There is a common misconception often found on the Internet, where people believe that they can use a bedsheet as an outdoor projector screen and end up with something that’s going to work and let you watch movies outside to a reasonable standard.
Do I believe you can use a bedsheet as an outdoor projector screen though?
Yes, you can, but the end result will be terrible.
Believe me, I’ve tried it.
But not only that, just think about this for one second. Why would you invest your time and money in setting up a backyard movie and then just use a cheap (and free) bedsheet to project the image onto?
Makes no sense does it?
You factor in the cost of buying a decent outdoor movie projector, possibly speakers, and inviting your friends and family over… only to then project the latest blockbuster onto a flimsy and see-through bedsheet on the wall or fence that’s flapping in the wind.
Are you mad?
Let me go into a little bit more detail on why it’s such a bad idea to use bedsheets as an outdoor or backyard movie screen.
Reasons Not to Use a Bedsheet as an Outdoor Movie Screen
Here are my reasons why you shouldn’t even consider it. If price really is your main concern, then you can buy very cheap outdoor movie screen products instead. I will tell you about those at the end of the article, or you can scroll down if you can’t wait to see them.
1: Light Will Pass Through the Bedsheet
When you start projecting your movie onto the bedsheet screen, light from the projector will pass through it. As a result, you are going to get an image that you can barely see, it will virtually look transparent.
Not exactly going to going to offer a great outdoor movie experience is it?
2: It Will Result in a Horrible Picture Quality
Not only do you have to contend with the transparency issue, but bedsheets by their nature have creases, folds, and wrinkles in them. The movie is going to look really odd, even if you can make it out properly due to the undulations in the material.
Now, of course, you might tell me that you can completely pull the bedsheet tight, but it’s still going to look transparent or thin, and even the gentlest of winds will make the sheet ripple.
3. It Just Looks Cheap
As I already mentioned, why use awesome technology to watch your outdoor movie if you aren’t going to invest money in the actual end result that was intended?
If you want to watch the movie in its full glory and color then the end result will only ever be as good as the equipment you have, such as a projector and screen.
But I Still Want to Use a Bedsheet as My Backyard Movie Screen!
OK, ok, I hear you.
If you still aren’t convinced and want to use a bedsheet as your backyard movie screen, then let me give you some tips that will hopefully mean it’s not as bad as it could be.
Tip 1: Buy a New Bedsheet with a High Thread Count
If you are determined to try the bedsheet method, then by all means be my guest. But to get better results, don’t use a cheap bedsheet, and instead look to buy one with a high thread count that is thicker than a standard one.
I still don’t recommend it, but this will give you a far better chance of having a decent backyard movie night where guests can actually see the movie on the screen.
Tip 2: Fold it in Double to Make Thicker or Use a Dark Sheet Behind
Once you have your bedsheet, fold it, and even fold it again to double up the thickness. This will help to stop the light passing through it and should make it easier to see the movie.
As well as that, you could also use a bedsheet of the same size, but a darker color. Place this darker bedsheet behind the white one to give you clearer image quality.
Tip 3: Paint the Background Wall You Hang the Sheet On
If the bedsheet is being hung against a wall, then paint the wall space. I recommend paints such as Behr Silverscreen paint (Google it), or a similar projector screen paint.
It’s a permanent solution though and can cost a lot of money as the paint is pricey. It might end up being more expensive than just buying a standing outdoor projector screen or inflatable screen – you can see my screen recommendations here.
Tip 4: Use Blackout Cloth Behind the Bedsheet
If you don’t want to paint a wall, and I don’t blame you, then buy some blackout cloth. You can buy this stuff on Amazon or at Walmart, and it will mean the screen won’t look as transparent when projecting onto it.
You might have to spend between $30 and $40 dollars to do this, but I would also recommend making a frame and pinning the bedsheet and blackout cloth into it to make things tight to avoid creases.
What is the Cheap Alternative That Will Work?
As you can tell, I am not a fan of using bedsheets as outdoor movie screens. If I have gone to the trouble of inviting guests and getting all the tech set-up, then I want them to be able to watch the movie in a widescreen and clear, crisp format.
You would be surprised at how cheap you can now buy portable outdoor movie screens for, and then come in two different varieties.
- Standing or Hanging Screens
- Inflatable Screens
I love the inflatable outdoor movie screens, as they are very fun and simple to set up. All you do is place them down, connect the blower to your electricity supply, and then turn it on. That’s it.
You can buy very large ones now which offer amazing results. You can read a review of my favorite inflatable movie screen here.
It’s a similar thing with the standing or hanging movie screens. My preferred brand for this type of screen would be the Carl’s Place DIY screens (read my review). You can see an image of how they look on the graphic below – you can buy stands with them, or just buy them so that they hang up. You can view the Carl’s Place Screens on Amazon.com.
These ones do take a little bit more effort to set up but are more portable and sturdy than the inflatable ones.
Want to Build Your Own Screen?
If none of that appeals to you, then why not build your own outdoor movie screen using materials that will offer a superb viewing experience?
You can do that by reading my guide to making your own screen – and no, it doesn’t use a bedsheet!