NXS Budget Theater Build/Conversion - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 101 Old 04-16-2017, 07:58 AM - Thread Starter
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NXS "Budget" Theater Build

I am hoping this thread will give people an idea of what can be done in a small room, with a minimal budget, a lot of DIY, and help from people like @LTD02 and others!

My "budget" dedicated Home Theater build, done in a small 11' x 17' room which was already dry walled and finished. I was on a limited budget of around $5,000 to $6,000 including the equipment I already owned, so tearing everything out and starting from scratch was not a option. The room was almost all DIY and I performed all of work including building subwoofers, front speakers, acoustic wall panels, and acoustically transparent screen. A of lot of work went into fishing wires in and trying to make things work in a space that was already done. The only plans I had was a small drawing I did and an idea in my head, which probably was not the best way to go. I did end up having to change a few things as I went along.

The first thing I did to the room was build the stage. I got the idea for the design of the stage from a thread on the forums. When I was done I decided to cover It with leftover carpet like what was already in the room in order to save some money. Later in the build I mocked up the screen on the stage to see how things would look. I found that I did not like the shape of the stage and that the light colored carpet was reflecting to much light. I rebuilt the stage by widening the front opening, putting a round edge on the lower step and purchased black carpet then installed it. The cost of black carpet was minimal and I should of done it from the start.

Upon starting on the rest of the room there was a water main and shut off valve that was exposed on the interior wall that I needed to do something with. So I built some faux pine beams to cover the water main with and put a ball valve with key for water shut off so it would be flush with the beam. I built another set of faux beams in order to repeat the look at the other end by the stage.

Next I built wainscoting to tie the look of the beams together. I used a sheet of 3/4" oak plywood and ripped it in 5.5" strips instead of purchasing solid 1 x 4 oak lumber for this project. It saved me a considerable amount of money by doing it this way. When I built wainscot panels I laid them out in 2' widths, with 6" in-between so when I made my acoustic panels they would line up with the panels. Basically I covered the bottom portion of the wall with 1/4" oak plywood and then framed the panels out with the 5.5" strips I cut from the 3/4" plywood, finished the exposed inside edge of plywood with oak shoe, and capped the top with 1 x 2" solid oak. All of the oak for the panels as well as the trim for the room I prefinished in the garage before cutting and installing in the room.

The back of the room already had a closet which worked out good for my equipment location giving access to the rear of the equipment in the closet. I cut out a opening in the wall between the room and closet and framed it back in. Then I boxed the opening in with oak plywood leaving the back open, trimmed out both sides and built shelves. I purchased a Kreg jig for drilling shelf clip holes in the cabinet sides for multiple shelve locations. The equipment cabinet ended up being another one of the things I ended up redoing. I had originally planed on ceiling mounting the projector, but when I started looking at where it had to go I realized that I should of made the equipment cabinet taller and put the projector in with the components. So I pulled the trim off on the cabinet and cut the opening in the wall above the cabinet, and instead of tearing the cabinet out and building a taller one, I built a smaller box and installed it above the existing one and finished trimming it out again.

Next came wiring the room, installing can lights, running speaker wire and electrical wire. Like I mentioned before my room was already finished so it was a challenge getting everything in. What I figured out though was after cutting some of the can light holes out, it allowed me to gain access into the ceiling cavities to aid in running all the speaker wire and electrical wire. The holes were big enough I could actually fit my DeWalt drill up into the ceiling cavities. For my equipment closet I knew I was going to have a few amps driving my setup. I didn't want to have any issues so I went ahead and ran 12 gauge wire from a 20 amp dedicated breaker, and installed 12 commercial grade 20amp receptacles. For my speakers I used a wire by KnuKonceptz that seemed to be pretty good for the money. My surrounds and Atmos speaker were all going to be in-ceiling so it wasn't to bad getting the wire in for them. The fronts and subwoofers are behind the screen and I was able to run them through the unfinished mechanical room next to the theater room.


























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post #2 of 101 Old 04-16-2017, 08:42 AM
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Have you considered making your platform the full length of the room? Mine is more an island like your design, but I really like the look of the platform being the full width.

That being said, I think you have an awesome canvas to start with. If I re-do in the future, I will add a stage and use that same design.
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post #3 of 101 Old 04-16-2017, 09:01 AM
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Does the av rack need to go there?

Have you considered it might be distracting, when the room goes dark and the electronic displays add light
on the side wall? I would either move it towards the rear, or better yet, put it right inside the closet at the back of the room.

You could build a full width riser at step one height, and then use an island style riser to further elevate the back seats.
You'd need to extend the riser into the mechanical room to safely step down.

