Instead of buying a screen for your shiny new projector, what if you decide to simply paint your wall to get the most out of it? Is it as good as a quality projector screen, and are certain colors better than others? The answer is yes on both counts, and below you will get all the information you need to make a wise buying decision.
Let’s dive right in and see what makes a good color for a projector wall, and what to do if you have specific colors on hand.
- What is the best color to paint a wall for a projector?
- Is there a specific paint finish that is better for projectors?
- Can you project on a colored wall?
- Can I use a white wall as a projector screen?
- Can you use a black wall for a projector? Is a black wall better for the projector?
- Will a projector work on a pink wall?
- Will a projector work on a yellow wall?
What is the best color to paint a wall for a projector?
When it comes to the absolute best colors to paint your wall for a projected image, there are only two answers that fit most use cases: grey or white. While either color will work for most projectors, there are a couple of differences between the two.
The “king” of colors for a projector surface. Grey gives you the best mix between brightness and contrast, allowing for deeper black levels and a superior viewing experience. You will need a more powerful projector to get the most out of a grey wall, so make sure your projector is capable of at least 3,000 ANSI lumens to gain the benefits of the wall color.
Is there a specific paint finish that is better for projectors?
Just as important as the color you paint the wall is the finish. Using a satin paint is absolutely ideal. Any paint finish that is not extremely glossy or overly matte will work, but a nice satin is what you should aim for when painting your projector wall.
It is also vitally important to prep the wall for painting properly. Fixing imperfections and sanding to a perfectly smooth surface will ensure you have no blotches or patches that are unlevel and create shadows and distortions in your projected image.
Can you project on a colored wall?
Yes! Is it an ideal situation? No. With most cheaper home theater projectors, you will not be able to fine tune the image and adjust it well enough to overcome the hue shift you will get from the color of the paint on the wall.
If you have a more high end projector, many will come with a setting that will allow you to input the color of the wall and it will automatically adjust the image to maintain proper color balance. This will allow you to get a decent image on any wall color.
However, if your projector does not have this feature, you will have to take into consideration the color shift that will happen due to projecting on a colored wall. Anything red, orange, pink, etc will shift all your colors to a warmer tone. Anything blue, green, purple, etc will shift it the opposite direction to a more cool shade.
No matter what color the wall you plan to project on, don’t forget that the paint finish is the most important factor to consider. If the paint is too glossy or too matte, you will have issues with your image. Make sure you are using a nice satin finish for the best results you can get from any color wall.
If you have the budget for it, it is highly suggested to pick up some projector paint for your wall. This paint is specially formulated to go on smooth and give you the perfect reflectivity, brightness, and color accuracy so you can have the best image on your wall as possible. While regular house paint will work, this paint will take your movie watching to a whole new level.
This paint comes in white, grey, and black so pick the color that best suits your needs. If you have a lot of ambient light, go with the white option. Grey is the perfect balance between contrast and image quality, while black will give you the best contrast but you need a much more powerful projector for it to be a viable option. This will come down to your specific home theater setup, so choose your color wisely.
Can I use a white wall as a projector screen?
White is the best color to paint a wall for most cheap consumer projectors. Going with any other color for your wall is going to degrade the image on a budget device. White is bright and vibrant, giving you the best color replication out of any other color you could use.
If you have a more powerful projector, you are likely to get blown out highlights in your movies and games. This means the spots on the image that are the brightest are going to be too bright, creating glares and washed out areas that will not be ideal. By using a satin paint you can make this effect less, but it can still present a problem.
If you want to enhance the image on a wall that is painted white, painting a black border around the projected area is a great idea. This will separate the rest of the wall from the “screen,” drawing your eyes to the image and away from the surrounding room.
Using a gloss paint seems like a great idea on the surface, but it is going to give you worse results than others. A nice satin finish will work much better, as it is less reflective, and will decrease the white hot spots and glare, giving a better and more even overall image.
Can you use a black wall for a projector? Is a black wall better for the projector?
While it is possible to project onto a black wall, it is not recommended unless you have an extremely bright projector (which also equates to very expensive equipment). Most home theater projectors will struggle to have enough brightness to illuminate the dark surface, which will give you a dark and unwatchable picture.
If you do possess a projector with upwards of 5000 ANSI lumens, then you can project on a black wall, and the results will actually be really good. Due to the black paint, the contrast you will get on the wall will be much higher than on brighter paint (grey or white).
Another thing to consider is how much ambient light is in the room where you will be projecting. If there is a lot of ambient light (windows, doors, lights, etc), then projecting on a black wall is not going to work very well. If you only plan to project in very dark conditions, a black wall will work much better.
Will a projector work on a pink wall?
A pink wall will work for your projector, but not extremely well. The “whites” in your image are now going to have a pink hue and this is going to shift the entire image more into the red sphere. This effect will become more severe the more vibrant the color of pink that is used on the wall. If color accuracy is important to you, then pink is not a color you should consider.
The good news is if you don’t want to change your wall color in a kids room that has pink walls, you certainly don’t have to. Most younger children are not going to care if their favorite character’s shirt is white or slightly pink. They are just going to be happy to watch their cartoons.
If this is to be used in a more serious environment, we would highly suggest selecting a different color. Or, as a compromise, simply paint the projected area on the wall white to give yourself a beautiful projected image while keeping the rest of the wall pink for overall continuity.
Will a projector work on a yellow wall?
Like pink, you certainly can use a projector on a yellow wall. The same issues that you have with a pink wall will persist with the yellow wall, shifting the overall color profile of your images. In this case, the whites and lighter colors will now shift into the yellow spectrum. If the yellow color is more pastel or muted, this could be barely noticeable. However, if the yellow is very bright, it can distort the image quite severely.
If your office walls are a pale yellow, then using a projector on them is not going to cause you many issues. However, if you have a basement with mustard yellow walls and want to turn it into a home theater, painting the walls white or grey is going to be the best option.
Yellow is not the worst color to project onto, as long as it is a muted color. Again, if the paint is not extremely glossy or bright, you shouldn’t experience any issues aside from the slight shift in color toward the warmer yellow side.
If you have a colored wall already in your house, depending on your budget, you may not need to repaint it to achieve a satisfactory watching experience with your projector. However, painting your wall white or grey will always produce a better image than any other color (with the exception of black, noted above).
If you don’t mind the shift in hue due to the color of the paint, projecting on your current wall color should not present too much of an issue.