Backyard Movie Screen Guide
So you’ve decided to pull the trigger and set up your own backyard movie theater. The first thing you’ll need is an outdoor movie projector screen. Below we’ll walk you through a few screen options that will get you up and running in no time.
Need an Overview? See our Backyard Movie Theater Guide
Choosing an Outdoor Movie Screen
Unlike projectors, there are screens specifically built for your backyard however we don’t recommend leaving them up permanently. Screens can range from a sheet out of the linen closet, to a blow-up monster as big as a drive-in.
There are a few considerations to take when choosing a screen for a backyard theater.
- How much space do you want to dedicate?
- How often and how many people will you entertain?
- Will you be disassembling the screen after every use?
- Will you need front projection or rear?
- Widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio (preferred) or 4:3 aspect ratio? Keep in mind most HD content is 16:9.
Below are a few examples:
Bed sheets will work, but they won’t give you the quality that a true screen will especially when projecting 1080P or 3D. True screen materials offer a few advantages:
- Diffuse light from the projector making the picture easily viewable from any angle
- True screen materials also support 16:9 aspect ratio
- The material is made to be able to attach to a stand whether you build it yourself or included with the screen.
For our purposes, we’ll highlight a couple of different outdoor movie screen options.
DIY Projection Screen
For do it yourself er’s there are projection screen materials on the market to make your own screen. We recommend Carl’s Black Out Projector Screen Cloth. It runs about $40 on Amazon and will give you a nice picture capable of handling front projections at 1080P resolution.
It’s relatively easy to build a stand for your screen with PVC piping available at any big box home store. Simply tension mount the screen material to the frame on all sides stretching it for a smooth installation.
Check out this plan for building your own movie screen stand.
Blow Up Screens
If you don’t want to spend the time making your own screen there are a few different routes you can go. Blow up screens have become popular as they store easily yet you can create a huge screen in minutes without the hassle of fixing the screen to a frame.
The majority of blow-up screens have a motorized pump which will inflate the screen in no time. Tethers and stakes are included to fix the screen to the ground especially on windy evenings.
Factors that influence price:
- Screen Size – expect to spend more on larger screens.
- Blow Up Motor – faster and quieter the blow-up mechanisms will cost more.
- Aspect Ratio – 16:9 widescreen many increase the price a bit.
- Tie Down Mechanism – more advanced tie downs increase price
- Weight – the lighter the better
- Material – PVC vs. other
- Wind Rating
We recommend inflatable screens by Gemmy. They are priced well and come in a number of sizes. Depending on the model and size, blow up screens start from about $150 on Amazon and go up from there. Keep in mind they do have a larger footprint so if your yard is on the small side take a look at our third option below.
Screens With Stands
Another option is a front projection screen with stand. These stands included with the screen generally collapse into a few manageable pieces and stored in the carrying case included.
Stakes and tethers are included for additional support and the screen can be attached to the stand in a matter of minutes. It takes a bit longer than blow-up screens to set-up and break down the stand its self, but they offer a smaller footprint and depending on your choice they can be a bit less expensive.
Factors that influence price:
- Construction Material – Steel, Aluminum, Plastic
- Rigging Material – The materials used to affix the screen to the stand.
- Portability – Does the screen come with a carrying case? Some more expensive models even offer hard cases with castors for wheeling the stand.
- Wind rating
- Stakes and Tie-Downs
- Ease of Set-up – The fewer pieces to put together the better.
We like the Elite Yard Master Series. They have a variety of sizes with stands or without meaning you can tack the screen against the house or fence. They last forever and stay relatively wrinkle free plus the new versions are 4K Ultra HD ready. Most models run under $200 on Amazon.
Read Our Review – Elite Yard Master Series 2
As you can see there is a screen for any budget and backyard. They’ll all hold up over time and will compliment any projection source you throw at it. You and the kids will love your backyard movie nights with your new outdoor movie theater screen!
Do you have other suggestions or a backyard theater of your own? Let us know. Leave a comment below.