The Different Types of Projector Screens (17 Types)

A projector works best when it has an accompanying screen to work with. Compared to a plain white wall, a screen is superior because it’s designed to properly display every last detail of the projection, especially if it’s in HD and UltraHD. This is because screens include a special coating with reflective properties that help make the projection come out clear as though you’re looking at an HDTV instead of at a wall.

Ordinary wall paint isn’t enough to properly showcase projections or projector images at the best brightness and quality. Different types of projector Screens are also available to fulfill the different needs of the viewer. Here they are now sorted by screen type and mount type.

Different types of projector screens by screen type 

Here are the different types of projector screens by screen type.

Electric Projector Screens

Essentially, this projector screen works by being a screen you can bring down or hide up at the press of a button. It’s electronically and mechanically operated to present itself or hide itself like an electric garage door. An electric projector screen provides a look of professionalism for your presentations and movie-viewing experience in home cinema terms. This is because it’s a screen you can operate by remote control. It showcases an elegant, sleek design and works in a single location for storage convenience.

01 Different types of projector Screens 02 Electric Projector Screens

They are available as either non-tensioned or tab-tensioned screens. It’s also typically hidden through a slot installed in the ceiling as recessed ceiling mounting. There are projectors of this type that come with wood trim up top, which helps camouflage the screen when it’s not being used and they’re a good alternative to recessed ceiling mounting. These projector screens typically run on 100 volts. However, there are models available that run with 220 volts of power instead. There are also screens you can operate by remote control, just like you would an HDTV.

Fixed Frame Screens

A fixed-frame screen can’t be rolled up and down manually or electronically. They’re fixed on a frame, hence the term. They’re for conference rooms and home cinemas that have enough space to accommodate a permanently fixed frame screen. This arguably makes this screen type the most elite of all screen types available due to its commercial viability. After all, a movie theater typically has a fixed screen setup. Home theaters look more “theatrical” when it has enough space to accommodate this screen type along with your HDTV and media player setups.

01 Different types of projector Screens 03 Fixed Frame Screens

Fixed frame screens are also renowned for their durability. They last the longest because they lack moving parts and aren’t constantly being rolled up and down in between usage. They just sit there like a whiteboard or blackboard. You also won’t get the bends in these screens because they aren’t bent. They’re just allowed to sit there in all their glory until they’re allowed to be used. It’s also because they’re on constant display that they offer the best picture quality that isn’t marred by the needs of storage, mobility, or being put away. You have many more options for these screens to choose from exactly because of their easy accessibility.

Portable Projector Screens:

If you have a portable pico or pocket projector it makes sense that you have a portable projection screen to go along with it so that you won’t be forced to look for white or plain walls to project your pico pocket every time. A portable projector screen can be as big as 40 inches, especially when it comes to 4K HD projection that requires more pixels for your buck. They come with a mobile projection screen stand that’s durable, lightweight, and collapsible so that you can easily carry both screens and stand around.

01 Different types of projector Screens 04 Portable Projector Screens

They’re mostly for conference room use but some might also be used for both indoor and outdoor applications as well. When shopping for a portable screen, look for one that’s designed for quick setup so that it’s not a hassle to put the stand and screen together at every conference, movie viewing, or gathering. It’s mainly used by those who wish to do presentations on the go, particularly pitchmen and salesmen. An outdoorsy portable screen should also be rugged and sturdy in order to withstand the harsh elements and multiple usages when push comes to shove.

Inflatable Projector Screens

An inflatable projector screen is ostensibly one that you can inflate. They’re like screens drive-in movie theaters, which allow you to enjoy an indoor-theater-quality movie while driving in with your car in an outdoor parking lot—it’s the best of both worlds, isn’t it? At any rate, you can make your own drive-in or outdoor theater in your own backyard without attaching white sheets at the side of your house by investing in this type of projector screen. What’s more, the picture quality of a screen is always superior to that of white bedsheets.

01 Different types of projector Screens 05 Inflatable Projector Screens

Inflatable projector screens allow you to watch something outdoors without worrying about the mount sinking into your lawn or grass. Most mobile or wheeled mounts for projectors work only on floors or concrete. For a reasonable price, you can get a self-inflating screen to stand on its own in minutes. You can even adjust it to fit various viewing angles without adjusting your own projector’s keystone correction or lens shift. These screens have great picture quality and are made of a material that could withstand the outdoor elements as well as temperature extremes of the hot and cold variety.

