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I have a kids' playroom with a big wall and a center window. I want to use this wall as a home theater projector screen. I don't want to block the window permanently with a fixed screen, and my existing rolling screen is a smaller one.

So I am trying to block the window with temporary plywood from Lowe's and paint the plywood along with the wall with a white screen painting to play movies. I want the plywood to be easily removable when I am not playing movies, as I don't want to miss the ventilation when kids are playing in that room.

What are some options for this? I mean, would buying an exact size of plywood and painting that with matching wall color be a good idea?

  • 2
    Is part of what's required a material that blocks sunlight from entering? Or do you have blinds/etc. that does that, and are just looking for a practical surface to project on to? – BruceWayne Nov 25 '19 at 15:30
  • Plywood is pretty heavy, so you will have to secure/retain it in the window for safety. How big is your window's internal dimensions? You may get away with some 2mm MDF, I'd avoid thick plywood. – Criggie Nov 26 '19 at 7:55
  • If you paint the plywood, then paint both sides of it. Otherwise it will warp, because the painted side will expand as the paint soaks in. – FlanMan Nov 26 '19 at 20:48
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    why not simple blackout shades that are meant for this very thing? – NKCampbell Nov 26 '19 at 23:10
  • @NKCampbell I like that idea very much. Cost would be a factor though. For comparison a4x8 foot blackout roller shade is about 325 dollars. – Kris Nov 27 '19 at 2:01
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Cut a sheet of wood into the dimensions of your window. Screw in L brackets in the four corners of the wall where you want to put the wood. Then just like a picture frame you install four rotating pegs to hold the board in place while you watch the movie. Depending on your budget, you could also install magnets on the back of your board to hold it in place without the rotating pegs and screw in a pull tab on one of the sides to easily remove the board.

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66

I have had great success using a 4x8 foot sheet of white foam board.

It is extremely light weight. I hung it from ceiling on strings attached to three binder clips or bull dog clips like show below.

When not in use find a place you can store it flat. If it gets broken it’s cheap to replace. If it falls on a child no one gets hurt. The white foam is a good surface for projecting onto. The one pictured below had foil on the other side but the plastic with lettering peels right off leaving a bright white surface .

White Foam Board Binder Clip

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    Depending on the size and shape of the room and the location of ceiling lighting (if any), bulldog clips on the bottom would allow the foam board to be held up against the ceiling for safe keeping. – FreeMan Nov 25 '19 at 19:41
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    Do bear in mind that you are introducing what may be a fire hazard into your house. Expanded foam gives off toxic fumes as it burns, and in a vertical position it burns well. Even better, horizontal on a ceiling, dropping globs of burning plastic onto the floor. It's designed to be sandwiched between non- or less-inflammable materials like brick walls or wallboard. – nigel222 Nov 26 '19 at 10:08
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    @nigel222 I suppose one could drape it with an asbestos blanket just to be extra safe. – Kris Nov 26 '19 at 13:23
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    @nigel222 If you have this exposed to an open flame source, I'd argue you have larger issues. – Machavity Nov 26 '19 at 14:01
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    @Kris I hope you're joking! – Strawberry Nov 26 '19 at 15:43
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If you're not too attached to your current design, consider getting a pull-down projector screen (example). They hide away almost completely when not in use, and you can install it without permanently attaching anything to your window frames. They also have reflective properties that make your pictures look better than a normal painted-white surface would.

If light pollution from the window is a problem, blackout curtains are an easy solution (buy some, or DIY some fairly inexpensively). They look nicer when permanently mounted, but I used to have some on a tension-mount curtain rod that I could easily take down when not using the projector.

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  • Or, even better: have the projector plane rool down over the window. That's what we have at home and it allows watching during the day. – Tomáš Zato - Reinstate Monica Nov 26 '19 at 10:45
  • It seems the OP already have a rolling screen but it's not wide enough to covert the whole window. – Kodos Johnson Nov 27 '19 at 16:36
  • The screen doesn't need to cover the window. The screen only needs to contain the picture. Curtains cover the window better than a screen will. – bta Dec 2 '19 at 22:31
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The wild and crazy, "probably-more-work-than-it's-worth" idea is to make solid shutters that fold to the sides of the windows when you want light+circulation. But, it appears that you already have the plywood. And, you want the projection area to exceed the dimensions of the plywood, so it really should be flush mounted with the wall and have as little gap between the plywood and wall as possible. You want to cut the plywood to fit closely in the window and then you need some mechanism to hold it in place. Hook & Loop (Velcro) fasteners along the top of the window/plywood to keep the top from sliding into or away from the window. Fabric loops attached to the bottom of the plywood to handle it when pulling out or pushing in.enter image description here The velcro "should" stop the top of the plywood from moving in or out, but it will not support the weight of the plywood. In this design we are relying on the window sill itself to support the weight of the plywood. I would strongly recommend installing "stop" blocks at the top and bottom to keep the plywood from indenting too deeply into the window (keep it flush with the wall) but also to allow you to put screws through the plywood into the stop blocks to prevent the plywood accidentally falling. The stop blocks can be simply 2x2x2 cubes cut from 2x2 stock and firmly attached to the window opening with 4" screws to engage the framing. Inserting the plywood into the window frame would follow the arrows, #1 lift the plywood into place engaging the velcro strip, #2 grasping the fabric handles slide the bottom of the plywood onto the sill. Gravity "should" hold it in place and the velcro "should" stop the top from sliding out. But for safety, screw it to the stop blocks. I only drew blocks at the bottom, but I would strongly recommend blocks at the top too.

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  • This would also work really well with a foam board. You just have to paint the edges of the board or the foam will break up with use and not fit as well over time. Then you probably wouldn't need stop blocks at all. – Arluin Nov 26 '19 at 18:41
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Your biggest problem isn't retaining the plywood, it's how not to damage the window or walls. Cut the plywood accurately to the window aperture minus 1/4" each side, and then stick pipe insulation all the way along each side (including corners!) to cushion the edges. This also makes the plywood sheet an interference fit to the window aperture, which means it will tend to keep itself there. If the pipe insulation doesn't feel robust enough, get a bunch of pool noodles and cut a similar slit down each one to stick them on the edges. A couple of bungee-cords hooked across the window might be enough to stop accidents. I would strongly recommend fixing four handles to the panel though (two on each side) so that it's easy to position. And don't forget to mark it "this way up". :)

I've done gigs in pubs who had a very similar setup. In their case the panels were backed with foam to help soundproof the windows.

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You can get "blackout" (almost-blackout) stuff much cheaper than you mention in the comments. Ikea used to be good but since they switched to only selling spring-roller blinds I wouldn't buy another from them. The fabric is completely blacked out but light can get round the edges. If that's still an issue then it's not hard to make a frame that closes up the last bit, even using brush strip for sealing if you want.

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1/4" thick plywood is light and strong. Like the previous post says, be sure to paint both sides, so that it does not warp.

Various kinds of mounting would work. My favorite would be to have a notched holder at the bottom, and then a screw-in to the upper two corners. You could get a long piece of trim as the bottom piece.

The top is done with either molly bolts, or just screw it into some solid wood. This takes about 30 seconds to install or remove, if you have an electric screwdriver.

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