Working with Rough Walls... a Screen from Nothing - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 19 Old 02-28-07, 12:27 AM Thread Starter
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Working with Rough Walls... a Screen from Nothing

Being the owner of a 160 plus year old Victorian I don't think I have a flat smooth wall in the house, but maybe this can give people some ideas on how to deal with walls that aren't very smooth. Visually as a wall, they are fine. For a screen though you will want the surface as flat and smooth as possible. Bumps and low areas will show up during bright scenes that pan across the screen, and trust me you will notice them... and it is as irritating as the waves people complain about with non-tab-tensioned manual and electric screens.

The first picture is of the wall where the screen will be. The paint has been removed and the several layers of wallpaper. What you see left is the wall paper print transferred to the actual wall. This will give you a good idea of what I was dealing with though when it comes to lathe and plaster walls in an old house. Sheetrock would be fine to paint on, plaster cracks over the years as you can see. Structurally everything is fine, this is just what you see in an old house when you take the wallpaper down is all.

This is a shot from the adjacent room. Mainly I took this one to show the amount of light that pours in. At night it is definitely dark though.

I couldn't find a substrate in the size I wanted for a screen. Also I test numerous types of screens, so I didn't want something hard to put up or expensive for this project. What I did was to use Liner paper to cover the plaster wall once I stripped the wall paper. Liner paper is normally used to cover paneling, cinder blocks, or any rough surface before putting up wall paper or painting. It doesn't have the fancy decorative patterns like the paintable wall paper most have probably seen, but it is also much cheaper. A roll 26" by 30' is around $8. It is relatively thick, but easy to work with. The thickness helps cover and smooth out rough or imperfect surfaces, but you will need to do a little more than just put it up.

First it isn't pre-glued, which isn't awful but you'll have to get wallpaper paste and any old brush will do. I used a 3" brush. What I did was shoot a blank blue screen image from the projector on the wall. I adjusted it for a 52x92 image size and marked it off. Paste the liner paper and then put the two pieces up, but you will need two people to do this. You can use a wall paper squeegee, but I used a 3' level to drag it across the paper to get any air bubble out. Now... let it dry before even thinking about painting.

There will be a seam between the two 26" strips, so you'll have to put some mud up. I used the kind that goes on red and dries white. The trick is not to put it on too thick. When it dries use a sponge sanding block to feather out the edges. You'll know when it's done when you run your fingers over the area and you can't tell where the paper and mud start and stop.

This is what it looked like at this point before the mud on the seam dried.

You can see from the picture that the paper may be stiff and fairly thick but it is still pretty transparent
.
...and an angled shot...

Once I got the seam smoothed out I primed the 'screen' with Kilz2. This allowed me to see any imperfections and high/low spots better. I then used some pre-mixed drywall mud and a 12" trowel to skim all the low spots. I used the sanding block on the fine side. It makes a mess and lots of 'dust' so cover things up. When you are done though you will have a nice flat and smooth surface to paint. It sounds like a lot of work but it really isn't. Most of the time is waiting for the mud to dry. Start to ready to paint, it took me two evenings. I didn't use heaters and I just let it dry while I watched movies on my HDTV upstairs

Here is a shot before any paint and with the Samsung logo screen up.

After the skim coat is sanded prime and put up any paint application you prefer.

I use this as my test screen for painted screens. This is the screen after the skim coat was sanding and it was primed and ready to be painted..

After the first coat of Sherwin William's Gray Screen SW7071.

Of course the surrounding wall looks awful in these shots. As I mentioned, what looks like wallpaper still on the wall is actually the print from the wallpaper that bled through to the plaster. (There were three layers of wallpaper and at least three layers of paint on the wall.)

My test screen dressed out with a black suede border trim and the wall finished with a decorative/textured paintable wallpaper and ready for painting. Total time from start to finish a week and a half.

Calibration stage for my test screen...


Some images after the second coat was fully dry and the test screen was trimmed and dressed out... on axis and off...

Now...Painting...

