How To Install a Projector Screen in Your Home Theater

Home theater system components are not cheap and projector screens cost a lot. They're not easy to install either, especially the ones that can be mechanically retracted. Since they're quite prone to damage, you might opt to hire a professional to install it, which of course entails an additional cost. There is a cheaper do-it-yourself alternative and that is to actually just paint the screen on the wall. Though this may seem to retract some sophistication or elegance from your home theater system, if done properly, you might not even notice the difference. Here is how you can install your own projector screen in your home theater.

1. Choose the room, the specific wall and set the projector's location.

Before you start anything, you will have to establish which room will hold the home theater. Preferably it should be a room where you can control how much light from the outside can enter. Since you'll only be painting the screen, you will also have to carefully choose which wall will serve as the projector screen. To set the projector's location you may need to do some trial and error to figure out the right distance from the wall and the proper mounting.

2. Establish the aspect ratio of your projector screen.

Aspect ratio refers to the length and width of the screen and this is dependent on the projector's display aspect ratio. Most high definition media, whether they're from DVDs or digital TV broadcasts, now use the wide screen ratio which is 16:9, horizontal width to vertical length. It's really up to you how long and wide you want your screen to be as long as it matches the size of the display that will come from the projector. To be certain it does, follow the 16:9 ratios.

3. Mark the location on the chosen wall.

It's important to do this job accurately as it's going to be a semi-permanent feature of the room. You wouldn't want to watch a movie on a lop-sided screen and since the screen is painted on, you won't be able to adjust its orientation. To be as exact as possible, you can mark out the screen by turning on the projector from its established mounting. You can follow the edges of the display and use a level to make marks along the edges. Double check and use a tape measure to confirm you have the right dimensions. Also measure the diagonals so that you know the corners are exactly perpendicular. Afterwards you can lay down adhesive tape on the edges and corners so that you'll get straight edges when you start applying the paint.

4. Choose the right color for your screen.

Now it's time to choose the color and this is crucial so that the display's quality isn't compromised. The common misconception is that white would be the best color but this can actually lessen the definition of dark-colored elements on the display. A light shade of gray is actually preferable as it can define both light and dark colors. The finish could be either semi-gloss or satin. Avoid using a gloss finish as this will make the screen too reflective. There are actually specialty projector screen paints but they're quite expensive. Some do-it-yourself enthusiasts report that regular interior latex paint will do.

5. Start painting the screen.

Don't compromise your work by using a cheap roller. Purchase one that's of high quality, preferably a ¼ inch nap roller. When you start putting on the paint, be very conscious of applying it evenly. Avoid over-rolling as this will make the texture of certain areas of your screen different from others, and this will be noticeable and may affect the quality of the display.

6. Paint a frame around the screen.

A frame will make the painted screen look more like a screen as it defines its edges from the rest of the wall. The frame should absorb light so flat black is the best color to use here. Use the same techniques of measuring and marking that you used for painting the screen. Be sure the frame is around the edges of the screen and not over it so that the screen retains its dimensions. An inch or less will do for the frame's thickness.

Aside from saving your budget, a painted projector screen won't break or get ripped. It's actually the wall after all. Besides occasionally wiping dust from the surface, no other maintenance or repair needs to be done.


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