Simple Substrate Screens - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

Thread Tools
post #1 of 6 Old 05-23-07, 11:10 AM Thread Starter
Elite Shackster
wbassett's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Central PA
Posts: 2,234
Simple Substrate Screens

As with the note in the DIY Painted screen thread, this is also a topic that will be a sticky. Like all the sticky threads, their purpose is to provide the base information in an easy format that is indexed and easy to search. Questions will be fielded and answered here, but please try to keep things on topic and as a Q&A in the stickies. For detailed accounts of DIY experiences or experiments/testing of new materials, please start a new thread. If the information is pertinent to one of the stickes, it will either be linked or moved to the appropriate thread.

This is just to keep things in order and try to prevent the key topics and information form becoming buried in threads that can grow to thousands of posts. Things get lost and cluttered when that happens.

What will be covered in this thread are common substrates other than laminates. These will include Do-Able boards, Parkland Polywall, as well as a few other material such as photo paper and things of that nature. These methods are all very easy to build and vary in performance from good to outstanding.
  1. Do-able
  2. Parkland Poly Wall
  3. Melamine
  4. Foam Board
  5. Tile Board
  6. Sintra
  7. Kappa Board
  8. PVC Foam

Skyman has an excellent thread going about Do-able and I see no need to duplicate the information.

A brief summary though: It is a regional item found West of the Rockies. For those that can obtain it and are looking for a white screen 100" diagonal or smaller, this is the way to go. It has the same gain and color characteristics as Designer White but only costs $15 a sheet. For a simple non-painted white screen I personally place Do-able and Designer White at the top of the list as the best. Do-able is incredible stuff.

Parkland Polywall
Parkland Plastics is another very popular white screen that can cost as little as $10 for a 4x8 sheet. It is available in more areas than Do-able, but can still be a bit hard to find.

PolyWall is an extruded PLAS-TEX® sheet with an embossed Matte textured surface, similar to vinyl wall covering.

The original panel people were using was a bright white matte finish with virtually no texture. It is not quite as durable as Do-able or laminates, so if you find a source for it, check the sheet for nicks or imperfections.

I spoke to the company and they changed the newer panels some and they have been reported to have a higher surface sheen to them now, which can result in hot spotting. Still if you can find it, this makes a very good stand alone substrate or once primed (any non-porous plastic surface needs to be primed before painting) it makes an excellent surface for a light weight paintable screen.

It is much thinner than Do-able so it will need to either be mounted to the wall or a very rigid frame.

Some history on Parkland- This material was at one time available in sheets up to 5x12 in size which made it a very desireable substrate. Parkland would also sell and ship directly to consumers. They became aware of its use as a Home Theater screen and started charging more for it, but it still wasn't outrageous in price, but was now after shipping at the same price or more than laminate screens. Eventually they stopped selling the larger sheets because they said there wasn't a demand for it. It seems more like they over priced it and the market died off. It is a case of a company getting a little greedy and raising the price for a nich market.

The last I spoke to Parkland they stated they no longer make the original sheets, but some have still been able to find some in stock at their local home renovation stores. The new material will need some work to reduce the sheen, or it can still be used as a paintable substrate.

Tile Boards- Pretty much the same as the Parkland Sanitary panels. They come in smooth to rough surfaces, so check your local supplier.

Melamine is similar to Do-Able, except it generally has a much higher sheen. There are many manufactures of melamine white boards. Currently there is no color data or gain specifications on this type of board. There are too many different manufacturers to assure a consistant color or surface sheen.

High Pressure and Low Pressure Laminates
Before moving on to vinyl and foam boards, a quick discussion on laminates.

There are two basic types, high pressure laminates such as Wilsonart and Formica for use as counter tops and other tough durable surfaces, and low pressure laminates for general cabinet work.

HPL-High Pressure Laminate: As mentioned, this is your typical counter top material. It is manufactured at 1400 pounds-per-square-inch of pressure, and 6 to 8 layers of kraft paper bonded with phenolic resin glue, then topped by a melamine plastic facing. It comes in two basic grades, vertical and horizontal.

When you purchase this laminate, it is generally not attached to wood. Attaching it to wood is an entirely separate process.

LPL-Low Pressure Laminate: Also known as "direct pressure laminate" and commonly referred to as “melamine”, LPL is manufactured at 300-500 pounds-per-square-inch of pressure, the resulting product is a thin single melamine paper bonded to a substrate board. NOTE: “melamine” is the resin used to impregnate the paper covering and is not the resulting wood product.
When you purchase this laminate, it is generally attached to particleboard which has voids in the end grain.

