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Can paint look just as good as the best screen?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I read an article on projectorcentral.com, it stated that paint can resemble the same image quality as the Stewart SnoMatte screen. Can this be true? I'm moving into a house at the end of the week and I will have my dedicated theater room. If I can save $1500+ by just painting, I will.
post #2 of 17
If you ask in the DIY screen forum (sub form of this one, up top of the page), they will help you out.
post #3 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by blee0120 View Post

I read an article on projectorcentral.com, it stated that paint can resemble the same image quality as the Stewart SnoMatte screen. Can this be true?

No it can't be true. Think about it. Why would anyone buy a dedicated screen -- let alone a premium brand screen -- if a painted wall were just as good? This subject has been discussed many times in other postings and while a painted wall is a viable budget-minded DIY alternative to a more costly purpose-built brand name screen, it is not...and never will be...equivalent in performance.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete View Post

No it can't be true. Think about it. Why would anyone buy a dedicated screen -- let alone a premium brand screen -- if a painted wall were just as good? This subject has been discussed many times in other postings and while a painted wall is a viable budget-minded DIY alternative to a more costly purpose-built brand name screen, it is not...and never will be...equivalent in performance.

Thanks
post #5 of 17
Painting can exceed even a Stewart screen in performance.

The people who did the testing are quite clear that painting can achieve superb results. I assume you are referring to this article: http://www.projectorcentral.com/paint_perfect_screen_$100.htm?page=Finding-the-Perfect-Paint

A few quotes:
The Sherwin-Williams Duration Satin Extra White was an absolute dead ringer for the Studiotek 100 in terms of color balance, and oh so close in contrast and saturation. There was some subtle variance in its ability to hold black levels compared to the screen, but for the money, who would quibble? It was hard to believe that an inexpensive paint could produce such stunning results. There seemed to be no more room for improvement, so we thought we had our winner.

But we weren't done yet…


In addition to our Studiotek 100, we have a Studiotek 130 on hand. This is the screen material Stewart recommends for high performance home theater. Its modest gain gives the picture a noticeably improved luster and brightness that the Studiotek 100 does not have. Just for grins, we put our test board up against the Studiotek 130 to compare images.

The Studiotek 130 certainly produced the better image. Anyone putting in a high performance projection system would want the 130 over our paint solution. But for the money, the paint was holding its own remarkably well. Its highlights were not as brilliant, and the paint could not quite match the beautiful luster of the 130. But color balance was perfect. Overall, most viewers would be thoroughly impressed with what the paint could do. In terms of overall image quality in the average home theater environment, the paint fell a bit short of the Studiotek 130, but surpassed the 100.


Reading the full article presents a very convincing case that by choosing the right paint and applying it correctly you can indeed do better than a professional expensive screen.

As for the reply that began: "No it can't be true", let me paraphrase: "Why would anyone buy a Mercedes -- let alone a Maserati -- if a Ford can get you from A to B just as good?" Well, there are several reasons why people buy expensive products: because they have the money; because it makes them feel good to have the best they can afford (even if it is not demonstrably better in performance); because they will be looked after by the manufacturer who factors in after-sales service in the original price; and because they haven't got the time or inclination to look into the matter.

Painting isn't for everyone. At its conclusion, the article gives four reasons why not to paint.
post #6 of 17
Show me an AT painted wall for the mass market, (not including transducers).
post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by guyburns View Post

Painting can exceed even a Stewart screen in performance.
The people who did the testing are quite clear that painting can achieve superb results. I assume you are referring to this article: http://www.projectorcentral.com/paint_perfect_screen_$100.htm?page=Finding-the-Perfect-Paint
A few quotes:
The Sherwin-Williams Duration Satin Extra White was an absolute dead ringer for the Studiotek 100 in terms of color balance, and oh so close in contrast and saturation. There was some subtle variance in its ability to hold black levels compared to the screen, but for the money, who would quibble? It was hard to believe that an inexpensive paint could produce such stunning results. There seemed to be no more room for improvement, so we thought we had our winner.
But we weren't done yet…

In addition to our Studiotek 100, we have a Studiotek 130 on hand. This is the screen material Stewart recommends for high performance home theater. Its modest gain gives the picture a noticeably improved luster and brightness that the Studiotek 100 does not have. Just for grins, we put our test board up against the Studiotek 130 to compare images.
The Studiotek 130 certainly produced the better image. Anyone putting in a high performance projection system would want the 130 over our paint solution. But for the money, the paint was holding its own remarkably well. Its highlights were not as brilliant, and the paint could not quite match the beautiful luster of the 130. But color balance was perfect. Overall, most viewers would be thoroughly impressed with what the paint could do. In terms of overall image quality in the average home theater environment, the paint fell a bit short of the Studiotek 130, but surpassed the 100.

