Cheap Projector Screen Alternatives: 12 DIY Ideas Revealed!

Projector Screen Alternative

I use my projector a lot. Often, I use it while traveling or even when I’m outdoors. While a projector is usable on any premises but it needs a screen.

This is where I faced an issue frequently in the past. That led me to search for the best projector screen alternatives which I could use.

After a lot of research, I was able to figure out twelve such alternatives. These days, whenever I want to use my projector and do not have a screen around, I have plenty of other choices to go with. Using your projector anywhere is undoubtedly easy once you know about the screen alternatives.

Is DIY Projector Screen Works?

Yes, DIY projector screens are very effective. They don’t cost much to make and can be customized with whatever design you like. Plus, they’re easy enough for anyone to do!

If you want the benefits of watching your favorite movies or shows on a big screen but don’t have money for an expensive projector (or simply don’t want to spend the money), a DIY projector screen is the perfect solution.

There are multiple benefits to making your own projector screen.

You can save money without sacrificing quality or features, and you get the freedom of customizing the size, shape, color and fabric of your DIY screen.

And if it turns out not to be what you envisioned (which is more than likely), then there’s no harm done since you won’t have spent much on supplies! Plus, most homemade screens cost less than $20-$30!

You also don’t need any special tools or skills – anyone can do this project with ease. Just follow along below for our very good alternative for making your homemade projector screen.

Projector Screen Alternatives: 12 Cheap Ideas for 2022

 1. Wall

Wall

For a surface to be usable as a screen, it needs to be big enough and plain. The wall of any structure meets both these requirements. That is why it is one of the most effective screen alternatives which you can go with.

I often prefer using an ordinary wall as a screen because the image doesn’t get cut. Not only that, you won’t have to struggle with making the surface smooth or flat before using it.

Things to Consider Before Using a Wall As a Projector Screen

  • The lighter the wall color, the better it is.
  • Wall should be devoid of any decoration.
  • Picture quality might still take a hit.
  • A textured wall won’t work well.

If you can tackle these things, a wall can undoubtedly serve as a projector screen.

2. Sheet

Sheet

Procuring a sheet anywhere is easy. Hence, it stands to be one of the most accessible projector screen options you can go with. While it might lead some light through but it can certainly work as a screen.

Things to Consider Before Using a Sheet As a Screen

  • You still need to hang it, and for that, you have to sew eyelets and have nails on the wall to hang it.
  • If the sheet has a lot of design, it won’t work well as a screen.
  • Thicker sheets usually work as better screens rather than thinner ones. That is why the thread count needs to be high.
  • Sheets that are lighter in color work pretty well.
  • Before using the sheet as a screen, you will have to eliminate the wrinkles.

I have used the sheet as a screen numerous times. The reason for this is the portability of the sheet. You can roll it up and put it in your backpack.

If you consider the above things, it is a great alternative.

3. Whiteboard

Whiteboard

Have you ever forgotten to carry a projector screen to a meeting?

It has happened to me numerous times.

Fortunately, I found an alternative that is present in any office. I’m speaking about the whiteboard.

There Are Numerous Advantages of a Whiteboard Like:

  •   It is often white and therefore an excellent projection surface.
  • You can mount it on any surface.
  • Similar to other alternatives, there are a few things to consider.

Things to Consider Before Using a Whiteboard As a Screen Alternative

  • Size of the whiteboard matters a lot. If it is too small, the image or the videos will get cut.
  • If the whiteboard is installed at an angle, that will interfere with a good viewing angle.

Tackling these two things can make it easy to use the whiteboard as a screen alternative.

4. Wrapping Paper

Wrapping Paper

In my opinion, the screen alternative needs to be such that you can access it easily and convert it into the screen without spending a lot of time and effort. Wrapping paper qualifies on both criteria.

Any wrapping paper won’t do. There are a couple of characteristics which you are looking for:

  • The wrapping paper should be sturdy and thick.
  • It should offer white bottom. Even if it is glossy, that won’t be an issue.

On a stand-alone basis, wrapping paper won’t help you much. You have to tape it to a wooden frame to make it flat enough for the screen. Otherwise, wind can easily lead to wrinkles or even a tear.

