Backyard movie parties or outdoor cinema gatherings are great fun, but the nature of the environment can often result in damage occurring to your screen. Tears and rips can occur frequently due to unpacking, moving the screen around, or the danger presented by overzealous guests who can fall into it.
Thankfully it’s not that hard to repair a torn outdoor movie screen, as it can be done very quickly and cheaply. But the trick here is to do it well enough so that the repair job is as invisible as possible.
The type of repair you do will also depend on what type of outdoor movie screen you have. For example, the approach to repairing an inflatable screen to fixing up a material type screen will be very different.
In this guide I am going to show you how you can repair your outdoor movie screen on the cheap to achieve the best results. I will start off with material, standing or hanging screens as these are the most popular.
Repairing a Hanging or Standing Movie Screen
It’s usually very easy to identify where the tear or rip is in the outdoor movie screen, but you need to be extra careful not to make it worse or bigger. This can often happen when making a repair to a tear or rip. Don’t pull at it.
Here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Lie the Screen Flat on Clean Floor
If it’s a vinyl screen, my advice is to always repair from the rear of the screen as you want the repair to be as invisible as possible.
Lay the screen flat on the floor in a large open space that’s well lit. Just make sure that the floor you lay it on is clean – you might want to place a sheet down first to protect the screen better from any debris on the floor.
Step 2: Tape the Back of the Tear
With the screen rear facing up, tape over the back of the tear. My recommended product for doing so would be Tear-Aid. You can buy it on Amazon (click here).
Cut the Tear-Aid vinyl repair tape very small, as you only want to cover just over the rip, and not a massive cover over.
The reason being is that you might have a problem with translucency. The majority of vinyl movie screens have a level of translucency, and once you start projecting onto it you might see the tape, even if it is behind the screen.
That’s why I recommend that use only the least amount of tape as a patch as possible. If you have a black rear to your screen, this won’t be a problem obviously.
Other things to look out for are warping if you roll your screen up after use. The least amount of repair tape you can use, will eliminate the chance of the screen warping once it’s rolled.
So, to re-iterate, use as little vinyl repair tape as possible when fixing a tear in your outdoor movie screen.
Repairing Eyelets, Poles, and Frames
The other problem you might come across with hanging or standing movie screens are the eyelets and poles.
To get a great image on your outdoor screen, you need to pull the screen material tight with some models, using eyelets and connectors. These can rip and tear out over time, or can pull out completely when you are putting the screen up for your movie night.
This is a repair job that would typically need the the support of a seamtress, as sewing the eyelets back into the torn outer fabric could be your only solution.
But, you might be able to do it yourself with a cheap sewing kit.
The other repair job commonly required with standing outdoor movie screens are poles and frames breaking or snapping.
One of the more popular standing movie screens is the Carl’s DIY Kit. This particular model uses DMT poles, all of which you can buy replacements for at a DIY store, so should be relatively cheap.
You will need them cut to size, and the hardware store might be able to do this for you.
If it’s a home-made movie screen using PVC, then you would buy replacement PVC piping from Amazon or a hardware store, and then cut to size using PVC cutters which are relatively cheap to purchase.
Repairing an Inflatable Movie Screen
Inflatable screens are a different proposition all together.
Placing them in the outdoors will inevitably place them at huge risk of becoming damaged or torn. It could be a gust of wind that tears a loop hole, or a guest could fall into it, or it could tear during transport.
The most common types of repair jobs will be to the actual inflatable material itself.
You might save yourself in having to buy a replacement though, and here’s my simple guide to repairing and tears or rips.
Step 1: Turn the Blower On
The first thing to do is to check out the actual blower, and whether that’s working properly. Plug it in, switch it on, and see if the inflatable screen blows up first time.
If it doesn’t inflate, chances are you’ve got a rip or tear in the fabric somewhere.
It could also be the inlet though, so check that no air is escaping at the connection point where the blower attaches to the screen. If it is the inlet where the air is managing to escape, then you could use tape to pull it tighter around the mouth of the blower.
Step 2: Find the Tear or Rip
It might not be immediately obvious where the tear is depending on how large your inflatable screen is.
The best way to find the air escape point is to leave the blower running and to search around the screen to find a rush of air. You might even hear the air coming out, as it can make a hissing sound.
