Build a Great Home Theater for a Low Cost!

One of our recent customers built an awesome home theater screen for relatively cheap and I wanted to show you how he did it!

First, he bought a 58” x 104” 16x9 A.R. movie screen with 3” of additional material. The screen was a high contrast black-backed cinema vision screen with the intention to build about 125” 16:9 screen.

Now that step one was complete, he needed a frame for the movie screen. The frame was mounted directly to the wall, and the screen fabric mounted to the frame. This frame cost him a total of $40. The screen frame is a 1”x2” piece of pine board. The homeowner also cut a ½” rabbit into the pine board to create a notch for some LED lights. Shown below.

Next is to hang the frame to the dimensions of your screen.

The initial frame was nailed directly to the wall using 2” finishing nails and a nail gun. The LED light strips can be found on the web for pretty cheap. The higher quality LED strips run around $33 for 10 meters. I have seen others for less than this. For this application, 2 10m strips were needed, which plug into a single transformer.

After the frame is up and mounted, the customer stapled the DaMat screen onto the frame. You will have to do some extra trimming as you need to pull the screen as tight as possible all the way around. Also, since the fabric had the additional 3” of material, he was able to make it larger than the 119” of the material. It took a little math to figure out the largest possible area allowable with the fabric. Remember, that the ratio is 16:9, so adding 3” to each side doesn’t mean 6” more viewable.

This part of the job was by far the hardest and most time consuming. There’s a fine balance between going too tight to rip the fabric at the staples and not having any slight ripples or folds in the surface. Once this was done, a lot of the imperfections were covered up by the final black 90-degree molding. This was done with 2 people, and had to go back and remove some previous staples and back track. The fabric held up great, and has no issues. In this picture, you can see at the bottom of the screen where the LEDs connect to the little white converter. Center channel speaker goes right there so it’s not totally visible in the final product.

The trimming of the extra fabric around the frame was done with some kitchen shears basically using the frame as a guide. This doesn’t have to be perfect because it’s covered up in the next molding step.

The customer then bought some 90-degree ¾” molding at Lowes to use as the visible frame around the screen. He painted this trim flat back and cut the corners at 45-degree angles for a clean look. This trim is placed over the first frame to hide the staples. It is nailed up using ¾” brads, again using an air gun.

This is the trim on the screen, which was painted with 3 coats to help absorb as much light from the screen as possible once applied

This is the finished product with the molding applied. You can see that it covers the staples completely, and softens the LED glow around the frame. Since the LED track is technically behind the screen, there is no light interference (or light bleeding) back to the screen. The LED color and intensity is adjustable, which is a nice feature to make the room’s mood applicable to the content. The homeowner usually leaves it on white or a soft blue.

This screen setup was a low cost of $410! Total amount of time to complete the project was about 3 hours from start to finish. Took a little extra work but was totally worth it in the end. Now all that is left is a projector, some speakers, and a big nice comfy couch! All of these can be found at thrift shops, online sales and many other places. Sometimes a deal just takes a little extra effort!


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