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Looking for screen material. Help

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by FranklinD, Apr 5, 2008.

  1. FranklinD

    FranklinD Stunt Coordinator

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    I have a Sony VPL-HS20 on the way and I'm in need of a screen. I'd really like to go with a "board" of some kind at least for now but I'm not sure what is available in NC. I've read about Do-Able which seems make for a good screen but I don't think it's available here. I will probably go to Lowe's and Home Depot just to see if they can special order it. I've also read about Durotherm and Polywall which might be in stores here but it wasn't displayed online. Is there anything else I could be looking for in NC?

    Also, I've read about people using paint. I'm a little confused as to what materials are typically painted and are regular paints usually used. My room is very dark(pitch black is possible) so should I consider a gray screen?
    I'm planning for a 100" screen and I'll be sitting about 12' away. Does this sound about right or should I downsize it a bit? If my information is correct, a 100" screen is 49"x87" for a 16:9 ratio, right? I'll test out positioning and size before I mount anything but just looking for opinions.

    Any feedback is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Brent_S

    Brent_S Second Unit

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    Well, first of all...anything that's available in any other state should be available here.

    Probably the easiest DIY solution to find besides paint is blackout cloth (drapery linining). Any fabric store will have it for around $6/yard. Build a frame of suitable size, stretch and staple. Google will turn up a number of hits for "stretching canvas frames". Searching HTF will probably turn up some play-by-play instructions, complete with photos. BOC is sometimes used to indicated blackout cloth.

    Paint can be as simple as a flat white or as complicated as 4+ part mixtures with exacting ratios. My first DIY screen attempt was a sheet of Gatorfoam painted with Behr Ultrawhite Flat. Some people paint the screen directly onto a room wall, but it needs to be very smooth and free of imperfections. Otherwise, you can use any smooth suface the paint will adhere to. Something like Masonite hardboard is popular, but at 1/8" thick, will probably need a stiffener of some sort.

    I'm currently using a BOC screen myself, but plan to upgrade to a Wilsonart Designer White laminate screen. DW can be ordered from Home Depot/Lowes and usually local countertop makers. Testing on other forums have shown it to be an almost perfectly neutral white and claims as high as 1.24 gain. The screen shots look pretty good as well. You'll need a substrate of some type. I plan to get a piece of 1/2" plywood, cut it down to size, and laminate the DW to it. To save some weight, I may cut some big circles out ofthe plywood, but it probably won't be necessary. Figure $100ish for this solution.

    For me, 100" at 12' would be too large. Currently I'm about 84" at 12' and plan to bump to 89" when I go DW and upgrade the projector. This calculator will give you the SMPTE and THX recommendations for size/distance. According to SMPTE my 89"@12' is the max recommended distance, but that's ok with me...THX says I'm too far away or my screen is too small. [​IMG] You could alwasy use some blue painters tape to mock up the screen size on your wall to get a feel for what you'd prefer.

    -Brent
     
  3. chris.big.money

    chris.big.money Stunt Coordinator

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    have you looked at Goo Systems paint? Some mentioned it on this forum as a great solution for a paint on screen. I personally plan on getting some to cover the current white wall that my screen is projected on. i just built a border out of some trim at home depot and painted it glossy black. it looks sweet! well good luck!
     
  4. Jim Mcc

    Jim Mcc Producer

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    I painted 1/2" Medium Density Fiberboard for my screen. It's super smooth and takes paint great. It just hangs on the wall with a cleat screwed into the studs, and one glued and screwed to the back.
     
  5. FranklinD

    FranklinD Stunt Coordinator

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    Cool.. I'll try that. I just want to get some form of a screen up that doesn't look like poop for now. I've been reading so much about screens my head feels like it might pop any second. What paint color did you use and what is your room lighting like? Also, how bright is your projector? Should I use a matte paint or what? Thanks for the info, man.

    Oh yeah, and do you have any pics?
     
  6. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    I used a wood frame (ash or poplar from Lowes) and covered it with blackout cloth/curtain liner from Hancock Fabrics. The border is door casing painted black. The fabric is a bright matte white. Room is completely dark and I use a Panasonic AE-900U with the lamp turned to low. It is more than bright enough after your eyes adjust to the dark room. The Final Four b-ball games looked spectacular last night.

    Pic 1 - Me in front of the frame. I used the same cleat hanging system that GR Research uses on their surround speakers (page 2 of this link). Pic 2 - Finished screen.
    Pic 3 - I was taking a picture of my sub but caught the corner of the screen in it. You can see the fluted door casing as well as the decorative corner square that I used. Not a single person that has seen it has ever noticed the border or those decorative squares. But my wife likes them so I used them. They pushed my total cost from $50 to about $75. Total building time was one weekend. Most of that time was spent waiting on the black paint to dry. I built it so I can remove the border to try different fabrics or paint the fabric. After seeing the picture, I never felt the need to do it.

    -Robert

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  7. FranklinD

    FranklinD Stunt Coordinator

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    That looks great. You can beat that price. Good work. I think you need more speakers though. Where is your sub? [​IMG] Did you build any of those yourself?

    I like the cleat idea for hanging and I think I'll use that method for whichever type of screen I decide on. If I use fiberboard, the screen won't be flush with the wall if I use cleats though. I guess it's not a big deal really. Hmm..
    I think I'll run around and see what I come up with. It's a small trip to the closest fabric shop so I guess I'll check Wal-mart first and see if they have black out cloth. The projector should be here by the end of the week so I have a little time before I commit to a screen. Thanks folks
     
  8. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    You laugh. I'm a sub nut. I have over 30 subs just sitting around. My current TC-3000's aren't enough. I'm in the process of building my own 18" drivers for an IB install. The motor (magnet structure) is a TC Sounds TC9 that was used on the Elemental Designs E12A.22. I got 7 of them for dirt cheap when TC Sounds was selling some surplus equipment. Four motors are becoming 18" subs using recone kits from Fi Car Audio. If four subs aren't enough, then I'll get 2 more recone kits and end up with a total of six 18's.

