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Do Laser Projectors Need a Screen? (Or is a Wall Enough?)

a grey laser projector

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So you are thinking about picking up a nice new laser projector for your home entertainment room. 

You have researched all the projectors and have decided on the one you want, but what about a screen? Do you actually need one, or is your wall enough?

You will definitely want to pick up a projector screen if it is within your budget. While you will be able to project your image on a bare wall, you will be hindering the overall performance of that awesome new projector that is capable of so much more.

How do Laser Projectors Work?

a white laser projector

The interior workings of laser projectors are quite different from that of your regular projector. A simple projector used in most home theaters shines a white light directly through specific colors in order to output the image in the right shades.

Laser projectors, on the other hand, have 3 different lasers shining in the primary colors. These three laser modules will combine to create the image in the correct color and look.

The three lasers are blasted through a series of lens modules that will take them and magnify them to fill the screen. This is a highly efficient process, much more so than your standard projector.

What Is the Purpose of a Projector Screen?

a blank projector screen

To put it plainly: a projector screen is used to give you the best quality image out of your projector. The material, size, and build of the screen make it ideal for this purpose.

Not all projector screens are the same, but all high quality screens will have many of the same attributes. These include: reflectivity, flatness, frame/border, and thickness.

The key component of any good projector screen is the reflective quality of the surface. This is what really sets it apart from projecting on a wall, as most home paint is quite matte.

A surface that is reflective and yet has an overall matte look is quite a feat to engineer, and it is what makes projector screens so unique. A material that is too reflective will cause glares, while a surface that is not reflective enough will cause a dull image.

The other huge positive for most projector screens is the black border around the edges. This really gives it a cinema feel, framing in the picture and giving it an overall clean look.

Is a Wall Good Enough for a Laser Projector?

This depends on your definition of “good enough.” While you will definitely be able to watch movies on a bare wall, doing so comes with some disadvantages

Wall Material

If your wall is constructed out of drywall you will have the easiest time using a projector. Paneling and wallpaper will simply not allow you to have a good experience, as there is too much going on to even see an image clearly.


Painted surfaces always have at least a little bit of texture on them from the roller or brush that was used. This is going to be more noticeable when aiming a light (such as a projector) on the wall.


If you think projector screens are too ugly and you don’t want them hanging in your room, a wall may be your best bet. The good news is, there are specific types of paint made for creating projectable walls !

Projector Screen Paint

Click image for more info

While your normal matte or semi-gloss wall paint will work, spending a bit of extra money and making your projector wall out of this projector paint is going to give you the best outcome possible.

Is a Sheet As Good as a Projector Screen?

If you are on a shoestring budget, the thought of using a sheet has probably crossed your mind. I mean, it is a bright white material, so it should work right? Well, the answer to that is yes and no.

The white color is nice and you definitely can use a sheet as a projector screen. However, there is one thing a sheet does not have: reflectivity.

Your projector screen needs to be at least somewhat reflective to give a nice contrasted image, and a sheet simply does not possess this quality. This will leave your image a bit more dull and just not as crisp as an actual projector screen.

If you do opt for this low-quality solution to get your home theater started, make sure you pull the sheet as tight as possible. This will make the surface very flat and help reduce wrinkles, which could detract from your viewing experience.

pulling a white sheet


So after all that, do you need a projector screen for a laser projector? While technically the answer is “no,” it is going to be an investment that you will want to make.

Everything about your laser projector will be enhanced if you are using a proper projector screen, so by using a bare wall you are just hindering your projector and your overall viewing experience. Do yourself a favor and pick up a decent projector screen so you can get every ounce of image quality out of that nice laser projector in your home theater. At the very least buy some of the high-quality projector paint  for your wall if you go that route.

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