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Discussion Starter #1
This thread will cover the basics of painting a screen using various brands of paint and complexity. I will try to include information on spraying screens too, but most do not have the equipment for that and there is a rule of diminishing gains that also comes into play. For some people, eeking out an extra .5 to 2% increase in performance means everything- to others the amount of work vs the small increase may not be worth it... it's not my position to tell anyone that they have to go a certain route, that's up to the individual to decide.

DIY Painted Screen Index

  1. Why Paint?
  2. What Brand?
  3. What Color?
  4. Mixes or Simple?
  5. On the Wall or on a Substrate
  6. Tools and Supplies
  7. Prep and Painting
  8. Top Coats
  9. Spraying
Paint… an area and topic of much debate in some circles. Why is it such a debatable screen option? Paint is inexpensive and there are many manufacturers. Some people prefer one brand over another. Keep in mind though that what looks nice as a regular wall paint may not work all that great as a screen paint.

A couple of things to look for with paint is a good quality brand that does not contain a lot of clay or chalk in it, and good quality pigments are used for tinting the colors. Cheaper paint doesn’t cover as well and generally has a lot of impurities that can cause a projected image to look dull and washed out.

Color balance is also a very important factor. This topic is discussed in the Neutral Gray thread in great detail, so it won’t be rehashed again here.

There are two and only two types of screens as far as shade, those are white and gray. Now each of these shades have an almost infinite level of step shades within them (although anything other than pure white can technically be called a gray), but we really only need a certain few shades for most situations and projectors. A new buzz word and popular term people may be hearing is a ‘Black Screen’, but even these black screens are actually gray.

The first order of business is to get some information.
  • Projector Lumen Rating
  • Contrast Rating
  • Screen Size
  • Viewing Conditions
The above items will help determine what color and shade will work best for just about any given situation. The only remaining variable is user preference.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
1. Why Paint?

Some people swear by paints and will only use paint for their screen. This is perfectly fine and paints make for some of the best screens available in DIY, and they can rival even some of the most expensive commercial screens out there.

As mentioned in the Intro, not just any paint will make for a good performing screen. The color balance as well as the sheen will be factors. A matte finish is the most preferable when it comes to sheen. Most paint manufacturer's don't have a matte finish, but a few do. Matte is a sheen that is between flat and an eggshell finish. Eggshell tends to be too much sheen and can hot spot, so flat is the most common choice of finishes.

A couple of things to look for with paint is a good quality brand that does not contain a lot of clay in it, and good quality pigments are used for tinting the colors. Cheaper paint doesn’t cover as well and generally has a lot of impurities that can cause a projected image to look dull and washed out.

Next is the color balance. Throughout this forum there are many references to the balance and neutrality of a color. The reason is because that is a very important part of the screen. Optical top coatings can reduce hot spotting, increase gain... and even add some image depth, but if the base color is bad, it is like building a house on a bad foundation. Everything keys off the color balance.

So why paint in the first place? Paint is very inexpensive and very easy for anyone to get. Rolling takes minimal effort to acquire the skills needed, and if a person has painted any rooms in their house before, they have the skills to paint a screen.

Convenience is another factor. Even small towns have a True Value, Ace Hardware, Lowes, or Home Depot usually close by. Constructing a screen shouldn't be the most difficult part of a Home Theater, but it does require some thought and it is one of the most crucial components. For those that are interested in what would be one of the more difficult aspects of building a Home Theater- simple, running all those wires! But that is something for a different topic and thread.

Comfort is by far the biggest factor in why so many people go with a painted screen. Most already have the skills required to roll, some even have experience spraying (more on that later). Paint is relatively easy to apply, and if a mistake is made, it is very easy to fix... and if you don't like one shade, it's very easy to roll on another one, hence comfort.

next... What Brand?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
2. What Brand?

Okay so now we have to decide what brand. All paints are not created equal, that is a certainty.

Since the goal of this forum is to keep things simple yet provide outstanding performance, the paint brands that are going to be mentioned are very easy for anyone to find, at least in the US. For those that live outside the US and do not have any of these paints available, contact me and we can see what's available in your area and check the color balance information. That's a great place to start.

