Approximately 4 years ago, I purchased my very first projector. Without very much money and lots of ambition, I decided to build a DIY screen. The screen consisted of a wood frame, thin melamine backing laminated with an off white Wilsonart Laminate. It worked awesome for the 4 years I owned the projector. The screen improved contrast perception and was very durable.
Approximately 3 months ago, I decided to upgrade my old 4:3 projector with a new 16:9 projector (PLV-Z4). Again, I was tight on cash after the projector purchase, so I decided to build a 16:9 screen for it. Basically I would use the same design with a flat white laminate instead of the off white I had used previously. The new projector has a much better contrast ratio, and I wanted brighter colors than I had with the gray screen. Unfortunately, both Home Depot and Lowes scaled back on their laminates. They stock nothing but glossy and decorative finishes. To custom order a piece of flat white laminate from Wilsonart, it would cost $80.00+ in shipping costs alone. Thus, I started exploring my options.
In the siding section of Home Depot, I found exactly what I was looking for, Pollywall! I had never seen it before but read good things about it on the AVS. Having similar characteristic to laminate, I purchase a piece.
Following the directions on the Pollywall, I purchased a gallon of Liquid Nails and an application trowel. Using the trowel, I applied a semi-even coat of Liquid Nails to the thin melamine board. Then, I attached the laminate to the board and used a roller to smooth everything out. I laid the screen face down in the living room and let it set for a week to dry.
A week goes buy and I inspect the screen. WTF! It appears that I didnâ€™t get an even enough coat. The Pollywall was bumpy. Furthermore, I could see the Liquid Nails through the Pollywall since it slightly transparent. At that moment, I knew I would have to start over. See, Liquid nails is about the stickiest and messiest crap on this planet. Hell, I threw away the trowel because it was cheaper to buy another than use 2 Â½ gallons of mineral spirits to clean it off. In a relief of anger, I fired up my chainsaw and cut the screen in to small pieces. It felt good!
DIY Screen, take #2: OK, so I learned my lesson with Liquid Nails. Itâ€™s damn near impossible to get a smooth enough coat. Plus, it shows through the Pollywall. I head to Home Depot and purchase more lumber and another sheet of Pollywall. This time, I decide to apply it using the same method I did with the laminate. I purchased a bunch of wooden dowels and a tub of rubber cement. Since rubber cement dried semi-transparent, I figured it would be ideal for applying the Pollywall.
The second screen went much quicker because I didnâ€™t even have to look at the plans when making the cuts. After all, it was identical to the one I just made. The next weekend, I applied the laminate using the wooden dowels and rubber cement. It went on perfect! Again, I used the roller to smooth everything out and laid it on its face in the living room. Periodically I would visually inspect the screen while it dried. Everything looked nice and flat.
I decided to order my velvet online. Joanne Fabrics had a poor selection of velvet. $55.00 and 7 days later, the velvet was delivered and installed. I finished the screen off with some stained oak crown molding on the edges; it was beautiful!
The next week, I aligned the projector and screen. Using my AVIA disc, I calibrated the image the best I could. The screen was gorgeous; my friends were amazed by the craftsmanship that I put into the screen and how much brighter the image was compared to the old screen. It felt good to impress everyone with my craftsmanship.
10 movies and 2 months later, the weather starts to get nice. I spend less time watching movies and more time working in the yard. One day, I walk past the screen and notice something odd about it. The screen has a very faint shadow on it (like it was dirty). Upon further inspection, I noticed that the screen had started to bubble and peel away from the melamine. CRAP!
After much reading online, it appears that the Pollywall expands and contract significantly with temperature change. This week alone, it has expanded enough to actually peel itself away from the melamine approximately 2 inches on the edges. CRAP AGAIN!
After going over my finances and calculating the total costs of the DIY screen project, I decided to purchase a new screen instead of making another. When I factor in the time it took to make it and the materials involved, the screen was insignificantly less expensive than purchasing one.
The moral of this story is: Donâ€™t make the same mistakes I did! If you use Pollywall as a screen, allow for it to shrink and expand. Furthermore, if you use a chainsaw on your screen, please wear approved eye protection. Remember, huffing fumes from rubber cement will get you high but will likely give you a headache in the morningâ€¦
This post was brought to you by the letters W, T and F. Also, by the lucky number 13.