Projector Screen Paint

By the way, the quality of your projector screen is dependent on the quality of paint used on it. The special coating dictates how reflective their screen surface is when push comes to shove. Instead of buying a screen with reflective coating, you can use this newer alternative to screens to make a do-it-yourself (DIY) screen that’s much cheaper than many of the screens available here, even when we’re talking about the fixed frame screen. A gallon of projector paint is capable of painting a surface area of 92 inches to 240 inches of diagonal painting and viewing space.

01 Different types of projector Screens 06 Projector Screen Paint

Or you can stretch a canvas over a frame with it having screen paint painted over it to turn it into a projection screen. If you lack permanent wall space to use this paint you can paint it unto a large board or other object to create a portable canvas projector screen of sorts. Your options are limitless! Just take note that an actual projector screen will always have superior viewing quality than canvas painted with projection screen paint, but it’s still better than using a wall with ordinary paint painted unto it.

Manual Projector Screens

The manual projection screen is probably the most barebones of the storable or hidden screens. Instead of using electronics to put it up or bring it down, you can manually set it up or set it up by hand. It’s certainly one of the more affordable projector screens out there, right next to the fixed frame screen. They use a pulley at the bottom of the screen to allow you to pull the screen down or up like window blinds. Many modern manual projector screens even include a controlled return feature so that it could slowly go back into place rather than roll up quickly like blinds.

01 Different types of projector Screens 07 Manual Projector Screens

The reason for this is because the quick-rolling mechanism could damage the integrity of the screen itself, which isn’t necessarily a problem with your blinds but an issue when it comes to viewing movies and presentations in full HD quality. They’re similar to their electric or electronic counterpart but this time around, they use manual pulleys to work. They can be ceiling-recessed, ceiling-mounted, or wall-mounted like electric screens as well. They’re much lighter than electric projection screens exactly because they lack the electronic components that make those much heavier to deal with.

Rear Projector Screens

A rear projector screen or rear projection screen is a screen that offers amazing brightness, contrast, and viewing angles exactly because the projector is placed behind the screen, shooting towards the audience a la a TV screen. The projector screen is see-through and the projector itself becomes unobtrusive without you having to place an aisle in between the seats of your audience to make way for its projection light. The brightness of this screen is high because it’s getting direct projection from the nearby projector that’s projecting its image from behind it.

01 Different types of projector Screens 08 Rear Projector Screens

Shooting towards the audience gives this screen a more TV-like feel, with the brightness emanating from behind the screen rather than in front of it. It’s the kind of light diffusion technology that controls the light path in order to distribute the sharpest and brightest of images unto a predefined viewing zone. No need for multiple adjustments for keystone correction, lens shift, or zoom shift. You won’t even have to deal with throw ratios or people blocking the projector light as much with this dependable setup either. It’s actually good in dealing with bright-lit environments with loads of ambient light to boot.

DIY Screens

Test the limits of your creativity when making a DIY projection screen. For example, you can paint a white wall with the reflective coat screen paint and make it into your projection wall of limitless size and aspect ratio variations. If you’re creative and tech-savvy enough, you can make your own screen with just a can of projector screen paint on hand. A normal projector screen with a huge size will cost you hundreds just to get it shipped out or moved alone.

01 Different types of projector Screens 09 DIY Screens

If you have canvas material and a frame you can make use of, why bother with shipment and extra costs? You might even need people to install it. Why depend on other people when you can make your own screen yourself? Just remember that if you’re making the effort to turn your DIY screen into something comparable to a commercial screen, a bit of effort on your part might be called for that goes beyond get a gallon of paint and roller to paint a screen the size a fixed-frame screen. For instance, you’ll need to learn all about blackout material, rear-projection diffusion technology, and the pros and cons of plastic versus fabric screens.

Different types of projector screens by mount type

Here are the different types of projector screens by mount type.

Ceiling Projector Screens

This projector screen mount type is typically mounted on the ceiling. It could be a manual one you can pull down like blinds or an electric one that you have to activate in order to pull down. It can also be used in tandem with the wall but that’s a different type of projector screen that you can read about more below. This screen is permanently installed unto your ceiling through a mount. If it stops working, you have to remove the whole mount and replace it with a new one.

