So you are building your nice new home theater, and can’t decide whether that can of white paint in your garage is good enough to do the job, or whether you should splurge and buy the expensive projector paint you saw online. It is a perfectly valid reason for pause, and you will get a comprehensive breakdown of both options below.
With the information you are about to read, you will be well informed in making your paint decision, and ready to put the roller on the wall. Let’s dive right in and see what paint is right for you, and how you can get the best results possible in your space.
What does projector paint do?
Projector paint is not like any other paint you would use in your home. It is specifically formulated to give it a reflective finish that will give you a bright and vibrant image, even from older or weaker projectors.
Projector paint is also less affected by ambient light, giving you a better contrast ratio than normal house paint. This will allow you to have a brighter environment and still be able to use your projector without much loss in quality.
These paints are specially formulated to have the proper density, leafing, and particle size to get the absolute best image out of your projector possible. This is what is going to make your movies look more television-like, increasing sharpness and clarity as well as contrast.
What is the best color to paint a wall for a projector?
What if you opt to not use projector paint for your project, and instead go with normal wall paint. Are there any colors that are better than others? The answer is, of course, yes. While none of these will work as well as specially formulated projector paint, they are viable options if you are just starting.
There are three main choices when it comes to colors that will work for your projector wall (two for the screen, one for the surrounding wall). Let’s take a look at what colors work the best if you opt for this cheaper option.
This is what most people would say is the obvious choice. That is for good reason, as the white will be highly reflective giving the most bright image possible. While this can cause some blown-out spots on very white parts of movies, if you have a weaker projector (under 3,500 lumens), this is going to give you the most enjoyable watching experience.
If the room you are using is not completely dark, white is a less than optimal option. If you go with another color (such as grey), you will get a better image as the white reflects more light, making the contrast much lower. This will cause the blacks to become even more grey than in a dark room, resulting in a washed-out image. If the room is mostly dark (as in you cover any windows and only have minimal lighting), white is a decent option. The brighter the room, the more you should consider steering away from white for your wall paint for your projector screen area.
This is by far the best option to paint the wall for your projector screen. The grey paint is not as reflective as the white option, resulting in a more muted image, so it is not recommended unless your projector is rated at over 3,500 lumens.
The main advantage of using grey paint over white is the blacks will be much darker. This will provide a more realistic contrast to your movies and video games. The blacks will be much lighter grey if using white paint, so as long as your projector is good enough, there is no reason not to go with grey.
Black Border/Accent Wall
One thing that will make your image pop and look the best possible is painting a black border around your projector area. It will be most noticeable if you paint the entirety of the wall black minus the projector screen area, giving extra contrast between the surroundings and the screen. This will draw your eye into the screen area and make the image come to life.
The black is optional, as you can paint the entire wall either white or grey, but it will help create the illusion of a higher quality. When using cheaper paint this can make all the difference in selling your room as a true home theater.
Do you need special paint for a projector?
This is a very complicated question, but the simple answer is: no, you don’t. There are a ton of different paint options out there, and any of them will technically work. Some are just better options than others.
Have an extra gallon of paint in your garage that happens to be white or grey? Break open the lid and paint your projector area, and you will get adequate results. Just make sure there aren’t any brush marks or large lumps of debris on your surface, as this will create a worse image.
If you choose to use ordinary house paint for your projector screen, you will want to choose a satin finish paint. If you go with a glossy option it will be too reflective, and flat paint will create a very dull image. So for optimal results, stick with a grey or white satin finish.
Craft Paint/Spray Paint/Misc
The same can be said for any craft or spray paints. Whatever paint you have on hand will work, so long as you can get good coverage and a sleek finish with them. The more lumps and bumps you can see and feel, the worse your image will be.
As with the house paint, ensuring you are not using paint that is too glossy is key. A satin finish is the best way to go, though it tends to be rarer in these other types of paint. If using craft paints you can use a duller for glossy paint to make it more usable.
What if you have wallpaper on your wall, will that work? Yep, if you have white or grey wallpaper that is flat with minimal texture, you should have no problem projecting it on your wall. If it is any other color or has a pattern or design, it is not recommended.
Does projector paint make a difference?
Now that you know that any old paint can make a decent projector surface, is it worth shelling out the extra money for paint made specifically for projectors? The answer is: maybe. Let’s take a look at what sets the projector paint apart from the rest, and why it could be the best option for you.
White and grey projector paint has properties that make it more reflective than normal household paint. This makes it a better option than your ordinary paint, but it does come at a premium cost. If you are willing to pay that cost, then there is no reason not to go with the projector paint over your run-of-the-mill house paint.
White projector paint is going to give you the most true-to-life colors that will be extremely vibrant, but it is not great if you have a lot of ambient light. The grey option is the most well-rounded, providing decent black levels and colors. The colors will be more muted than the white projector paint, but it gives you partial benefits of both the white and black paints without sacrificing much.
Silver projector paint was extremely popular when home projectors were weaker and needed more of a boost. Silver is extremely reflective, giving the image a nice brightness increase. This will make it the perfect solution if you have a cheaper projector with a smaller amount of lumens (or an aging one that just can’t output as much light as it once did).
Don’t expect projector paint to magically get rid of any texture or imperfections your walls may have. This is still rather ordinary paint, so any imperfections that you paint over will show through in your image. Always prepare your walls for paint by sanding and patching any imperfections so that you have a perfectly flat area to paint. This will provide the best image and overall look possible.
Projector paint will most assuredly give you an advantage over other paints. However, the price increase over a normal can of paint can be quite dramatic. If you have the funds and want the best image possible, a high-quality grey projector screen paint will give you the best image for a variety of situations.
If you are looking for the best budget option, the same applies. A satin grey paint, while not quite as bright or reflective as the projector paint, will give you a solid image on a budget. You could always use the money you save on the screen paint and buy some flat black to surround your screen area for an even more clean look to your home theater.