How to Design and Build a Home Theater Front Wall
Edited by Frank Fazio, Eng, vc
Home Theater Front Wall Design & Build
You have to envision what you want the front of the theater to look like. After all, you're going to have people stare at it for at least 2 hours at a time while watching a movie, so you want to make it look pleasing to the eyes. You basically have two options:
- a flat wall, which everything is built into
- all the equipment and video display placed against (and in front of) the wall
Create a dummy wall to hide your equipment
I decided during the design phase that I wanted a completely flat front, and everything built in. To do this, I decided to build a "dummy wall" across the front of my existing room. This created a long hidden room behind that wall that I could access from outside my theater. The "dummy wall" was built about 3 feet from the front of my original room... I figured that it would give me enough space to get around if I needed to pull out the TV or any of the speakers.This meant that after I had installed the drywall on it, the "dummy wall" would have to have holes cut out of it to accommodate my TV, speakers, subwoofer, and security camera monitors.
Drywall and cutting holes
After your drywall is installed and after you've made all necessary measurements for the placement of your equipment, you can cut openings in your front wall. It is important to create a rough diagram on paper BEFORE you start cutting as this will give you a better overall idea of how your front wall will look. If you cut everything correct, your front wall should match your diagram.
The front speaker should be installed directly over your video display and pointed at the audience. This means if your center speaker is installed higher than the audience, you'll want to slant the platform so the speaker is pointed slightly down towards the seats. So when you're sitting in your seat, the speaker should be pointed directly at your ear level, not over your head. You'll also notice I put duct tape around the opening as it stops the dust from the edge of cut drywall.
Your left and right front speakers should be the same distance on either side of the video display. In my case, it was easy to determine the distance as I used the 2x4 stud on either side as a guide.
The subwoofer can really be anywhere in the room, but there is a rule of thumb you can go by. The closer you put a subwoofer to the wall, the more bass you will get. Having said that, your subwoofer will sound best if it is placed 8-12 inches from the wall. In my case I was limited to the corner of the room because the spots in my wall were limited.
When mounting the TV into the wall, make sure you use the studs on either side to securely fasten it into place. You can also make a platform for it, as I did for my speakers.
Here is a good example of something you can add to your home theater that others may not have. Remember, this is your theater so you should customize it to your aesthetics and functionality. When you build a theater and soundproof it, you will not be able to hear what is going on outside the room. This means if you're watching a movie during the daylight hours, you may not hear the doorbell or see your wife pulling into the driveway with groceries (in which case you should get upstairs and pretend you're vacuuming). To solve this problem, I installed security cameras around the house and hooked them up to monitors installed in my front wall. Now when I watch a movie, no one can sneak up on me.
After the all the openings are finished and the wall is sanded smooth, you can paint the wall. I chose to paint the front of my home theater black. The only tip I can dive you here is that you will need more than one coat.
Lighting in the front wall
I decided to add accent lighting to the front wall. I started by putting a small strip of drywall hanging down from the ceiling a few inches away from the wall. Then I tucked lighted pucks under it and ran the power into the back of the room.
Curtains for your front wall
To give your home theater the look of having closing curtains, you can bunch some "dummy" curtains up on each side of your front wall. Of course they don't close, but it does make it look like they do. What you need to do is go to your local home store and by 2 black shower curtains. This way you can get a wood dowel and run to through the top of each curtain. Mounting the dowel near your lights will give the effect of a functioning curtain system.
If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please post in the comments section below.
Recent edits by: Eng, Frank Fazio