AVS Special Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Fairfax, VA, USA
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I built a 105 inch screen this past weekend using a wooden frame and tensioned vinyl coated painters drop cloth that someone mentioned in a thread here on the forum. Originally I had planned to just use the vinyl side of the drop cloth as is since it was fairly white and had a flat finish. Unfortunately, the material was too transparent and allowed the frame to be seen through the material during bright scenes. The light bleed thorough may not have been a problem if the material were thicker or had and opaque backing material like the blackout material, but as is the light bleed through was unacceptable, so I decided to paint the sucker.
However if you know you're going to paint this stuff it might be worth taking a look at. The primary advantages being that it is cheap (~$17 for a 9 x 21 foot drop cloth), has a uniform finish, is very light, and strong.
I started out using a standard size foam roller with an oil based primer, but found that I couldn't achieve a uniform coat of paint. You have to press fairly hard to smooth the paint out and having screen material that has quite a bit of stretch didn't allow for enough pressure to be applied. A smaller roller may have made the application of the primer coat less of pain. Eventually, I switched to a 2 inch foam brush. This worked well and allowed me to get a pretty uniform coat of primer over the entire screen. After about 24 hours the primer dried with a semi gloss finish, but that was OK. The color coat is an ultra white flat latex.
The primary thing I learned is that it takes several color coats to get good coverage. I used another 2 inch foam brush to apply the flat ultra white latex paint. The flat latex went on much easier than the primer and dried in a couple hours. The trick I found was to paint the screen while in the horizontal position and lay the paint on fairly thick. This tends to smooth out any brush strokes and promotes a flat surface. Keeping a wet edge goes without saying. Between coats I changed the direction of the brush strokes. It took three coats to achieve a uniform color over the entire surface.
Spray painting would yield a smoother finish still, but from normal viewing distances the minor imperfections of roller or brush strokes will be invisible.
[This message has been edited by JoeFloyd (edited 04-10-2001).]