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kinda's picture
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Farrow and Ball All White

Hello,

Thought my experiences may be of help to others.

For various reasons based on decor and room I recently decided the best way forward was to paint my chimney breast as a projection screen, and hang a picture on it when the projector was not in use.

Most white paints aren't white, even the ones with names like absolute white. The whitest I could find, (and it has no obvious tint at all), that was easily available was Farrow and Ball's All White. This compared favourably in price to special projector screen paints. I had read that an American Sherwin Williams white paint had beaten in tests a Stuart screen, so I had some hopes of a good picture.

Those people testing the SW paint had recommended not to go matte, but to have something along the lines of eggshell, (glossy paints are a no go due to hot spot reflections of the projector light or other light sources). For Farrow and Ball it was either a total matte emulsion, modern emulsion, (wipeable and 7% sheen), or eggshell, (20% sheen and not water based). Fearingf I might hotspot with eggshell and in mind it wasn't really for walls I went for the modern emulsion.

After removing the wallpaper to reveal a fairly flat surface, I spent a lot of time filling in a deep chase acros the top of the fireplace that routed the centre and left speaker cable. I did this with deep non drillable filler. I finished off other minor imperfections and the chase with fine surface filler. There was a lot of layered application and hand sanding with very fine sandpaper. Eventually I thought it was good to be painted.

On various advice I wasn't using a foam roller, but a medium hair one, (small pattern good coverage), and had used the All White mixed with about 20% water as an undercoat. Undercoat plus two further proper coats on and we were ready to go. I hoped for acceptable images, but had resigned myself it probably wouldn't be as good as the £100+ screens and screen material I'd used before.

However, I found I was wrong. The picture is at least as good as any of these, starting off with the previous callibration for my last screen, and now with a fresh calibaration to the paint. It seems to me more detail is reveled, (maybe the paint texture is closer than the screen texture), and colours seem better, with a better ability to reveal different colours in the same scene. I'm seeing bits of colour I hadn't noticed before. I think the white may be a purer white possibly. Obviously it's hard to quantify the difference, but I'm pretty sure the paint is better and certain the paint is at least as good as the screens. I still have a screen so may compare directly when I have time.

Also to note that despite my sanding efforts, after painting I diod find the odd small sticking out bit or slight crater or gouge. I thought I may have to sand again, but these cannot be noticed. Also, as before no great effort has gone into ensuring that the wall is flat overall. There are no geometry issues or pan ripples, issues I have had with both portable pop up screens and trying to stick screen material directly to a wall. Small variations in flatness and small imperfections don't seem to register on projected images, even close up.

So I'll be doing some more calibrating of the image, but very happy with this so far. If you think painting a wall is the way to go for you don't be afraid to try it, and you don't need to take a dip in image quality, buy expensive specialst paints, or mix up exotic paints based on internet recipes.

 

The_Lhc's picture
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RE: Farrow and Ball All White

kinda wrote:
Most white paints aren't white, even the ones with names like absolute white. The whitest I could find, (and it has no obvious tint at all), that was easily available was Farrow and Ball's All White. This compared favourably in price to special projector screen paints.

When you say it "compared favourably", do you mean it was the same price or much cheaper? Just wondering because, if it was a similar price, why you wouldn't have gone for the proper screen paint?

scene's picture
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RE: Farrow and Ball All White

Interesting post!

I've got some cans of All White in the garage as it happens...

I did think about a projector for the dining room setup, but lack of funds and the high light levels in there (4 velux, as well as 2.4m window + french doors!) precluded that option. I read somewhere about if you're having a wall dry-lined (like I was), an option is to have two of the plasterboard sheets put side on, so you get an 8'x4' very flat area, 4' up to use as a screen. Not tried it, but kept it in mind...

scene's picture
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RE: Farrow and Ball All White

The_Lhc wrote:

kinda wrote:
Most white paints aren't white, even the ones with names like absolute white. The whitest I could find, (and it has no obvious tint at all), that was easily available was Farrow and Ball's All White. This compared favourably in price to special projector screen paints.

When you say it "compared favourably", do you mean it was the same price or much cheaper? Just wondering because, if it was a similar price, why you wouldn't have gone for the proper screen paint?

Projector paint is about £70-80 for 2.5L

You can get F&B All White modern emulsion for about £35, with the added advantage that you can use it for the whole wall.

kinda's picture
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RE: Farrow and Ball All White

Yeah, it was a big price difference. I think the Goo I looked at was more like £80 for half a litre and they were recommending grey paint which I dind't think was required. And as you say I can use the F&B for other stuff as well.

Still really pleased with the wall. Basically with the same settings as the screen both brightness and contrast was up so it seems it just reflects more light maybe. Also, I seemed to notice colour more, (could just be the contrast).

Now after a further calibration I've found I can have more contrast without losing colour differentiation at high brightness, but it has to be kept in mind my calibration is improved and I think before I've ended up having to knock off contrast as colur saturation was too high. I've also got deeper blacks, (though I have been gamma tweaking to get the low light detail which I haven't done before so not a like for like comparison on that either).

I popped the screen up quickly just to see and essentially the image was similar but colours seemed a little overblown and less well contained with the same settings. I didn't view all the calibration images.

All in all though I'd say you can get at least as good a picture with the paint as a £100 - £150 screen. Yeah having a flat board inserted into the wall as a screen sounds like a good idea. I nearly added one on top of the wall but thought it might look a bit rubbish when the projector wasn't on. The wall isn't totally even, but it's nothing visible when the projectior is on, just occasionally with a lamp shining across the wall.

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