Stretching It: Make Your Own 128" DIY Spandex Movie Screen

It's surprising how few people use digital projectors and projection screens, considering the vast difference between watching a movie on a 50" or so LCD screen versus a 128" projected screen. Projection screens are the best thing solution for an in-home movie theater experience...Even in a small apartment, there's usually room for a pull down screen where a large HDTV may intrude into the rest of the space. But if you've got a dedicated home entertainment room with proper lighting control (aka complete blackout darkness), there's nothing like setting up a permanent screen for movie night...you can even make your own!

Entry level projection screens can range in price depending upon features (size, automatic motor, reflective qualities), but you're usually looking around $200-$400 for a 128" screen (I've got a 92" screen and its plenty big for a small apartment, but 128" is the sweet spot for a truly immersive experience). But what if you spent the majority of the budget on the digital projector and still need a screen?

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There are some novel space saving solutions like Paint On Screen, a highly reflective single-coat projection screen paint which can be used to create a movie screen anywhere up to 240" in size with 0.5 - 6.0 certified gain rating. But at nearly $200 for a single 1 gallon can of paint, this Reddit reader's DIY solution might be the more prudent and fiscally responsible route:

Gluing together poplar 1x4's (about $1 per linear foot) and pine 1x3's for braces, Reddit reader dodgeboy built himself the framework of a gigantic home theater screen for a fraction of what it would cost to purchase a pre-made screen. Spandex, that elastic space age material popular with super heroes/Kardashians and an excellent DIY material for home theater screens (acoustically transparent, so speakers can be placed behind it), was stretched across and stapled as a wrinkle-free screen. Finishing touches include a custom wall mount to span across an inset alcove and a black border to help the screen disappear when all the lights are turned off and his 1080p Panasonic AR100U is fired up.

The whole thing cost me about $200, including the wood, hardware, paint and fabric. Not too bad for a screen that size. It has great color/contrast, and is acoustically transparent so I can mount my center speaker behind it.
Matte finish is the way to go. The contrast is excellent, as long as you have a bright projector. If your projector isn't as bright, I would go with white instead of silver, and it will increase the brightness.

The whole step-by-step process was carefully documented so you can get started on your own screen: "128" Projector screen I made from wood and spandex"

(Photos: dodgeboy)

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