ll want to apply the primer to the wall. Allow to dry completely.
Apply the screen pain to the manufacturer’s instructions and allow to dry. In most cases the drying stage may take 24 hours. Apply pain as evenly as you can. You may need two coats. Once the paint has dried you can either paint on or tack on a black border. And Voila! You have a fixed screen for a fraction of the cost.
One of our listeners, Nelson Wilkinson, took an even more basic approach. He really stretched to get his projector and there wasn’t much budget left for the screen. So he figured he’d just paint the wall white. He followed the steps above and rather than buy screen paint, he went with a pure white ceiling paint. Total cost including primer was less than $20.
To mark off the screen area he projected the pure white opening scene from Ice Age. He masked off the area and put on the primer and then the white. He said that if it didn’t look good he was out about $20 and some effort. Nelson, didn’t originally have a border but after some research he decided that it would give a perceived improvement in contrast. He built it out of 1X4 Poplar wood that he painted black. Six years later Nelson feels no need to change anything.
His advice for anyone doing the same:
Many people will debate the quality of these screens. But at the price its hard to beat. Sure it will cost you a weekend but think of the savings. If you really can’t live with the results you can always hang a fixed screen over it in the future. But if you need a custom sized screen without breaking the bank, this just may be the way to go.
Posted by The HT Guys, June 30, 2011 10:17 PM
About The HT GuysThe HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.
Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.
ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.
Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.