Projectors provide a true cinematic experience that even the best TVs are incapable of. However, it is pertinent to note that the quality of the projector screen is as important as the projector itself.
Check out my top picks for home theater projector screens.
Unfortunately, a good projector screen is costly. The Silver Ticket screen (see it on Amazon) has thousands of 5-star reviews but costs almost $400.
One of the cheaper alternatives is to paint the screen wall. But, what type and color of paint should you use for a projector screen?
Projector screen paint should have a very smooth finish, reflect less amount of light, and not look dull at the same time. The color of the paint would depend on the projector’s brightness, ambient lighting, and personal preferences and requirements.
All of these will be discussed in this article.
Type of Finish
It would be natural to assume that the best paint for a projector screen would either be flat or matte. A glossy finish is definitely out of the question as it would be too reflective.
Projector Central carried out comprehensive research for the best projector screen paint costing $100. The aim of the research was to find a paint that would match the performance of the Stewart Filmscreen Studiotek 100, which is a premium screen material costing thousands of dollars.
During the process of testing various brands and types of paint finishes, Projector Central had found that the matte and flat finishes produced a dull picture. On the other hand, glossy finish paint was way too reflective.
So, in search of a paint that was in between matte and glossy, they tested the Sherwin-Williams ProClassic Smooth Enamel Satin Finish. Unexpectedly, the picture quality matched the Studiotek 100.
UPDATE: As per sources, Sherwin Williams has changed its formula for this paint. It is no longer recommended as many users have complained that it is too glossy.
From the test results conducted by Projector Central, it is surprisingly learned that the right projector screen paint costing just $100 is capable of producing a picture quality that equals screen material worth a few thousand dollars.
That’s amazing, isn’t it? But wait..
Which Paint Color is Best for Projector Screens?
Before going and blindly purchasing the paint recommended by Projector Central, choosing the right color of paint is an important consideration before you make the decision.
The choice of paint color will largely depend on four factors.
1. The Brightness of the Projector
First of all, it should be clear that a white screen will reflect more light than a black or Gray Screen. If your projector is incapable of producing light that is bright enough, then a gray projector screen is out of the question.
For such projectors, you will require a white projector screen that has substantial gain so that it can reflect enough light back so that the picture does not look dull or washed out.
On the other hand, if you have a bright projector that is capable of producing light of more than 3000 lumens then you have an option of choosing either a white or Gray Screen depending on the other two factors mentioned below.
By the way, if you’re looking for the ideal home theater projector which fits your budget, you can check out my favorite ones.
After testing out so many projectors, I can say for sure that the big reviewing websites are not always correct. So, I recommend you check my top recommended projectors if you’re in the hunt of buying one.
2. Ambient Light
The amount of ambient lighting in the room will largely govern the color of the screen paint that you will purchase for your projector screen wall.
In a room that has a lot of ambient light creeping into the room through windows or doors, you will need a white-colored paint that is reflective so that there is enough amount of light being reflected from the projector screen surface.
However, if you have a light-controlled room that is fairly dark, then you have the option to go for gray, which is less reflective.
A surface that is less reflective has the advantage of having fewer light reflections from the walls and ceilings. This will make the room darker while watching a movie and will hence, provide a better cinematic experience.
3. Personal Preference
The next consideration is a personal preference. The image on a white-colored projector screen will have great color reproduction and vibrance but will not display blacks very well.
On the other hand, a gray projector screen will display blacks very well and have a better contrast ratio but the colors and vibrance of the image will be on the lesser side.
So, if you like to see more vibrant and colorful images, then white would be your choice. If you prefer to see better and deeper blacks being displayed, then a gray projector screen would be the best.
4. Will You Be Watching a Lot of 3D?
While watching 3D movies, the picture appears to be dimmer than normal because of the tint of the 3D glasses. Hence, for 3D movies, you will require more gain for which your projector screen should be more reflective.
So, if you are likely to watch a lot of 3D movies, then white screen paint is the most advisable choice.
White and gray are not the only colors that can be considered for a projector screen. There is also the choice of a silver screen which would have a mix of the advantages and disadvantages of white and gray screens.
Based on personal experience and research the products that I would recommend for the various colors of projector screen paint are as given below:-
- For White Projector Screens, I would recommend the Digital Image Ultra White Screen Paint (check price on Amazon).
- For Gray Projector Screens, this Screen Paint (on Amazon) is recommended.
- For Silver Screens, I recommend the Paint on Screen S1 (check on Amazon). Paint on Screen is one of the leading brands for projector screen paints. Check out their website and you will realize why.
How to Go About Painting Your Projector Screen Wall
Now that you have decided on the color of your projector screen paint as well as the brand that you will go for, it is now time to go ahead and paint that wall. Here is a short video of the process.
The step by step procedure is also listed below:-
Step 1 – Prep the Wall
If your wall is not the same color as your projector screen paint, then you will have to prep the wall with a primer.
After having prepped your wall, you need to make sure that there is no unevenness. If required, apply a layer of putty over the screen wall that you would like to paint on.
Step 2 – Determine the Projector Screen Area
The next step would be to mark the area where the image will be projected. For this, switch off all the lights in the room and switch on the projector and focus the image on the wall.
Once you have adjusted the size of the image, take a pencil and mark the edges of the projected area.
Step 3 – Apply Masking Tape to Mark the Borders of the Screen Area
After you have marked the borders of the projector screen area, the next step would be to apply some painter’s tape around the edges. The painter’s tape will ensure that the painted area is a near-perfect rectangle and within the designated area.
Step 4 – Apply the Paint
You will have to be really careful here to make sure that there are no lumps created while painting. If possible, get professional help. A spray gun is preferred over a roller.
Start applying the paint gradually in between the area marked by the painter’s tape. You will need about two to three coats of paint for best results.
Step 5 – Remove the Painters Tape and Apply a Screen Border
So you have a projector screen all painted and ready. Now, all that is left is a projector screen border. You can, of course, build a frame made of wood strips but I would recommend the Velvet Projection Screen Border Tape (check on Amazon). Remove the painter’s tape and stick the velvet tape directly on the wall to mark the projector screen border.
A good projector screen is a must for the best movie watching experience. Painting the wall is a good option which is cost-effective but due care must be given to the type and color of paint used.
I have tried my best to share what I have learned from my personal experience and the research that I have carried out by reading articles and forums on the net. Hopefully, I have been successful in providing you with the required information regarding the types of paint suitable for a projector screen wall.
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.