So keeping things in line with the KISS principle, here are my favorite recommendations, in no specific order:
  • True Value
  • Home Depot (Behr)
  • Sherwin Williams
  • Dutch Boys- (Sold through Walmart too)
That sounds like a short list, and it actually is, but those stores can be found most anywhere. Sometimes I am amazed when a person says they cannot find a particular brand, and the store locator on the company's website shows multiple stores in their area. Make sure to check out the store locator's and don't discount any of the mentioned companies because you may have never been to one of their stores.

[PIE]The list is not only one of convenience, but more important these companies have some of the best balanced paints I have seen and tested... and remember what I keep saying and the mantra you keep hearing repeatedly throughout the DIY forum... Balance... Daniel-san needed it in the Karate Kid, and we need it even more with our screen![/PIE]

Behr has the best off the shelf white around. Ultra Pure White is just that, a very bright well balanced white paint. Behr uses UPW for most of their colors and it is an excellent base. It is also an excellent base for a white screen too. I am not very impressed with the rest of Behr's standard colors. For decorating and painting your walls, sure, but there are some problems with a lot of their grays- mainly that they are not really gray.

Tiddler has developed some custom tints for Behr based on UPW that are very nice and the people that have used his EasyFlex are very pleased and the performance is very good. These tints are easy for anyone to obtain, and should be considered when looking for a screen paint. They are also better balanced than anything you are going to get off the shelf from Behr, but these are not complex mixes where you have to measure and pray, you take a BAC code into the store, and they make it just like any of the other paint colors you would get there... very simple, very KISSable.

Sherwin Williams has a very very interesting paint. It is their Duration brand in the matte finish. In their stores they have a display with the Duration matte finish next to a painted panel of the Duration flat finish. At the display are markers, a spray bottle, and a rag. Unless the display is a brand new one, you can already see what is going to happen, but you really have to try it and see what happens for yourself. Take the marker and draw all over the two panels. Go wild... pretend you are two years old again and just found mommy or daddy's marker or pen and you want to draw them something special (now try to imagine this happening to your screen- although I wouldn't know how a two year old would get up that high...) When you are done, spray it down with the water bottle. Incredibly, the marker drawing on the Duration matte side actually starts to run off with the water! A wipe with the rag and it's gone. The flat finish... well, you probably already saw what to expect with the previous marker prints that didn't wipe off. It also rolls on smooth and covers extremely well.

Dutch Boys- This is one I don't have any color values on yet, but I am interesting in it for two reasons. One it is sold at Walmart, and I think Walmart's goal is to have one store for every person on the planet, so if you can't find a Walmart near you, check your map, you might live in Tibet. (Although I wouldn't be surprised if there is a Walmart there too) the second reason... it's the same manufacturer that makes Sherwin Williams. I was disappointed to see that Dutch Boys doesn't have a matte finish though, so flat would be the recommended finish, and we'll fix that up later with a few tricks. Unfortunately I don't have the BAC to cross Sherwin Williams with Dutch Boys, but I will. Then anyone should be able to find an excellent gray.

True Value- never gave them much thought about anything as a hardware store. I always went to Lowes or Home Depot... that is until I got some information on some of their paint. They have a couple of colors that are the most neutral of anything I have seen, either in DIY or the commercial screen paint companies. There is a company called GTI that sells an ISO standard gray in N8 and N7 shades of gray. Because they meet ISO standards, I thought this would be the Holy Grail of grays and be dead on neutral. It was close, but still fell outside the D65 circle. True Value amazingly has two paint colors, one in an N8 shade, the other an N9 shade that are inside the D65 neutral reference point circle. And at $7-$9 a quart, it is far cheaper than the $80 a gallon for GTI's N8.

These brands should get most people going no matter where they live in the US. As I mentioned, outside the US they may not be available so PM and we'll see what we can come up with.

next... What Color?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
3. What Color/Shade?

What color and shade to use... this is probably one of the most debated areas when it comes to DIY. There are many methods, some complex, some simple, some layered, but each of them do have a color and shade being used.

Typically for a totally light controlled room or dedicated Home Theater, white is the recommended screen color. As discussed in the Neutral Gray thread, there are some situations where a person may opt for a gray screen.

Rather than say a particular DIY method or brand of paint, I think it is more important to discuss why there are different screen shades and which ones are used for what situations. From there, you can read up on the various methods presented in this forum and decide on the specifics of paint brand and color, or simple vs complex.

