Can I install an in-ceiling screen perpendicular to my ceiling joists?

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This customer was on the verge of making a huge mistake. Never cross-cut your ceiling joists so that you can install an in-ceiling projection screen. This discussion covers some other options and methods to make an in-ceiling installation happen.

Here are the links used in the discussion:

*The discussion below is based on actual chat transcripts with the omission of any personal/confidential material to protect the customer’s privacy. An example in this case is to change the contact’s identification name/number to “Customer” or a generic name.



  • [17:09] Customer: Hello.
  • [17:09]        Rick: Hello, how may I help you.
  • [17:09] Customer: I was wanting to do a recessed electric projector screen but the problem is our ceiling joists run the incorrect direction for this to be easily feasible. Are there any other options?
  • [17:09] Customer: We are mainly wanting our install to look as clean as possible and have the screen blend in with the room as much as possible.
  • [17:13]        Rick: It is very important that you never cross-cut your ceiling joists. If you do, you will undermine the entire structure. I can suggest our wall/ceiling mount screen option. Here is a great article describing what you should and should not do
  • [17:13] Customer: Is there any trim kits you recommend or anything to make it look better?
  • [17:13] Customer: Just trying to avoid the “projector screen” sitting on the wall rolled up look
  • [17:14]        Rick: i can recommend a trim kit but you will need to align the screen to go parallel with the ceiling joists. In order to mount it into the ceiling you cannot cut across the joists.
  • [17:15] Customer: What is a trim kit exactly?
  • [17:15] Customer: Oh wait
  • [17:15] Customer: a trim kit won’t work if you run perpendicular to the joists?
  • [17:15]        Rick: No, the screen will be concealed in the ceiling the same way as our recessed models but you face the same problem. Any in-ceiling installation cannot cross-cut the ceiling joists.
  • [17:16] Customer: oh ok 🙁
  • [17:16]        Rick: Have you considered a free-standing projection screen?
  • [17:16] Customer: How would I tell which size to buy.
  • [17:16]        Rick: Here is a great video on determining which screen size is best for you.
  • [17:21] Customer: I am not afraid of using a free-standing projection screen but is there anything you can advise about dealing with the ceiling joists?  I would really like to have an in-ceiling screen.
  • [17:21]        Rick: If it is at all possible, I recommend re-decorating the room 90° so that the screen installation will run parallel to the joists.  Otherwise, the installation will not be up to code and your room will inevitably collapse under its own weight since it’s key supports have been undermined.  The only way around this would be to build a false ceiling and install into that but now we are talking a major retrofit to your home.
  • [17:21] Customer: I see where you are going with this and have to agree. The best/easiest way to go is to shift my décor 90 degrees so that I can run that screen parallel.  Thank you for the crucial information. You saved me from making a huge mistake.
  • [17:21]        Rick: It was my pleasure to help. Thank you for choosing Elite Screens.
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