Going to the movies is a great outing for most people, but with rising prices and the comforts of home calling it’s fairly easy to make a setup in your own backyard! You can still get that magical feeling of going to the movies by using an outdoor projector. Outdoor projectors are smaller, brighter, and fairly affordable compared to traditional projectors. Assuming you’ve already considered a few outdoor projector options or made a purchase already, we’re going to guide you through the second half of the outdoor movie equation: setting up a projector screen. In this guide, we’ll go through choosing an outdoor projector screen, building one from scratch, or giving you options for purchasing a screen instead.
Choosing an Outdoor Projector Screen
When choosing an outdoor projector screen, it’s important to think hard about what you want.
- Do you want something easily portable that you can store away in the winter, or when the screen isn’t in use?
- Do you want a large screen size, or something small?
- Do you want to project on the side of your home or garage, or would you prefer to have the screen mounted on a stand?
- Do you live in an area with lots of mold or mildew? If so you might want something easy to clean.
These are just a few things to weigh when choosing the best screen for you.
We’re going to walk you through how to make your own projector screen, but if this option isn’t suitable for your needs, we’ll list some of the top projector screens available in the third section of this guide.
Making an Outdoor Projector Screen
If you’re tight on a budget or want to get your DIY on, making your own projection screen is a great option. Making this screen only requires a few tools and a free afternoon!
This tutorial is for a hanging/mounted projector screen, not one that is freestanding. It can be scaled to any size you need and can easily be cleaned and folded. If you don’t have a place to mount a projector screen, or if you’d like one that rolls up nicely, scroll to the next section.
Step 1: Choose Your Materials
This project will use the following materials:
- A black tarp with grommets in the size you’d like your screen to be. Standard projector screens come in 60”, 72”, 96”, 120”, 140”, and 170”.
- A white drop cloth canvas, about the same size of your tarp.
- A wooden dowel slightly longer than the width of your tarp.
- Heavy-duty construction adhesive with a caulk gun
- Heavy-duty scissors
- A needle and UV-resistant thread
Step 2: Spread Out Your Tarp
On a clean work area, spread out the black tarp. If your tarp has an inner lining, make sure this is facing up toward you. Smooth out the tarp as best you can.
Step 3: Place Your Canvas
Once your tarp is laid out, it’s time to place your canvas inside. If needed, cut your canvas to fit the inside of the tarp, making sure not to cover the grommets on the sides. You can also remove wrinkles on your canvas by ironing beforehand- just make sure to review the material’s guidelines.
Step 4: Glue the Pieces
Once you’ve fully spread out your canvas and tarp, it’s time to glue them together! Load a caulk gun with your adhesive, lift up one side of the canvas, and start dispending the adhesive to the tarp back and forth. Make sure to glue the edges and corners extra well!
Step 5: Add the Dowel
After the canvas and tarp are glued securely together, place a glue line 4”- 5” below one of the sides. Choose the side that you’d like to be at the top of your screen. Immediately place your wooden dowel on the glue line, and fold over the side. The black tarp backing will be folded over the dowel. Use more adhesive if needed to connect the fold to the canvas.
Step 6: Sew the Dowel
Hand-sew underneath the dowel to make sure it’s secure. Then- woolah! You’ve got an inexpensive, simple canvas screen to hang against your house, garage, or from your patio cover or pergola.
Purchasing a Projector Screen
If making your own projector screen won’t suit your needs, take a look at the best free-standing projector screen, rolling projector screen, and electronic projector screen we found online! We’ve laid out the pros and cons of each.
The Best Budget Free Standing Projector Screen: Elite Screens Yard Master 2 Indoor/Outdoor Projector Screen
See product on Amazon
- Fairly cheap, with the 100-inch being around $200 on Amazon
- No wall mounting needed
- The snap-button frame gives a flat projection space
- Can be easily cleaned with soap and water
- Wind resistant in light winds
- A storage bag is included
- Some complaints about a “tight” assembly, putting a lot of force into stretching the screen to fasten the snaps
- The height cannot be adjusted
- Complaints of weak frame construction
The Best Budget Rolling Projector Screen: Super Deal 120” Pull Down Projector Screen
See product on Amazon
- Very affordable, with the 120” being around $70 on Amazon
- No assembly required
- Can be easily rolled up and stored
- Fairly easy to clean
- Some people report the screen having wrinkles
- A smaller viewing angle of 160 degrees
- Can be too heavy to mount on some walls, and some report that the size is not able to reach two studs for mounting
The Best Electric Projector Screen: Elite Screens Yard Master Electric Series Screen
See product Elite Screen’s website
- A clear, clean picture projected from any angle
- Black material backing eliminates competing light from different angles
- 4K Ultra HD, Active 3D, and HDR Ready
- Rain & waterproof
- Anti-rust brackets
- Expensive, with 100” being around $950
- Heavy to mount
Hopefully this small guide was helpful for you in creating or purchasing a new projector screen! Browse ShadeWork’s gallery for more outdoor decoration and enhancement ideas.