How to Choose a Stewart Filmscreen Projector Screen

In this article, we will walk you through how to choose the right projector screen for your home theater or media room. Specifically, we will discuss the different options from one of our favorite projector screen manufacturers, Stewart Filmscreen.

Stewart Filmscreen has been in the industry for over 70 years, and they are generally considered the best in class and used by most of the top Home Theater Designers in the world. But don’t just take our word for it! Did you know only one screen company has won an Academy Award for their screens? Yes, it's Stewart Filmscreen, and they have not only received this prestigious award once but twice! 

When you look at the list of Stewart customers, you’ll see a who’s who of movie studios, content creators, and movie houses, along with NASA, the Smithsonian, Dolby Labs, Disney, and hundreds of names we know and trust. 

Do I Really Need a Projector Screen?

In order to get the most out of your projector, you absolutely need a projector screen. Sure, you can project it on a wall somewhere, but we promise you, that you will not be satisfied with the results. Your wall must be perfectly flat, free of even the smallest blemishes or bumps, and painted to perfection. Even still, your wall will not reflect the light properly from your projector, and a well-matched screen will win every time. 

A projector screen will enhance your projector's image with higher resolution, better color accuracy, more brightness, texture-free image, and so many more advantages. For this reason, your projector screen is not only needed but is actually one of the most important components of your home theater or media room.

16:9 vs. 2.4

One of the first questions you should ask yourself is whether you will primarily be watching movies in your room or if you will watch movies, TV, sports, and other programs as well. If it the answer is movies, we usually recommend using a 2.4 aspect ratio projector screen for a better movie-watching experience. If you will be watching mostly sports and news, a 16:9 screen is usually a better choice. However, this rule is not always set in stone. For most people, the answer is that they will use the room to watch all sorts of content at different aspect ratios, which then turns us to analyzing the exact room dimensions and space for the screen.

To learn more about aspect ratios, read our article: Widescreen Explained

In these situations, when you’re constrained width-wise but not height-wise, we generally lean towards going 16:9 because you can get the bigger picture for 16:9 without sacrificing width for widescreen movies. Whereas if you’re constrained height-wise but not width-wise, we generally lean towards a 2.4 screen to allow us to fit the biggest screen in your room without compromising viewing angles from any rows of seating.

The absolute easiest way to help you visualize and determine which aspect ratio you want your screen to be is to use our Free Home Theater Design Tool at In the tool, you can enter your room dimensions, seating layout, and speaker layout, and select your brand and model of projector. 

From there, you can change your screen size and aspect ratio to see what fits in your room. The tool also allows you to view the screen from your main listening position as well as toggle on a sightline visual if you have two or more rows of seating. The tool automatically will adjust and show you exactly where to place the screen as you switch back and forth from 16:9 and 2.4. If you have more than one row, the tool will show you the sightlines and calculate the bottom level of the screen so that the back rows can see over the front rows. As you change the screen size and seating location, you can easily view the “immersion level” that you wish to have.

Of course, if this all feels intimidating, our team of experts is available in stores and at to help you!

Contact us now!

Screen Size

Our Tips for Screen Size/Viewing Angles article will help you determine the best screen size based on room dimensions and viewing angles from your seating locations. In the article, we go over all the calculations and considerations that go into determining the perfect screen size for your room.

Screen Materials

The next step in picking out your screen is to decide if you want it to be acoustically transparent. All commercial cinemas have the main front speakers behind an acoustically transparent screen. This makes it seem like the sound is coming right out of the picture, which is a great effect. 

In the home environment, in-wall or relatively thin speakers can be used behind an acoustically transparent screen. Or, if you have enough depth in your room, you can build out a false wall and hide your big speakers behind an acoustically transparent screen. 

Within the acoustic transparent screen family, two screen material types allow the sound to pass through. The first is a woven type material that looks somewhat similar to speaker grill cloth. With this type of screen, you can place the speakers pretty close to the screen, making it a great choice for in-wall speakers. 

The second type of material has tiny holes in the screen. This results in a flatter screen surface, which video purists argue gives you better color saturation and detail. However, with this type of perforated (perf) screen, you need to have your speakers a little further away from the screen versus a woven screen. We typically place these screens eight to twelve inches in front of the speakers, depending on the exact setup.

