How To Create A Light Controlled Home Cinema / Theater Room With Blackout Blinds & Material

Updated on December 14, 2012

If you have a home theater / cinema then to get the best out of it you'll need a light controlled room. This guide will help you to black the room out for the best possible picture quality.

It doesn't cost much and the results and picture improvement are astounding. Let's get on with it!

Why would I want to black the room out again?

If you have a projector or a tv then if you are watching it in a white room then you're not getting the most out of the picture, or the whole movie experience. This is maybe not so much of an issue if you've never noticed it, but have a think about what it's like when you watch a film at a cinema / theater. The place is dark, so unless you're unlucky and have kids in there shuffling around and throwing popcorn, you're focussing fully on the film that you're watching. The less the room influences the picture you see, the better the experience is.

There are a few reasons why it is more immersive and the picture is better quality when watching in a fully light controlled room.

Firstly if you have a normal room, with white walls, then the problem is that the light that comes from the screen bounces off the ceiling and walls, which lights up the rest of the room. Apart from that being distracting in its own right, you need to have the brightness up fairly high so you actually see the picture. As projectors can't project black, then this means that the higher you have the brightness, the greyer blacks become. If you're in a light controlled room where you've installed blackout curtains / panels etc, then you can have the brightness lower and still get the same visual effect, which improves the blacks.

There is also a phenomenom called perceived contrast. Take a look at the following picture.


Which is darker, A or B?

In this well known picture, squares A and B are actually the same colour. It doesn't look like they are, but the reason for that is we perceive white / black only in relation to the surroundings. In case you don't believe those are the same colour, here's another pic with a bar drawn between the two squares that is exactly the same colour, which shows the squares are in fact completely identical.

They're the same. That is the phenomenon of perceived contrast.

As you can see from that image, the way your eyes work is firstly quite strange and secondly massively influenced by what surrounds whatever it is that we're looking at. Your eyes compensate without you realising, which is what happens when you look at the first picture above. If everything is black apart from the screen in your home cinema / theater, it makes the colours and whites on screen pop out and look brighter and more vivid. So it's pretty clear that performing a blackout operation is important, but how do you do it?

A simple way to blackout your walls is to make frames out of 3/4 inch lath, which you then stretch black speaker fabric over and staple it to the back. You can then attach these to the walls, either by hanging them like a painting from a nail, with velcro strips, or simply by making them the same height as the room and wedging them into position. I have them wedged into position in my room, which has the advantage of not damaging the walls in any way so if you move you can return the room back to standard quickly and easily.

This is how a frame looks before the fabric has been fastened into position. One thing to bear in mind is that there is quite a force on the frame when you pull the fabric tight, so make sure you make the frame securely with some decent brackets and screws.

Blackout frame building

It is possible to put sound deadening insulation into the back of the frame. If you have a problem with sound ringing or echoing, this can help. You can test this by simply standing in the middle of the room and clapping. If you can hear an echo, then you would probably benefit from some insulation behind a couple of the panels. Don't go overboard though, just put it behind some as if you do too many you can deaden the room. If you have lots of soft furnishings, curtains, rugs etc in there, it's probably not necessary, but it can help if you have wooden floors and blinds instead of carpets and curtains.

Testing the next frame to check that it is the right height before covering it. You can see what the walls look like with some completed blackout frames already attached.

As well as the walls, it's a good idea to get a black rug for the floor and fasten frames to the ceiling too. If the room is not too large, then you can span the ceiling without needing to attach directly into it and hold the frames up with brackets attached to the wall panels.

Make sure you get some decent blackout curtains or blackout blinds to stop streetlights from shining in to the room. In my room as well as the blinds and material on the walls, I've also blanked off all of the lights on the electronic equipment in my room to stop it from being distracting and make the room as dark as possible!

This is the sort of effect you're looking at once you're done. There is no reflection on the walls or ceiling and you get drawn into the film a lot more.

The ideal is that the picture looks like it's floating in space as the room is totally black.


This is an awesome shot for showing you how vivid colours can look when the room is blacked out. This room is not completely finished in this photo as you can still see the door, but you get the idea.

I included this shot just because I really like the lord of the rings films!