If you go this route, the liner paper could bubble in areas for the first couple of coats. When I say bubble, I mean scary bubbles that you may be inclined to try to flatten and 'work' out. Let them go. As the paint dries it contracts and it will flatten out. I have seen this with the paintable wall covering as well as liner paper. If you freak and try to flatten it, you will only make things worse or ruin the paint finish... so give it a good 24 hours and you'll be surprised at how the bubbles go away...

Hopefully this may have given some people a few ideas... it may not be the way you go or were even thinking of going, but for those that have older houses this worked like a charm for me and really wasn't as hard to do as it may sound... it does though take time.

I have also had a fixed frame DW screen up as well as several other painted screen. The method I descibed above has served me well as far as a very nice test screen platform... for most it would be a nice permanant screen platform.
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post #2 of 19 Old 02-28-07, 12:45 AM Thread Starter
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Raceway and Projector Mount...

I actually mounted my projector first before putting the screen up. This isn't really DIY Screen, but it is a topic many people are not sure how to approach.

I have seen many methods ranging from cutting a path right in the sheetrock, to opening a hole in the wall and ceiling and then fishing the cables through. One very interesting idea was to cut out the sheetrock and then put rain gutter down spout in the wall for a cable run. All of these require sheetrock work and mud to patch things back up. Unfortunately... or maybe it was good fortune, I couldn't do this because I have plaster with lots of slat boards behind it. There was no feasable way to cut a groove in the wall and then repair it. It simply would have damaged the walls too much.

I opted for cable raceway. It also falls inline with KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid - that wasn't meant derogatory, I can sometimes over engineer things so I have to remind myself of this from time to time!) Anyway, raceway makes for a nice clean installation.

The raceway follows the baseboard molding around the room and then up the back wall to the projector. I also ran power and put an outlet in by the projector. It's easier to plan things out and do it all at once.

Don't mind the dust and junk on the floor, that's some minor residual from sanding and removing the first layers of wallpaper...



... and here is where my projector is mounted... these are 10foot ceilings so it's up high...


As a quick sidebar… the rear speakers sit on matt black 13’ TV wall mounts, perfect size for these larger ‘bookshelf’ speakers.

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post #3 of 19 Old 02-28-07, 05:04 PM
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Re: Working with Rough Walls... a Screen from Nothing

Bill...The screen looks really good..Certainly a different idea..
What was the final top coat?, or did you just use the Kilz?

I've been thinking about using black suede on the border for my new screen also. How effective is it with light spill?..Is it as good as velvet or velveteen?

I also have 10' ceilings, but I mounted my projector on a telescopic mount, to keep the screen lower down..How do you find the viewing with your screen so high?
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post #4 of 19 Old 02-28-07, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Working with Rough Walls... a Screen from Nothing

The screen is Sherwin William's Gray Screen SW7071 in the matte finish. It's a Munsell N8 match that is very close to neutral, with slight red deficiency. Incandescant lighting leans red so I felt a slight drop in red would help the red push with lights on. With lights off its not enough of a drop to make the picture look shifted or anything like that. (No I'm not selling out on laminates! This is my current test screen, but it seems like it's been up for several months now though )

Here is what the color swatch and data looks like.

Black Suede is definitely inexpensive (I try to avoid saying cheap because some people interpret that as meaning... well cheap!) It was around $2.50 a yard at Walmart. It looks really good, but you're not going to beat velvet for light absorbtion. My projector is actually native 4:3 and even though I put it in widescreen mode it still puts out the whole 4:3 throw. It's no black hole or deadzone, but it is just a test screen that I wanted to dress up for screen shots. All in all it looks nice and does the job. Would I use Black Suede again if/when I get a Panny AX100U? Seeing that I have plenty left over and that is a native 16:9 throw, I probably will.

Here are a couple shots, if you look you can see the 4:3 throw above and below the border, but the suede actually does a decent job. If this was a permanant setup I'd probably have ropelights like mech and then you wouldn't even notice the 4:3 at all. (hmm, mech make a note of that as a good reason for rope lights for people with older projectors! )


(Note the whites and then look at the shade above again, this isn't a light gray yet whites really are that white)

The screen is higher than most people's but nobody has ever complained that it's not dead on eye level. I tend to slouch down in the couch with my feet up and my eyes are pointed at the screen... I found when I watch the tube is when I was bending my neck. I don't think I would tell others to put their screen at that level though, but it isn't awkward to watch. And yes, even with my projector mounted that high I could have dropped the screen and keystoned the image but I like to stay away from using keystone if possible.