The factors that will determine the optimal screen shade are:
  • Projector Lumen Rating
  • Contrast Rating
  • Screen Size
  • Viewing Conditions

Projector Lumen Rating is key for daytime viewing or using a projector with a high amount of ambient lighting. If you have viewing conditions that have medium to strong ambient light, but do occasionally view with total light control, an N8 shade is recommended. Keep in mind that the correct lumen output will be required or the image will look muddy, and daytime viewing will still wash out, but not as bad as with a white screen.

Low to medium lighting, an N9 to N8 shade is recommended, with N8.5 being the optimal shade. This is obviously a shade mid way between N8 and N9 and will provide better performance with some room lighting on. Most DIY screens seem to fall in this range because it provides the best balance of overall performance with some lighting as well as lights out. It also doesn't require the higher lumen output that N8 and darker shades do.

For total light control, low lumen projectors, and CRT projector owners, White is the recommended choice.

Contrast Ratio... this is another area that can be helped with the right screen choice. First and foremost I want to stress that no screen, DIY or commercial is going to increase the contrast ratio. That is determined by the projector itself and a screen cannot create a higher CR than what is being projected. With that said, a screen can improve the perceived contrast that our eyes see. This is a bit of trickery on our eyes and brain, but if it helps improve the image and our viewing pleasure, that is all that really matters.

Gray is considered a contrast enhancing screen. As stated above, there is a lumen factor that also comes into play as far as how dark of a gray a projector can handle.

Screen Size: Most of the time a new projector owner tends to go with the largest image the projector can produce for the room setting. The bigger the screen though, the lower the foot Lamberts (fL) of light that will be at the screen surface. What that means is a dimmer image. Using zoom to make the image larger also lowers the fL at the screen. Just as was mention about lumens being critical when determining the shade of a screen, so is the size. The larger the screen, the lighter it needs to be to get the same image brightness. The typical screen sizes most people use are a 98"-100" diagonal 16:9 screen up to a 110" diagonal screen (54"96"). At those sizes, everything discussed previous to Screen Size applies. Over a 110-120" screen, foot Lamberts start to drop quickly, so the shade should as well. For a 120" screen I would say no darker than an N9 shade unless you own a projector that is a true light cannon with a lumen output in excess of 2000 lumens. Larger screens than that should be a white or light gray, again in the N9 shade but no darker. Gain is is more critical than shade at this point since screens of this size are rarely used in a multipurpose room with lighting problems. These screens are in dedicated Home Theater setups where everything is controllable.

Viewing Conditions... that is all of the above rolled into one.

Tip: For people that want something a little more than just convient, check into Rosco's Off Broadway White White. It is a very bright white like Behr UPW, but perfomance wise it surpasses UPW. It is a Vinyl Acrylic paint in a matte finish, and Rosco even acknowledges its use as a screen paint. It can be ordered online, or check their store locator. As good as UPW is as a white screen, this stuff is better.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
4. Mixes or Simple?

Yet another area that is largely debated in DIY.

Some people insist that a simple method cannot compare to a complex paint mix. There are some benefits to adding components like polys and other mix ingredients, but with the newer projectors coming out this is becoming less and less of a factor. Most of the mixes are using various additives to smooth out the color balance of the screen and make it more neutral or a well balanced 'V' curve. Until recently most of this was done by trial and error. Now there is more information on screens and paints that are showing that what was being done by mixing can now be achieved with some of the OTS (Off The Shelf) shades that also employ a poly top coating.

With an advanced mix, typically a polyurethane and other ingrediants are mixed with the paint to add gain, and depth. This is accomplished by making the paint itself more translucent, which affects how the projected light is diffused across the screen.

To some, they honestly cannot see the performance increase from a complex mix to the best of the simple methods. There is the law of diminishing gains that comes into play and a point is reached where the percentage of increased performance may not equal the increase in effort.

There are some very good complex mixes that used more of a collapsed layered concept. The collapsed method is adding all the ingredients, including the top coating into one mix and applying several coatings of that. If you look at all the commercial screen paint companies, most use a two step method- a base color and then an optical top coating. Some are one step methods that could be a collapsed layered method, or nothing more than a simple one step paint. Which works better? Some people have almost gone insane trying to determine that.

I am looking for the writeup I did discussing the percentage of screen performance. When I find that I will add it to this post.

more information coming and to be added to this post...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
5. Wall or Substrate?

Substrates

Some people will paint their screen directly on the wall. For people going that route no substrates are necessary, but there is some prep work needed.

Virtually anything can be used as a substrate as long as it is the right size and has a relatively smooth texture.

