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2,243 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Definitions and Acronyms (This post)
Cost Factors
Borders and Framing
Black Borders
Mounting Methods (under construction)

First a note: DIY is an open community. Many people have contributed to the ongoing and constantly improving methods DIY uses. The following are some of the most popular/widely used methods and acronyms.

One thing about specialty topics are all the terms and acronyms... the audio world has them, every thing has their own tech talk. DIY Screens is no different and sometimes worse because people make things up too! Actually... most acronyms in DIY are made up ;)

DIY- An obvious one, Do It Yourself

OTS- Stands for Off The Shelf. Mainly used to refer to regular 'off the shelf' paints that require no special mixing or anything like that. You go to the store, tell them the color name, walk out. Can refer to any item purchased and used with little to no modifications.

UPW- Short for Behr's base paint called Ultra Pure White.

BOC- Blackout Cloth. Very good for an inexpensive unity gain (1.0) screen. Requires a rigid frame. Note: Also excellent for use on windows to block out sunlight during the day... amazing how some of this stuff actually works really well for its intended use too! ;)

DW- Short for Designer White. One of the laminates from Wilsonart used for a white screen.

FG- Short for Fashion Grey. Another Wilsonart laminate for screen use.

DG- Dove Grey. Yet another Wilsonart laminate, darker in shade than Fashion Grey.

GS- Short for Gray Screen- A Sherwin Williams paint that is a very close match to a Munsell N8 shade of neutral gray.

WM- Winter Mountain- A True Value brand paint that is extremely close to neutral and also a Munsell N8 match.

SW- Soothing White- Another Sherwin William paint that is extremely neutral and a Munsell N9 match.

ME- Misty Evening- A Glidden paint that is a light gray. The formula for it has changed since it first came out though. Not used much anymore since the formula change... shame, it was a great color originally.

SS- Behr Silver Screen. Dominated as a gray screen color for years, mostly because of its name. Not the best balanced gray available. More information in the DIY Gray Paint thread (coming soon).

Munsell- Professor Albert Henry Munsell developed a color system in 1905, and in 1925 expanded it to the Munsell Book of Color, which is pretty much the bible on colors. It is a color system that specifies colors based on three color dimensions, hue, and lightness. For our discussion in other threads we're only concerned about the gray scale. Neutral grays will be covered in more detail in its own thread.

RGB- Specifically sRGB. A numbering system that assigns values to the Red Blue and Green components of a color. sRGB is associated with CIEL*ab D65 color space and is a quick way to look at color balance.

'V' Curve- During the study of commercial screens, it was noticed most are green deficient. When the RGB values are plotted on a graph, since there are only three plot points a green deficiency looks like a 'V'. Update: The person doing the spectrophotometer testing was using C color space and not D65- so the 'V' is only for C Color space reading. Since then we switched to exclusively using D65 color space for measurements.

D65- Illuminant value of 6500K. Industry standard reference point for neutral. All HT reviews and professional installers calibrate to D65.

C- Older Illuminate reference standard, value of 6774K.

A- Illuminate value for incandescent lighting.

KISS- My favorite and one I have to sometimes remind myself about... Keep It Simple Stupid!. More of a mindset than anything.

2,243 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Cost factors:


Kilz2 primer- Very good quality flat sheen unity gain (1.0) screen.
Pros: $12 a gallon at most Walmarts. Very easy to roll, covers extremely well.
Cons: can get dirty easy. Not ambient light friendly.

UPW- Behr Ultra Pure White- a step up from Kilz2 and is a little whiter and brighter and has a higher gain.
Pros: $12 a quart, so still relatively inexpensive. Provides excellent color reproduction. Fast and easy screen to put up.
Cons: Not ambient light friendly. Some find it harder to roll without leaving roller marks (thicker paint).

Behr Silver Screen- A dominate 'gray screen' used for years. Pushes blue.
Pros: Increased perceived black levels and contrast levels.
Cons: Not actually gray, introduces color shifting. Some can compensate but there will still be shifting to some extent.

