Rear Projector Screen vs Front

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Updated December 1, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • A rear projector screen is an excellent choice if you have ample space and high amounts of ambient light.
  • Go with a front projector screen if you want a smaller setup or have a dedicated theater room.
  • A rear projection screen is better for large gatherings, but a front projection is better for small viewings.

If you’re shopping for the best projector, you’ve probably wondered about a rear projector screen vs front-projection systems. The type of screen surface you use will seriously change your home theater environment. It will also affect your viewing angle, screen size, and black levels. So, if you’re unsure about whether you should use a front or rear projection screen, read on.

Rear-Projection vs Front-Projection Setup

The main difference between front and rear-projection materials is how the screen treats light. Rear projection setups rely on diffusing the light source to create an image. Alternatively, front projection depends on reflecting sources of light away from the screen. Both projection styles will take up different amounts of valuable space.

You can use a black, gray, or white screen for front or rear projection. If you’re not sure which is best for you, check out our grey vs. white projector screen guide.

Image Quality

Most setups will call for a front projection screen if you want a fantastic picture for your movie night. That said, if you have ample enough space for the extra equipment, a rear-projection setup will also deliver crisp visuals. In addition, a rear-projection unit will perform better if your movie room gets much ambient light. If the image quality is your highest priority feature, see our WXGA vs. HD projectors guide.

Viewing Angles

Consider your audience size and where they will sit relative to the viewing surface. If you want a wide viewing angle, go with a front projection setup. Rear-projection screens have a slight optimal angle before the screen gain decreases, impacting the image brightness.


If you want a brighter image, consider your home theater environment. For example, go with a front projector screen if you have a dark home theater. You can compare fixed screens vs pull-down projector screens to see which one will work best for you. That said if you want to build a great outdoor theater, go with rear projection.

Ambient Light

Rear projection is the best choice if you deal with ambient light situations. This is because your image will often improve with a higher ambient light level if you use rear projection. That said, you can find front-projecting setups equipped with an ALR (Ambient Light-Rejecting) screen.


Consumers spent $15.7 billion on movies and television shows consumed at home and away in the first six months of 2021. (

Tip: If you go with a rear projection screen, remember to save floor space for equipment because the screen cannot sit against the wall.

Warning: Do not use an outdoor projector unless you have clear weather. If water enters the projector fan vents, it may cause irreparable damage.

Rear Projection ScreenFront Projection
Image QualityXX
Viewing AnglesX
Ambient LightX

Rear Projector Screen vs Front FAQs

Do I need a special projector for rear projection?

Any projector output should work for a rear projector. That said, you will have to make a few extra measurements for the right projector screen size.

What should I look for in a backyard projector?

As long as it has power, any type of projector should work for your outdoor theater. That said, you should consider outdoor projector screens to cut down on reflection issues.

How does a rear projection screen work?

Rear projection screen material diffuses light to create a brilliant image for the audience. However, the rear-projected image will look dull and reversed if you look at the back of the screen. Therefore, you do not want a reflective screen for a rear projector.
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