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What Are the Best Tips for Making a DIY Projection Screen?

By Maggie J. Hall
Updated May 16, 2024
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A do-it-yourself (DIY) projection screen can be made in one afternoon with some inexpensive supplies, common household tools, and a few helpful hints. Both portable and stationary models of DIY projection screens are available. Size varies, but 4:3 or 16:9 ratios that accommodate most modern picture dimensions are most common. A 4:3 frame might measure 96 x 72 inches (2.4 meters x 1.8 meters), while a 16:9 frame might be 92 x 52 inches (2.3 meters x 1.3 meters).

Before purchasing supplies, a diagram of the projection screen, including its dimensions should be drawn. An illustration allows DIY crafters to refer at a glance to the number and size of the supplies needed. Home improvement centers carry a variety of different types of wood that are suitable for creating a DIY projection screen. Many prefer poplar boards as the wood has a hard consistency while being smooth, straight, and lightweight. Others prefer wood obtained from Douglas fir.

Many people opt for 1 inch x 4 inch (2.54 cm x 10.16 cm) boards for the exterior of the frame. DIYers can purchase the full-length boards or have the home improvement center cut the lumber. Crafters must then decide whether to miter the corners. If a piece of wood is going to be added to the center of the screen, as a strengthening device, include this in the diagram. A central brace may show through the screen material, depending on the desired fabric used.

Some people opt to add the central brace but to paint it white, minimizing its appearance. Stabilizing the corners of the frame usually entails using L-shaped brackets on the exterior and interior corners of the frame. Marking and predrilling the holes before installing the screws often diminishes the risk of the wood cracking or splitting.

For the screen itself, some prefer curtain backing, which is commonly sold at fabric stores. The fabric used should be durable, thick, and opaque, blocking out light. Manufacturers generally produce the fabric in 54-inch (1.37-meter) widths. A 2.5- to 3-yard (1.37- to 4.5-meter) length is usually purchased. Enough fabric must be acquired to cover the front of the frame and to wrap the around to the backside for fastening.

An alternative for DIY projection screen material is a roll of seamless photographer's paper. Sold in camera shops, professionals often use this material as a backdrop when taking pictures. Photography stores generally sell the rolls in 53-inch (1.34-meter) widths. With the frame complete, the screen material can be stapled in place.

The fabric or paper should be laid out on the floor and the frame placed wrong side up, on top of the material. The material is wrapped around one side of the frame to the backside. The screen is stapled in place beginning in the center of the board and working toward the end. Repeat the same process on all sides, ensuring that the material fits snugly and has no wrinkles. Some projector owners add a couple of low profile handles to the backside of the frame, making the DIY projection screen portable.

Furniture bumper cushions can be added to the bottom of the frame of a DIY projection screen. This keeps the screen level and prevents the structure from scratching the wall. Hooks, nails, or screws installed into the wall studs holds the screen in place.

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