Sumo Gardener

DIY Outdoor Movie Screen | How to Build Your Own: Step by Step Guide

Let us teach you how to build your own diy outdoor movie screen and why it is timely to make one today. 

COVID-19 is seemingly here for the long-run. Alongside this, the need to practice social distancing is challenging our ability to enjoy simple things like movies, concerts, and theatre. 

However, with research showing outside activities carry less risk, there are new avenues of opportunities for us to explore.


DIY Outdoor Movie Screen How to Build Your Own Step by Step Guide

One great way to enjoy such events in these challenging times is by creating your own outdoor movie screen. 

In this post, we will tell you just how to make your very own outdoor movie screen in just 7 simple steps.   

outdoor movie screen

Build Your DIY Outdoor Movie Screen in 7 Steps

From streaming theatre productions to watching classic movies. A home movie screen offers a great way to enjoy the things COVID-19 has, at least temporarily, taken away from us. All whilst keeping safe.

Here, we outline 7 simple steps to making a diy backyard movie screen.

1. Gather your movie screen materials

You need surprisingly little to turn your garden into an outdoor cinema. Chances are, you will even have most of them in your shed. And if not, you can always look for discount codes and vouchers from websites like Raise to cut the costs of the materials you do need to buy. 

But if your shed is bare, here is the full list of the materials you need to make an outdoor movie screen at home:

gathering materials for an outdoor movie screen
  • 24 decking screws - between 65-75mm depending on the thickness of your frame
  • A screwdriver 
  • At least 3 x 8-feet 2X4” whitewood studs for the screen frame – to be cut to the size you want your screen, 3ft by 5ft works great.
  • A tape measure
  • A decent electric wood saw, such as a table saw
  • A 6X9-feet drop cloth - to be pulled taut and used as the screen
  • A staple gun – to pin the screen to your frame
  • A projector

2. Measure your DIY outdoor movie screen's frame

measure the frame for your diy outdoor movie screen

You can use any type of wood, but whitewood studs make a great basis for a cinema frame and can cope with some weathering outdoors.

They are typically 8 feet in length. It is a good idea to lay them out on the floor to get an idea of the size screen you would like (just overlaying them at this stage).

Remember, you’ll want the width of your screen to be a foot wider than it is tall. Once you’ve decided on a size, measure it carefully and mark it on each bit of wood.

Remember that the frame will need to be attached to 2 legs to give your screen extra height.

We went with a 3ft by 5ft frame because it means you only need 3 studs, but if you want a larger frame, just throw in some extra studs and you can use the off-cuts for another project.

3. Cut your wood to size

You’ll want your cuts to be super flush. A table or miter saw is a good idea if you have one or can get your hands on one somehow.

use a table or miter saw to cut the frame for your diy movie screen

Source: Amazon

You’ll also need to add on 2 or 3 feet to the legs to hold your screen frame up off the ground. So if your screen is 3X5 your legs should be cut to 5 or 6 feet.

You’ll also need to add feet to the legs from some of the offcuts that are 1 or 2 feet in length.

4. Screw the frame together

Once again it’s a good idea to layout your screen on the floor, with the screen legs alongside it. However, you want to screw the frame together first, before attaching the legs and feet.

Check the cuts are clean and the frame is going to fit snugly together. You can drill holes into the frame at the joins or just screw them in directly if you’re feeling strong.

However, be warned, the studs can split if you don’t pre-drill your holes. You’ll also want at least 2 screws at each of the joins on your frame. 

When screwing the frame together, it is a good idea to loosely tighten your screws on each corner at first. This will help you to get your alignment right and stop the frame from warping quickly.

Don’t attach the legs just yet, as you’ll want to get the screen in place first. 

5. Attach your DIY backyard movie screen to the frame

backyard movie screen

You can use any flexible material with a clean white surface, but drop cloths are probably the easiest to work with and are nice and durable. Drop cloths can be picked up from paint and construction suppliers.

Obviously, for your screen, you are going to want it to be completely blemish free so using an old one won’t work, unfortunately.

Give the canvas a wash the day before to help get out any creases from its packaging. An old bed sheet will disintegrate in no time so is not worth the time and effort.

It’s a good idea to get an extra pair of hands to help with this stage, as one person will need to hold the canvas taut. Don’t worry about any bits dangling over the edge, as you can trim these off once your canvas screen is secured into place.

Just make sure someone pulls the canvas nice and taut as you staple it into place so the screen does not sag.

6. Attach your screen legs and feet

With the screen in place and edges trimmed down, you’re ready to attach the legs. Again, it is a good idea to play around with the positioning of the screen.

You want to think about where you are going to be able to put your projector. Once you are happy, mark where to drill holes for the final screws. 

Loosely tighten things in place and check the height again, preferably with your projector plugged in. This way if you need to make any adjustments you won’t have to struggle!

The legs should be screwed in on the back of the cinema screen. This means the canvas will be facing forward, away from where you are screwing in the legs.

Be careful after attaching the feet and check that the screen has a good balance. If you feel it is unstable, then add extra length to the feet with one of the longer offcuts.

7. Grab the popcorn

Now you finished your DIY movie screen, all you need is to lay out the chairs at least 2-meters apart for your socially distanced guests, grab the popcorn, and sit back and enjoy your home movie theatre. 

Obviously, you’re going to need to look at getting some decent speakers to really make the most of your new outdoor space! 

Now enjoy Your Own DIY Outdoor Movie Screen

We hope that COVID-19 doesn’t keep us from doing the things we love for too much longer. This is also a great project to keep you busy when you are feeling stuck at home.

In the meantime, building your own outdoor movie screen at home is a great way to be able to have fun with others more safely.

About the Author Ann Katelyn

I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.

follow me on:

Leave a Comment: