A smart video projector and a screen can bring the cinema right into the comfort of your home. And with the pandemic raging on, there's nothing better than a home cinema where you can get cozy in your blanket and binge-watch your favorite shows and movies.
However, projector screens don't come cheap. Most of them cost over a hundred bucks - yikes! While DIY screens aren’t exactly of the same quality as the professional ones are, you won’t notice much of a difference most of the time.
This post is dedicated to DIY home cinema projector screens. We’ve discussed four ways you can make one all by yourself at home - choose the method that seems easiest to you, and enjoy your cheap yet perfectly functional projector screen. Read on!
4 Ways to Build a Home Cinema Projector Screen Yourself
With a little effort, you can build a projector screen for less than half the cost of store-bought ones. Here are four methods you can do so:
Fixed Frame Video Projector Screen
This one is probably the most laborious method, as you’ll have to use cutting tools and gather lots of equipment from the hardware store. But the results are totally worth it - you get a permanent and super functional projector screen that looks great and displays high-quality videos.
Things You’ll Need
- Four pieces of wood (two longer in length, so they form a perfect rectangle)
- Eight corner brackets
- Six flat metal brackets
- Long screws
- Blackout cloth or a white sheet
- Staple gun with lots of staple pins
- Miter saw or handsaw
- A large piece of quilt batting
- 2 or 3-inch wide artist’s black tape
Determine Screen Size
First off, you need to decide how big your screen needs to be. Turn on your projector and set it at the best-suited location. The throw distance of your projector also comes into play here.
Once you’ve decided the placement and how large you’d like the screen to be, mark it down on the wall using a pencil. Use a measuring tape to measure the horizontal and vertical lengths, and be sure to be very precise in this step!
Cut the Wood
Next, cut two pieces of wood according to the horizontal length and the other three according to the vertical measurement. The third one will run down the center of the frame.
You can use either a handsaw or a miter saw to do this step or take the wood to your local home improvement store, where they’ll cut it for you. Just be sure to give them precise measurements.
Add the Flat Brackets
Place the wood pieces on a flat surface on the ground and rearrange them into a rectangle. Now, place the flat metal brackets at each corner of the rectangle and use a power drill to screw down and join both pieces of wood. Make sure you use at least three to four screws for a secure joint.
Next, place the vertical piece of wood in the center of the rectangle and use the remaining flat brackets to join it to the frame from both ends.
Attach the Corner Brackets
For an extra secure frame, use the corner brackets at all eight corners (the rectangle is divided into two squares once the vertical shaft is screwed on).
Once again, use the power drill and some long screws to attach the brackets on the corners from the inside of the frame.
Add the Quilt Batting
When you’re done building the frame, it’s time to start laying out the foundation of the actual screen. A quilt layer will cover up any uneven surfaces of the wood and help achieve better video quality.
So cut the quilt batting according to your screen's size, but keep an extra four inches on each side.
Next, lay down the quilt batting on the ground and place the wooden frame on top of it, with the brackets facing upwards. Pull the extra inches of quilt over on top of the wood, and use the staple gun to pin it down.
Make sure you’re pulling the quilt layer after every pin to keep it tightly wrapped around, and to ensure there aren’t any wrinkles anywhere.
Attach the Screen Material
Finally, the step if you’ve been waiting for - attaching the screen. Place your blackout cloth or white sheet on the floor (keep the smooth reflective surface of the blackout cloth facing downwards).
Now, keep the frame on top of the screen material, with the quilt batting facing downwards. Use the staple gun to pin down the screen the same way you attached the quilt. Just be sure there aren’t any wrinkles, and for this, you’ll have to be super careful. Keep stretching and pulling the fabric, and be sure to staple enough pins on each side.
Add the Borders
Once you’ve attached the screen, use some artist’s black tape to form a border around your home cinema projector screen. You can skip this step if you want, but the border helps keep ambient light away from the screen and gives a nice clean look to the final piece.
Hang the Screen
How you hang this screen to the wall is up to you. The easiest way is to screw some long and sturdy screws into the wall at the top edge of the screen and use them to hang the whole thing.
You can also go for individual wall hooks and screw them down at the top edge to hang your creation.
Using cardboard to make a DIY projector screen is pretty simple, especially compared to what we just described above. You won’t need a lot of stuff, and it gets finished fairly quickly. It's also quite portable due to its lightweight, it’s easy to carry around.
The only downsides are that this screen won’t be the most reflective and might get worn out quickly.
Things You’ll Need:
- A big flat piece of cardboard
- White sheet OR white spray paint
- Adhesive hooks
- Duct tape
- Measurement tape
- Something sharp to punch holes
Cut the Cardboard
First off, you’ll have to get yourself a large enough piece of cardboard. You can get one from any departmental store or a home appliances store where they’re bound to have large cardboard boxes. Just ask around.
