Create an Outdoor Movie Theater
Every outdoor enthusiast should have a movie theater set-up in his or her backyard, and making one is easier than you think. Here, Eric Stromer takes you through how to create a DIY screen on which to project your family's favorite flicks. With a few materials and some basic tools, you'll be ready to entertain in no time.
You can build a screen specifically for your space, but for this project, we’re building a 6’ x 9’ framed screen that will hang below a patio eave. Either way, the principles are all the same.
For the top and bottom of our frame, we’re using 2x4’s cut to 9’ and 11’ respectively. For the sides, go with 2x2’s cut to 5’ 5” so we can get our total height to 6’. Drill pilot holes and connect the pieces with flat corner braces and ½” screws. The bottom will have a 1’ overhang on each side.
Two 5’ 9” pieces of 2x2 will provide extra support between the sides. Place one about 2 feet from the top and another 2 feet from the bottom. Connect them to the sides with flat plates and ½” screws.
For your screen, you’ll need a big piece of fabric. The best material is a large canvas drop cloth. It’s both cost effective and durable. You can find these in various sizes at your local hardware store.
Our fabric needs to be stretched tightly across the frame like a painter’s canvas. Using a staple gun, insert staples about every 8 inches across the top edge, then stretch the canvas tautly to the bottom. Again, staple every 8 inches, then repeat on remaining sides.
If your canvas drop cloth is off-white or tan, consider painting it white to make the images pop. Regular paint will flake, so go with gesso. It’s a flexible white paint used to prep blank art canvases.
Once the frame is built, add hooks to the top corners. Then, add eyebolts at corresponding points on your eave or overhang.
Wedge the bottom of the frame between cinder blocks. This will ensure that your screen doesn’t sway in the nighttime breeze. Once the screen and projector are setup, don’t forget to add some comfy seating for your friends and family.
Items You'll Need
- Measuring tape
- Drill / screw gun
- 2x4 cut to 9’
- 2x4 cut to 11’
- Two 2x2’s cut to 5’ 5”
- Two 2x2’s cut to 5’ 9”
- Four flat corner braces
- Four flat plates
- ½ inch screws
- Large canvas drop cloth