Below are some sample of surfaces.

There are several materials that are commonly used for Substrates.
  • Sintra
  • Komatex
  • Komacel
  • Celtec
  • Parkland Polywall
  • Melamine Project Panels
  • MDF
  • Hardboard panels
Sintra, Komatex, Komacel, and Celtec are all pretty much the same thing and most plastic distributors can get sheets of this material. They are all a rigid, expanded PVC that is very light weight. Some have been able to get sheets as big as 5’x8’ for under $30. They can be somewhat hard to find in certain areas. None of these were available where I live.

Parkland is a sanitary panel used primarily in showers and restrooms. It is a bright white and a lot of people use it as is for a white screen.

Since these are plastic, all of the above mentioned substrates will require a primer coating before applying the screen paint. The primer gives the paint a better surface to adhere to.

Melamine is essentially a piece of MDF with a white Low Pressure Laminate (LPL) on one side. Most of these panels tend to have a higher gloss and surface sheen than what is required for a screen and they can hot spot pretty bad. I haven’t known anyone to put a poly coating on one of these and try it as is, but that probably would work and make it a very easy to make screen, but since we are talking about painting you would need to apply your preferred screen paint to a sheet of Melamine.

MDF is the same as above with the exception both sides are the same, meaning no white LPL.

Both Melamine and MDF come in various thicknesses, ranging from ¼ inch to an inch thick. The thicker the sheet, the more it is going to weigh. Be prepared for this to be a two person project when it comes to mounting it. Also make sure you go into the studs for the anchors on the French cleats. These can easily weigh 60lbs when fully dressed out with the border trim.


[PIE]Important: If your wall or surface is plastic or has a very smooth synthetic finish, you must first apply a primer so that the paint can adequately adhere to the surface. Walls or substrates made of particle board or MDF should be thoroughly cleaned with turpentine or paint thinner.

A synthetic surface cannot absorb any liquid. While drying, air bubbles may appear in the paint that has been applied. Do not touch them. They will disappear by themselves as the paint dries. Popping any air bubbles or trying to re-roll them out will definitely cause blemishes in the paint surface.[/PIE]

I specifically left Do-able and the Laminates out of the list of substrates. Laminate is too expensive to use as something that you are just going to paint, and there really is no need to paint a laminate screen. The same applies for Do-Able as far as stand alone performance, but not the price. At $14-$15 a 4x8 sheet, if someone wanted to paint it they wouldn’t be out anything except a very good stand alone screen. Now, some have painted the back side of Do-Able with a gray screen paint and created a flippable screen- one side for nighttime viewing with total light control, and the other side for viewing during the day or with lots of lighting on.

Each of these will be the same for standard prep, which is ensure the surface is clean and put a primer coat on. We’ll cover the painting steps in a bit.

Walls
Using a wall to paint a screen onto is probably the easiest and most straight forward way to make a projector screen. With a substrate there are some cool things that can be done, such as adding rope lighting behind the screen for mood lighting and to reduce eye fatigue, or to get a 'floating screen' look. Where substrates lose their appeal quickly is their size restriction.

Most of the substrates listed above can be found at your local hardware store or plastics outlet. In some areas they will special order sheets that are over 4'x8' in size at an additional charge, but not all areas or stores will do this. So size is the biggest restriction with a sheet substrate.

With a wall, you can literally make your screen the entire size of the wall- depending on whether your projector can put out an image that large based on the throw distance.

For newer houses, painting a screen on a wall is pretty straight forward and there is very little prep work needed. Just make sure the wall is clean and smooth, then put a nice primer coat up- again Kilz2 is cheap and easy.

Even in newer houses, it is still important to ensure the surface is flat and smooth. Inspect the wall closely for any small irregularities, scratches or holes. Repair any low spots, nail holes, or irregularities and then sand the wall lightly to even it out. After sanding, run your fingers across the area just worked on. You should not be able to feel any bumps or edges from the wall to where any spackle or mud was applied and sanded smooth.

Liner paper is something that can be used on very rough walls. This can be especially helpful in older homes or in basements that have concrete or cinder block walls. 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.

This is what liner paper can do... it can turn a wall like this...


To this...

To see more details on dealing with rough walls, look at the Working with Rough Walls... making a screen from Nothing thread.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
6. Tools and Supplies

Most people will have some if not all of the basic tools and materials already from other projects around the house.

