Matte white projector screen

Front or Rear Projection?

Front or Rear Projection?

November 23, 2015

The distinction seems simple: front projection screens reflect light while rear projection screens diffuse light through the material. But how do you go about choosing the right type of screen for your project? This choice is even harder when considering that rear projection screens come in many different materials and that some of these light diffusing screens can even be used in front projection. This article will outline the main differences between front and rear projection so you can decide what best suits your specific requirements.

Front vs rear

The table below details the main difference between both screen categories.




Front projection doesn’t require space behind the screen therefore leaving more floor space.You must also take into consideration if people or objects will be obstructing the projector at any time.

Rear projection needs space for equipment and projectors behind the screen. The larger the screen, the larger the space required.


Front projection requires darkened interiors as any light source hampers the efficiency of the projector.

Contrast and color saturation are better on rear projection screens in areas with high ambient light.


Typically, front projection screens are brighter when used in darkened rooms. Brightness however is highly dependent on projector output and screen gain.

Since the screen transmits light in both directions, lumens are lost in rear projection. This loss of light may be offset in high ambient light situations where the front view screen would not perform as well.


Viewing angle is largely dependent on gain. Typically, the higher the gain, the narrower the optimal angle of view.Recently however, significant improvements have been made to widen the viewing cone with high gain coatings.

Viewing angle on rear view screens is dependent on the material’s ability to diffuse light across the viewing surface. Some materials, especially darker surfaces diffuse light more evenly.


Contrast levels on front projection screens are affected by ambient light. Gain has no effect on contrast 

Rear projection is less affected by other sources of light and contrast is therefore better if there is an external light source.Ambient light usually comes from a different direction than the projector and since light goes through the screen rather than being reflected off of it, the ambient light does not affect contrast as much as in front projection.

The right choice depends on your viewing environment, application, projector and available space. Once you have settled on the front vs rear question, you can take a look at individual screen products from each category and see what properties suit your situation. Some screens can be used for both front and rear projection, providing the versatility required for special projects.

Of course, our experts can guide you and provide additional information; don’t hesitate to contact us!

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