Are Projector Screens Necessary?

When setting up a home theater, many do-it-yourselfers wrestle with the question of whether a projector screen is really necessary. Some wonder why they would invest the time and money to build a professional-looking screen when bare drywall can do the job just fine. While the flexibility of a screen-free setup can be attractive in some situations — especially if you’re renting or using a space temporarily — the advantages of using true projector screen material are undeniable. Are projector screens really worth it? The short answer is yes, and here’s why.

projector screen in home theater

The Right Texture

Any imperfections in texture have a significant impact on your projected image, therefore, one of the primary disadvantages of projecting onto an exterior building or interior wall is visible and inconsistent surface texture. Screen paint, another tempting alternative, can smooth out a surface but cannot eliminate all texture. Screen paint users often complain about the visible “orange peel” pattern of drywall showing through the layers of even the most expensive screen paint and eventually upgrade to projector screen material. The smooth surface of a projector screen allows you to see the most detail and is especially important for 4K resolution. In temporary or outdoor applications like a backyard theater it might seem sufficient to hang a tarp or bed sheet, but these materials create severe limitations for picture quality.

Carl’s Tip: Avoid becoming overwhelmed by the number of screen options available with this step by step guide for How to Choose a Projector Screen Material.

The Best Color

Another key benefit of projector screen material is its ability to maintain a high quality image in a variety of different lighting environments. Without the proper material, ambient light can significantly disrupt the color, detail and clarity of the projected image. Projector screens are designed to reflect as much light as possible, producing the best image for your environment. In order to achieve deep blacks and the truest colors, a projector screen material in either white or a shade of gray is critical. 

Carl’s Tip: To determine the best color for your specific situation, the article White or Gray Projector Screen Surface is a great read.

That Finished Look

The right screen will transform any average room or venue into an impressive, brag-worthy space. An assembled projector screen looks much more professional than general use material or a simple painted wall and will perform much better, too. Win-win! Add comfortable home theater seating and your dream space will be complete.

Carl’s Tip: Adding a black border to your screen creates a polished, professional finish while helping your audience better focus their eyes on the projected image. Black felt tape is simple and easy to install.

You don’t need to spend a lot to get a quality projector screen for your home theater. It’s a simple and inexpensive upgrade that will enhance your viewing experience.