Reading the full article presents a very convincing case that by choosing the right paint and applying it correctly you can indeed do better than a professional expensive screen.
As for the reply that began: "No it can't be true", let me paraphrase: "Why would anyone buy a Mercedes -- let alone a Maserati -- if a Ford can get you from A to B just as good?" Well, there are several reasons why people buy expensive products: because they have the money; because it makes them feel good to have the best they can afford (even if it is not demonstrably better in performance); because they will be looked after by the manufacturer who factors in after-sales service in the original price; and because they haven't got the time or inclination to look into the matter.
Painting isn't for everyone. At its conclusion, the article gives four reasons why not to paint.

The time and labor involved to get a wall perfectly flat and perfectly smooth would probably cost more than the Stewart screen. This is coming from a guy that was a commercial GC for 25 years. In reality nobody's wall is going to be perfectly flat. The wall is attached to studs that often times have a slight bow or the stud is slightly different thickness because the wood does not dry exactly the same. The studs may not be perfectly lined up with the bottom plate. The bottom plate may not follow the chalked line on the floor perfectly. The wall probably is not perfectly plumb. To make up for these imperfections, you would have to mud the whole wall and then sand it to a perfect vertical and horizontal plane. That is not going to happen. Yes you can make a good screen from a painted on application and it can throw a nice image, but if you think you are shooting onto a perfectly flat surface when using a wall, then you are kidding yourself. Most people do not get this when using a screen, but you can get a whole lot closer if using a screen.
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post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by AV Science Sales 5 View Post

The time and labor involved to get a wall perfectly flat and perfectly smooth would probably cost more than the Stewart screen. This is coming from a guy that was a commercial GC for 25 years. In reality nobody's wall is going to be perfectly flat. The wall is attached to studs that often times have a slight bow or the stud is slightly different thickness because the wood does not dry exactly the same. The studs may not be perfectly lined up with the bottom plate. The bottom plate may not follow the chalked line on the floor perfectly. The wall probably is not perfectly plumb. To make up for these imperfections, you would have to mud the whole wall and then sand it to a perfect vertical and horizontal plane. That is not going to happen. Yes you can make a good screen from a painted on application and it can throw a nice image, but if you think you are shooting onto a perfectly flat surface when using a wall, then you are kidding yourself. Most people do not get this when using a screen, but you can get a whole lot closer if using a screen.

You can paint onto extremely flat substrates like Sintra (expanded PVC foamboard used in signs). So it's not all painting on walls. In fact, I'd say it's most common in the DIY screen world to paint on substrates.
post #9 of 17
Ok I’ll bite …. I used the paint from the article and have to say that it worked well as a temporary solution. I was able to get comfortable with what screen size I liked. 30% of the time it was an excellent screen with good gain and if I could live with the massive hot spot and obvious texture I would not need to buy a screen.

It seems kind of foolish to spend large amounts of money on A/V components and then think a can of household paint could put screen manufactures out of business.
post #10 of 17
Why the objections to painting? Some responses are automatically in opposition. Might I suggest "Think Different"?

No it can't be true.
It seems kind of foolish…
Show me an AT painted wall for the mass market…

The projectorcentral article was objective. It showed that painting can give good results for those who want to go that route. To suggest that painting is unacceptable because the substrate might not be flat, or that no one sells painted screens, or because of hotspotting, is a bit sus. Choose a flat substrate, buy the right paint, apply it correctly, and you'll get better results that a Studiotek 100, and very close to a Studiotek 130. But it will be a lot of time-consuming, fiddly work, which will require assistance, and most people would prefer to buy a ready-made product. With a painted screen you have to do everything from scratch:

  • Choose the substrate and haul it home. It too two men to lift the 2400 x 1200 MDF weighing 40 kgs onto my roofrack.
  • Choose the paint. If you are in the USA, that's easy because projectorcentral tells you which one. But if you are in another country, you'll have to find a local equivalent – if there is one.
  • Cut the substrate to size. You'll need saw-horses, a power saw, measuring tapes, straight edges, large workshop space, accommodating partner…
  • Tidy up the cut edges.
  • Paint the substrate and make it look presentable with black borders or whatever.

Who wants to attempt all that? Much easier to buy a screen ready to go, or that can be put together easily.