    One motor was used used to build a custom sub that I documented in a Photobucket slideshow - link.

    In the slideshow, you also saw some other motor structures. The TC 3hp neo motors are going to be custom built into 15's similar to the 12 in the slideshow.

    If you have any sub questions just let me know. I now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

    -Robert
     
  9. FranklinD

    FranklinD Stunt Coordinator

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    RobertJ: That's pretty impressive work. It sounds like you really know your stuff. [​IMG] I still want to re-do those cheap cabinets(or build new ones) but I'm preoccupied with setting up this projector at the moment. I'll definitely let you know when I actually start that project since I pretty much know nothing at this point. I think building a pair of bookshelf speakers is probably a good way to start?

    I'm kind of set on using painted MDF for my screen for right now but I have some questions...
    1 - Are my measurements correct for a 100" screen? I read somewhere that it should measure 49"x87" and that I could use a 4'x8' sheet of MDF and just cut the side down. Well, the problem with that is that makes 4'1", not 4'... So what is the actual LxW for a 100" screen?

    2 - MDF is pretty heavy. Even with the portion removed it'll still weigh a crap ton. What kind of screws do I need to mount this thing? Instead of using a cleat I was thinking that I could build a frame(attached to the wall) around, and flush with, the MDF, and if I left two inches of room on each side of the MDF, I could screw the MDF to the wall on the sides. Then I'd wrap veneer in fabric and hot glue/velcro it to the "sub-frame" for a finished look which would cover all screw heads... Is this a stupid idea?
    I figure that fastening it to the wall in this way would distribute the weight better and fastening the frame to the wall around it, especially the bottom part, would help a little too... Any suggestions?

    3 - Is there anything thing at all I could use that's cheap, looks good, and is readily available besides black out cloth or MDF. Just looking for more tried and true methods.

    Thanks a lot folks.
     
  10. FranklinD

    FranklinD Stunt Coordinator

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    Ok.. I found the answer to my first question. If I get a 4'x8' sheet of MDF I can get a 98" screen if I leave the height at 4'. So that would be 48"x85". I think I can live with that.

    Any ideas for question #2 though? Thanks again.
     
  11. FranklinD

    FranklinD Stunt Coordinator

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    Actually, Home Depot sells 4'1"x8'1" sheets so it looks like I can get 100" after all. My thinking is that I can always make it smaller if 100" is too large. I'm sure that will be a lot of fun though. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  12. FranklinD

    FranklinD Stunt Coordinator

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    This is a poor example of my idea. The gray dots are the screws. The brown underneath is a board for support. I figure this will take the weight off the mdf and wall. This picture only shows the structural support. I will build a frame around/on this to cover all screws.
    Is this idiotic? Should I just go with a cleat?
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    Instead of MDF, you could use Masonite aka hardboard. It's 1/8" thick so it is much lighter than MDF. The smooth side is extremely smooth and easy to paint. Build a frame with rabbits to accept the board cut to size. Attach the bottom of the frame. Have someone hold the board/screen while you attach the side parts of the frame. Finally, attach the top of the frame to the wall.

    Parkland Plastic had some plastic sheets for shower stalls that people use for screens. They were so popular a few years ago that the company sold them in 16x9 sizes for theater screens.

    -Robert
     
  14. FranklinD

    FranklinD Stunt Coordinator

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    The only problem is that I already got the 1/2" MDF yesterday... After your suggestion about the hardboard, I called HD and they didn't have it in 49"x97" but they did have the 4'x8' sheets. I know it's a small difference but I want to keep my 100" screen after seeing it. I could live with that obviously but I'd *like* to make this work if I can.
    I had HD cut the MDF to 90" so I'd have room for screws on the sides and I plan on masking everything with the frame.
    I like the material but I'm mostly worried about the weight of this stuff. Do you think it would be better if I did it like this(attached picture)?
    First, I would secure the bottom board(which isn't to scale in the pic) to the wall, hitting studs. Then I would glue wood strips on the edges of the mdf, pre-drill holes through it and attach to the wall with screws.

    I mean, structurally, will this do the trick?
    Sorry for being annoying about this. Thanks.
     
  15. FranklinD

    FranklinD Stunt Coordinator

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    Forgot to attach the pic.
    [​IMG]
     
  16. FranklinD

    FranklinD Stunt Coordinator

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    I went with my plan. Everything is working out great. I just got the HS20 in yesterday and put the first coat of primer on the screen last night just so I could use it. Even with the the screen just primed, it looks really good.
    Oh, and the screen isn't going anywhere. It has more than enough support. Also, the two strips of wood down the sides seem to force the MDF to be flat(for now at least. I'll have to keep an eye on it).
    This method was REALLY easy, quick, and extremely cheap.
    I'll try to get some pictures up soon. Thanks for all the input, folks.
     
  17. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    Since you are still priming, try the Black Widow formula - link. I would do it but I've got too many projects going on right now.

    -Robert
     
  18. FranklinD

    FranklinD Stunt Coordinator

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    Hope these aren't too big.
    [​IMG]
     
  19. FranklinD

    FranklinD Stunt Coordinator

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    Another shot with only one coat of primer.
    [​IMG]
     
  20. FranklinD

    FranklinD Stunt Coordinator

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    Here you can see how I mounted the board to the wall.
    [​IMG]
     

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