Glidden Misty Evening- Original formula was a much better balanced color than Silver Screen. The formula has changed though and unfortunately it is not the same shade and hue that it used to be. This was a very nice OTS paint in its original tint formula.
Cons: Reported as no longer the same formula

Advanced Paint Mixes- A layered approach usually consisting of a base coat and a top coating that has polyurethane or other clear added to the paint. Other components may be added as well.
Pros: Improved gain and perceived image depth.
Cons: Depending on location and availability components to make the mix can be $40 or higher.(Still not that much) Requires measuring and mixing the components yourself. Some people find advanced mixes harder to apply without roller marks or imperfections in the screen surface. Spraying is usually the recommended application method.

Exotic applications- No specific mix or method is in mind here, but usually the more exotic something sounds the more intrigued people are. There is a lot of speculation and debate in this area as too how much image improvement there is if any. Some say a lot, some say none. The rule of diminishing gains starts to come into affect here… is the extra cost and work worth a 2-5% image improvement? (Depending on the current screen method being used) For some it does matter, for others they can’t see that much of a difference.

Lamp Black in UPW- Again $12 a quart. This is the most common way people were creating grays in the past. It pushes blue and personally I would not recommend this method.

Tint Formulas- Not a 'mix', as stated it is a tint formula you take to Home Depot and they tint and mix the paint for you. Other brands and stores can do this as well, currently the only tint formulas have been done based around Behr UPW.
Pros: Still $12 for a quart of tinted UPW.
Cons: Some have problems rolling Behr paints without roller marks. To fully get the best image a matte poly top coating should be applied.

Do-able- Outstanding screen option. Price per performance factor, this is one of the best DIY options around... IF you can get it...
Pros: Less than $20 for a screen on par with a $1000 commercial white screen.
Cons: Regional only item- not available to everyone. Size limitation restricts screen sizes to 98" diagonal screens or smaller. If larger size screens are desired with the same $1000 plus performance but kept to a simple one step substrate, Designer White is the recommendation.

Parkland Polywall- Even cheaper than Doable, good but slightly lower quality but not by much.
Pros: Very cheap. Easy to cut, light weight.
Cons: Somewhat regional. May require a stiff backing material unless it is going to be permanently wall mounted with screws or similar mounting. Some reports of light bleed through the material. (not completely opaque).

BOC- Commonly known as Blackout Cloth. Normally used for blacking out incoming light from windows. Excellent unity gain entry level screen that can be painted later on.
Pros: Very inexpensive. Nice unity gain white screen. Can be painted if desired.
Cons: More construction requirements needed than a simple substrate or paint, but still relatively easy to do.. The material needs to be stretched and stapled to a frame. Stretcher bars or a very firm frame is required.
All in all though, construction requirements are relatively easy.

Painter's Canvas- Ment to be stretched and painted. Very flexible type of screen, same as BOC.
Pros: Inexpensive. Can be painted easier than BOC (Sometimes BOC get's 'hairs' or what people call 'fuzzies' that raise up from the material. Painter's canvas will not do this at all.)
Cons: Same as BOC. Could have some light leakage depending on the brand and if it is preprimed or not. (I recommend getting the preprimed canvas if there are any plans of painting.)

Photo Paper- Featured on Projector Central’s website as their ‘$100 DIY Screen.” Several have made this screen and it does work, but for that price there are much better performing options. Some screen shots look pretty good though, so it does work. What really drives the price up is that you can’t just buy a strip of paper in the size you need for your screen, you have to buy the entire roll, which is $42 for a 53"x36' roll. (That's enough for four 54x96 screens), or If several people are going this route and order a roll to be shared, then the price drops significantly. If the 107" wide roll if purchased, there is enough for eight 54x96 screens. (would have to be tested for moire though)
Pros: Price per screen is very cheap ($10.5 per screen). Comes in white and gray shades. Should be able to be painted, never tested with paint though.
Cons: Has to be purchased by the roll not individual screen size. Allows some light to pass through which will decrease the screen brightness. Unknown gain or color breakdown. Can tear or get dirty. (On a positive note, if it gets dirty or tears, you will have enough on the roll for up to four screens.)