Things to Consider Before Using Wrapping Paper As a Screen

  • Under no circumstances should water come in contact with the wrapping paper.
  • While installing it on the wooden frame, you shouldn’t stretch it excessively.

5. Blinds

Blinds

Up until now, you might have thought of roller blinds as something that blocks light. However, these are usable as a screen alternative.

Since most homes and offices have these, it is easy to get a screen alternative right away. Apart from that, they won’t occupy any extra space, which is why they are such a great alternative.

Even if you have them in un-mounted form, you can mount them on a regular wall rather than a window.

Once you pull it down, it resembles a projector screen closely.

Things to Consider While Using Blinds As a Projector Screen

  • The size of the blinds matters a lot. It should be big enough to handle the entire image.
  • Solid blind color without any texture works best.

If you’re looking for a ready-made screen alternative available on most premises, blinds certainly qualify.

6. Black out Cloth

Black out Cloth

The screen should consist of material that does not allow the light to pass through. Blackout clothes are specifically designed for this purpose. They block out the light.

When you observe the material of the blackout cloth, it is usually quite sturdy. It is thick as well. That is why light wind cannot cause any ripples. This works in your favor as the image will be clear and without any distortion.

The composition of the cloth is such that it consists of thick foam on the backside and blackout cloth on the front side. This works well when using it as a projector screen.

Things to Consider While Using Blackout Cloth As a Screen

  • You can use the blackout cloth as a second screen along with any of the other options. That will increase the light-blocking capacity of the screen and enhance the picture quality.
  • The blackout cloth needs to be clean and without any tear, to work as a consistent surface for image projection.

Simply put, a blackout cloth will not disappoint you when used as a screen.

7. Backdrop of Picture

Backdrop of Picture

The backdrop of a picture is often white, and the edges are finished as well. The surface is non-reflective.

These three properties make it the perfect option to be used as a projector screen.

The finished edges mean that the wear and tear of the backdrop are negligible. That is why; it is a portable makeshift projector screen you can go with.

Usually, the photographer will provide it in rolled form. The roll allows you to carry it with you wherever you go. You have to unroll it and mount it on a frame (I will cover how to create a makeshift frame).

Things to Consider While Using the Backdrop As a Screen

  • Without a frame, you cannot use the backdrop of the picture.
  • If it shines a lot, the picture clarity will not be up to the mark.
  • The corners of the backdrop should be proper so that you can frame them up.

This is one of the affordable screen alternatives you can go with.

8. Projector Paint

Projector Paint

Projector screen paint is used to create a makeshift screen.

Let me warn you beforehand; this certainly isn’t cheap. You will require screen paint and other materials as well.

The paint will, of course, work as the surface on which the image is projected. However, in the background, you need something solid. The options include:

  • Particleboard
  • Plastic
  • Wall

The advantage, however, is that the screen will closely mimic the performance of a usual projector screen. When choosing the projector paint, you have the option to choose from different colors.

Things to Consider While Using Screen Paint to Create a Screen

  • You should avoid the paint colors that come with semi-gloss.
  • Matte finish will have a dull appearance but is best for improving the picture quality.
  • In case the color is too shiny, the picture will get washed out.

If you do not mind putting in a bit of effort, this is the alternative you should go with.

9. Cardboard

Cardboard

Do you have cardboard lying around?

If so, that’s it! It is one of the alternatives for projector screens you can go with.

The cardboard is usually brown or white. Both of these are good enough for the projector screen.

Mounting them on any flat surface is easy. It will allow you to get the viewing angle and the image position you want.

Things to Consider While Using Cardboard As a Screen

  • The surface should be smooth.
  • Cardboard should have a matte finish.

The requirements to use cardboard as a screen are minimal. Most cardboards will meet those requirements, and therefore you shouldn’t have a problem using cardboard as a screen.

10. Tarp

Tarp

Tarp isn’t ideal but can work with a few modifications.

Most of us have tarps lying somewhere in our homes. Usually speaking, the sheets are pretty large and therefore work very well for projecting images and videos.

Wondering about the color?

Any light color will do. If you have a white one, it is perfect.

The problem with dark colors is that they will interfere with the color of the projected images or videos. In some instances, they downgrade the picture quality as well.

Things to Consider While Using a Tarp As a Screen

  • It needs to be hung on a flat surface to remove the wrinkles.
  • Some tarp sheets might have a bit of gloss so, the viewing experience will not be that great.
  • Tarp is pretty lightweight and thus can sway with the wind. When that happens, you won’t be able to project the image appropriately.

On the flip side, tarp sheets are pretty large. That is why; if you want to project images and videos over a large surface, tarps can certainly work well.

Keeping this in mind, it is a screen alternative that you can consider.

11. Spandex

Spandex

Spandex is tricky to deal with but can work as a screen when no other option is left.

You will have to stretch it and use a frame to keep it in place. Only in the stretched condition can you eliminate the wrinkles and avoid Spandex from swaying. In that form, you can use it as a screen.

Things to Consider While Using Spandex As a Screen

  • The color and design of the Spandex play a crucial role. Solid lighter colors are a good choice. If Spandex is devoid of any design and has a solid color, that is best.
  • Stretch it too far, and you might tear it. Stretch it less, and there might be wrinkles. That is why balance is difficult to achieve while using Spandex.

Despite these complications, Spandex can work as a projector screen.

12. Trapeze

Trapeze

Here, I am referring to the trapeze material rather than the swing which you are imagining.

This material is not ideally designed for projection. Needless to say, it is expensive.

However, if you get your hands on trapeze material, you can put it up in a frame and use it as a screen. It is an unusual answer to the question, what can I use for a projector screen, but it does work.

Things to Consider While Using Trapeze As a Screen

  • The size of the material should be more than enough.
  • You need a sturdy frame to hold this.

It’s a long shot that you might have trapeze lying around, but if you do, it is an excellent screen alternative.

How to Increase the Efficiency of These Alternatives?

Hope you get an answer that what you can use as a projector screen. Many alternatives highlighted above might provide you adequate viewing experience but not a great one. Hope you get an answer that what you can use as a projector screen. Many alternatives highlighted above might provide you adequate viewing experience but not a great one.

To increase their efficiency, you can use a simple trick.

For example, when using something like wrapping paper or blinds, you can add a black border.

The black border will work as the edges of your screen, and therefore the viewing experience will get enhanced.

Now, the question is, what can you use as a border?

The simplest solution is black tape. It will help you cover the screen’s edges and allow you to focus on the screen.

In case you have black cloth, you can make borders using that as well.

While this trick might not work with every screen alternative but it does work with most of them.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can you use a projector without a screen?

Yes, you can use a projector without a screen. In that case, the wall is your best bet to project the image or the video. Other than that, there are quite a few alternatives highlighted above.

The alternative you choose will depend on the availability of materials and the kind of surrounding you are in.

2. How do I make a 100-inch projector screen?

The blackout cloth is your best bet when making a 100-inch projector screen. You can use it along with a wooden frame.

Once you stretch it out and put it into the frame, you can place it against any flat surface to project the image or the video.

3. How do I make a PVC projector screen frame?

PVC pipes can be welded together at the sides to create a frame with four corners. You can use a rope from these four corners to hang the screen, which might be made of bed sheets, cardboard, wrapping paper, or blackout cloth.

Since welding is involved, the PVC pipes will be welded together permanently. Only when you’re looking for a permanent solution can you go with the PVC pipe frame.

4. What are outdoor movie screens made of?

Projector screens are made from vinyl. However, there is a coating of magnesium carbonate on top as well. This coating reflects most of the light and scatters it in all directions. It does not make the screen lose light. That is why this coating is applied over the projector screen.

5. Can you project onto a brick wall?

Yes, you can project onto a brick wall. However, the brick wall is not entirely smooth due to the brickwork. That is why you would have to first work on smoothening and leveling it. So, you will have to eliminate bumps, marks, holes, and so on.

Instead of doing all of that, it is a much better idea to go with any alternatives I have highlighted above. That way, you won’t have to do the prep-work on the wall.

Conclusion

Instead of getting frustrated over not having a projector screen, you can use any of these alternatives. The last time around I was in this situation; I tried out a couple of projector screen alternatives (wall and whiteboard) from the list above with great success. So they do work brilliantly.