How to make a projector screen using blackout cloth

Written by maxfield carroll
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How to make a projector screen using blackout cloth
Be ready for movie time with a homemade screen. (old movie film onwhite background image by Anatoly Tiplyashin from Fotolia.com)

Commercially available motion picture screens for home theatres are very expensive. A 90-inch diagonally measured screen can cost £650 or more. However, you can make your own screen to use with your TV projector for less than £65 by using blackout cloth, a vinyl-backed fabric used as a light-blocking lining for window drapes. Blackout cloth has qualities valued for theatre screens. It can be stretched to form a flat, blemish-free surface, and the fabric side is a white material with sufficient "gain," or pictorial brightness, to be used in a darkened room. Making your own screen can bring a truly cinematic movie experience to your home at a substantial savings.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Blackout cloth, 54 by 96 inches
  • 2-by-4 wooden boards
  • Wood saw
  • Carpenter's square
  • Flat metal angle plates
  • Wood screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Sandpaper
  • Spring clamps
  • Heavy duty staple gun
  • 1/4-inch staples

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Cut two boards to a length of 90 inches, and another two boards to a length of 42 inches. Place the boards on a flat surface to form a 50-by-90-inch frame, with the longest boards at the top and bottom.

  2. 2

    Align the corners into perfect right angles with a carpenter's square. Place metal angle plates over each corner and fasten the metal angles and boards with wood screws. This will be the back of the frame.

  3. 3

    Sand the wood to remove any markings, stains, roughness or splinters that might damage the screen material.

  4. 4

    Stretch the blackout cloth over the frame with the whiter fabric surface facing outward, and the vinyl surface against the frame. Use spring clamps to hold the cloth in place as you work. If needed, pad the clamps to avoid marking the fabric.

  5. 5

    Wrap the blackout cloth around and staple it in place on the back of the frame. Start stapling at the middle of one board and then pull the fabric tight to add a staple on the opposite board. Add staples about 3 to 4 inches apart to each side evenly and stretch the fabric to eliminate wrinkles in the same manner that canvases are stretched for a painting. Fold the excess material under and staple securely at the corners.

  6. 6

    Hammer any staples that stick up so that they are flush with the frame surface.

Tips and warnings

  • Blackout cloth is often sold at fabric stores in a width of 54 inches. Larger screens can be made using the wider blackout cloth available from online sources.
  • Mount the screen on a wall or on a wheeled cart.
  • Mask the region around the picture area with black velvet or a nonreflective black frame.

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