Here is a little check list of the basic items you will need:
  • Paint Tray
  • Roller
  • Roller Cover
  • Extension Handle for the Roller
  • Drop Cloth
  • Stirring Stick or Mixing Tool
  • Painter's Tape
  • Tape Measure and Level
  • Sponge Sanding Block
  • Kilz2 Primer
  • Paint
  • Cleanup Rags
  • Other items to be covered in prep if needed

First Roller Trays.
[img]http://i96.photobucket.com/albums/l190/wbassett/HTS/ScreenPainting/PaintTray.jpg[/img]




Most people will already have a painter's rolling tray. There is nothing fancy about them and no need to spend a fortune on one either. A basic tray that is solid and has hooks to fit on a ladder is perfect. For painting a screen though you shouldn't need a ladder for paint, but may when it comes to putting up the painter's masking tape.






[PIE]Tip: You can get disposable tray liners that make cleanup much easier and no need to wash the roller tray out and get all messy yourself![/PIE]


[img]http://i96.photobucket.com/albums/l190/wbassett/HTS/ScreenPainting/Roller.jpg[/img]





Again nothing fancy here, and most people have one or two laying around the house already.







[img]http://i96.photobucket.com/albums/l190/wbassett/HTS/ScreenPainting/quartinchnapRoller.jpg[/img]





A 3/16" nap roller is the preferred roller cover. This will roll out a smooth finish with the least amount of texture.







[img]http://i96.photobucket.com/albums/l190/wbassett/HTS/ScreenPainting/FoamRollerCover.jpg[/img]




A foam roller will roll an even smoother finish, but can be a little tricky for some to get used to. They don't load up with paint the same as a 1/4" nap roller, and if you press too hard while rolling, they will 'skid' very easily causing a major slick spot in the painted surface. If this happens, don't worry. Load up the roller with more paint (but don't over load it, just enough to recover the area of the 'skid'. More on painting techniques later though...






[PIE]Tip: Make sure to buy enough rollers to do the job. There is nothing worse than running out in the middle of the job. Ideally you will want a fresh roller between each coat if you are waiting the recommended drying time between coats, and especially a fresh, clean roller when you change paints. There is another neat trick you can do- but that's a teaser and will be a tip in the actual painting section- right now we're just making our shopping list![/PIE]

[img]http://i96.photobucket.com/albums/l190/wbassett/HTS/ScreenPainting/pole.jpg[/img]




This is definitely something everyone needs around the house and not just for painting a screen. You can get a wooden pole for very little money, but personally I really like the adjustable poles for just a few dollars more. They can cost as much as $30, but personally I see nothing better about those than the $8 adjustable one I got from Walmart. I've had it for probably ten years now and have painted several houses with it over the years.




[img]http://i96.photobucket.com/albums/l190/wbassett/HTS/ScreenPainting/PaintersTape.jpg[/img]





Again there are many brands and many prices. The main thing is to look for a tape that has a seven day release rating. You won't want to leave it up that long, but it gives you some flexibility.






[img]http://i96.photobucket.com/albums/l190/wbassett/HTS/ScreenPainting/SandingSponge.jpg[/img]






A sponge sanding block, medium on one side, fine on the other. This comes in handy for smoothing out any excessing texture or rough areas.
[img]http://i96.photobucket.com/albums/l190/wbassett/HTS/ScreenPainting/PlasticDropcloth.jpg[/img]








Don't even think of painting a screen or doing any painting project without a drop cloth, that is unless you want a mess and paint all over!






[img]http://i96.photobucket.com/albums/l190/wbassett/HTS/ScreenPainting/051652200010md.jpg[/img]



Kilz2 is available just about anywhere in the US. Not only is it a good primer that covers up stains very nicely, it actually works as a great unity gain white screen! This is a good trick to use before painting the main screen paint, and that is to project an image onto the Kilz2 and run through a calibration to get a good base line of what your projector can do and what are any of its weaknesses. Without a base line it's pretty hard to say just how good that final coat of screen paint actually is.





The last item is of course the screen paint itself! Since this is a thread about painting, no specific paints will be referenced. This will be up to you to decide which of the many screen paint applications fits your needs.​



Many of these items are things most people already have. The few that weren't mentioned so far are things like a tape measurer, a level (it's always nice to make sure the marked off area for the screen is actually level!) and a pencil to mark the screen dimensions for masking.