I'm testing various surfaces at the moment for use as a screen, and even though painting won't be among my screen choices because of my situation, I want to see for myself how good it is compared to other surfaces. As such:

  • I've emailed Dulux, Wattyl, and Sherwin-Williams about a local equivalent to the paint recommended by projectorcentral, and purchased a small amount
  • bought the MDF board
  • bought a 24 x 24 sample fabric from Seymour. Ques: where can I obtain samples of Studiotek or other pro fabrics?
  • rounded up samples of promising roller-blind material
  • emailed the manufacturers of the roller mechanisms (http://www.rollease.com/skylinegalaxy.html and http://www.benthin.info/blinds/roller-1.aspx), so that I can design my own roll-up screen using only the best components. The local blind manufacturer is going to make the screen. He seems to know what he's doing. For example, he said that the fabric from the roll, under tension when originally rolled, should be cut and allowed to settle down for at least 24 hours before assembly.


Once everything is gathered together, the testing will start (see), and then the interactive PDF will follow. This will be the second of my extensive testing projects. I think it will be an interesting read. Check out the first: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=70942.msg561917#msg561917

A suggestion for the naysayers: it's not sensible to automatically knock an idea just because it's different, or difficult to achieve, or uncommon. The evidence is in: painting can give superb results – but my goodness it will take a lot of work.
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by RPS13 View Post

You can paint onto extremely flat substrates like Sintra (expanded PVC foamboard used in signs). So it's not all painting on walls. In fact, I'd say it's most common in the DIY screen world to paint on substrates.

Correct, but that was not what the OPer asked. Also you are limited on size when painting onto a substrates.
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post #12 of 17
Guyburns, I think you might have missed a couple of my earlier points. Let me expand on them so I can possibly save you the time and money that I will be unable to get back.

1) I paid a pro for a perfect substrate for the paint.
2) I actually used the paint you referenced.
3) I painted multiple times with sprayer and multiple sanding sessions.
4) I could not get rid of ]very distracting hot spot and visible texture.
5) I also have a sample of the Studiotek screen to compare to and it is far superior.

I am by no means an expert on DIY painted screens but this is what I experienced with a JVC RS45 projector and a 133” 16:9 screen. Maybe someone could offer more help and a better solution to your needs in the DIY screen section. A lot of what your discussing has already been covered in detail there.

I hope this was helpful …. Good luck on your project!
post #13 of 17
Where did you get the StudioTek sample? How much did it cost and what size is it? I'm looking for a 24" x 24" sample but smaller might be okay. If you don't need yours anymore, how about selling it to me. You can gmail me at gdburns.
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by AV Science Sales 5 View Post

Correct, but that was not what the OPer asked. Also you are limited on size when painting onto a substrates.

Not as much as you think. While I'm new to the dedicated theater world I own a plastics company. Most any plastic (sentra, ABS, styrene, etc...) that you can get in a 4x8 sheet you can get in a 5x10 sheet. Most people don't know about it because 5x10 is only used commercially but the public can buy it just as easily. Occasionally you can find 6x12 sheets as well but it's not standard.
post #15 of 17
Guyburns, I would contact Mike Garret here at AVS. He can help you with some great options that might be more cost effective and better performing.

His contact info is in post #11 of this thread.
post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Terrell78 View Post

Not as much as you think. While I'm new to the dedicated theater world I own a plastics company. Most any plastic (sentra, ABS, styrene, etc...) that you can get in a 4x8 sheet you can get in a 5x10 sheet. Most people don't know about it because 5x10 is only used commercially but the public can buy it just as easily. Occasionally you can find 6x12 sheets as well but it's not standard.

How much does a special order of 5' x 10' gator board cost a person? I suspect if you even value your time at minimum wage, you will find your self at a bought screen price pretty quickly. More so if you have to buy a spray rig for one screen.
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post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by AV Science Sales 5 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terrell78 View Post

Not as much as you think. While I'm new to the dedicated theater world I own a plastics company. Most any plastic (sentra, ABS, styrene, etc...) that you can get in a 4x8 sheet you can get in a 5x10 sheet. Most people don't know about it because 5x10 is only used commercially but the public can buy it just as easily. Occasionally you can find 6x12 sheets as well but it's not standard.

How much does a special order of 5' x 10' gator board cost a person? I suspect if you even value your time at minimum wage, you will find your self at a bought screen price pretty quickly. More so if you have to buy a spray rig for one screen.

5x10 isn't special order. I don't know what gator board runs because I don't use it. Also all plastics going price is more dependent on sheet thickness than anything else.
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