Next, decide the size of your screen by turning on the projector and marking the wall. Measure the lengths as described in the first method. Use these measurements to cut out a rectangle from one side of the cardboard box.
However, leave a couple of inches of extra cardboard at the top edge - you’ll use this for hanging the screen.
The next step involves punching two holes at the top corners of the cardboard. These will help you hang the cardboard anywhere.
Use anything sharp, such as a scissor, to poke through the cardboard at both of the top corners. The holes should be an inch above where your actual screen starts. Also, make sure these holes are large enough for your adhesive hooks to fit.
You can either choose to paint the cardboard white or use a white sheet to form the screen.
If you’re using a sheet, spread it on the floor as straight and wrinkle-free as possible and lay the cardboard on top of it. Pull the extra inches of the sheet from the sides on top of the cardboard as tightly as you can.
Now, use duct tape to tape the sheet to the cardboard at the back. Repeat this for all of the edges, and once again, make sure it’s tight, and there aren’t any wrinkles at the front.
If you’re using spray paint, your task becomes more manageable. Just use white spray paint to paint the screen's front in a well-ventilated area (preferably outside). Tip: to coat the cardboard evenly, don’t spray at one area for too long.
Attach Hooks and Hang the Screen
Lastly, attach the adhesive hooks exactly where the holes of the screen will be located. You might have to make some careful measurements before sticking the hook. Once that’s done, hang the screen on to the two hooks, and voila - you’ve got a fully functional screen to stream movies.
If you want to move it to another location, detach the adhesive hooks and place them elsewhere - no screws are needed for this method!
If the cardboard method seems too much for you, then this method is even easier.
It involves using non-glossy and smooth white wrapping paper to form an easy and cheap DIY video projector screen.
Things You'll Need:
Just some sturdy and matte white wrapping paper, scissors, and double-sided tape - that's all. Oh and, an empty wall, of course.
Cut the Wrapping Paper
Wrapping paper isn’t exactly wide like a blackout cloth or sheet - it’s only as wide as your arm.
So for this method, you’ll first have to measure and mark the vertical length of your screen. Next, roll out the paper to as long as the screen's vertical length and cut straight across.
Stick the double-sided tape at each edge of the wrapping paper. Next, stick the paper on the wall vertically, so the shorter side of the paper forms the top edge of the screen. Also, be careful to spread and stick the paper carefully so it doesn’t tear apart, and there aren’t any wrinkles.
So far, you’ve probably created only a quarter of your screen. Keep sticking more pieces of wrapping paper side by side on the wall until you’ve reached the desired length of your screen.
Tip: The trick here is to overlap each piece of wrapping paper slightly, so there isn’t any wall peeking from between the pieces.
Additional Step: Add Borders
You don’t have to do this, but as we mentioned earlier, a black border helps with contrast. So consider using black tape along the edges of the screen.
This method may or may not prove to be costly, depending on the type of paint you use. We recommend using projector screen paint - a special paint that turns any wall into a screen-like surface.
If you’re not into building any stuff and want to turn your wall into a high-quality screen, then projector paint is your best bet.
However, this paint is expensive and costs almost as much as a regular projector screen. So instead, you can use standard white paint that’s not glossy but not very matte either.
You won’t get the same quality with regular paint as you would with projector screen paint, but it’s still a reasonably effective method.
Things You’ll Need
- Projector paint or standard white paint
- Dark paint (optional)
- Wall primer
- Small roller
Even Out the Surface
Use sandpaper to even out any bumps and rough areas on the wall. Make sure everything’s looking super smooth and clean before you move on to the next steps.
Mark boundaries and Prime
Now, measure and mark the screen's length and use a small roller to apply a coat of primer on the wall. Let it dry completely.
Apply the Dark Paint
Next, paint the entirety of your wall with any dark color of your choice, leaving the screen space white. This will help distinguish the screen from the rest of the wall and add contrast, but you can skip this step if you want.
Tape and Paint
Stick some tape to the edges of the screen so that you don’t accidentally apply white paint on the dark area of the wall. You can peel it off once you’re done painting the screen space.
Use a small roller to apply two coats of white paint, letting the first coat dry completely before applying the next. Once everything’s nice and dry, peel off the tape and enjoy the big screen.
Honestly? You can even use a blank wall as a home cinema projector screen - there’s no hard and fast rule. But the catch is that your HD projector’s video quality won’t look nearly as good on a blank wall as it would on a proper screen.
So with a few tools and a little effort, you can easily build your very own screen that’s cheap yet gives a satisfying cinematic experience.