To paint your own projector screen, you will need patience, a wall dedicated to your project and some special paint. This is not a project with which you should try to take shortcuts nor should you just jump into. It takes planning and preparation.
I will take you through the basic steps of planning, layout, preparing the surface for and painting a white projection screen for a home-theater projector. I am emphasizing white here since it creates a screen for a projector that produces 3,500 lumens or less. For projectors that produce more than 3,500 lumens, use gray paint. If you are unsure of the lumens produced by your projector, refer to the projector’s owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer.
You should expect to pay about $135 for a good quality two-part screen-paint system and tape. I recommend buying Digital Image Screen Paint from http://www.screenpaintsupply.com/Home_Page.php.
Planning and Layout
1. Look around the room and find a suitable wall to paint the projector screen on. Be sure you have enough room for the screen and at least two additional inches on all sides for the black-tape border.
2. After selecting the wall, remove everything from the wall.
3. Your projector should already be mounted and ready for use. Turn on the projector to determine the location and screen size. A general rule for an HDTV-compliant projector is that the viewing distance be around 1.5 times the screen diagonal. So if your couch is 12 feet away from the wall, an 8-foot-diagonal screen is a good start.
4. With the projector on, mark the corners of the illuminated area with a pencil. Cycle through the channels of your cable or satellite box slowly until you find the largest high-definition image. Mark the corners of this new illuminated area with a pencil on the wall. Sometimes there are variations in the dimensions of the illuminated area from channel to channel. Marking the largest illuminated area ensures your picture will always be contained with the borders of the screen. After marking the corners of the screen, turn off the projector.
5. Carefully align the straightedge with the pencil marks for the largest illuminated area. It is best to have help with this, so that you can keep the straightedge level. Use a pencil to join the lines to form the border of the screen.
Preparing the Wall
6. Use painter’s tape to create a border that will not be covered up during the preparation of the wall. Align the edge of the tape with the pencil lines on the wall. Take your time; do not rush through this process.
7. Make the room as dark as possible. Then turn on a flashlight and hold it at a shallow angle to the wall so the light skims the surface. Inspect the entire area to be painted for raised areas or other imperfections. Mark these areas with a pencil to make them easier to find later.
8. After all the imperfections have been identified, use a putty knife, sandpaper and sheet rock mud to repair these areas. The flatter and smoother the surface of the area to be painted, the better the end result will be. If there are very large dips in the wall, you may have to use a trowel and sheet rock mud to make the surface as even as possible. If you do not have any areas to repair, then skip ahead to step 5.
9. Once the screen area has been repaired, go over the entire area again with fine-grit sandpaper to ensure that the entire area is smooth and free of any raised areas.
10. Remove any excess dust from the wall by using a clean dry cloth and a wet-dry vac.
11. If the wall is a dark color, apply two coats of white primer to cover up the existing color on the wall. If the wall is already white, skip to step 7.
12. Apply the screen-paint primer to the screen area. Some manufacturers suggest two coats of primer. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for best results.
Completing the Screen Area
13. After the primer has dried, stir the screen paint’s top coat. Be sure to turn the can upside down and shake it vigorously for 2 minutes. Then apply the paint to the wall according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
14. Remove the painter’s tape and allow the paint to dry. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for suggested drying time.
15. Use 48mm black tape to form a border around the screen and to increase its contrast. The tape available from Screen-paint Supply (http://www.screenpaintsupply.com/Products.php) looks like black velvet and adds an extra dimension to the screen.
16. You can use also use wood molding for a border instead of the black tape. However, using molding is more time consuming and labor intensive, as you will have to prepare and paint the molding before installing it.
17.The screen is now complete. Depending on the paint used, it may take several days for the paint to completely dry and provide the best possible picture. I do recommend the two-part paint system from Screen Paint Supply. But there are other, cheaper alternatives like Behr’s “SilverScreen” color (Color Chip: 770E-2) available at Home Depot. The basic steps in this article are the same regardless of which screen paint you choose.