Budget build or not, this could be a pretty impressive room.

How tall is the room?
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post #4 of 101 Old 04-16-2017, 09:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beams37 View Post
Have you considered making your platform the full length of the room? Mine is more an island like your design, but I really like the look of the platform being the full width.

That being said, I think you have an awesome canvas to start with. If I re-do in the future, I will add a stage and use that same design.
Yeah I did, but can't because of 2 door ways to closet and mechanical room.
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post #5 of 101 Old 04-16-2017, 09:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
Does the av rack need to go there?

Have you considered it might be distracting, when the room goes dark and the electronic displays add light
on the side wall? I would either move it towards the rear, or better yet, put it right inside the closet at the back of the room.

You could build a full width riser at step one height, and then use an island style riser to further elevate the back seats.
You'd need to extend the riser into the mechanical room to safely step down.

Budget build or not, this could be a pretty impressive room.

How tall is the room?
I guess I could do the riser like that, but I thought it would look funny with short doors going to mech. room and closet. I haven't done the math yet on how tall riser needs to be. I don't really have other options for equipment short of cutting sheetrock out on ceiling. I used to build new homes and put a few audio racks in with smoked glass doors. I could even black it out totally if it was a problem.
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post #6 of 101 Old 04-16-2017, 09:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Also wondering if I should do ceiling height fronts and rear surrounds as well or maybe just pre wire for them?
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post #7 of 101 Old 04-16-2017, 10:07 AM
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Why can't the doors simply be moved up? If you remove the trim, door and frame, then you could cut back the drywall up top. Next cut out the header,
and replace it with new studs, secured by screws from the inside of the opening. Done carefully, you won't even impact on the drywall.

I would be prepared to black out the av rack, as there is a very good chance you will shortly consider that you made a mistake placing the av rack in the line
of sight. I learned this the hard way, and the next remodel the av rack went in the back of the room. Now it's right outside the entry door.

Glass is highly reflective also, so I wouldn't really want smoked glass up front either...

Whether I pre wired for overhead speakers or not, would be based on ceiling height. If the ceiling is low, then I wouldn't bother. But wire is cheap, as a future proofing
option.
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post #8 of 101 Old 04-16-2017, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
Why can't the doors simply be moved up? If you remove the trim, door and frame, then you could cut back the drywall up top. Next cut out the header,
and replace it with new studs, secured by screws from the inside of the opening. Done carefully, you won't even impact on the drywall.

I would be prepared to black out the av rack, as there is a very good chance you will shortly consider that you made a mistake placing the av rack in the line
of sight. I learned this the hard way, and the next remodel the av rack went in the back of the room. Now it's right outside the entry door.

Glass is highly reflective also, so I wouldn't really want smoked glass up front either...

Whether I pre wired for overhead speakers or not, would be based on ceiling height. If the ceiling is low, then I wouldn't bother. But wire is cheap, as a future proofing
option.
Only 5" between ceiling and door now including trim, so I could really only move them up 3". I may look at trying to put equipment in closet. I have return air ducts in the side wall towards back of room so can't move it back.
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post #9 of 101 Old 04-17-2017, 04:31 AM - Thread Starter
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After looking at things closer I found a way that I can get wiring in to the closet area. I cut the sheet rock out and framed it in, now I have to patch and finish the original area that I cut out. My least favorite thing to do, mud and tape.

Thanks to @Tedd pointing out the issues with having the equipment located on side wall.
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post #10 of 101 Old 04-17-2017, 06:00 AM
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Any chance of exposing more of that outlet on the front wall, that the stage semi-hides? Is there room to actually be able to remove the electrical
outlet there, in case there's ever an issue with the plug?
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post #11 of 101 Old 04-17-2017, 06:10 AM
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I do like that you are keeping your seating central and not shoving it over to the wall, but this build might be of interest to you.

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/19-ded...on-thread.html
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post #12 of 101 Old 04-17-2017, 06:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Any chance of exposing more of that outlet on the front wall, that the stage semi-hides? Is there room to actually be able to remove the electrical
outlet there, in case there's ever an issue with the plug?
Yeah it is notched out where the outlet is still useable, just can't see it in the pic. Cool I will check the Tanner Ridge project out.
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post #13 of 101 Old 04-17-2017, 06:52 AM
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I see the outlet is usable but it also needs to be accessible in terms of being serviceable.
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post #14 of 101 Old 04-19-2017, 05:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Progress on room, all can lights in, surround speaker wiring (pita), and 110 outlets for equipment and projector.
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post #15 of 101 Old 04-19-2017, 06:00 PM
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Looks good!
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post #16 of 101 Old 06-03-2017, 07:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Update pics of room. I went to a lot of trouble to hide water main shut off by building fake beams to cover it, and to follow the look in the room. I replaced the valve with a high capacity fireplace gas valve with round face plate for finished look, and can still shut water off with key. Also changed location for projector from ceiling mount, to adding in wall box above A/V location. Painted area that can be seen from room side behind A/V shelf black. Even with closet door shut and lights down I could still see light reflecting off of light colored wall.
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post #17 of 101 Old 06-09-2017, 10:44 AM
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Overall, a very nifty design.

