What kind of projection screen should I choose?
Most of the time when people think about a projection system, one of the first images that pop into their head is a large, white projection screen. This is easily the most common backdrop on which an image is projected, but it is not the only method. As a cheaper, customizable alternative, many people have turned to looking for the best projector screen paint they can find.
One of the main benefits of projection screen paint is:
Projector screen paint has a couple of advantages beyond simply the cost though. For one, projector screen paint allows you to decide how large of a projection “screen” you need. That said, there are a number of qualities about projection screen paint that can make selecting one a confusing task.
That is why we have put together a list of the 3 best projector screen paints available on the market, highlighting what each one does best. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you can find the best projector screen paint to suit your needs.
Best Paint for Projector Screen in January, 2019
|Product||Screen Gain||Coverage||Applied with|
|Paint On Screen|
|1.4 - 2.0||170 ft2 per gal||Roller or Sprayer|
3D4K must be sprayed
|Digital Image||1.5||160 ft2 per gal||Roller or Sprayer|
|Elite Screens||1.4||58 ft2 per set||Spray Gun only|
#1 Paint On Screen Projector Screen Paint – Best Paint for Screen Projector
Paint on Screen is the only brand of projector screen paint on our list that specializes exclusively in projector screen paints and their associated accessories. That said, this brand does not actually sell any of the additional tools or equipment required to use their products, but offers a wide range of different types of paint to complement their projector screen paints.
One of the first things that will become obvious when looking at Paint on Screen projector screen paints is how many different types there are. This is the only brand of projector screen paint we found that offers a wide variety of different types of projector screen paint, each suited to the needs of a specific situation. This includes both the types of paint themselves as well as their size.
This variety carries with it a few important distinctions that ultimately make this the best performing projector screen paint we reviewed.
With that in mind, the Paint on Screen projector screen paint offers a range of gain from 0.8 all the way to 6.0. This means that the Paint on Screen brand of projector screen paint offers both the brightest and dimmest projector screen paint that we saw. To put this in perspective, the minimum gain recommended for a 3D projector is 2.0. With a maximum gain of 6.0, the Paint on Screen projector screen paint exceeds the recommended minimums for projecting 3D movies or images by three times. In fact, this projector screen paint can offer more than four times the gain of its next closest competitor.
Another advantage of the Paint on Screen projector screen paint is the coverage area. While it is not a significant amount, this projector screen paint offers the largest coverage area of 170 sq. ft. That is 10 sq. ft. larger than the next closest competitor and can allow for a truly impressive screen. In fact, this actually translates to a 240” screen which is 20’ diagonally. Chances are, you will not be able to make a screen that large in your home which is why this projector screen paint is also ideal for use in various commercial applications.
Of course, this projector screen paint’s versatility is not strictly limited to gain or coverage area. In terms of material composition and application, the Paint on Screen also offers plenty of options to choose from. For instance, you can purchase either latex or acrylic water-based paint, though not all types of Paint on Screen projector screen paint come in all material compositions.
How to Paint Projector Screen
#2 Digital Image Screen Paint – Best All-Around Value Projector Screen Paint
Digital Image is similar to some of the brands on our list in that they primarily specialize in projector screen paint, but they do also sell a few items that are geared more towards the general projection system as well as accenting the painted projector screen. That said, this is an excellent all-around projector screen paint that, while not the best in any category, is among the leaders in numerous fields.
One of the best qualities about the Digital Image projector screen paint is that it is the only VOC-free projector screen paint we saw. This is important for a couple reasons, but they all ultimately revolve around safety. First, the complete absence of VOCs makes this a much safer paint to apply – though you should still follow the proper safety precautions of wearing a mask and working in a well-ventilated area.
Another benefit of the Digital Image is that it offers the second largest coverage area. At 140 sq. ft. of surface area, you can project a screen that is almost 19’ diagonally. While the best performing projector screen paint can provide a screen that is almost 33 percent larger, you are still likely not going to be able to even max out this projector screen paint’s coverage capacity in a standard home. Even better, the Digital Image projector screen paint acts as its own primer.
The two biggest concerns with this projector screen paint involve ambient light and its limitations with 3D projection. This is the only projector screen paint we reviewed which does not have Ambient Light Reflecting properties. This means that the area where you watch projected videos or images will need to be almost absolutely dark. In regards to 3D images, this projector screen paint is only suitable for active 3D projections, not passive ones.
#3 Elite Screens ChromaFlux Screen Paint – Best Budget Projector Screen Paint
Elite Screens is the only brand on our list that does not actually prioritize projector screen paints – let alone focus on them exclusively. In fact, Elite Screens is far more focused on the standard projection screens than projection screen paint. This brand actually sells pretty much every type of screen and projector accessory, including remotes, mounting kits, and backlighting.
As such, it likely should not come as much of a surprise that this is not best performing projector screen paint that we reviewed. That said, it is still a decent projector screen paint and will perform comparably to many projector screens in general. For instance, this projector screen paint is capable of reflecting images with as low a resolution as 1080p and as high a resolution as 4K – though it is not ideal for 6K or 8K resolutions.
