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

By Hannah Bruneman and Lindsay Berger
July 31, 2019

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
Credit: 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
  • (3) 1-1/4-inch PVC pipe, 10-foot length each
  • (2) 1-1/4-inch PVC pipe elbows
  • (2) 1-1/4-inch PVC pipe T-joints
  • Scissors
  • 6x9-foot canvas drop cloth
  • Adhesive hook-and-loop tape
  • (2) 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.

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