FP screen , +$$$ = better pic - fact or fiction?

About to venture into my first front projection system. Most likely will be Sony VPL-VW60 (1080P). Will use approx. 100" fixed mount screen - in a basement room where controlling light is not an issue. Will use for movies and sporting events. Viewing distance is 14-18'.

Is there really a significant picture quality difference when going from paint-on screen, to $1,000. screen to $3,000.+ screen? With the cost of the Sony unit, WAF budget dictates a sub-$1,200 screen. Will that be a mistake? Open to suggestions/recommendations ...
SONY is good but check out new Optoma HD-80 1080p for under 3G. You can get a good screen in your budget and spend $400 on pro. calibration which will correct any color inperfections and brightness commpensation. It will give you a better bang for your money and a clouse to reference picture quality.
I would always buy the projector first, and then make any final screen decisions later.

Just paint the wall white (maybe it's already white?)...and shoot the picture on that while playing around with screen size, projector settings...ect. (cost?...around $20)

After a few movies you will have a clear idea on the direction you want to take regarding screens.

$1000 for a paint on screen? I honestly didn't think it possible to do that.

I built my own screen using screen fabric I purchased on ebay for ~$30. The lumber from home depot cost ~$15. I've been using it for 3 years now and have not been inclined to upgrade yet. I'm using a 720p projector though (see my system). My suggestion is go cheap now, worry about upgrade when you become dissatisfied, know what you want, and have the cash to buy it.
In general companies suggest 15-30% of Projector cost for screen budget, I am veiwing mine on plain old flat white wall till I get my screen mi=unted and it looks darn good.
I can share my impression of the screen by Sunday when it is installed......but its way budget....84in wide format for less then $200, but I am poor so its what I could afford.
Bdgregory - I think you missed the comma between the paint on and the $1,000 price point screen.

I'll try this question phrased a different way. Is there a clearly visable difference between these three:

1. paint on screen on flat, smooth drywall
2. A fixed mount screen in the "up to $1,200" price range
3. Top rated "Stewart" or other premium brand fixed mount in the $2-3,000. range.

I can afford to buy a Stewart but as with most things in the audio/video hobby, spending more money doesn't necessarily give you an audible or visable difference. Also, I have found that at 56 years old, I reach the point of diminshing returns quicker than I used to with 56 year old eyes and ears!

Can anyone (from personnal experience) recommend a sub-$1,200 fixed screen that I would never feel like I'd want to upgrade from (or do I hold out a couple more months and spend more). Thanks in advance for your help.
Northwoods . . . indeed I did miss the comma. Sorry about that, I need to take more care in reading.

I have no personal experience with screens anywhere near $1200, and I suspect my standards are a bit more lax than many, since I'm still satisfied with 720p. What I can tell you about my cheapo DIY screen is that the quality is comparable to my Samsung 60" DLP (also 720p) tv that I have upstairs. The exception being that I need to lower the room lights for my front projector. I've had guests express amazement by the picture quality on my 10' screen.
Here's the material I used. It looks like they raised the price since I bought 2 years ago.

I hope that helps.
I did a bunch of research lately and over at avsforums they recommend the carada screens for high bang for the buck appeal. Should be well under $1000.; That's what i'll buy when i get one next year.
Bdgregory, thanks for the info.
The best picture quality will typically come from a simple and inexpensive matt white screen IF AND ONLY IF:

1. Your projector has enough light output for the screen size you choose

2. You can completely control the light in the room and make it dark.

3. Your screen surface remains perfectly flat, e.g. doesn't warp or wave over time

A matt white screen has the best off axis viewing, most natural colors and no hotspotting.

The reasons to buy a more expensive screen:

1. You want a motorized screen (convenience + the ability to hide the screen)

2. Tab tensioning, which will keep the screen flat forever.

3. You need more light gain so you get a 1.3 (or higher) gain screen.

4. Your projector has very high light output and can benefit from a high contrast gray screen.
Thanks all for the input. I cetainly don't have money to burn, but generally I find that I'm best served by buying the best valued item that I can justify. A good example is that all of my stereo gear, as well as some of my video gear (AV Receiver) are now all approx. 15 years old. I stretched a little financially when I bought them, but they've served me well and have never had any piece of this system repaired. Now I'm ready for an upgrade. I've started by separating two channel from AV and I've replaced the two channel gear and am looking forward to replacing the AV equipment and am trying to sort through my questions with your help.
Just a note when balancing projector vs. screen budget. Projector technology/quality improvement is still on a moderately steep climb while prices are dropping. I'm thinking screen technology is fairly mature (but I'm no expert here.) What I did a year ago was buy the best screen I could afford (a DaLite acoustically transparent tab-tensioned hi-contrast gray motor controlled, 110".) I bought a Panasonic 720p projector (even though 1080p was out, why pay for bleeding edge?) which was several hundred dollars less than the screen.

The philosophy here is, I should never have to upgrade the screen (cuz it would be a b!tch to sell/ship here or on Videogon!) but will most likely upgrade the projector down the road. I did pick this screen material based on the current projector and the only thing I would do differently is go with a white/higher gain screen. My room can be made totally dark, but even with the default light output, most scenes are on the dark side.

With all that said, I am quite pleased with the end result. Picture quality is very good with OTA HD broadcasts, as well as DirecTV HD, and Santa brought a Toshiba HD-A3 HD DVD player, but it's too early to tell how great it is. It does upscale standard DVDs to better PQ as the AVS forums attest.

This replaced a Sony 65" RPTV 16x9 HD which was a big acoustic mass (mess) between my main speakers. The projector hanging from the ceiling and the screen that rolls up into the ceiling take no floor space. The only downside is the setup (2-channel and home theatre combined in the same space) limits my placement of the main speakers. Overall it works well.