What's The Damage Resistance of Laminates?
Wilsonart is a manufacturer of High-Pressure Laminates used for floors and countertops. They did some testing to show the potential for damage on various materials. Here are the results for Low-Pressure Laminate, vinyl surfaces, and High-Pressure Laminate:

TEST ONE - Impact Resistance

Laminate planks were laid on Wilsonart Flooring’s 2-in-1 Pad and placed on concrete. A simulated can weighing 396g (the weight of a 14 oz. can of Campbell’s chicken soup) was dropped vertically from a height of 36 inches (standard countertop height) so that the simulated can impacted the surface.

TEST TWO - Constant Pressure Resistance

Two inch square samples were subjected to static load in accordance with AST F970. Loads of 2,000 psi were placed on each sample for 24 hours. After testing, samples were allowed to recover for an additional 24 hours in a room conditioned at 22c / 50% RH before inspection. After the recovery period, samples were inspected for damage.

The reason why I digressed a bit was because I have seen people discuss these materials and speak as if they were the same and interchangable/generic. Granted the laminate concept is the same but the process is different as is the surface and durability. Also, the price, LPL is less expensive than HPL.

Foam Core Boards Sintra, Gator Board, Kappa Board, PVC Foam board... they all fall into this category.

Sintra PVC Foam board is a very durable pvc sheet. Sintra PVC Foam is for photo mounting, display construction and a variety of other uses. Excellent for outdoor use. Sintra PVC is also available with a self-adhesive peel and stick film for mounting.

Gator Board Gatorfoam foam board is an extruded polystyrene foam board bonded between two layers of Luxcell wood-fiber veneer. It's a heavy duty yet versatile foam board and is great for everything.

The link above has a wealth of information on many types of foam core boards. Check local suppliers for availability and sizes, these cannot be rolled for shipping like HPL or Vinyl sheeting. These are also more durable than the foam core project boards you see at Walmart in the 2'x3' size, but they can gouge or mark easily, at least much easier than HPL or LPL.

Paper Screens This one wasn't mentioned in the index, but it is worth a note.

Projector Central has a nice tutorial on making a paper screen.

As they point out, paper suppliers can vary widely in their color balance and tend to add bluing and other brighteners to give their papers a brighter look. This tends to cause color shifting for our use.

Also, unless you can get just a cut the size you need (a local supplier may be willing to do this at a very low cost) a full roll tends to negate the price and value to performance factor.

Paper is also very susceptable to light leakage, and anytime light is passed through a screen, that's lost energy, i.e. a less vivid image. For a quick down and dirty screen and if you can get a cut sheet in the size you need for pennies on the dollar as compared to buying a full roll, I would rate this as much better than the old days of using a bed sheet, but nowhere near the level of what is currently available in DIY.
wbassett is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 6 Old 08-09-07, 10:21 AM Thread Starter
Elite Shackster
wbassett's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Central PA
Posts: 2,234
Re: Simple Substrate Screens

Updated information

"Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Albert Einstein

"If all else fails, spin the cat."- Grzboken
wbassett is offline  
post #3 of 6 Old 08-13-08, 07:20 PM
Senior Shackster
tbase1's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: medina ohio
Posts: 103
Re: Simple Substrate Screens

i use white sintra ,but i'm going to try the light gray this weekend. it looks to be a couple shades lighter then my draper high contrast gray screen.
tbase1 is offline  
post #4 of 6 Old 08-14-08, 11:16 PM Thread Starter
Elite Shackster
wbassett's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Central PA
Posts: 2,234
Re: Simple Substrate Screens

Sintra has been a mainstay for DIY many people have been using for years now. I'm one of the unlucky ones that couldn't find it locally.

tbase... any chance of you sending a small sample of each in for us to take readings on so we can add it to the database of screens?

"Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Albert Einstein

"If all else fails, spin the cat."- Grzboken
wbassett is offline  
post #5 of 6 Old 09-23-08, 10:55 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 21
Re: Simple Substrate Screens

You can get free (small) samples of gatorfoam and sintra board from alcan composites usa, use google
Hope this helps.

jsegura3 is offline  
post #6 of 6 Old 09-24-08, 01:06 PM
Moderator Emeritus
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Central PA
Posts: 3,772
Re: Simple Substrate Screens

Welcome to the Shack John!

Thanks for the tip on the Alcan product samples.
Harpmaker is offline  


screens , simple , substrate

Quick Reply

Register Now



Confirm Password
Email Address
Confirm Email Address
Random Question
Random Question #2

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address



Activation requires you reply to an email we will send you after you register... if you do not reply to this email, you will not be able to view certain areas of the forum or certain images... nor will you be able download software.


See our banned email list here: Banned Email List

We DO NOT respond to spamcop, boxtrapper and spamblocker emails... please add @hometheatershack DOT com to your whitelist prior to registering or you will get nowhere on your registration.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML is not allowed!
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome