I wanted to make my own screen and I tried to find one of the materials suggested on this board, but all I can find around here is fiberglass showerboard- nothing plastic. The fiberglass board has dimples on the front and the back isn't perfectly uniform so it's useless.
HOWEVER...........I just had to build my own screen and IT IS AWESOME !!! Here's what I came up with.
I made mine out of a 49"x 96" piece of white Formica (the same stuff countertops are made out of) bonded to a 1/4" piece of Luanne plywood and framed on the back with 1"x4" pine. It's all glued together w/4 2" #8 screws w/washers in the corners. Currently I'm hanging it with 2, 1' pieces of black #8 chain to the beam over the fireplace in the living room.
Quality- Excellent !!! The surface is perfectly uniform, flat and white. It's only slightly reflective and has the appearance of a real fabric movie screen without the hot spots. It makes for a 100+ inch diagonal screen. I'm using the entire piece since you need a different size screen depending on the format of the movie and the source. I am projecting with a Viewsonic litebird XGA projector that can switch from 16x9 to 3x4 format.
For example, a 16 x 9 image from a VHS tape (that needs to be played using the 4x3 projector setting to maintain scale) is a different size then a 16 x 9 from a DVD (that needs to be played using the 16x9 projector setting to maintain scale). Also, cinamascope is different and so on. The trick will be to come up with a system of velvet curtains and/or velvet covered trim that can be moved around to frame the given picture (I'm thinking a combination of curtains that can be pulled open and shut for the sides and some kind of Velcro attached trim for the top and bottom.
My next test will be to see if I can find Formica in even larger pieces and in a medium grey for my next attempt. Total cost was under $100 complete including a gallon of the special Formica glue, rollers, etc. This screen rocks, but I think I can even make it better.
I have no idea how this would compare in terms of gain, etc. to retail screens but there is NO WAY that I can imagine that there will be a difference that is worth thousands and thousands of dollars. I want to know what you think.
Any comments or ideas on how to mask this screen differently orhow I shopuld mask it to different size images.