6 Steps to DIY'ing an Outdoor Movie Screen

by Joy
2 Materials
2 Days
This is such a fun project! Fall is coming and it is the perfect time to create your own massive outdoor movie screen!

When we were dreaming up the Outdoor room for the One Room Challenge, I knew I wanted to use the area for movies and a LARGE outdoor movie screen We adore movies – I have always gotten lost in the dreamworld of movies. I try to share as many classic and cheesy movies with my kids – whether they want to be enlightened or not (HA,HA!).

Our One Room Challenge – Outdoor Space may have been a spring project but around here – the fall makes for great outdoor movie nights! This Project is super simple and in just a few steps – family night out will take on a whole new meaning!

Lets get started:
  • Canvas Painter Drop cloth ( I chose Harbor Freight’s brand)
  • Grommet kit
  • Acrylic craft paint in “Titanium White”
  • Sewing machine or fabric glue (I used a sewing machine so I can not verify if fabric glue will hold)
  • PVC pipe
  • Paint brushes (I used sponge brushes)
  • Container to mix paint with water
  • Hooks

Determine the size screen you will need for your outdoor cinema. Here is a link that will help you determine. For our space, a 8 1/2 ft. x 12 ft.”ish”would do the trick. I purchased a 9 x 12 canvas drop cloth.

Sew a 3 inch hem in the top of the canvas drop cloth and a 6 inch hem in the bottom.

Follow the steps provided by the grommet kit and install grommets in the top of the canvas drop cloth. I installed grommets at 1ft. intervals.
The fun part! Painting the canvas cloth is key to a crisp picture. If your screen is going to be as big as mine- buy your acrylic craft paint in bulk. I chose “Titanium White” it was the brightest white I could purchase.  To get a smooth coat and allow the canvas to be a bit more flexible after the paint dries, Add enough water to “loosen” the paint but not so much it become soupy. If it becomes soupy- throw it out. You will never be able to thicken it – trust me… first hand experience here.  Paint the entire canvas and allow to dry.
Do you see the square up at the right hand side? Well that spot did not get painted until later (I ran out of paint before I had a little party) It is hard to tell in pictures but it took me a bit by surprise how “dingy” the screen would be if we had not painted it. 

While your canvas is drying, add hooks to the area you wish to hang your movie screen. Since I installed grommets at 1 foot intervals, I hung the hooks at the same intervals.
Here’s where we wrap this project up or hang it up as it were. Once your canvas is dried – hang the canvas up using hooks. Slide the 12ft. PVC pipe through the bottom channel. The PVC pipe will keep your movie screen nice and taut. Bonus: when you are ready to put your movie screen away- just roll it up! The PVC pipe will keep your screen from wrinkling.
Time to pop the popcorn, grab a blanket and the family! It’s movie time!! Have fun friends!
Till Later,
Suggested materials:
  • Grommets   (acrylic paint)
  • Painter dropcloth   (hooks)
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 6 questions
  • Linda Quintero Linda Quintero on Oct 09, 2017
    How much paint do you recommend on purchasing for this project. Also is it just one coat of paint?

  • JoLeen Bolton JoLeen Bolton on Oct 11, 2017
    Simple wood cafe curtain rod brackets could be used to hang the screen. Pipes threaded through the top and bottom hems would make hanging it easy and weights added to the bottom to keep it taut. I wonder if regular white wall paint (even drywall sealer or primer) would be less expensive than craft paint. If wall paint can be used to paint upholstery, why not the tarp? Thoughts?

  • Molly Gibson Molly Gibson on Oct 26, 2017
    How about using a white shower curtain. already have the grommets on them

Join the conversation
2 of 11 comments
  • Tonyadawn5 Tonyadawn5 on Jun 24, 2018

    Really creative,I like it.Thank you for sharing.


  • Lilly Lilly on Apr 06, 2019

    I love this idea!! My Bday is in the summer. I believe i will do this instead of a big gigantic party. Probably would be cheaper in the long run.