Save Money By Using Your Wall

My Projector ScreenCredit: Chris VoorbergHome theaters and man caves are becoming a very popular thing to have in the home. Along with these you need a big screen television, and many people are opting for projectors instead. The advantage is that you can have a much larger image with higher resolution for less money than an LCD or Plasma screen of equal size. Once you buy a top of the line HD projector, you need somewhere to project the image. Projection screens do a great job, but can be very costly for the job they do, and are easily replaced with a little elbow-grease and ingenuity.

Preparing the Wall

Using a wall for a projection surface is perfectly adequate, but there are a few things to take into account to ensure the optimum results. Firstly, it is important that the wall is smooth and flat, and free from noticeable imperfections. If you are in the construction phase of your project, it is ideal to pay close attention to the wall in question. Take extra time in the drywall, mudding and sanding phases for the best outcome. Next you need to prime the wall with white primer until the surface has a nice even covering. Finally, painting the wall with the topcoat is a critical step. The best choice of color is an off white, ideally with an almost silver tinge to it. In a room where light control is a problem due to many windows and such, choose a slightly darker shade, or in a room with great light control you can go with a lighter shade. I did two nice even coats on my wall with a roller and it looks perfect. 

Creating a Border

You might think that the image your projector shines on the wall looks great as is, but trust me, it will get even better by adding a nice dark border around the image. Choose your image size (mine is 10 feet measured diagonally, 16:9 aspect ratio) and measure the perimeter to see how much material you will need for your border, then decide how you would like to construct it. There are many options including a simple black painted strip around the edge, or hanging blackout cloth curtains on the wall. My preferred method was to build a wooden border using 1" x 3" pine planks mitre cut at 45 degree angles, with screws and corner braces to secure them together. I then wrapped black velvet cloth around and secured the cloth with a staple gun. The black velvet does a great job swallowing any light that scatters from the projector image, and the dark color provides contrast to really make the image pop off your wall.

Hang the Border on your Wall

The important part of this step is that you make sure the image is square on the wall, and centered inside the border. If the image is too big or too small it can be zoomed in or out and refocused to account for this, but this will not work if the image is off center to start with. I simply found two studs using a stud-finder and screwed the top part of the frame to the wall using two 2" screws. Finally, adjust your image to fit perfectly inside your new border. Now sit back and enjoy your improved home theater experience!