Next up... Finally! Prep and Painting
 

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Discussion Starter #8
7. Prep and Painting

Preparartion... this is perhaps the most over looked part of any project, not just DIY.

Proper preparation can mean the difference between success and failure, especially with DIY screens. I really can't emphasize this enough. It really isn't that hard or as much extra work as it sounds. Actually, doing proper prep work can save time in the long run. It is always better, easier, and faster to do things right the first time than ending up starting all over from scratch.

Sermon done.

Both substrates and walls will need some prep work done. It could be as minor as wiping the substrate down before painting it, or as involved as patching and smoothing out rough spots on a wall.

If your wall or surface has a very smooth finish or is a synthetic or plastic surface, you must first apply an primer so that the paint screen paint can adequately adhere to the surface. Walls made of particle board or MDF should be thoroughly cleaned with turpentine or paint thinner. This will remove any glue residue and build up on the surface. This may seem like a useless step, and for most applications people don't have a problem- but ask yourself if you want to be that one person that does have a bonding issue or residue lumps. A quick wipe down is all it really takes, only a minute of your time.

Tip: A nonporous synthetic surface cannot absorb any liquid. While drying, temporary air bubbles may appear in the paint that has been applied. Do not touch them. They will
disappear by themselves as the paint dries.

Absorbency: If the wall is very absorbent (porous), you should first treat it with a primer.

Dirt: If the wall is very dirty (for example, smoke stains, water stains) you will first have to
treat it with a good stain-blocking primer.

Dark: If the surface is very dark you will first have to treat it with a primer.

In other words, a good primer coat is always worth starting with.

[PIE]Plus Kilz2 acts as a very nice unity gain matte white screen to do the initial projector calibration to get a baseline of your projector's performance.[/PIE]



Determining the location,size and dimensions of the screen. Most people immediately go for the largest screen size their projector will produce. Take some time to really evaluate what size fits the room and doesn't overwhelm the viewer. If you have to look too high, too low, or if the screen is so big you have to turn your head in order to take in everything at once, you may want to reconsider the screen size and location. Start by projecting onto the prepped wall that has a nice coat of Kilz2 primer up. (For those using substrates, you will of course be limited to the substrate size, but this will help determine the best screen location)

[img]http://i96.photobucket.com/albums/l190/wbassett/HTS/ScreenPainting/ScreenSetup1a.jpg[/img]











Turn the projector on and project an image on the wall, preferable a solid blue image, but a welcome screen such as this example will work.













[img]http://i96.photobucket.com/albums/l190/wbassett/HTS/ScreenPainting/ScreenRatioSetup.jpg[/img]










Select the desired Aspect Ratio dimensions on the projector if applicable, then use the zoom function to set the screen size on the wall to the exact size you prefer.

















Once the screen placement and ratio have been setup, calibrate the projector. Most people neglect to calibrate and check the initial projector performance and limitations on a reference screen. This will show you exactly how well your projector performs and give you a baseline. AVIA or Digital Video Essentials are the two calibration discs most people use, but the THX Optimizer that is included with every THX certified DVD works nicely too if you don't have either of the calibration DVDs mentioned.

Here is a sample of one of the calibration screens.

Now sit back and watch some content. Make sure to watch both DVDs and any sports or television channels you like. Basically, spend a few nights watching the type of content you plan on using the projector for. This part is very important in determining what it is you want to do with your projector, and if there are any weak areas that could use some help with the right screen. This will help with determining the right screen paint application for your setup and tastes. Of course most people that are reading this have already decided on which paint application to use and are looking for tips.


Tip 2: If you turn the projector on you can easily see any irregularities or rough spots on the wall. If a substrate is being used, this isn't as much of an issue, but it will show any roller marks or areas of concern from the initial primer coat.

Painting the screen

For now we are going to concentrate on rolling since that is what most people are comfortable with or trying. Spraying will be covered later on.

There are many ways to roll. One thing to totally throw out is the typical 'W' pattern people are always told to do when painting walls. Like I said, just forget about that when painting your screen.

Rolling isn't hard, in fact that is what makes it so appealing is its ease. There are other tutorials and this isn't meant to go against anything anyone else has put out. Mainly the important thing is to not over roll or 'work' the paint until you are working with a dry roller. Make sure to keep a wet edge and over lap the previous vertical pass by no more than 50% of the roller width. There are also some paints that ensure once dry there will never be a roller mark.