I plan on replacing the Toshiba 36" set with a 1080p 50" HDTV. I have also been eying that 70" JVC for $2600... but if I got that the projector would probably be history! My wife asked why I don't just put the TV in the other living room, but I want a pool table for in there I measured things out and I can slip a 50 in HDTV in there without going into the screen area.

Why a TV and a screen? I don't use the projector as a TV like a lot of people. Plus we dropped cable over 2 1/2 years ago. We have tons of TV series on DVD and I won't waste bulb hours on that. It's usually only big epic movies that I have up there... Date Movie isn't a projector candidate to me ... but that's our personal preference and tastes for big screen movie viewing. I might change my mind though once I test the AX100U and skip the HDTV... I haven't decided yet.
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post #5 of 19 Old 02-28-07, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Working with Rough Walls... a Screen from Nothing

Prof my main reason for this thread though was to show you don't need a fancy substrate and if I could turn that wall into a screen anyone can... even a concrete basement wall with liner paper can be converted into a screen area. The whole screen, border included was around $80-85 and that included the mud to skim it with. I didn't count the Kilz2 because I always have a gallon of that around the house, but that is only around $13.
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post #6 of 19 Old 03-01-07, 05:14 PM
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Re: Working with Rough Walls... a Screen from Nothing

Quote:
wbassett wrote: View Post
Prof my main reason for this thread though was to show you don't need a fancy substrate and if I could turn that wall into a screen anyone can... even a concrete basement wall with liner paper can be converted into a screen area. The whole screen, border included was around $80-85 and that included the mud to skim it with. I didn't count the Kilz2 because I always have a gallon of that around the house, but that is only around $13.
How thick is this liner paper?..Would it be as thick as Poster board, or more like wall-paper?

The black suede border seems to work very well in those shots..
I have grey suede curtains in my room, and they don't reflect any light..You can even shine a torch on them and barely see it..
I looked at black velvet as a possibility, but at $29.90/M. for the silk velvet, it gets a bit expensive to wrap a hole frame..
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post #7 of 19 Old 03-01-07, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Working with Rough Walls... a Screen from Nothing

It's not super thick... probably around the same thickness as card stock for printing, maybe a little thinner than that. It's sold in the wallpaper section along with the textured paintable wall paper. There is no pattern on it, and it's a little stiffer. It is made to cover rough walls before painting or putting up wall paper. It will fold and crease, and it comes in a 26" wide roll, so it's not so thick you can't work with it easy. Because of the size, like I said you'll need too people to put it up.

As far as the black suede, a lot of people get a little crazy and upset acting when anything but Velvet is suggested. At $2.50 a yard it's not like you're going to break the bank trying it. I see no spill reflected back from it. I just saw someone spend over $40 on velvet and then complain about spending more than $10 on their screen... go figure!
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post #8 of 19 Old 12-09-07, 10:51 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Working with Rough Walls... a Screen from Nothing

I've seen people post questions here and on a couple other forums lately with questions about dealing with rough walls. I know exactly what that's like and that's what this thread is about so I thought it would be a good idea to bump this thread back to the first page since there have been a few asking about this topic.

A lot of times on forums the first page of posts are what gets the attention and there are usually great threads buried on the lower pages. With that in mind I have been planning a thread index as a sticky that lists some of the various threads throughout the forum and provide links to them for a quick reference guide. I am heading out to PA today but will get that started tomorrow.

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

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post #9 of 19 Old 09-23-08, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Working with Rough Walls... a Screen from Nothing

It's time to bring this back around to the front page. There is a link to it in the stickies above but sometimes even the stickies get over looked or at the time a person reads them something like this thread doesn't seem to apply to them. Later on they run into some trouble where something like this might help them but forgot about the stickies.

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

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post #10 of 19 Old 04-23-12, 11:05 AM
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Re: Working with Rough Walls... a Screen from Nothing

Hi, I am thinking of using liner paper for my textured wall, did you use the heavy duty one or light weight, thanks.
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