01 Different types of projector Screens 10 Ceiling Projector Screens

However, they more than makeup for this future hassle with its daily convenience. At the push of a button or the pull of a cord, you can get a screen ready for your projector to project upon, whether it’s from the rear or upfront. Most ceiling-based mounts are of the ceiling recessed variety so that when the screen isn’t in use, you can easily hide it from view and get back all that space for other equipment or appliances. Most ceiling mounts are for electric projector screens, such that the casing is mounted within the ceiling structure itself and whatnot for ultimate convenience.

Floor Projector Screens

Floor projector screens are the inverse of ceiling projector screens. They’re mounted on the floor instead of the ceiling this time around. The most common floor projector mount is the one with a mechanism that allows it to rise from the floor like a hidden screen. It uses the same idea as a pull-down or electronic ceiling screen, but this time it rises up from the floor instead. It’s a great alternative to tripod screens that are known to be bulkier than this space-saving marvel.  A floor rising screen is much simpler and more lightweight to take down or set up when compared to bulky tripods.

01 Different types of projector Screens 11 Floor Projector Screens

Another thing that’s great about the floor rising projector screen is that it comes in one piece. You don’t have to assemble it yourself like IKEA furniture. Some don’t even include a carrying case because the handle is mounted unto the base of the screen for the sake of improved accessibility when push comes to shove. All you need to do is set the feet up on the screen and you’re good to go. You simply twist the feet around so they’re perpendicular to the screen itself. After setting up the feet, you can pull the screen up.

Folding Frame / Truss Projector Screens

Folding frame projection screens, also known as Truss projector screens, are screens you can fold like a folding chair for better mobility, storage, and accessibility. A typical folding frame projector screen in modern times supports 1080p resolution or 4:3 video. In other words, it supports both 16:9 videos and older lower resolution video at the same time so you can enjoy both vintage and modern movies as well as TV series. It’s the best of both worlds.

01 Different types of projector Screens 12 Folding Frame Truss Projector Screens

Additionally, it should have—for example—a viewable height of 108 inches, a viewable width of 144 inches, and a viable diagonal width of 180 inches that you can perfectly fit into a comfortable throw distance with your projector. It’s all about finding a good fit between your Truss projector screen and your most likely portable projector as well. If you have a folding frame screen it makes sense to have a pico projector to project its image unto it for the traveling salesman on the go. Then again, you can also use this screen type for the sake of viewing movies in a home cinema regardless if it’s for front or rear projection as well.

Outdoor Projector Screens:

Many projector screen types can fall under the outdoor projector screen umbrella. Any tripod, inflatable, or folding frame projector can double as an outdoor projector as long as they’re built to withstand the elements or find a way to stay upright even in grassy knolls or the dirt ground. The single-most unifying aspect of an outdoorsy projector screen is its hardiness or durability. You want something that can last and can deal with rough handling since this screen is open to the elements.

01 Different types of projector Screens 05a Inflatable Projector Screens

You want an outdoor screen mount that has a solid black frame because it doesn’t only boost the visual quality of the projected image in terms of color saturation and contrast but can deal with the harshness of Mother Nature, from the blistering sun to precipitation in all forms. It should be able to withstand temperature extremes without breaking down or corroding. It should be made of non-corrosive material, even if you intend to put it up then take it down after every viewing. It should be a miniaturized consumer version of the screens at drive-in theaters for sure.

 

Tabletop Projector Screens

As its name suggests, this projector screen can be mounted on your tabletop like a picture frame or a painter’s canvas. It’s a good alternative to the folding frame or Truss projector screen in terms of portability but this time around you might have to sacrifice a bit in terms of projection size. It’s mostly used for on-the-go movie watching with an audience or portable presentations at multiple conferences across different states. It has a screen that’s larger than the biggest HDTV but not so large you can’t bring it along with you via briefcase.

01 Different types of projector Screens 14 Tabletop Projector Screens

It’s also not unusual for you to end up with a screen that’s foldable or comes in a spring roller version as well. It’s all for the sake of keeping up with the mobility feature. These screens can also be used at home in home cinemas and whatnot as an extra screen beside your vintage CRT and modern HDTV monitors. This way, it lies in the same tablespace as the rest of your displays and media players, which makes it linked to your matrix switcher. This is especially true if it’s a rear projection screen and the projector is also connected to your matrix switcher setup.

