Dear Big Picture Big Sound,
Read your article on painting a projection screen and loved the info provided. I have a question about wall colors surrounding the screen when using a projector. I understand you should paint the "screen" area a shade of grey but is there a specific color one should use for the rest of the wall to make the picture quality better?
Thanks for your note. There is some debate as to whether the screen wall needs to be painted grey or white. It really depends on the characteristics of your projector and your specific requirements. Grey generally offers better contrast and deeper blacks, but lower gain.
If you need to compete with bright ambient lighting, then sometimes white is a better choice. Also, many of today's modern high definition home theater projectors have enhanced contrast over earlier models, so in some cases a very light grey or white may be your best bet. Screen Goo comes in many different shades and formulae so you can find the best shade for your specific needs. Try their product selector to get the best recommendation for screen paint for your situation.
As for the area around the screen, the other walls, and the ceiling, flat black is probably the best choice, because it minimizes the reflection of projector light as well as ambient room lighting. This allows you to concentrate on the screen without distraction. But most people don't like having black walls because it makes the room look so dark. Any reasonably dark color in a non-reflective matte or satin finish should be OK (preferably darker than the screen color). I've seen people get good results with deep maroons and browns for the walls, plus a medium or light grey for the ceiling.
Our resident DIY expert Dennis McLaughlin recently wrote an article with five useful painting tips that you might find helpful if you plan to paint the walls yourself.