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

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

Gregory Han
Aug 20, 2012

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 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?

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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