Pour the paint into the roller tray and then apply paint to the roller. Use the ridges to roll out any excess paint on the roller. You want it to be loaded but not over saturated with paint. If paint drips from the roller, you have too much on it.

Tip 3: Always make sure when painting there is plenty of light. It is easy to miss spots if you can't see.



Always roll from tape to tape. Put on a smooth coating and roll onto the tape on the opposite side where you started before lifting the roller. Don't worry about re-rolling the area unless there is a noticeable mark. Move on to the next strip making sure to cover and blend in the wet edge from the previously rolled area.​

Make sure that you always roll the paint on in vertical bands, over lapping the previous strip and wet edge. This prevents visible texture differences and produces a nice even layer and helps eliminate roller marks.

Once this coat is applied, let it dry. Now is a good time to change the paint tray liner. Put the roller in a large freezer bag to help prevent the paint from drying on the roller and causing rough areas that will leave marks when you try to reuse the roller.

Tip 4: If you know you won't get to the next coat for several hours or even the next day, put the roller in a freezer bag and actually put it in the refrigerator or freezer. Take it out about an hour before you start painting to let it thaw. This works in a pinch if you are running out of roller covers, and also provides a nice pre-saturated roller ready to go.

Tip update from biglyle: Some, not all, latex paints react strangely when frozen. Some return to their liquid state when thawed, some tend to coagulate and remain chunky after thawing. I would rather err on the side of caution with this and say you are better off wrapping the roller sleeve tightly with saran type plastic wrap and placing in the refrigerator. The cold along with being tightly wrapped will prevent any drying and you eliminate any risk of a problem that frozen paint might present.

Apply a second coat in the same method as described above. Let this dry, and then turn the projector on. As noted in Tip # 2 this will allow you to see any irregularities. Look at the screen area from the side, this will help show and high or low spots. Sand out any rough areas with the 3M sponge sanding block mentioned in the Tools and Supplies post. If everything looks good, try watching a movie. Good paint will cover in as little as one or two coats. If when watching a movie any uneven or dull spots are noticed, check the screen again for imperfections, fix them and then and roll another coat. Note: If irregularities require the use of a skim coating of mud, the entire process may need to be done again. This is why the preparation stage is so important- it saves work in the long run.

It's not as complicated as it sounds. This should get people started and provide a very nice screen. Top coatings can be applied later in if desired, and that will be covered as well.

Later in this thread I will show live painting shots. I am thinking of having my wife paint a screen and showing the steps as done from someone that has never painted anything in their life.
 

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Re: DIY Painted Screens

I would like to make a comment about putting the roller in the freezer.
Some, not all, latex paints react strangely when frozen. Some return to their liquid state when thawed, some tend to coagulate and remain chunky after thawing. I would rather air on the side of caution with this and say you are better off wrapping the roller sleeve tightly with saran type plastic wrap and placing in the refrigerator. The cold along with being tightly wrapped will prevent any drying and you eliminate any risk of a problem that frozen paint might present.
 

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Re: DIY Painted Screens

Good point biglyle... I hadn't run into that problem myself but since you pointed it out I can see different paints not acting the same. I personally only do that as a last resort if I ran out of roller covers. Typically I like a fresh roller each time.

I'll amend the tip with your update.
 

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Re: Black Widow PFG - the Discussion

I just thought I'd add that muzz mentioned somewhere about scraping off the excess paint from the edges of the roller as you paint to avoid roller marks. Since all of my original panels were done with 6" rollers, I didn't have many issues with roller marks.

Today I rolled a panel with a Purdy 1/4" nap roller (thanks again muzz!! :T) and I can attest to the merits of getting rid of the excess paint from the edges! I was having issues until I thought to myself "muzz said something about scraping the excess from the edges" so I actually wiped it with a clean rag. I had no issues with roller marks!

Excellent advice muzz!!

mech
 

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Re: Black Widow PFG - the Discussion

NP, glad it worked for you, I do it without even thinking about it these days.
 

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Re: Black Widow PFG - the Discussion

:rofl:
Mech you look...well...uh...:coocoo:


I want to understand the roller wiping you mentioned. Is this after you get paint on your roller in the tray, then you wipe the nap on both ends of the roller (before going to the screen)? Or are you only wiping off the end edge itself (the circumferential "corner" formed where the end of the nap meets the end cap)? :confused:

If you actually get onto the nap, how much of the nap do you wipe off with the rag? An inch on each end?

