Take your at-home movie-watching to the next level.
How can I finance a home theater?
- Home equity loan. One of the most common ways to pay for any home renovation, including a home theater, is a home equity loan. The amount you borrow is based on the equity you have in your home. Your credit plays less of a role, and you can typically borrow up to 80% to 90% of your home’s value.
- Home equity line of credit (HELOC). This is like a mixture between a home equity loan and a credit card. You can draw on your equity whenever you need it, up to your credit limit, rather than as one large lump sum, which can help pay for any unexpected costs that come up during the reno.
- Personal loan. Personal loans don’t require collateral, so you won’t risk losing your house if you can’t repay. Generally, you can typically borrow between $1,000 to $100,000 — more than enough money to finance a home theater.
- Credit card. A credit card likely won’t finance an entire home theater, but it can be used to cover some costs like expensive audiovisual equipment. And if you shop smart, you may be able to build up reward points while getting the home theater of your dreams.
Compare your personal loan options
How much does a home theater cost?
Like any other major renovation, installing the right tech and finding the right design can take months of labor. The total cost will depend on a number of factors, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to upwards of $10,000 for your home theater.
Why such a price difference? It’s up to you to decide what you need and what you may already have. If you’re creating a media room — the younger sibling of a home theater — then you likely already have the space finished off and much of the tech purchased. If you’re building out a home theater from scratch and purchasing a litany of new furniture and tech, you’ll pay significantly more.
Renovating the room
Determine what you want out of your space. Adding risers to your seats requires a carpenter, and you can expect to pay $50 to $75 an hour for this service. If you want a wet bar, a plumber and carpenter adds thousands of dollars to your renovation cost, especially if the bar has granite counters or the room lacks suitable plumbing. A designer is likely needed to shape the space into what you imagine, and again, it will cost you.
The space you choose will also impact the cost of your renovation. Spare bedrooms offer easily enclosed areas but often lack the space many film enthusiasts want. A basement or attic can often handle more equipment but may cost more to finish off.
Cost of theater-quality equipment
For most people, this is where the real money comes in.
- Projector costs. A high-quality projector can cost you anywhere between $250 and $1,000, though some cost over $2,000. A mounted projection screen can cost $200 to $500, though some brands with a high-definition 16:9 ratio can cost over $2,000.
- TV costs. Homeowners with smaller theater spaces may want to choose a TV instead. While it won’t have the size of a projection screen, it can still provide great visuals. Most 65″ TVs cost between $700 to $3,000. It may be more expensive that some projector setups, but if you’re interested in easy installation and use, a TV is often much simpler.
- Speaker costs. You can pick up great models for less than $500. Surround sound is all about appropriate speaker placement, so take the time to read reviews on good speakers and sound bar combos.
Once you make your purchases, experiment! There’s no better way to set up a home theater than to figure out what works for you.
5 specs to consider when picking your projection screenStruggling to choose the right projection screen for your space? Here are some basic things to keep in mind when comparing screens:
- Mount. You can mount your screen to the ceiling — either with a visible or hidden mechanism to roll it when not in use — or to the wall for a true theater look. There are also portable screens, but these are less professional and won’t provide a proper theater experience.
- Retraction. Screens can be retracted electronically, manually or not at all. Homeowners on a budget will likely want to opt for a manual screen, but if you have the extra cash, a screen that can retract with the push of the button is much simpler.
- Aspect ratio. If you want high-definition, a 16:9 aspect ratio is a must. If you want a movie-like picture, a 2.35:1 aspect ratio can give it to you. Simpler and less expensive screens will have a 4:3 aspect ratio, so this is a good option for people on a budget.
- Size. The size of screen you choose depends on how much space you have. Smaller screens, usually less than 100″, are great for living room home theaters without multiple rows. With larger screens, you’ll have a great picture, but it may impact your seating and visuals.
- Gain. The fabric you choose for your screen will impact the gain — the light reflexivity. A low gain will mean a dim screen, and gain can be impacted by the surrounding room. Choose your gain with your light sources in mind, and talk to a home theater specialist if you’re not sure what gain you should pick.
Soundproofing your space
Soundproofing is an overlooked but crucial component of your space, but for people with a large space, it’s not a simple DIY project. It begins at the design stage. You might want hardwood or tile flooring in your home theater, but if you’re keeping soundproofing in mind, consider using carpeting and working soundproofing into the walls.
Once your walls are up and your carpeting is installed, take the extra step to install acoustic panels. These come in a huge variety of designs and can be built to suit your space.
The national average to soundproof a room runs around $1,600, but can cost upwards of $4,000. The bigger the space, the higher the cost. If you’re ripping down walls and tearing up floors, builders will charge more. It all depends on how much you need and how quiet you want your home theater to be.
What else could I add to the room?
Between small appliances that make life easier to important aesthetic decisions that will enhance the quality of your movie experience, it’s not always all about the sound equipment and screen quality. Here are some small additions to your home theater that can make a big impact.
- Home assistant. A Google Home or Amazon Echo give you hands-free access to your modern tech. No need to leave those comfortable seats when you’ve got a home assistant hooked up.
- Ambient lighting. Nothing adds to the mood better than lighting. LED strands can be hung on the walls to create the soft glow many movie-goers adore.
- Blackout curtains. A room with a view can be great, but the sunshine isn’t what you want when screening a new film. Blackout curtains are a great way to keep the glare out.
- Popcorn machine. It’s certainly not a necessity, but having popcorn without having to leave the room is the ultimate luxury.
- Wet bar. If you’re a fan of adult drinks and hosting large parties, installing a wet bar will make it easier to enjoy the movie while entertaining your friends.
How to calculate your seating needs
The size of the room will be the main factor in determining how many seats you need. You may want to install six luxurious recliners, but if you have limited space, you’ll end up overcrowding things and lessening the viewing experience. Most home theater contractors recommend a large, open space like a basement or attic. This way, you can fit a huge screen, multiple rows of seats and other necessities.
You can calculate your seating needs by measuring the space between rows. People should have at least 20″ to walk around, even when seats are reclined. The space from the back wall to last row should be about 4′ so your guests aren’t overwhelmed by bass.
Keeping everyone comfortable is crucial. Calculate the minimum and maximum distances from the screen to make sure everyone has an optimal view, and if you have those two or three rows with comfortable recliners, installing risers will give everyone a chance to see the screen without strain.
Creating a home theater can be an expensive process, especially if you need to do a complete renovation of a space to get it functioning properly. It’s important to create a budget and tackle your home theater one piece of tech at a time. By browsing your loan options and sticking to a renovation budget, you’ll be able to finance your home theater without spending too much for the luxury.