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What Is Projection Screen Paint?

By Christian Petersen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Projection screen paint is a special kind of paint that was developed to allow any flat surface to be converted into a projection screen for projection television systems or other display systems, such as movie, slide, and overhead transparency projectors. While many kinds of regular paints in shades of white or light gray will work for such purposes, true projection screen paint, which can range in color from bright white to shades of light gray, is manufactured specifically for coating surfaces for use as viewing screens. Projection screen paints have special characteristics that make them suitable for this use.

Many companies manufacture projector screen paint products, and each is unique, but all of them have greater reflectivity than standard paints. One brand is purported by its manufacturer to have special compounds, including metallic silver compounds that, when dry, form a matrix of tiny reflecting surfaces. Other products also claim improved reflectivity, and these claims are often backed up with images of demonstrations where a screen is painted in two halves, one with regular paint and one with special screen paint. Projection screen paint is suitable for displaying even the most advanced high definition images and can be used on curved surfaces such as those used in planetariums.

Systems for projecting images on a screen are limited by the quality of the projection surface. If the projection surface does not reflect well, is uneven, or has other imperfections, the image quality will suffer. Projection screen paint is designed to eliminate these problems. Any screen paint will only perform as well as the underlying surface, however. For this reason, it is recommended that the surface to be painted be made as smooth as possible, and sanding with fine grain sandpaper may be necessary. Certain porous surfaces may benefit from a base coat to seal them as well.

Applying projection screen paint can be done in one of two ways, according to manufacturers' instructions, which can vary from brand to brand. Most projection screen paint products can be applied with a standard soft paint roller, but many manufacturers claim that best results are obtained by applying the paint with a sprayer. One particular product, according to advertising literature, must be applied with a sprayer. Some manufacturers also recommend a special primer undercoat for some of their projection screen paints.

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