I need muzz to make a video for dummies like me who've historically had roller mark issues :D
 

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Re: Black Widow PFG - the Discussion

:rofl:
Mech you look...well...uh...:coocoo:


I want to understand the roller wiping you mentioned. Is this after you get paint on your roller in the tray, then you wipe the nap on both ends of the roller (before going to the screen)? Or are you only wiping off the end edge itself (the circumferential "corner" formed where the end of the nap meets the end cap)? :confused:

If you actually get onto the nap, how much of the nap do you wipe off with the rag? An inch on each end?

I need muzz to make a video for dummies like me who've historically had roller mark issues :D
I wiped the outer edge and maybe 1/4-1/2 inch in. I just gripped that part with the rag and let it soak up the excess. I'd experiment some before rolling the screen! ;)

mech
 

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Re: Black Widow PFG - the Discussion

Jim,

To "wipe" the excess off of the roller, I turn the roller at about 45 degrees, and gently roll/scrape off the edges on the wall RIGHT next to where I am going to paint, this is the end cap/edge of roller- on both ends.
I do this rather quickly, but carefully so that it doesn't drip.
Most roller marks are caused by the thicker edge paint(it builds up in there), so this helps alleviate that from happening.
I make sure to go over the 2 roller excess marks with the next pass, that's why I make certain to do it right next to my line, you don't want it to setup.

HTH

G
 

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Re: Black Widow PFG - the Discussion

Thanks, guys! I have done that before (the wall method, not the rag), but I always pressed hard. That squeezes quite a bit of paint out of the roller, and I have to go over that spot a few times (which is probably not such a good idea for this application).

How much paint are y'all putting in your rollers? Are you loading it up (as much as you can get on without dripping), getting as much as you can off in the pan, or somewhere in between?

Sorry for all the beginner's painting questions, but I don't want roller lines on my next screen. Now I have a DW screen, but I'll be painting a new one this spring, and I may roll it. My 1st 2 screens were rolled. I never saw them during a movie, but they definitely were visible in a flash photo...and that just bugs me.



Muzz, since you're the pro painter here...can you describe one full "trip to the screen" when you roll it?

FYI...mech, muzz. I may break these posts out, starting with mech's about wiping the edge, to a new "Screen Rolling Discussion" thread. The process I used to roll previously was the one recommended in the "paint rolling videos" posted by an extinct member. I'd like to try something different next time, and would like to do it right the 1st time, if possible. I think it's a worthwhile topic for painting idiots like me (who can slap it on the family room wall just fine, but when it comes to something as important as your movie screen, needs some help).
 

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Re: Black Widow PFG - the Discussion

Jim,

Is that an anamorphic screen you have there? Looks nice and wide!!! I was using a brand new 3/16 nap (Ultra Smooth Surfaces) and the finished product was streak free. I didn't load up the roller too much, figured it would get saturated as I went. I did the classic "Y" pattern to start the next few rows of paint. I had a bright light shining near 170 degrees to see any roller marks. It took a good 3-4 times for each section, top to bottom lightly. You should have some time after the screen is fully painted to see any issues. The light is a big help, it will stop alot of this :gah:
 

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Re: Black Widow PFG - the Discussion

Jim,

Is that an anamorphic screen you have there? Looks nice and wide!!! I was using a brand new 3/16 nap (Ultra Smooth Surfaces) and the finished product was streak free. I didn't load up the roller too much, figured it would get saturated as I went. I did the classic "Y" pattern to start the next few rows of paint. I had a bright light shining near 170 degrees to see any roller marks. It took a good 3-4 times for each section, top to bottom lightly. You should have some time after the screen is fully painted to see any issues. The light is a big help, it will stop alot of this :gah:
Yep, the screen is 2.37:1.

I did have a light shining from the side while painting. The strange thing is that the screen looked completely uniform when you look at it, even from a few inches away (both while painting and as a finished product). But under flash photgraphy, it's almost like different amount of sheen (that reflects light slightly differently) every roller width....it's weird, and difficult to explain. I know it's not a sheen difference, but I don't know what it actually is that causes the effect. :hissyfit:
 

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Re: Black Widow PFG - the Discussion

I looks like the marks are areas of different thickness layers, like it wasn't blended well.
I usually work rather quickly, so I can continue blending before the strip I did B4 it has a chance to really begin setting up.
It looks like you layed a strip rather thick, and then layed another rather thick strip right next to it, overlapping slightly.
 
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