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Projector Screen Vs A Wall: Which Is Better?

Projectorpoint Explainer - Screen Vs Wall

After you buy a projector, you must decide whether to use a projector screen or a bare wall. The goal is to get a clear projected image.

Although you can use a wall or a projector screen to project an image, a bare wall reflects light less than a screen. Therefore, a wall negatively affects the clarity of the image being projected.

Our guide below includes a detailed rundown of the comparison between a projector screen and a wall. So, without further ado, let’s dive in.

Projector screen vs wall

Comparing a projector screen and a wall on some key aspects is essential. These include texture, light and colour, and frame.

Texture

Texture refers to the evenness of a surface. While a projector screen has a highly reflective and ultra-smooth surface, a wall is the opposite.

When you look closely, you’ll notice that a wall is not as smooth as it appears. Their uneven surface means that the image produced on them will appear less sharp and bright overall.

Note that this effect is more profound, especially with a cheap projector.

Light and colour

The light emitted by the projector’s lenses need a reflective surface to produce a bright and clear image.

White is more reflective than any other colour. Unlike projector screens that have a special coating to enhance their reflective properties, a typical wall is not wholly white.

Unless your wall is completely white, you won’t be able to see clear details of the image that is shown on it.

Frame

Frame refers to a distinguishable border around the projected images.

Projector screens have a clear black outline around the projection area to boost image quality. This is because, with a clear border, the eye can focus on what is displayed rather than the edges.

Unlike projector screens, a wall provides a borderless screen. However, given that you intend to keep your projector fixed, you can create a border using a pencil and black velvet tape or use a wooden frame to size.

Pros and cons of using a projector screen

Pros

  • Customised for projector viewing – a projector screen is made primarily for projection. There are various projector screens, like white, black, or grey – each of which is suited to different conditions.
  • Smoother and more reflective – unlike a typical wall, a projector screen is free of imperfections. Moreover, even a black-coloured screen is more reflective than the surface of a wall.
  • Specialised Screen Coating – projector screens are painted with a specialised coating that significantly enhances their ability to reflect light and make the image brighter and sharper.

Cons

  • Setup involves hassle – you will have to deal with many cords and cables when setting up a projector screen.
  • Varying prices – Depending on the material used, the prices of projector screens can vary considerably. For instance, an automatic retractable screen costs a lot more than its fixed and portable counterparts.

Pros and cons of using a wall

Pros

  • Cost-effective – If your wall is smooth enough to accommodate a projection, you can save on the money you would have otherwise spent on a projector screen.
  • Painting the wall – To enhance the reflective properties of your wall, you can simply paint it with projector screen paint instead of purchasing a new projector screen altogether.
  • Space-saving – if you don’t mind lower quality projection, you might find walls more practical for projections as they are more space-saving than a cumbersome projector screen.

Cons

  • Expensive screen paint – A gallon of high-quality screen paint almost costs the same as a high-end projector screen.
  • Poor quality – While a typical wall can fulfil your projection needs, more often than not, it provides a below-the-part image quality.

Top tips when choosing a projector screen

When it comes to the best viewable experience, a projector screen holds an edge over a bare wall. Here are the top tips when buying a projector screen:

  • For the most vivid output, choose a fixed projector. For use in multiple locations, go for a portable screen; to ensure maximum available wall space, a retractable screen is your choice.
  • The fabric gain of a projector screen depends on how much light it reflects. Typically, a fabric grain of 1.0 is considered ideal for most purposes.
  • When it comes to the aspect ratio, you should aim for 16.9 if you want to primarily use it for television broadcasts and video games. However, for movies, the 2.4.1 aspect ratio is your ideal choice.
  • The size of your projector screen should conform to your personal preference and room size. To help you decide, you can use painter’s tape to create an outline on the wall and see if that’s the right size for you.
  • White-coloured screens are best for use in dark rooms. As for the comparatively brighter rooms, screens with a shade of grey are your best bet. This is because of the varying susceptibilities of different screen colours to interference from ambient light.

FAQs

Do you really need a projector screen?

You will not get the best possible viewing outcome if you use a projector without a screen. If you insist on using a projector without a screen, ensure the surface you project on is clean and reflective. A white sheet, white wall or another light-coloured semi-reflective surface will work fine.

However, to achieve optimal results, consider opting for a projector screen.

Does projector screen paint work?

Although projector paint makes a surface more reflective, it won’t make a rough wall surface smooth enough to receive a projector image without blurring or distorting it.

You will still need to grind and sand down the wall you intend to use to make it projector-screen-worthy.

Is it ok to use a projector on a wall?

Yes, it is okay. However, using a projector without a screen will decrease the quality of the viewable image.

Although a simple white wall provides a good surface for an image to be projected, it has some downsides. For instance, a wall does not reflect light near as well as a projector screen.

Summary

Projector screens are smoother, more reflective, and provide a better-quality display, while walls are cost-effective and space-saving.

Additionally, when buying the right projector screen, ensure it has the right colour, an appropriate aspect ratio, a fabric grain of around 1.0, and a screen size that suits your space.

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