How to Make an Outdoor Movie Screen With PVC


RV enthusiasts, campers and travelers can create a personal drive-in movie with a projector, DVD player or computer and outdoor movie screen. While most projectors can display large images, most commercially available screens have limited sizes. You can create a portable, custom-sized movie screen to install in the backyard, between trees, on the side of a garage or on the side of an RV, using supplies from fabric and home improvement stores. The outdoor movie screen uses lightweight material that can reflect projected light but is easy to dismantle and store.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • 2 PVC pipes
  • White blackout curtain material
  • Drill
  • Duct tape
  • Thick rope
  • Scissors
  • Ladder
  • Level
  • 2 camping stakes
  • Optional: PVC pipe caps (4)
  • Measure the PVC pipes and confirm that they are of equal length and at least four inches longer than the desired width of the outdoor movie screen. Mark 2 inches from each end, and mark 1 inch from each end. For example, for a 4-foot x 6-foot movie screen, each PVC pipe should be at least 6 feet 4 inches long.

  • Drill a hole at each end of each pipe, at the 1-1/2- inch mark, large enough to push the rope through. These holes will serve to hang the top pipe to a tree and to anchor the bottom pipe to the ground.

  • Measure the white blackout curtain material for the desired width of the movie screen and 12 inches longer than the desired length (height) of the movie screen. For example, for a 4-foot x 6-foot movie screen, the blackout material should be 4 feet wide and 7 feet long.

  • Measure 6 inches from the top end of the curtain and fold the material back.

  • Secure the folded material to the back of the curtain by applying one continuous length of tape across the edge, making sure to center the width of the tape to the cut edge to create an evenly taped seam.

  • Repeat Steps 4 and 5 with the bottom end of the curtain.

  • Insert each pipe into the top and bottom curtain sleeves and align the sides of the curtain to the 2-inch markings on the pipe.

  • Insert rope into the pipe, and push the end out through the drilled hole.

  • Measure a length of 5 feet from the hole and tie a knot on the outside of the pipe to secure the rope to the pipe.

  • Measure 5 feet of rope from the other end of the pipe and cut. Push this end through the remaining hole in the pipe, pull the rope taut and tie a knot outside the pipe to secure its position. The two knots will maintain a set length of exposed rope to use as an anchor or for hanging; the knots only need to be tied close to the pipe, but not flush to the pipe.

  • Repeat Steps 8 to 10 for the other pipe.

  • Attach end caps to each pipe, if desired, for a finished look.

  • Attach the top pipe for the movie screen to tree branches or tie the ends together using double knots to hang on one sturdy tree branch or side of the building, such as garage.

  • Place a level near the center of the top pipe and adjust the pipe to a horizontal position.

  • Drive camping stakes into the soft ground below the bottom pipe of the movie screen.

  • Tie the rope from the bottom pipe to the stakes to hold the movie screen in position.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remove the PVC pipes from the curtain sleeves and fold the curtain to compactly store or transport the movie screen.
  • Be careful when using a drill.

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  • Photo Credit tape measure 1 image by Martin Grice from
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