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How to Build an Outdoor Movie Screen

how to build an outdoor movie screen
I’ve been wanting to host a backyard movie night/backyard theater for a long, long, long, LONG time.  I mean like as in while we were building our house.  I could envision it.  Problem was, I couldn’t AFFORD it.  After a little research, some help from my talented staff {hahaha!  not really…my mom, dad, and husband}, and a sprinkle of luck, we FINALLY pulled it off.  And. it. was. AWESOME.
Task number one was making a screen.  I found lots of good ideas and I’ll share them all at the end of this post so that you can determine which one will work best for you.  But first, I’ll show you how we did it.
First, we used this projection calculator to figure out what measurements we should use for the screen.
make a movie screen with 2 king size sheets
Then, we gathered our materials.  Here’s what you’ll need:
  • Two white king sized flat/top sheets which I purchased from Walmart {they have them where you can just purchase the top sheet and not the full sheet set – each one was under $10}.
  • 40 feet of 1 1/2 inch SCH 40 PVC Pipe
  • (2) 1/4 inch x 3 inch eye bolts
  • (2) 90° PVC elbows
  • (3) 1 1/2 inch PVC  “T” pipes {connectors}
  • (3) five gallon buckets
  • Sand
  • Cord or Rope

Total cost for this project was $63

movie screen pattern

First, Make the Screen

Step 1:

Cut 2 pieces 100″ X 56″
The simplest way to do this to spread the two sheets out on top of each other on a large table. Measure and mark the sheets with colored chalk and then cut them out together.
Sew along three sides of the sheets leaving the corners open about 4″ on each side.  This will leave an opening you to assemble the corner pipe pieces.  On one of the 100″ sides leave a space in the center about 4″ unstitched to allow for a pipe fitting to be inserted for center leg.

Step 2:

Turn right side out with the seams on the inside.   You may need to iron the seams down to get it to lay flat.

Step 3:

Next, sew a seam around all four sides about 4″ away from the edge.  This will create a pocket for the pipes to go through.

Step 4:

Finally, fold and iron the raw edges from the final side that has not been closed.  Stitch the edges together to close the final side.
DIY build a movie screen

Next, Make the Frame for the Screen

Step 1:

Lay the screen out flat on the ground.  Take one 90° elbow and connect it to a ten foot piece of 1 1/2 inch PVC pipe.  Slide the pipe through the top pocket of the screen.  Measure from the left to the right side of the screen and mark where you need to cut it.  {My husband’s measurement was 96 1/4 inches}. Take the pipe out, cut the pipe, and slide the pipe back through the screen.  Place the second 90° elbow on the opposite end of the top pipe.

Step 2:

Place the Tee PVC connector into the bottom left hand corner of the screen where it would belong.  Measure from the top 90° elbow connector to the bottom tee connector to determine the length of the side pipe.  Cut the pipe and slide into the side pocket of the screen and fit into the 90° elbow and then attach the tee connector. Repeat for the right hand side.

Step 3:

Place the final tee connector in the center of the bottom pocket in the screen {where there is already a hole in the screen for it}. Measure from the left tee to the center tee and cut to fit.  Slide it in and attach to both tees.  Repeat, by measuring from the center tee to the right tee, cutting and attaching.

Step 4:

Attach one eye bolt to each side pipe.  These will be used to tie down the screen in case you have winds whipping and it needs stability.

Step 5:

Cut three 1 1/2 inch PVC pipes in lengths of 41 inches each.  These will be the legs of the screen.

Step 6:

Stand the “legs” in the center of the 5 gallon buckets {each bucket will hold one leg}.  Fill the buckets with sand to hold the legs in place.

Step 7:

Attach the “legs” to the 3 tee connectors on the bottom of the screen.

backyard theater posts for movie screen

Enjoy your movie!!  Stay tuned for more posts about how we put our backyard theater together. 

Next post: What you need to host a backyard theater movie night!

Other links for making other types of movie screens:

AVS forum for how to build a cheap movie screen
How to Build an outdoor movie screen…cheap
Backyard Theater Forum
Video from Howcast on building a movie screen
A simple take on building a movie screen from Potterybarn
A step by step tutorial on how to build a screen from Wired

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I’m a participant in the Walmart Moms Program. Walmart has provided me with a product sample and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. Participation in this program is voluntary and the opinions stated above are entirely my own.

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Comments

  1. rosemary wilson says:

    Looks good like to have the party.

  2. What did you use to protect the movie? A laptop and some type of protector? I can’t tell from the picture.

  3. I f you intend to keep your walls simple yet classy, after that stripes are the way to go!

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