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Backyard Theater - Outdoor Movies

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Author Topic: Tarp: Canvas vs Vinyl vs Vinyl Coated Poly  (Read 6467 times)
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« on: June 10, 2010, 03:41:24 pm »

Out of all the screen material, tarp seems to be the best first time material for me.  Ease of use and cost being the main criteria.

My plan is to get an 6x10 tarp.  Attach the tarp to either fence by tying the grommets to the chain link fence using rope.  I don't plan to build a frame. 

My plan is to raise the tarp @ 3 feet off the ground.  My fences are 6.5' high.  That means that I need to figure out how to attach the 3.5' (is that correct math) of tarp at the top. Huh

OK, my question is  how does one know whether to use canvas, vinyl or vinyl coated poly tarps? 

It looks like canvas tarps on creativeshelters are tan, and based on research here white is best (but tan still works).
Incidentally, their shipping costs more than the actual tarp I want to purchase!

Thanks everyone.

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« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2010, 05:53:17 pm »

I'd recommend staying away from plastic/vinyl tarps for that size screen.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm actually a big proponent of vinyl tarps as an inexpensive screen material.  For $30 I have a 20'x10' heavy duty white vinyl tarp that I've been using for five seasons now.  It's low maintenance and can be left out in the rain for days at a time.  I have no issues with hot spotting.  The seam, which shows up as a bright horizontal band, is a bit annoying to me but I don't get many comments about it from others.  For the cost, it's probably the most bang for the buck.  It's not perfect, but not terrible either.

For an unbiased opinion you can ask Geddylee what he and his family thought of the image quality.  He got to see it at SpargeFest last year.  He and his family also joined us for Sherlock Holmes a couple of weeks ago.  Be honest!  I promise to invite you back for more movie nights regardless!

Now, having said all that, why do I not recommend the same for your screen?  Two words... personal experience.  I ordered the exact same tarp material from the same supplier to build a smaller 10' screen.  The smaller screen means one sits closer which makes any imperfections (wrinkles, texturing, etc.) more noticeable.  The smaller screen is also lower to the ground which makes shooting the PJ from a low angle (below the bottom of the screen) difficult.  The resulting more direct line of projection increases the incidence of hot spotting.  Long story short, while I think the white heavy duty vinyl tarp looks quite good on a 20' screen, I'm not satisified with that exact same material on a 10' screen.

For that size, my choice would be BOC or Trapeze fabric if I was willing to spend the money.  To keep things inexpensive I'd probably go with a canvas tarp over vinyl (at that size).  I'd check out the canvas tarp selection at your local hardware stores to avoid shipping charges.

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« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2010, 11:24:30 am »

I'm a newbie building for my first season.  I wanted to go with used billboard vinyl, but weight and height, and screen placement won't allow it.  I'm going with home depots 15x12 canvas tarp that is tan.  I may cut it down to 15x8, as close to 16x9 as I can get for the $, I'll add grommets that I got at harbor frieght.  Cost was like $29.  Using ball bungees and 1 1/2" pvc frame.  This weekend is the "soft opening", Weekend of the 25,26,27th is my grand opening, will post pics.  Go canvas!  I'll post pics.  Hope this helps.
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