Tripod Projector Screens

Tripod projection screens are known to be bulkier than their floor projection screen counterparts. The reason for this is because it’s designed to stand up on its own tripod legs, which naturally take up more space to support the weight of the screen it is holding. This as opposed to floor projector screens that rise up from the floor and are supported by the same floor at the same time, thus saving space when it comes to tripod legs.

01 Different types of projector Screens 15 Tripod Projector Screens

It can be a type of portable projector as long as it has a screen size you can carry with you on the go. It can be a more permanent fixture or appliance in your home if it provides a screen that’s bigger than your average chalkboard. The beauty of a tripod mount for projection screens is that they allow you to steadily place your screen anywhere you want, thus limiting the need to use any lens shift, zoom shift, or keystone correction on behalf of your projector to make its projection fit.

Wall Projector Screens

A wall-mounted projector screen is typically something like putting up or mounting your fixed frame screen on the wall so that you have a better surface to project your image or video on that’s not just whitewall. The screen is typically rectangular nowadays but once upon a time during the 4:3 aspect ratio era of television something squarer was common. Nowadays, you can mount your projector screen like you’d mount your flatscreen TV—like an oversized black canvas picture frame.

01 Different types of projector Screens 16 Wall Projector Screens

A wall mount makes the most sense because a projector is seemingly designed to project images on a wall or a screen that’s directly in front of it. Your screen wall mount needs to be a bit longer and girthier to accommodate rear projection. Otherwise, you might have to resort to putting your screen on an open window or hole in the wall where the projector can project from behind it. Front-faced projections unto fixed-frame or pull-down ceiling projector screens seem to be your best bet when it comes to wall mounting.

Wall And Ceiling Projector Screens

You can use your ceiling and wall mount in tandem in order to create a more steady and balanced mount for your screen. The idea here is to reduce potential jiggle or accidental bumps that will make the screen angle go askew and ruin your viewing experience. A wall mount alone is enough to simplify your viewing issues since projectors project their images in a straightforward, spotlight-like manner by default. These screens can either be manually or electronically set up.

01 Different types of projector Screens 17 Wall And Ceiling Projector Screens 

Additionally, a wall and ceiling projector screen is an appealing prospect because it’s a permanently installed screen that can be ceiling recessed, ceiling-mounted, wall-mounted, or motorized. A ceiling mount screen can double as a wall mount if you’re using both mounts at the same time to set your projector screen up properly. The main difference is that the wall assists the ceiling with the mounting and vice-versa, giving the fabric or plastic a more stable anchor and tautness that improve projection quality in terms of surface smoothness and tightness.

DIY Mounts

You will have to find either a used barebones projector screen mount or make up your own mount using everyday items in your home. A mount is more difficult to make on your own than a screen though, so you should probably be a DIY enthusiast with a background in mount building to make this work. Your mount can be as simple as a whiteboard mount with wheels repurposed for use with a screen to as complex as an inflatable one used for outdoor watching. You can even make ceiling mounts for drop-down screens if you wish and if you’re capable.

Mounting for a projection screen is usually better if they’re commercially made versus DIY. Of course, this depends on how good you are at DIY projects. If you’re an engineer, you should be able to come up with a tripod, fixed frame wall mount, or manual roll-down ceiling screen mount. You should be able to save hundreds of dollars alone from not paying for shipment. The simplest mounts are fixed frame screens or repurposing a whiteboard with a wheeled frame, replacing the board with a framed projector screen. A fixed frame screen you can hang up on any wall. A table mount is also quite easy to make for DIY enthusiasts.

Conclusion

Projection screens are better than walls because of their optical coatings that enhance their reflective qualities, which in turn results in clearer projections when all is said and done, as though you’re looking at an HDTV monitor that’s unusually large. The main point of a screen is to reflect the projection light to ensure a sharper image instead of a faded one.

White walls lack this reflective property. Sure, you can use a wall and end up with a watchable projection. However, you lose details and nuance when you go to the white wall route. It’s like using a wrench instead of a hammer to strike a nail down. You can do it but the hammer is designed to do hammering better.

Image Credit: www.flickr.com

James Core
I write dozens of helpful informational articles based on topics that I have identified again and again throughout my research and work experience. I am here to help you find the right projector.

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