Laminates- Virtually indestructible as a screen.
Pros: Durability, cleanable. Tested color data and gain, Designer White is comparable to a Carada screen and some have compared it to a StudioTek 130. Comes in larger sizes than both Do-able and Polywall. Also comes in a variety of grays that have also been color tested and gain tested. Fashion Grey is an outstanding gray and is very well balanced. Fashion Grey is very ambient light friendly, but not a true ambient light screen like a SuperNova or HoloVega screen.
Cons: Costs more, on average $1.66 a square foot. The grays may need a matte poly coating to knock down the specularity to eliminate potential hot spotting. (Note, DW does not need a poly coating)

Rosco OffBroadway White White- Commercial paint sold to stage and theaters. Often used as a screen paint and the company acknowledges it as a screen paint.
Pros: Inexpensive at $26 a gallon. Same bright white as UPW. Covers well, is a vinyl based paint and comes in a matte finish. Performs better than UPW and is probably on par with Designer White and Do-able as far as image quality.
Cons: Only available online or from theater supply stores.

RP Imaging's GTI N8 paint- The only ISO Certified Munsell N8 paint I have found. Professional quality and extremely high QA standards. It is used in the photo and film industry.
Pros: The most neutral gray available. Vinyl based. Ultra flat appearance, flatter than any regular house paint. Virtually no off angle reflection or glare.
Cons: Only one company manufactures it so the price is set. $25 for a pint, $68 for a gallon. Price does not include shipping. Shipping is $5 for the pint, $12 for the gallon. Does not cover or roll easily. Smells bad when applying so have ventilation. Not fully tested as a screen yet, preliminary testing is being done now. Not as easy to work with as house paints.

Neutral Grays- Excellent color reproduction. Little to no loss of white levels. Helps improve perceived contrast levels and black levels (same as any gray)
Sherwin Williams- Gray Screen for N8, Soothing White for N9.
Pros: Easy to obtain through Sherwin Williams stores. Comes in a durable matte finish. Excellent color reproduction. Gray Screen is most ambient light friendly screen I personally have used to date, but make a note that I have not tried all the DIY screens available...
Cons: $42 a gallon for Duration brand in the matte finish. May require a brighter projector for the darker shades of gray. (Note: Only the Duration brand matte finish costs that much, other brands are as low as $9)

True Value- Winter Mountain, N8 match. More neutral than Gray Screen.
Pros: $9 a quart, very neutral.
Cons: Only through True Value. Some stores have said it doesn't exist, but it was confirmed through True Value's HeadQuarters that it is a current color and available at any store. Comes only in the flat finish, so a matte poly coating is recommended for best performance.

There will be more updates to this to add new methods or update information on existing methods.

Friend of the Shack
1,356 Posts
Hi Bill,

Good list there. There's also an acronym glossary around here. I'm sure we could add yours to the list.

2,243 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Borders and Framing

There are many methods and options when it comes to framing. Most people go with Poplar. It is inexpensive and much easier to find long straight pieces as compared to Pine. Pine also warps very easy and can become a disaster in the long haul. It’s better to spend the extra pennies and get Poplar. Price example: To construct a 52x92 (inside dimensions) typical cost for the wood $12-15

Note on wood: The tag may read 3"x8' (or whatever length you are getting) but the width actually measures 2.5" in most places.

Misc. hardware needed $5

Some people use aluminum square tubing. It typically is not as wide as the Poplar boards and can be astronomically expensive. It will however provide a very light and sturdy framing system.

Stretcher bars-

Utrechtart Heavy Duty Stretcher Bars​

has a nice selection of professional stretcher bars. They are extremely straight and pre miter cut as well has having joint tabs for the Heavy Duty bars. The museum grade stretchers are aluminum with a wood trim. Some may think this is way too expensive, but compared to the cost of aluminum at Lowes or Home Depot, it’s not bad at all.

A heavy duty 54x96 frame will run around $78 (That included shipping). The museum grade bars would run around $100 (again that includes shipping)

Museum Quality​

They are a bit of overkill, but some may actually want to go this option so I included the information.