I do feel the Cans directly over the Screen are wasted, since they can only be utilized when there is no image being shot....unless they are outfitted with "Wall Wash Lenses" with the Shield toward the Wall. And of course with the lights dimmed down in any case.



The Floor of the Stage will need just as effective a light rejection treatment as you have provided the Ceiling and Side Walls.

........and if Blu-Ray Movies in 2.39:1 are going to be the prevalent content, with TV secondary, then you should do the Spandex Screen in 2.39:1 format, 130" wide x 54" high, (141" diagonal) and practice a C.H.I mentality, with 16:9 @ 54" x 96" for 110" diagonal

A big benefit of doing such also being the ability to completely cover your Speaker arrays...which referencing your drawing, a 107" wide 120" diagonal screen won't be able to manage.

"They said it couldn't be done. Well, we sure showed 'em otherwise!"
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post #18 of 101 Old 06-10-2017, 06:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Overall, a very nifty design.

I do feel the Cans directly over the Screen are wasted, since they can only be utilized when there is no image being shot....unless they are outfitted with "Wall Wash Lenses" with the Shield toward the Wall. And of course with the lights dimmed down in any case.



The Floor of the Stage will need just as effective a light rejection treatment as you have provided the Ceiling and Side Walls.

........and if Blu-Ray Movies in 2.39:1 are going to be the prevalent content, with TV secondary, then you should do the Spandex Screen in 2.39:1 format, 130" wide x 54" high, (141" diagonal) and practice a C.H.I mentality, with 16:9 @ 54" x 96" for 110" diagonal

A big benefit of doing such also being the ability to completely cover your Speaker arrays...which referencing your drawing, a 107" wide 120" diagonal screen won't be able to manage.
I have the screen cans on a separate switch and only planned to use them when movie not being played, but would still like to use the baffle. I do like the idea of a 2:39:1 screen. So the only adjustment I would need to make on projector when switching between formats would be zoom and focus? The reason I ask is I won't have easy access to lens shift.
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post #19 of 101 Old 06-10-2017, 06:26 AM
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Cans over the screen do reflect light via the screen, into the room. Rather handy come cleaning time for the theater.

And while I do agree they add nothing come viewing time, they also are great to adding entry drama, especially to the more hard core
cave like rooms. Those rooms can be a little boring looking, and lighting can be an inexpensive way to add some flair to such a space.
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post #20 of 101 Old 06-10-2017, 06:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Beams are in, trim is done, and carpet on stage. May have to do something different on stage like black carpet per Mississippi Mans recommendations. I already had carpet and funds are slim so will try it first.
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post #21 of 101 Old 06-10-2017, 08:25 AM - Thread Starter
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24" oak wainscot installed, and will be installing 2'x4' acoustic panels above each panel. Side surround speakers will be placed on center of panel on each wall.
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post #22 of 101 Old 07-04-2017, 07:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Wainscot done, built screen frame, and false wall. I made my own cleats out of 2x4's and put one on bottom as well. The screen is secure and snug against the false wall. I set everything up and covered screen frame with off white canvas so I could check the image. I noticed I have a reflection off the faux beams and will have to address it some how.
Anyone have any ideas? I would hate to cover them or paint them black. It isn't as noticeable when setting in the center of the room as it is in the pics.
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post #23 of 101 Old 07-07-2017, 07:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Little Disappointed in Build

I am a little disappointed in my HT build. Some things haven't turned out like I thought they would. Because I am on a tight budget I really don't have the option to do things over. Some of my biggest issues are the faux wood beams I built to hide the water line in room. They cut the ceiling height down, and I am getting a reflection off the screen. Also the height and shape of my stage I would have built shorter and done more of a curved design.
Maybe I am to much of a perfectionist, or at least that is what my wife claims, lol.
Any input would be great!
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/19-ded...onversion.html
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post #24 of 101 Old 07-07-2017, 08:04 AM
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I think most people on these forums lean pretty heavily into the do-er/perfectionist spectrum. Looks like you started with 8' ceilings and the stage appears to be 2x12's in height plus one layer decking. Your pictures show a really nice room that most people would love to have.