The perf-type screen also has some high-frequency roll-off, so if you go this route, you’ll need a surround sound processor or receiver with room correction (which almost all of the current ones have). With either type (and especially with the perf type), we recommend putting some dark acoustic panels over the back wall, and if you do in-wall speakers most of the time you will remove the grills and make sure everything behind the screen is black.

The effect of an acoustically transparent screen is just fantastic. It does require more planning, and a good acoustically transparent screen can cost more than the same-sized non-transparent screen, but we feel if you have the budget and can set things up this way, it makes your home theater feel much more like a commercial cinema!

Stewart Filmscreen sells over 30 different types of screen materials that are optimized for the exact situation they are used in. They have the ability to make custom screens, manufacturing their fabrics in their factory in California. They use custom, proprietary formulations involving a unique multi-layer system for a perfect picture and high performance that lasts for many years.

Screen Gain

When looking at front projection screens, you’ll also see differences in the type of projection screen material. You’ll find white, gray, and even almost black screen surfaces. You will also see a specification called gain, which is usually expressed as a number from around .8 to 2. Gain is a measurement of the reflectivity of any screen or projection surface. The gain number represents the ratio of the light reflected from the screen compared to the light reflected from a standard white (magnesium oxide) board. Therefore, a screen with a gain of 1.0 will reflect the same amount of light as that from a white board. A screen rated at 1.5 gain will reflect 50% more light than that from a white board. A gray screen with a 0.8 rating will reflect 80% of the light from a white board. Each of these types has an environment they are best suited for. 

The most common type of screen will have a white surface. Within white screens, you’ll see gain specifications from around 1 to 1.4. The matte white types will typically be 1.0. Most white screens provide what we feel is the most accurate picture reproduction. They also have a very wide viewing angle where you will not get much light dropoff if you are not perfectly centered on the screen. 

In the thousands of theaters we have done across the country, our top specified gain is 1.3, which is a terrific balance between brightness, area of coverage, and minimizing other performance trade-offs... For the most accurate video experience, a screen with a gain of 1.0 is considered close to perfection. However, we feel the reduction in brightness is usually not worth that minimal trade-off unless you are coupling a relatively high-output projector for your specific screen size.

Our Free Home Theater Design Tool will let you change your screen gain and, in return, will do the math based on your projector and its location to tell you how the screen gain will impact the brightness in nits.

The gray or almost black types of screens are great for rooms where you do not have full control of the light coming into the rooms. While we do not feel these high-contrast screens are quite as color-accurate as a white screen, if you have a lot of light, they will look better in that type of room compared to a white screen. These types of screens are typically used in a family or media room where you cannot make things completely dark, allowing you to have a home theater experience in a multi-use space.

Type of Screen Mount

The last choice you will have in a type of screen is whether you will have it permanently mounted or drop down from an enclosure. For the typical home theater space, a fixed frame and wall-mounted screen will be your best and least expensive choice. You’ll find most wall-mounted screens are available with a black border which we think makes the picture pop.  There are also now screens with almost no edge (which also looks pretty cool but requires incredible precision in terms of mounting the projector) If you are doing an installation yourself, you should watch our videos on how to mount a projector and a projector screen to make sure you nail it.

For multi-use rooms, you just can’t beat an electric motorized screen. This allows you to turn a normal-looking family room into a home theater with the push of a button on your remote control. Motorized screens can be recessed into the ceiling for the ultimate in stealth. 

There are also options where the screen is housed in architecturally pleasing housing that can be mounted to the ceiling or wall. Bear in mind that when you are planning, all of these will need electrical power. We are even seeing some motorized screens housed in a very small enclosure with a battery-powered, rechargeable motor. These are currently limited in size, but they are a cool solution if you simply cannot get power to the screen locations.

Why Stewart Filmscreen?

Uniformity and Color Accuracy

So why do so many people use Stewart screens when there are lots of cheap screens available that are usually made in China?

Well, many screens out there look good in the center of the screen, but as you look to the edges of the screen, you will see distortion or what appears to be a dimmer image. It is extremely difficult to produce a screen that has perfect uniformity across the entire screen, even when it's 90 feet wide. Stewart has decades of experience in creating screen materials that are perfectly uniform.  

You also do not want the reflected image to change the color accuracy of the image. We have seen all kinds of less expensive screens that seem to alter the color, which you will never see from a Stewart screen; they are spot on. 