While the gain is the lowest on our list, the Elite Screens projector screen paint does feature Ambient Light Reflecting properties, which allow for you to watch in a room that has some light bleed in from external sources. Also, while it does feature the smallest coverage area on our list, the 58 sq. ft. total coverage area is still good for a 140” diagonal screen size. That is almost 7’ tall and over 10’ wide – plenty for most home projection systems.
Two issues that may cause some frustration is the fact that the Elite Screens projector screen paint is only sold in 24 oz sizes and requires a spray gun to apply. The latter is a problem because, unless you know how to use a paint spray gun, you are likely going to need to hire a professional to paint the projection screen for you. This is especially relevant because the 24 oz of paint supplied offers little to no room for error. While this is the least expensive projector screen paint we saw, unless you can spray it on yourself, that cost is likely to increase when you pay for a professional painter’s services.
Elite Screens Painted Final Product
When selecting a type of projector screen paint, it is important to understand what each type of paint is made out of. One thing to keep in mind is that most projector screen paints are made out of a water-based formula. This is because water-based paint is easier to apply as well as cleanup. Moreover, water-based paints will last longer in terms of maintaining their exterior appearance, though oil-based paints will technically survive longer – though their color will degrade more over time.
Another factor to consider when choosing a projector screen paint – which is almost certainly going to be water-based – is whether to select an acrylic or a latex type. It is important to note that neither type of paint actually contains any latex rubber at all. This is a bit of a misnomer. Instead, the primary difference between latex and acrylic paint is the concentration of acrylics in the paint mixture. Essentially, many brands of paint will add vinyl to their water-based acrylic paint which is then often labeled latex paint.
When it comes to water-based paints, acrylic is generally seen as the superior performing type of paint. This is because acrylic paints have less vinyl in their composition and often come with additional chemical additives that make them more resilient. Specifically, acrylic paints are far less susceptible to environmental stresses like fluctuating temperatures or humidity than latex paints. Still, these chemical additives will pose a bit more risk of respiratory problems if you do not wear a mask or work in a well-ventilated area.
That said, acrylic paints are also significantly more expensive than latex paints which cut some of their costs by adding various amounts of vinyl to the mixture. Acrylic paints also require more paint to get the same degree of coverage. This once again is a direct result of the use of vinyl which is a thicker, heavier chemical than acrylic and increases the coverage. With an increase in coverage, this also inherently increases the amount of time it takes to paint the surface.
Latex paints differ from acrylics primarily with the addition of vinyl to their composition. This creates a subcategory within the market of “pure acrylic” paints and “acrylic latex” paints. Easily one of the best qualities about latex paints is that they are significantly cheaper. Because vinyl is cheaper to produce than acrylic, its addition to latex paints allows manufacturers to sell latex paint at up to 50 percent less than cost of pure acrylic paints.
Unfortunately, this increase in molecular size also carries some downsides.
Specifically, latex paint is not as resilient as acrylic paint. This comparison applies explicitly to environmental stressors like humidity or temperature fluctuations. As such, latex paint is not nearly as good for an outdoor painted projector screen where the stresses of environmental factors are more significant. Though the absence of some of the chemical additives of pure acrylic paint makes latex paint safe to use in general.
This will be more important depending on the type of projector you use. If your projector can only display images in 1080p, you do not need as good of a projector screen paint than if your projector could display images in SuperHD or 4K resolutions. With the emergence of 6K and 8K as well as the normalization of 4K for the general consumer market, it might be a good idea to get a projector screen paint that is actually better than your current needs dictate for future posterity of your painted projector screen.
Gain refers to the reflectivity of the projector screen paint. This is a relevant issue depending on the type of projector you use or what type of image you are projecting – specifically in regards to resolution and dimensionality. Gain can also affect ambient light, though, in this regard, it can work as a double-edged sword.
For most people, gain is exceptionally important for matching with your projector. A small, compact pico projector might be especially convenient and easy to position, but they have a tendency of emitting far less light than more robust projectors. To counter this, using a high-gain projector screen paint of at least 2.0 will allow a maximal amount of the projected light to reflect back to the viewer. This will make the projected images from the pico projector look brighter.
The potential issue with a high-gain projector screen paint is that it will often reflect all light better. While this is great for projectors with a lower light output, it is not so great for areas where ambient light will creep in. To alleviate this, many brands of projector screen paint are including flakes of metal to reflect ambient light away from the viewer while directing the projected light directly to them.
Ultimately, the best projector screen paint is going to be the one that can satisfy your projection screen needs while still fitting within your budget. This last bit may be more important than with some other types of products because the price ranges between different qualities of projector screen paint can be significant.
If your projector system absolutely demands the best projector screen paint, then you cannot go wrong with the Paint on Screen brand. With the largest coverage area per gallon as well as the widest range of gain, this projector screen paint has an option that fits everyone’s needs.
If you are not looking to spend quite as premium an investment but still want a quality projector screen paint, the Digital Image projector screen paint offers a solid coverage area at less cost – though you will definitely be limited in gain and may not be able to view 3D projections that well.
Finally, if your projector needs are more limited or your budget cannot simply afford an investment over $100, then the Elite Screen projector screen paint still provides a good value. While its coverage area is far more limited than the other two projection screen paints, its gain is still on par with all but our best performing projector screen paint.