Decorative borders and door framing- Some people have gone this route too. There are some very nice borders made this way, but again as compared to Poplar, there is an increase in price. If you intend on wrapping the border in velvet, it’s a bit of a waste to spend money on a decorative molding that is going to be covered up. There are some very nice and stylish options some people have done with decorative molding.

Someone mentioned in one of the threads they saw decorative border used. This is a very nice example. It still employed an inner black velvet border to provide the black reference and then the decorative border on the outside of that.

Border price range $17-100+

2,243 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Black Borders

The reason for black borders are to provide a black reference. Most people are surprised, even amazed at how much different and 'improved' their projector image is once they add a black border. Nothing is actually being changed about the image, rather there is now a black reference available. This reference is what our brain uses to process any other 'blacks' seen and they are perceived to be darker.

Black Velvet- The most sought after border material is Velvet. Velvet is extremely black fabric. If it is available and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (or your first born) definitely get it. Velvet absorbs light like a black hole and is very very elegant looking. It can be expensive though, $23 a yard or more at some places, so looking for sales is a must. Joann’s has regular 50% off sales for anything in the store, so wait for one of those sales. JoAnn's sells JB Martin Fidelio Black Velvet for around $12.95 a yard.

Another good source is Syfabrics , but you’ll have to order it and wait for it to arrive, not a big deal but for those that want things now… it’s not a local item for most people.

There are some alternatives. There are synthetic velvets, and black suede even looks very nice and professional. I picked up some black suede at Walmart for $2.77 a yard, so three yards was only a little over $8. It doesn’t absorb light nearly as good as velvet, but if your projector is 16x9 and you sized and measured everything right, there really shouldn’t be a lot if any overspill light from the projected image. Again, this will work and is very inexpensive, but it isn’t as good as velvet.

Flat Black Paint border- Normally I wouldn’t even include this one because there are methods just as cheap and easy, but there are a lot of people that do go the flat black route. The problem with paint, even flat paint is it reflects light to some degree, even flat black. There is a way to deaden flat black even more (only from a regular can though, this won’t work with spray cans). Add 4 tablespoons of cornstarch per oz. of warm water. Then 4 tablespoons of the cornstarch slurry per 2 oz. of Flat Black paint. Believe it or not this will deaden the flat black down a lot.

Yes there are several tapes a person can use, ranging from outrageously inexpensive, to more than what I would personally pay…

Duve Pro Tape
It is a matte black polyester felt tape with an acrylic adhesive that looks like Duvetyn. Excellent for making quick repairs on your velour or duvetyn soft goods. This is professional repair tape that theaters and stage crews use to repair rips in black stage curtains. $26 for 3”x25 yards.

Black Velvet Ribbon- $7.95 for a 2 5/8”x25 yard roll. (min order of $10 though, so you’ll have to buy something else or two rolls). This doesn’t have a pre-glued back and isn’t a tape, so the use of some type of adhesive will be required.

Hockey Tape- Yes plain black hockey tape works much better than anyone would think, and it is extremely inexpensive. Don’t expect professional border appearance, but from the typical sitting area you wouldn’t notice. Quick and very inexpensive border, best for a temporary black border though until more time, money and effort can be put into making a regular border.

Flok- Works, but you’re paying more for the name than anything at $49.00 for a 2”x25 yard roll.

2,243 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Mounting Methods

Place holder for mounting methods

2,243 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Quick DIY 101- Performance levels

If we think of the ultimate screen, one that does everything... gain, contrast, accurate color reproduction, ambient light absorption, controlled lighting performance, black blacks, white whites, reduced SDE... all that and more as 100% then all real world screens will be less than 100%. I think we all agree that mythical 100% screen is the theoretical goal, but we also understand it's not a reality either even with commercial screens, not yet at least…

Hitting the 80-85% performance mark for a DIY screen is easy, most walls that are even close to some kind of white meet or exceed that. Bed sheets and things of that nature come to mind at this level. This is the level that a lot of people start out with but quickly move on to something better.

