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Make a 100" Screen for under $100

Evan Powell, May 26, 2006

As the price of entry level home theater projectors drops below $1,000, the price of professional quality projection screens has become increasingly objectionable for new home theater enthusiasts. People who spend $1,000 for their video projectors do not want to spend another $500 to $1,500 for a screen. You can always use a white wall, but there is no frame, and walls usually have texture that shows up in the image. Not only that but the color of the white paint on the wall is rarely conducive to giving you good color balance.

Thus, the creative ingenuity of thousands of home theater folks has been unleashed to invent new ways to create screens at a fraction of the price of products available from the major screen manufacturers. Most of these do-it-yourself screens don't perform as well as professional screens, and the few that do can be labor intensive projects that require second and third attempts to get it right. But in the end, the huge benefit is that the DIY screens save lots of money.

So we decided to start from scratch and create a DIY solution of our own. We started with the following objectives:

It must be cheap. Total budget for all materials to make a 100" diagonal 16:9 screen, including frame, must be less than $100.

It must be simple and quick to assemble. We did not want to make a lifetime hobby out of making a screen. We wanted the materials to be easy to find, and we wanted to put it together in less than two hours of invested labor.

It must be easy to install. We wanted a no muss, no fuss solution with a fixed frame that we could hang on a wall in a matter of minutes.

It must perform!!! We had no delusions that we could invest a hundred bucks and a couple hours labor and come up with a screen that would match the quality of the Stewart screens we use in the projection labs. But how close could we come? That was the challenge. And as you will see below, the results were surprisingly good.........

ProjectorCentral's Quick n' Easy DIY Projection Screen

At the end of this article is a list of materials and step-by-step instructions for building an impressive DIY screen for under $100. Basically, we constructed a frame made of wood wrapped in black Velveteen fabric, then attached photographer's seamless roll paper to the back. It is as simple and easy as it can get, and it far outperforms a plain white wall.

Before we get into the details of how to build it, let's look at what you'll end up with. We put our new DIY screen up against the Stewart Grayhawk for a side by side test. Both of these screens are 100" diagonal and 16:9 format. We stood them on end and placed them side by side, then powered up the new Optoma HD7100 as the official projector for this test.

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