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What is a Pull Down Screen?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A pull down screen is a projection screen which stows away when not in use. There are a number of reasons to use a pull down screen, ranging from a desire to use space efficiently to a dislike for looking at a projection screen when it is not in use. Pull down screens are readily available from companies which stock projection supplies, and they can also be custom made for specific applications.

There are several ways in which a pull down screen can work. Classically, the screen rolls up into a housing which is tucked away near the ceiling. When the screen is needed, an operator can pull it down manually with a cord, or activate an electric motor which causes the screen to unroll itself. Pull down screens can also have rigid frames which slide the screen up and out of the way when not in use. In both cases, the screen can be pulled down over any number of things, including windows and walls, as long as there are no protrusions to catch on the screen and tear it.

Classrooms are one of the most ideal environments for a pull down screen. Teachers may want to be able to make audiovisual presentations on a projection screen, but they also want wall space to display materials for classroom activities. A pull down screen can give a teacher flexibility when it comes to presentations and make all of a classroom's wall space available for use. Using a pull down screen can also prevent damage to the screen, whether malicious or accidental.

Pull down screens are also used in meeting rooms to provide an option for people who want to make presentations which can be hidden when not in use. Projection screens are not terribly exciting to look at when they are not in use and in full light, and the appearance of a screen can detract from the décor of a meeting or board room. Pull down screens provide versatility in these situations, allowing people to make presentations and then tuck the screen away.

Some people also like to use pull down screens for home theaters. Keeping the screen out of the way may be necessary to prevent damage, especially in a household with rowdy members. Stowing the screen also prevents the accumulation of dust and scuff marks, and eliminates the unpleasant aesthetic of a giant projection screen taking up an entire wall.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Mykol — On Oct 14, 2011

If you have a home theater set up, a pull down screen is a nice option to have. This way you don't have to worry about the screen getting torn or used as a big coloring page by your kids.

It all depends on how your system is set up. One of my friends has a projection screen he borrows from his work to watch movies on when all of the family is home.

They have one large blank wall in their basement and they use this as their screen. It works great and the picture is clear.

If you don't have a big screen TV and have several people gathered around, it is nice to have a big area to watch a movie on.

You probably get better quality when it is on an actual screen, but using a blank wall is a good option if you don't have a screen.

By julies — On Oct 13, 2011

We have a projector pull down screen in our conference room at work that comes in very handy for presentations.

This is a motorized screen which works so much better than the old manual pull down screen we used to have. Either way it is nice to have the screen out of the way we we aren't using it.

I remember my dad having a portable projection screen he would use for slide presentations. When this screen was folded down, you could carry it around with you.

Once you set it up, there were tripod legs that unfolded to keep it steady. Every once in awhile we get out our old family slides and use that screen to look at all of our old family photos.

By cloudel — On Oct 13, 2011

I remember the pull down screen from school. It was rolled up like toilet paper around a center rod that was attached by supports to the wall above the chalkboard.

Whenever the teacher needed to project slides onto the screen, she would pull it down across the chalkboard. It was high enough that everyone could see it over each other’s heads.

I thought it was neat and efficient how she could roll it back up and immediately use the space beneath it for writing. I lived in a small, cramped house, so I noticed any efficient uses of space.

By wavy58 — On Oct 12, 2011

The conference room in my office building has a motorized screen for presentations. This prevents people from accidentally pulling it off its base or tearing it somehow. They never have to touch the actual screen. All they have to do is push a button.

Employees are expected to go into the room and push the button to bring the screen down before everyone else arrives at the meeting. The boss says it’s unprofessional to make everyone wait while the screen lowers. He’s all about time management and efficiency.

The screen is a little slow to lower and raise. You can hear the whirr of the motor in a quiet room.

The boss also wants us to wait until everyone has left the meeting to raise the screen. I don’t really know why, but in his head, it is rude to run the motor in front of everyone.

By Perdido — On Oct 11, 2011

My husband and I are friends with a couple who love showing their vacation photos and home movies on a projection screen. They used to have one that didn’t pull down, but their hyper toddlers and teething puppies left rips and tears in it, and they invested in a retractable screen.

I will admit that it gets kind of boring looking at their family documentaries, but they are just so proud of them that I would never hurt their feelings by refusing to watch them. Now that they have the retractable screen, it’s easier to look at the shots. We have a clear view with no rips.

By orangey03 — On Oct 11, 2011

My church has a pull down projection screen. We use it so the congregation can see lyrics to songs that are not in the hymnals.

When our church started, we received some old hymnals as a donation from another church. However, a lot of traditional church songs were not included in these hymnals, and people wanted to sing them.

So, I wrote down the lyrics on transparencies and used the projector to shine them on the screen for the crowd to follow along. After we are through singing, I pull the cord to retract the screen so that no one is distracted by it during the service.

By jennythelib — On Oct 11, 2011

Tip for pull-down screens - make sure the cord is long enough! I am very short. I once gave a presentation in a classroom that had a pull-down projector screen. I wanted to use the white board, but the person who used the room before me had left the screen pulled down in front of it.

So I pulled the cord and raised it, but I ran out of arm before the screen was all the way up. Nervously, I let go of the cord and let the screen snap back into place.

The force of the snap caused the screen to come loose from the ceiling. It fell and crashed to the floor, missing my head by no more than six inches. Yowza!

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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