How to Build an Outdoor Movie Screen for Your Backyard Hangout

Turn your backyard into your own personal theater with PVC pipes and a drop cloth and make all your summer movie-night dreams come true.

Watch your favorite flick from the comfort of your backyard with a DIY outdoor movie screen. This PVC pipe frame and simple drop cloth screen requires few tools and can be built before sunset. Pair it with a big pile of pillows and blankets for a night under the stars. It's the best way to catch a summer movie while dodging traffic at the drive-in!

backyard movie screen projector reel showtime sign
Rebekah Molloy

How to Make an Outdoor Movie Screen

All it takes is a few PVC pipes, a drop cloth, and some basic tools to make this movie screen. Start popping the popcorn now, because you'll be done building it in no time.

Supplies Needed

  • Hacksaw
  • Three 1-1/4-inch PVC pipe, 10-foot length each
  • Two 1-1/4-inch PVC pipe elbows
  • Two 1-1/4-inch PVC pipe T-joints
  • Scissors
  • 6x9-foot canvas drop cloth
  • Adhesive hook-and-loop tape
  • Two U-channel posts
  • Hammer

Step-by-Step Directions

Follow these steps to assemble the pipe frame and attach the drop-cloth screen. You'll need a partner to help secure the finished movie screen into the ground.

Step 1: Cut Pipes

Use a hacksaw to cut two 10-foot lengths of PVC pipe into two 7-foot and two 3-foot sections. Cut the remaining 10-foot PVC pipe in half; set aside.

Step 2: Assemble Frame

Attach a pipe elbow to each side of one 7-foot PVC pipe piece. Add a 5-foot pipe section to each elbow. Next, add a T-joint to each of the 5-foot sections.

Step 3: Finish Frame

Complete the frame by adding the other 7-foot piece to the T-joints. You should now have a square frame where the screen will attach. Next, add a 3-foot PVC pipe section to the bottom of each T-joint.

Step 4: Attach Screen to Frame

For the screen, use scissors to cut a drop cloth into a 6x7-foot rectangle. Before attaching, you may need to steam or iron your cut drop cloth to remove wrinkles. Wrap one of the 6-foot sides around one 7-foot PVC pipe, with a few inches of overlap. We secured our screen with adhesive hook-and-loop tape; this way, you can break apart your movie screen for storage once the season ends. For a more permanent build, you could also sew the edges of your screen around the frame.

Step 5: Secure Screen into Ground

Drive U-channel posts into the ground 7 feet apart using a hammer. With a partner, lift up the screen and slide each 3-foot PVC piece onto U posts, twisting as needed to tighten.

Updated by
Lindsay Berger

Lindsay Berger is a prop and wardrobe stylist, producer, and more. She owns her own company, JL Productions, where she focuses on styling. She has covered numerous home stories for Better Homes & Gardens, from home tours to DIY how-tos. Lindsay is also the set designer and art director for As Seen on M.E., an online secondhand clothing retailer.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles