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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I want a DIY 120" fixed screen that can be easily put up and taken down for storage, transport, and so little kids can't damage it when it's not being used. I know the main approach recommended here is painting. This won't work for me because there's a window in the middle of the wall where I want to put the screen. I considered electric rollup screens but the tensioned versions of those are ridiculously expensive.

So I think a frame like
would pretty cool. But I don't know how the tensioning system there would compare to a stapled-on-wood-frame or other common tensioning system for fixed screens. It seems to me that rope tensioning would be much easier to take down and put back up than any method to directly attach the screen to the frame. Can anyone here tell me whether the rope tensioning would be noticeably inferior to direct attachment?

I'm also curious what frame material is recommended. I guess the cheapest would be wood, then PVC, then aluminum. If the PVC was thick enough I think it would be ok, but that makes it more expensive. Whereas I'm thinking four 1x4"s and some corner pieces would get the job done real cheap. And it's not so much that the frame is easy to take apart as it is taking the screen off. If I end up buying an expensive screen material later I need to protect it from gremlins :)
 

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I've assembled many aluminum-frame screens that use snaps to secure the screen material to the frame. If you have a snap press and can easily mount them on fabric and your frame they are a relatively painless method, assuming you don't have a crazy amount of tension. If you go with rope tension, you'll spend a few minutes each time you set up or tear down threading rope through grommets. That might get to be irritating. Also, if you're wrapping it around PVC it would be easier to work the slack through and get even tension than if you had a bunch of holes drilled in a piece of wood. Maybe if you had a closet rod that was attached to your frame (one piece of rod on each side of the frame) you could get the best of both worlds: rigidity of wood, with a round object to wrap rope around. Kinda like these:
 

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But, if you're gonna go with rope tension and especially if you're going to leave the screen in place for longer periods of time (days or weeks at a time), use a type of rope with a low rate of elongation under load. Polyester is great, polypropylene is BAD. Nylon is also bad. Cotton and hemp are good enough, but not as good as polyester. But a hemp rope around the edge of your screen might look a little more pirate-y than you want... or maybe that's good. That one is up to you. :)

If you use something that stretches, you'll lose tension on your screen and you'll have to keep re-tightening it which would annoy me to no end if I were the one building this thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the tips! I agree the round shape would help with the rope method and that it would be harder than the snaps method (but I don't have a snaps machine). What do you think about using extension springs instead of rope or those bungee balls? Seems the springs would be easiest to take on and off (they'd be permanently twist-tied to the frame).
 

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My first DIY screen was made of wood, and we just stretched the screen material, and stapled it behind the wood frame. This worked out fine as our walls were white and it blended well in our MB. Our current screen we went a different route. This time we bought the screen material with grommets installed, and made a frame out of "T" channel aluminum, and used "O" rings to attach it to the frame (attached to screws on the front of the frame).
 

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Well, after drawing those examples in Sketchup last night, I realized that the easiest way to deal with the rope would be to just put eye-bolts into the wood frame. You might even get away with using hooks instead of eyes, so you don't have to thread the rope. That way you'd be able to just leave it threaded through the grommets on your screen and just hook it on and tighten.
 
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