If you still can’t find the rip, then it might be a very small hole or puncture. The best way to find that is to get some soapy water and to spray it around the inflatable. When the soapy water hits the problem point, you will see bubbles escaping, even with the smallest of holes. If you have ever tried to find a puncture on a bicycle tire, then it’s a very similar process to that well-known hack.
Once you have found the rips or holes, mark them up with a piece of masking tape so that you can come back to them for the repair job once the blower is switched off. You don’t want to lose sight of the rips once the screen is deflated.
Step 3: Fixing the Hole or Rip in the Inflatable Screen
Now that you know where the holes or tears are, it’s time to get fixing.
Take the inflatable screen down, and move it into a larger, well light space such as a garage or patio in daylight hours.
What you will now need to do is identify the type of material that is going to need repairing, as inflatable screens can be manufactured from a mix of materials. I describe the more common ones below.
Fabric or Nylon Rips
If it’s a large tear in the fabric or nylon material, then use transparent duct tape. Whilst it might not look great, it does work and will also be water resistant. This is best for tears that are behind the screen or under the base where they can’t be seen.
If possible look to place it inside of the inflatable, by reaching into the inlet section. If you can reach the tear internally, the repair job is going to look better and won’t be as visible.
If it is a small hole or tear, then you might be able to sew it up. Just be careful not to bunch the nylon or fabric up whilst sewing, as this will cause an obvious lump in the screen material.
If fixing a hole that going to be seen – in other words on the actual display screen part, then fabric repair tape can work wonders. There’s a great product on that I recommend which you can buy here on Amazon.
It’s thin, strong, and not as obvious as duct tape, making it perfect for movie screens where you don’t want to distract from the movie or sports being viewed.
Vinyl components on your screen require something a little bit different.
You certainly won’t be able to use a sewing kit, but instead should use a vinyl repair kit. They provide a simple and quick method for patching holes and come with very strong robust patches.
It’s possible to see the repair if you are close-up to the screen, but from a few feet away it will almost be invisible.
I recommend the Tear-Aid product found on Amazon (click here). As you can see from the product description, it’s ideal for kid’s bouncy castles which should give you an indication on how strong this stuff is.
If these repairs still don’t work, and your inflatable movie screen still doesn’t inflate properly then it’s most likely an issue with the blower fan.
Check that there is nothing jammed in it as dirt and debris from the outdoors will often get trapped inside, leading to poorer air flow or performance.
It Might Be Easier to Just Buy a New One
I hope that these tips on repairing broken, torn, or ripped outdoor movie screens has helped, and has ended up saving you money.
Alternatively, you could consider buying a new screen all together. The prices of backyard movie screens have come down drastically over the last couple of months, and it’s even possible to buy a large screen for less than $100 currently.
I’ve extensively reviewed and rated outdoor movie screens on this website, giving you a wide selection of options in all sizes and prices.
If you do decide to buy new, then take the time to look at the recommended screens that are ideal for backyard movies night. View all screens on this link that I genuinely recommend and have reviewed recently.
How to Make Sure Your Screen Doesn’t Need Repairing Again
And finally, some tips on how to make sure that you don’t need to repair your outdoor movie screen ever again, with some simple ideas on how to take care and use it properly. Follow this advice, and it should reduce the chances and damage.
- Always make sure you have enough space to erect the screen outdoors
- If an inflatable screen, inflate it away from a fence or other hazard
- Keep BBQs and fire pits away from the outdoor movie screen
- Make sure your guests are aware of the tether cords to avoid trips
- Pull the screen tethers tight, but not too tight
- Don’t leave your movie screen out in all weathers
- Always take the screen down at the end of the movie night
- Make sure that the screen is completely dry
- Pack and roll the screen up and place in a container or bag
- Store your screen in a dry and clean environment
An outdoor movie screen should last for years. Take care of it, keep it clean, and make sure your guests respect the space that it’s in, and yours can be used time and time again for memorable backyard movie parties and events.
You might also be interested in a recent blog post I wrote about whether or not I advise you leave your screen up in all weathers, including rain and wind. Go take a look at that here, as it contains some interesting observations on how to care for your screen outdoors.