Painting the Perfect Screen for $100
Now that you have painted the wall surrounding your screen, you are ready to paint the screen itself. Follow these steps:
1. After the paint on the surrounding wall outside the screen area has dried, re-apply masking tape. This time, lay the tape on the outside edge of the image, on the newly painted surface. When you are done, you will have a rectangle of tape on the wall, the inside edge of which defines the limit of your screen area.
2. Within the screen area, sand the wall smooth. Spackle up any holes, dents, and imperfections. You want the surface to be as smooth as possible. Any imperfection you leave on the wall may show up as an artifact in your image. Vacuum up all the dust you create by sanding and prepping the screen area; vacuum the wall itself as well as the surrounding area below. (You might want to move this step to the top, and perform the sanding and prep work on the screen area prior to any painting. Your choice.)
3. Apply a coat of primer, which costs about $10 a quart. One quart should be sufficient unless your screen exceeds about 75 square feet (a 120" diagonal 16:9 screen is 43 square feet). Allow the primer to dry.
EDITOR'S NOTE (FEB 19, 2018): Evidently Sherman Williams has changed the formula for the paint recommended in this article. We have not done any further retesting or searching for an alternative paint to recommend. Please DO NOT buy the Sherwin-Williams ProClassic Smooth Enamel Satin Extra White, # B20 W 51, which was recommended in the article as written in 2011. It is now too glossy.
4. Apply your first coat of Sherwin-Williams ProClassic Smooth Enamel Satin Extra White, # B20 W 51. Use a tight nap paint roller (with nap no more than 1/4"). Make sure to use enough, but not too much paint. If you don't use enough, you will not have enough coverage. If you use too much paint, you will end up with drips that will eventually show up as unevenness in the surface. Be cautious, and err on the side of not using enough paint, as you can always add a bit more.
8. Allow the first coat to dry, then apply a second coat, with the same attention to creating the smoothest surface you can. One quart of paint should be enough for two coats on a 120" 16:9 screen. If your screen is any larger than that, a second quart may be needed. Before the paint is dry, remove the masking tape. Removing the tape after the paint is dry can result in chips and cracks along the edge.
Let the paint dry and cure for a few days before evaluating the final result. Despite the use of a roller with a tight nap and paint that is designed to produce a smooth surface, there may still be some uneven flaws in the surface. Illuminating it with the 100 IRE solid white pattern will reveal any flaws that may exist. The surface might be perfectly fine, and not need any attention. But if you see shiny highlights that appear as artifacts in the white light, you may want to touch them up. These are pretty much invisible when viewing typical video or film content, but easy to see when projecting a pure white image. Nevertheless, we want to remove them to the extent we can.
When we saw a few of these, our first thought was to sand the surface with a fine grain sandpaper. So we did, and discovered that was a very bad idea. The sandpaper gets rid of unwanted highlights, but it also alters the reflectivity of the surface. Sanding the surface will introduce sandpaper strokes as texture in the image, and these are as bad as the highlights they remove.
The solution is to use a very light touch. Standing back and viewing the surface in projected white light, note exactly where the excessively shiny highlights are. With a fine grain sanding block (available in the paint department at your hardware store) use the corner of the block to gently rub the highlight itself, in order to lightly buff only the immediate point of reflection. This eliminates the glare from each spot, without creating any visible artifacts in the image.
By following these steps, we were able to create a remarkably smooth, perfectly color balanced reflection surface that rivals the finest professional home theater screens. The paint we ended up preferring was the Sherwin-Williams ProClassic, Extra White, Satin, Smooth Enamel Finish, # B20 W 51. It retails for $19.49 per quart. One quart is enough to do a double coat of paint on a 120" diagonal 16:9 screen surface.
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|Create a Frame||Reasons Not to Paint|