Projector Paint vs. Screen – What’s the Difference?

After buying a video projector for home use, you might wonder whether you need to buy a screen as well. For the most part, yes. If you want your projection or image to look its best to get a proper screen for your projector. Some companies even include the screen with the projector as a package deal.

Then again, some customers prefer using their wall or a DIY screen to save money on getting a screen. Not all projectors come with their own screen as well. A bare white wall might suffice, but it depends on how smooth and reflective that wall is.

What is the difference between Projector paint and Projector screen (Projector Paint vs. Screen)? Keep on reading to find out.

You may also like: What’s the Best Paint Color for Projector Screen Use?

What is Projector paint? What is a Projector Screen?

What’s the difference between a bucket of projector paint and a projector screen? A bucket of projector paint is an extra-reflective kind of paint unlike the regular paint you use on your wall in order to prep it for projector usage. You can also use it on fences, an old blanket, or any suitable flat surface.

In contrast, a projector screen is a 100-inch or bigger type of screen you can install on your wall or ceiling in order to see your projector’s image without it looking faded or warped. Unlike with a regular wall, a projector screen can make the image so vibrant it looks like an HDTV screen.

Granted, any imperfections of a makeshift or DIY screen can be filled in with techniques like blacking out the room of any light source. However, when push comes to shove, a projector screen seems like the easier method of viewing movies or TV shows via projector.

Is it cheaper to use screen paint over a wall instead of using an actual screen? It might depend on how big the wall is. If the wall is big it might be cheaper to just hang your 100-inch or 120-inch screen over it.

Projector Paint vs Screen

Is Using a Wall, Old Blanket, or Fence a Viable Way to Watch Projector Videos?

You can save money by using projector screen alternatives, yes. The labor is free because the labor is done by you. If you’re going to spend money on labor to make a wall or a blanket look like a screen, then make sure to keep costs down to $50-$100 or however much a screen costs.

However, if you were to use a wall as is without screen paint, expect some image downgrades to happen. Even though it’s possible to use bare walls to protect images, the quality isn’t as excellent as using the projector screen. This is especially true of premium screens.

Some screens are so good that it feels like you’re watching an extra-large HDTV (which has a screen or monitor that produces its own light, leading to the sharpest and crispest of vibrant videos). A wall with ordinary paint won’t reflect the image light as excellently as a screen.

Ditto with a blanket or bed sheet, which if you’re not able to stretch fully can negatively affect the fidelity or even clarity of the image. For example, some paints or image colors might end up absorbing light instead of reflecting it.

How Does Projector Paint Make a Difference?

Projector paint does make a surface more reflective. However, it won’t make a rough wall surface suddenly smooth enough to receive a projector image without blurring or distorting the images.

You still need to grind and sand down either the wall or the fence you’ll be using in order to make it projector screen worthy. As for fabrics and textiles like old blankets and bedsheets, you instead need to stretch them out like you would a painting canvas to make them work.

As for projector paint options, they include the following.

  • White: White paint offers neutral gain and the best fidelity for your projection image. We recommend Digital Image Ultra White Screen Paint for painting on screens or walls as well as DIY screen alternatives (like a blanket or bed sheet).
 Projector Screen Paint
Projector Screen Paint
  • Gray: Gray paint is best used to give you better black levels and contrast. Some say it’s unnecessary due to DLP tech. Others claim it’s still useful, especially for places with ambient light.

The Projector Screen Paint 3D4K Light Grey Silver with 2.4 Gain is recommended.

  • Silver: Silver projector paint is a highly reflective type of paint used in the era of projectors where light lamps weren’t as bright (some even use gas lamps).

It’s prone to hot-spotting though, so find paint with decent diffusion properties. For Silver Screens, we recommend the Projector Screen Paint (S1 Screen Paint Silver).

We also recommend Stewart Filmscreen Studiotek 100 or ProClassic Smooth Enamel Satin Finish if you don’t care about specific colors for your DIY screen.

Projection on Wall or DIY Screen versus Genuine Projector Screen

A ready-made projector screen offers the highest definition and best quality possible. A DIY screen can achieve that but only if the one doing the work is competent enough to do so. Thankfully, the reflective screen paint helps even out the effort.

On the DIY homeowner’s part, he’ll need to either smoothen out the wall with a grinder before applying the screen paint or stretch out the bedsheet over a frame like a painter’s canvas before applying the screen paint.

The flatness required from your DIY or ready-made projector screen is the key to ensure image fidelity when push comes to shove. An ultra-smooth surface is required in order to reflect the light just right. You don’t necessarily need a mirror-like finish but you should need a decently reflective one.

Related: Projector Screen versus Wall – Which Is Better?

A Few More Items to Consider

A bare wall, you might think, should suffice, but it won’t. The goal of a screen is to reproduce high-definition quality on a bigger surface area so that your projector’s projection looks like it came straight from an HDTV. A bare wall or any other DIY screen substitute won’t usually cut it.

Therefore, the ultimate viewing experience is best achieved by a ready-made screen unless you’re willing to put in the work and investment to turn your wall, blanket, bedsheet, tarp, or fence into a functioning DIY screen of your own.


  1. Projection on Wall Vs Screen – What’s the Difference?“,, Retrieved April 3, 2021
  2. What Type & Color Of Paint To Use For A Projector Screen?“, Home Theater Academy, Retrieved March 24, 2021


James Core

I love my projector system and I am here to help you find the right projector for your needs.

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