Some random thoughts: Can you take the beams down and paint over the water line? Roll on some Kilz and then paint? Does the wood have a glossy finish? Anything glossy/reflective is generally a no-no in theater rooms but based on your pictures it really isn't that bad. I would consider just removing the front 2 beams that are your main problem. The only other problem to solve from here is how to transition the wainscoting. Last note, unless you put ultra black velvet all the way around the screen for ~4 feet, you will get some reflection.

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post #25 of 101 Old 07-07-2017, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edge928 View Post
Last note, unless you put ultra black velvet all the way around the screen for ~4 feet, you will get some reflection.
Everything in life is a compromise. Certainly you could get creative with black velvet but you will lose some of the decor with your beams. My trunkline soffit which I'm still trying to incorporate into the finality of my build as part of the screen wall area had an identical reflection problem - and it was painted dark Iron Ore matte! Now with the velvet on and the lights off it completely disappears.

Depending on how much prep time you want to consume prior to pushing "PLAY" on your remote, you could fab some quick velvet panels around the dimensions of your wood beams, and quickly attach them using those little neodymium magnets - not unlike what some folks do with their screens to combat differing viewing ratios.

The bottom line though is your theater looks really cool, professional, and will be a wonderful place to enjoy movies. The balance between beauty and functionality/performance is solely your discretion.
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post #26 of 101 Old 07-07-2017, 09:41 AM
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The shape of the box beams that you built is a reasonable compromise to hide the pipe. It works nicely as a proscenium, as you would find an a real theater.

I do see what you mean about the reflections. It will help a lot if you can use a flat finish that is less reflective. At minimum, use something that still shows the wood finish, but is not glossy. Better still, you could leave the front surface of your beams in the existing wood finish and paint the sides flat black, just as you have done with all of the space behind the proscenium. This would still show off the wood, but the sides would pretty much "disappear", especially with the lights off.

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Last edited by DaveClement; 07-07-2017 at 09:42 AM. Reason: Corrected second link.
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post #27 of 101 Old 07-07-2017, 10:32 AM - Thread Starter
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@DaveClement @JCJetta @edge928
Guys thanks for the compliments. My ceilings are 7'2" so about 6'2" at the stage. I can't really remove the beams without ruining the wainscot, plus where I secured them to the knock down ceiling I glued blocks of wood to it. It would mess things up pretty bad. I finished the beams with a satin lacquer, and did a fine sanding of the finish. The glare on the beams is not quite as bad when your setting in viewing areas, but it still bugs me. I thought about using velvet tape on the front of the beams, that is the part that reflects. I don't want to do anything just to patch the problem though.
I thought about pulling the stage out and rebuilding it only 6" tall with a curved front and starting at the front edge of the beams closest to the viewing side. Then I could run velvet sides straight back to the screen wall. I would have to do it on the top beam as well. I would hate to go to all the trouble and it not work out either? I might see if I can draw a picture and get your guys input on it.

Last edited by nxs450; 07-07-2017 at 06:17 PM.
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post #28 of 101 Old 07-07-2017, 08:53 PM
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NXS Budget Theater Build/Conversion

For your reflections maybe you could try something low cost like a removable vinyl paint? Used a lot in automotive applications with of colors, matte/flat, and if you don't like it - peel off. https://plastidip.com/our-products/plasti-dip/


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post #29 of 101 Old 07-09-2017, 06:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superman07 View Post
For your reflections maybe you could try something low cost like a removable vinyl paint? Used a lot in automotive applications with of colors, matte/flat, and if you don't like it - peel off. https://plastidip.com/our-products/plasti-dip/


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I had used satin lacquer on the beams to cut down on the gloss. I just went back over them again with a extra fine sanding sponge and the finish is as non reflective as I can get it now. I went ahead and made felt panels for screen wall and installed them, put paint canvas back on screen frame and put it back up. I put Avatar back in, and set back in main viewing position. So when watching I don't seem to notice the refection near as much as when looking at the picture. I think the picture is where I really noticed it the most, and because of the fact you don't see the depth between the beams and the screen. I'm trying to convince myself, lol!
I believe I can live with it, but I have decided to recover stage with black carpet instead of the left over stuff that I had from the room. It definitely stands out now with everything else being black. Oh well at least I got experience installing the first carpet.
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post #30 of 101 Old 07-22-2017, 08:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Updates on build. I rebuilt the step on my stage with a curved step and installed black carpet. Spandex screen done and installed.[ATTACH][/ATTACH][IMG][/IMG][ATTACH][/ATTACH]
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Last edited by nxs450; 07-22-2017 at 10:24 AM.
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