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Home theater costs

Average costs + three ways to finance the room of your dreams.

Editor's choice: LendingClub personal loans

  • Loan range: $1,000-$40,000
  • Coapplicants accepted
  • No prepayment fees or penalties
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True film buffs aren’t content with a TV mounted above the fireplace. If you want to take your movie-watching to the next level, finding the right financing for your home theater is a necessity.

Average cost of a home theater

Because there are so many variables to include with a home theater, the cost ranges from $2,000 to $33,000, according to Home Advisor. Like any other major renovation, installing the right tech and finding the right design can take months of labor.

The lower estimate is for simple setups and the basic equipment you need to get started. The higher estimate is for film aficionados with a dedicated space to renovate.

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.

Average Home Theater Cost

Average CostHigh CostLow Cost
$17,500$33,000$2,000

Compare financing options for a home theater

Depending on how extravagant you want to go, you can handle most home theater costs with a credit card or personal loan. For the biggest renovations, a HELOC may be more appropriate.

Theater equipment: Consider a credit card

Most credit card can cover the basic tech you need to set up a home theater or media center. We recommend investing in a card that offers strong rewards like mileage points or cash back to get the most out of your purchases.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

4.7 / 5 ★★★★★

See offer
on Creditcards.com's secure site
Rates & fees
Because the Chase Freedom Unlimited card doesn't set a cap on the cash back you can earn, it's a good way to pay for big ticket items in your home theater. And earning 1.5% cash back when other credit cards usually offer 1% isn't bad, either.
Pros
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on purchases
  • $200 signup bonus
  • Long 0% intro APR period of 15 months
Cons
  • Not useful for balance transfers
  • Must have good to excellent credit to qualify

Minor renovations: Consider a personal loan

If you plan on installing soundproofing or building in a wet bar, a personal loan will be a better option. These allow you to borrow more money at a lower interest rate than credit cards — but they don’t offer rewards for spending.

LightStream personal loans

4.83 / 5 ★★★★★

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on Lightstream's secure site
LightStream is our top pick for all home renovations — largely because it's one of the most competitive lenders out there. You could have access to up to $100,000 — which makes it a great way to pay for renovating and redecorating a home theater.
Pros
  • Loans up to $100,000
  • Competitive interest rates
  • Autopay discount of 0.5% off APR
Cons
  • Must have good to excellent credit to qualify
  • No preapproval process
  • Minimum loan amount of $5,000
Loan Amount$5,000 - $100,000
APRCompetitive
Interest Rate TypeFixed
Min. Credit ScoreGood to excellent credit
Turnaround TimeVaries

Major renovations: Consider a HELOC

A home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC) use the equity in your property as collateral. Typically, this means you’ll have access to more funding at a lower APR. These are a good choice if you plan on a full, extensive renovation to your home theater space.

LendingTree

See rates
on LendingTree's secure site
LendingTree is a connection services that works with lenders to help you find the best rates on a HELOC or home equity loan. While not all of its offers are competitive, you'll be able to quickly compare options to cover the costs of a big renovation for your home theater.
Pros
  • Quick application process
  • Open to borrowers with fair credit
Cons
  • May receive high volume of marketing materials
  • Not all offers have competitive rates

What factors do I need to consider when building my home theater?

Home theaters are a unique project, so it’s difficult to determine the exact factors that you’ll need to consider.

In general, the cost of equipment, renovation and furnishing will all be important considerations as you plan your budget.

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.

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.

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.

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 screen

Struggling to choose the right projection screen for your space? Here are some basic things to keep in mind when comparing screens:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Additional factors

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 four small additions to your home theater that can make a big impact:

  • Home assistant
  • Ambient lighting
  • Blackout curtains
  • Popcorn machine

Bottom line

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. 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.

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