The 8 Best Outdoor Movie Screens To Enhance Your Backyard Setup
One of the best ways to spend a summer evening is to make some popcorn, throw on a sweater, and head outside to enjoy a good movie. With an outdoor movie screen, you can enjoy a flick from the comfort of your own backyard. Before purchasing one, however, make sure you do your research to determine the right outdoor movie screen for your needs.
The best outdoor movie screens "use the highest quality of projection screen surfaces to provide an indoor home theater quality with outdoor durability," says Jaime Abrego, product manager at the projection screen manufacturing company Elite Screens. In other words, you shouldn't have to sacrifice picture quality to enjoy your entertainment outdoors.
To help you choose the best outdoor movie screen for your home, we researched a variety of picks, keeping in mind each model's dimensions, screen size, and aspect ratio.
Overall, we recommend the Elite Screens Yard Master 2 due to its large viewing size, mid-range price, sturdy flat surface, and high-resolution picture quality.
Here are the best outdoor movie screens.
- Best Overall: Elite Screens Yard Master 2
- Best Budget: Mdbebbron Projection Screen
- Best Splurge: Vivohome Inflatable Mega Movie Projector Screen
- Best Inflatable: XHYCPY Inflatable Outdoor Movie Screen
- Best With Projector: TMY HD Movie Projector with Screen
- Best Portable: Vamvo Portable/Foldable Projection Screen
- Best Without Stand: P-Jing Foldable Anti-Crease Projection Screen
- Best Retractable: Elite Screens Pull-Down Manual Projector Screen
What We Recommend
Best Overall: Elite Screens Yard Master 2
Best Budget: Mdbebbron Projection Screen
Best Splurge: Vivohome Inflatable Mega Movie Projector Screen
Best Inflatable: XHYCPY Inflatable Outdoor Movie Screen
Best With Projector: TMY HD Movie Projector with Screen
Best Portable: Vamvo Portable/Foldable Projection Screen
Best Without Stand: P-Jing Foldable Anti-Crease Projection Screen
Best Retractable: Elite Screens Pull-Down Manual Projector Screen
The Bottom Line
What to Know About Outdoor Movie Screens Before Shopping
The best outdoor movie screens are usually made of synthetic polyester (PVC), due to it being relatively non-reflective and allowing viewers to see the picture clearly from a variety of angles. Inflatable screens are also great options when choosing materials, as they're easy to clean, non-reflective, and fairly durable.
While outdoor movie screens come in many different sizes, many people opt for screens ranging from 100 inches to 150 inches (with 120 being the most common), in order to provide a proper viewing experience for all backyard attendees. The larger the screen, the more stretched out the image might be, so be careful not to go too large unless you're willing to pay a higher price for higher quality.
Before buying an outdoor movie screen, think about how often you plan to use it and where you plan to place it, as the care a screen needs can depend largely on those factors. Screens that will live mostly or totally outdoors often require more frequent washing and can rust more easily, so look for screens that specifically offer protection against outdoor elements in their descriptions. Otherwise, most outdoor movie screens can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.
Your Questions, Answered
How do outdoor movie screens work?
Outdoor movie screens offer a white, flat surface for optimal movie viewing when paired with a projector. The back of the screen is usually black to prevent light from coming through and diminishing the picture quality.
Though outdoor movie screens help bring the theater to your home, they have some key differences that make them suitable for your backyard.
"Outdoor projection screens work just like indoor screens with the exception that they will use certain components to provide protection against water and rust-resistant parts," Abrego says.
This may include materials that are known to hold strong against wind and harsh weather, as well as accessories to keep the screens sturdy like stands, mounts, tethers, and yard stakes.
Can outdoor movie screens be paired with any projector?
"In general, most projectors can be paired with outdoor movie screens," Abrego says. Still, "certain projection screen materials are not compatible with all projectors," he adds, noting that a screen without a tension system, for instance, "would not work with an ultra or short throw projector" and may result in "waves or ripples which would distort the image."
Who We Are
Rachel Simon is a writer for Better Homes & Gardens, The New York Times, Real Simple, and many other publications. She frequently covers home products. To create this list of the best outdoor movie screens, she did significant research, keeping in mind each pick's dimensions, screen size, and aspect ratio. She also consulted Jaime Abrego of Elite Screens.