Originally Posted by Ftoast
Is there a chance of it not being a fixed-frame screen? If so, make sure it IS a fixed-frame Stewart and that there isn't anything wrong with the frame.
To AV, would it be possible to buy a less expensive brand's frame to attach a Stewart material to? Is the difference in frame quality likely to be significant..or is the value mostly in the name and its resale ability?
Stewart typically uses a snap type screen frame. These tend to be rather pricey. Some manufacturers claim this to not be the 'best' way, and instead 'rods' are a better way to connect screens. From my experience, this is not at all the case and is marketing BS. Stewart has done this for years, and Carada does it as well. In 10+ years dealing with Carada and Stewart I've never seen any of their screens have any issues.
Now, I think Stewart is a 'name brand' company that has a premium associated with their more typical stuff. That is, the difference between a Elite Sable screen a a Stewart fixed frame screen certainly isn't worth the price. But, Stewart has unique screen materials such as the Firehawk material which is a positive gain grey screen. Generally speaking, these use a bit of an optical coating to achieve the positive gain while still using a grey underlying screen material. It's difficult to accurately achieve this in a DiY setup.
But it's the frame, where the money is at. I believe they are 3.5" or 4" thick aluminum with a good thick velour covering. The velour is securely fastened all the way around the frame and looks fantastic. The Sable screens have a much cheaper wrap and aren't as well constructed.
The frames are also designed to produce zero shadowing of the image. If any projector is placed above the top of a screen, and the frame of the screen has square inner edges, then the top edge of the screen will cast a shadow onto the screen. By using a beveled frame and pressing it against the material, the screen ensures zero shadowing.
Can you use a different screen? I'm sure you could, but as a DiY project it would be significant. I certainly wouldn't be up for the time involved in all of that myself.