The next milestone is the 90% mark. Some off the shelf paints such as UPW easily meets or exceeds the 90% performance mark. Also in this range I would put BOC, and most fabrics that have been used (some paints, fabrics and substrates far exceed this though, but more on those in a bit). These are all perfectly acceptable DIY methods and for most people will provide a pleasing screen for them. Some of these materials may even be pushing the next milestone, but without actual data that can only be stated as personal observation and speculation at this point. These observations may be dead on accurate, but when trying to convince someone on the other coast, or even in a different country that one particular DIY method is better than another, data along with performance testing and testimonials is the only sure fire way a person can be positive about a decision. If a direct side by side comparison can be made in person, that would be ideal, but most people can’t see a side by side comparison in person—hence the need for data, specs and testing on things like color balance and gain. Even on-line screen shot comparisons are relatively meaningless alone- there are too many variables involved... cameras, monitors, image compression from the user or the image hosting service... things of that nature. There is a thread though that is devoted to taking calibrated screen shots that more accurately represent what is actually seen in person.

I digressed... Next up is the 95% milestone. This is somewhat harder to achieve, but still relatively easy. The main difference between this level and the 90% level is the cost factor. Quality went up, and so did price, but in the big scheme of things price is still very low compared to commercial screens. The other big thing that has changed from the 90% to 95% performance level is research and testing. More care has been done in selecting and testing materials in this range. Things like the laminates, the more complex painting methods, the researched and tested OTS paints, and some of the AT cloths fit in this category level or higher, as well as Do-able and Parkland (even though the last two mentioned have prices that suggest lower quality, don’t let that fool you)

Now for the fun... 95%-98%. This is where I feel most commercial screens reside, as well as the best performing paints and laminates being used. (Do-able included) A lot of testing, research, and data are needed for this level. Sometimes I think a particular application may actually make this level of performance, but as to the reason why and how it works, that could be unknown. Sure everything was based on sound principles and ground work, but from a scientific and theory explanation it may not be totally understood. I'm not saying it was a pure guess; the person had an understanding of what works, what doesn't... and intuitively built on that experience to hit a higher standard. Before anyone gets in a snit over that comment, it wasn't a slam at anyone, or for any past endeavors. Things like that happen all the time outside DIY screens, and it happens here too is all I am saying. One of the problems with building on intuition and not knowing the specifications is it is very easy to have stumbled onto a perfectly balanced color and method that has ideal gain- and then change it to something not as good because the data and specifications were unknown and it was felt that things 'could be better'. I sometimes wonder how many times that has already happened in DIY. Probably more than anyone realizes.

There have been house paints that were used for mixes and when combined with other paints and additives it changed from being ordinary wall paint. As good as a mix like this can be, I really doubt it will be able to hit the 98-99% mark. Even commercial screens have a tough time getting to this level of performance. I guess what I am saying is to get to the next step, especially one this high, it's doubtful off the shelf products are going to be the answer.

Also, this performance range is probably only an interest of a proportional amount of DIYers. In other words most DIYers are looking for the 90% performance range. I will go as far as suggesting 90% fit into this category. 5% fit in the 95% range, 3% strive for the upper echelon level of 95-98%. That leaves 1% that would even attempt something at the 98% and above level. If it can be figured out how to make it easy… well this changes the playing field for not only DIY but anyone that uses a screen. We all need to keep that in mind for the end result… make it so other people can duplicate the efforts.

29 Posts
Re: Cost factors:


Neutral Grays- Excellent color reproduction. Little to no loss of white levels. Helps improve perceived contrast levels and black levels (same as any gray)
Sherwin Williams- Gray Screen for N8, Soothing White for N9.
Pros: Easy to obtain through Sherwin Williams stores. Comes in a durable matte finish. Excellent color reproduction. Gray Screen is most ambient light friendly screen I personally have used to date, but make a note that I have not tried all the DIY screens available...
Cons: $42 a gallon for Duration brand in the matte finish. May require a brighter projector for the darker shades of gray. (Note: Only the Duration brand matte finish costs that much, other brands are as low as $9)

Still learning here....I assume the the "Gray Screen" and "Soothing White" is a Sherwin Williams color but what is the N8 or N9 mentioned?

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