Finally, you want this uniformity and color accuracy to exist even when you are sitting off-axis.  You would not want a screen that appears to be brighter and more accurate to viewers in the middle of a row than those on the sides.  Once again, Stewart is regarded as the best of the best at this.

Seams on a Screen Are Not Your Friend

While some screens say they are “virtually seamless,” that is not the same as totally seamless like Stewart. Screens are all tensioned, and that tension can cause irregularities at the seam. This can especially be a problem for roller-type screens where the seam can create what looks like horizontal bars.  

But with a Stewart screen, there are no seams period, all the way up to 40 by 90 feet which is unparalleled in the industry. 

Stewart Screens Last For Decades

Projector technology will come and go, but a good screen is like a great pair of speakers; it can last a lifetime. One more thing we really love about Stewart is they will let you just upgrade the material itself and keep your screen frame as technology improves, saving you lots of money. This is especially great for people who opted for a Stewart screen with expensive masking built into the frame. They keep a record of every serial number and how that screen was designed to mount to the frame and can reproduce a perfect copy with upgraded material. That is pretty cool!

Are there disadvantages to buying a Stewart screen?  Well, since these are all custom-made, you do need to plan in advance, as it can sometimes take up to 12 weeks for them to produce your screen.  But there may be a solution for your theater with Stewart’s new quick ship program.

Stewart Quick Ship Program

Stewart obviously has data on which types of their screens are the best-selling. They have put together a nice variety of selections that will fit a lot of people's needs. Our team can help you decide if one of their Quick Ship options is good for your situation. These screens will ship from Stewart within 24 business hours of us placing your order.

  1. Stewart Filmscreen Balón Edge Home Theater Projector Screen Stewart Filmscreen Balón Edge QuickShip Projector Screens
    Final Price From$3,776.73 - To$4,422.51

  1. Stewart Filmscreen WallScreen Deluxe Home Theater Projector Screen Stewart Filmscreen WallScreen Deluxe QuickShip Projector Screens
    Final Price From$2,841.70 - To$3,389.99

Choosing the Right Quick Ship Screen

Choosing the right quick ship option will come down to a few choices within the quick ship models for your new front projector. Stewart has recently added an ultra-short throw 16:9, 120 inch quickship screen if you have a UST projector. But for this article, we will focus on their two most popular screen materials in the quick ship program, Studiotek 130 G4 and Firehawk. 

Studiotek 130 G4, in our experience, is our favorite type of screen material for most of the rooms we do. In a dark room, it will make HDR content look fantastic. The key is a dark room, as you need good light control for this type of material. If your room has a lot of ambient light, choose Firehawk. Firehawk will enhance black levels in a room with some light as it rejects 73% of ambient light.   

Next, choose your frame. You have two choices here, the WallScreen Deluxe with a 3.25” border and Balón Edge with a ½” border. Both of these will come coated in Stewart Velux, which is a light-rejecting material. While the Balón Edge looks really cool as it makes your screen look like a large TV, the wider frame you get with the WallScreen Deluxe makes aligning your projector far easier.  

Finally, choose your screen size.  The sizes offered are all 16:9 and are 110”, 120”, and 135”, all diagonal measurements.

If you have more questions, reach out to our team of experts at via phone, chat, or email, and we will be happy to help you out. 

If you are thinking about building a theater, be sure to go to the home theater page at where you can use our free home theater tool, see all of our buyer's guides, and watch how-to and installation videos. We even have an inspiration gallery and build videos of almost every type of theater room you could imagine.

We’re here to help!

Audio Advice has been in the industry since 1978, and throughout the years, we’ve developed a team of professionals who live and breathe all things audio and video. We spend countless hours testing and reviewing every product we sell to be sure it stands up to our extremely high-quality standards. With our state-of-the-art home theater audio lab, we can become experts in our products and provide our customers with in-depth, honest feedback. 

When you buy from Audio Advice, you’re buying from a trusted seller since 1978. We offer Free Shipping, Free Returns, Lifetime Expert Support, and our Price Guarantee. We look forward to serving you!

  1. Stewart Filmscreen Balón Edge Home Theater Projector Screen Stewart Filmscreen Balón Edge QuickShip Projector Screens
    Final Price From$3,776.73 - To$4,422.51

  1. Stewart Filmscreen WallScreen Deluxe Home Theater Projector Screen Stewart Filmscreen WallScreen Deluxe QuickShip Projector Screens
    Final Price From$2,841.70 - To$3,389.99