I have mentioned it already, but the effect you see here is not just achieved by treating the walls. As well as using blackout fabric on the walls, it is vital that you use good blackout curtains or blinds on the window, or all your effort will be for nothing. I have tried several different types of blackout blind material in my room which has slatted vertical blinds. One material I can recommend is faux suede. This is totally opaque, far better than the PVC blackout blind material I tried before, which didn't really stop the light from outside completely. Real suede may work just as well, but I haven't tried this, so can't confirm one way or another.

Of course with blinds, you tend to get a bit of light leakage at the bottom, I have some thin strips of wood, which I covered with black velcro tape which simply sit on the windowsill at the bottom pushed against the bottom of the blind, these stop the light coming in there.

My room is now very dark in the day and completely dark at night, so I'm pretty happy with it! I don't tend to use it in the day much as if I'm not working and it is a nice day I tend to think you should be outside in the garden rather in a dark room, but on the odd occasion I want to game or whatever in there in the day, it is now possible to do that without outside light spoiling the picture.

I hope this is useful for anyone out there that has a home cinema / theater and wants to get the best out of it. Installing or creating blackout curtains / blinds and panels really helps the movie experience. If you have any comments, please leave them below.

Thanks!

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Rain Defence profile imageAUTHOR

        Rain Defence 

        2 years ago from UK

        You don't get disoriented if you've got a lamp in there for when you're sitting down. I don't cover the seating as I'm looking at the screen rather than at the seat but I have a dark sofa anyway.

      • TTGReviews profile image

        TTGReviews 

        3 years ago

        This is a great idea. I never really thought about doing this. My only problem would be that I would probably get disoriented if everything was black. Would you also cover your seating or leave it uncovered?

      • Rain Defence profile imageAUTHOR

        Rain Defence 

        5 years ago from UK

        You should definitely do it. It is a very cost effective way to transform the picture. Definitely a good upgrade.

      • profile image

        Jertop 

        5 years ago

        Hi,

        You are probably not maintaining this anymore but that is an amazing effect for ordinary speaker cloth. I have pure white walls that I am thinking of trying this out with.

      • Rain Defence profile imageAUTHOR

        Rain Defence 

        6 years ago from UK

        markmarz, I went all the way back and did the whole room apart from the back wall. There is no white wall or ceiling visible at all when I'm sitting down.

        My friend has gone about 2 feet back from the screen at his place, it is definitely better than it was, but it is a compromise. It depends on how much you're prepared to go as the room isn't really good for much other than movie watching/gaming afterwards, but if it's a dedicated room, then who cares?

        As far as the cloth goes, there are a couple of links in the article that you could try, if you're in the UK then the US sites are probably not much good for you, but Maplins speaker cloth does a good job.

      • Rain Defence profile imageAUTHOR

        Rain Defence 

        6 years ago from UK

        Andy I did the walls at first and wasn't sure about the ceiling, but once I did that it really finished it off. Next time you watch a film then take a peek at the ceiling and the amount of light reflecting off there and you'll probably be getting the tools out by the weekend!

      • profile image

        markmarz 

        6 years ago

        Would you be able to give a source for the black speaker cloth? Where I've looked so far I've found lots of complaints that the various cloths offered are not really black.

      • profile image

        markmarz 

        6 years ago

        This is excellent. I plan on doing this, but how far out from the screen do the panels need to extend to block out sufficient reflective light from white walls and ceiling? I don't think they to go out for 8', but is 3' enough? I don't expect the same result from a completely black room to when extending out only 3', but I'm guessing it'd be good enough to absorb most of the reflective light.

        What do you think? How far out did you go?

      • profile image

        Andy 

        6 years ago

        Amazing article and the missing link in my studio. I built an 8x15 foot frame and put blackout cloth and covered my entire wall. The bluray movies and 1080p projector look good but I never thought about making the room completely black for the highest possible definition. Thanks!

      • Rain Defence profile imageAUTHOR

        Rain Defence 

        6 years ago from UK

        Thanks, it costs nothing really compared to what you spend on the projector and all the rest of it, but the difference is enormous. Get it done!

      • profile image

        ilovetechstuff 

        6 years ago

        Fantastic article!! I am a huge movie buff and am looking to build a crazy home theater in my basement!! This is exactly the type of thing I need to perfect my viewing experience!!

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, turbofuture.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://turbofuture.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)