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Building a Home Theater: Costs & Financing

Building a Home Theater: Costs & Financing
Austin Kilham
Austin KilhamUpdated May 17, 2023
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A home theater can become the entertainment hub of your home — a place to gather with family and friends to watch your favorite shows, movies, and sporting events on a giant screen with great sound. That said, creating a cinema-like experience at home can be expensive. Here’s a look at the costs involved, along with some home theater financing options, to help you decide whether a home theater project makes sense for you. 

How Much Does a Home Theater Project Cost?

The home theater installation cost can range widely, depending on such factors as the size of the room, the projector and sound technology you choose, and the amount of seating you need. On average, the cost of a home theater is $17,500. If you go all out, however, the price can easily top $60,000 or more. If you’re working with a limited renovation budget, it’s possible to install a home theater for about $2,000. Adding a home theater could even be part of a basement remodel and costs that you already have underway. Going that route could allow you to tackle two projects at once.

Cost Differences Between DIY and Hiring a Professional

Building a home theater involves installing many different components and pieces of equipment. You’ll pay about $60 to $90 an hour for professionals to do this for you. You could potentially save thousands on the home theater installation cost by renovating the room and installing the equipment yourself. However, unless you have construction, audio/visual, and electrical expertise, this may not be a wise idea. Dealing with electrical wiring might cause serious safety issues if you don’t have the proper skills. Recommended: 8 Tips for Finding a Contractor for Home Renovations

How Much Does Soundproofing Cost? 

To prevent the noise from a home theater from spilling over into the rest of your house, you’ll need to add soundproofing to your home theater project. This involves placing special materials on the walls, ceiling, and maybe even the floor of the room to dampen the sound. How much soundproofing will cost you depends on the size of the room and the materials you use. Popular options include foam insulation, acoustic tiles, or soundproof paints, drywall, or curtains. The price of soundproofing a home theater could be as much as $5,000. 

Average Costs for a Home Theater Projector

When you’re building a home theater, the projector and screen you choose are instrumental. A screen can cost anywhere from $250 to $1,500 or more. And while a low-end projector with front projection can cost as little as $1,500, higher-end models that are also higher quality will run you between $10,000 and $60,000.Recommended: The Average Cost to Renovate Your House: 2023 Guide

Additional Costs to Keep in Mind

There are a number of other expenses to consider for your home theater project. These include:


You’ll need lights that are practical to illuminate the space, and also those that provide the right ambiance for your home theater. For instance, overhead fixtures will light the room, while low lighting can help softly illuminate pathways while your movie is playing. The average cost to install light fixtures is about $154 and $931. The specific price you’ll pay depends on how much and what kind of lighting you install. 

Sound System

The sound, of course, is a critical component of the moviegoing experience. Installing theater speakers or surround sound, which can involve box speakers, towers, and subwoofers, costs anywhere from $200 to $8,000. 


You might decide to outfit your home theater with some comfy couches and armchairs. Or you could go all out with luxury reclining theater seats, which can cost between $450 and $1,000 per chair.To figure out your seating configuration, you can follow this rule of thumb: Multiply the width of your projector screen by 2 and then again by 5 to get the minimum and maximum distance your seating should be from the screen. Your rows of seating, including space to allow seats to fully recline, should fit within this area. 


Theater systems require a lot of wiring. Depending on the amount of wire you need and the types of connections required, wiring can range from $180 to over $1,000.   


If you’re spending a lot of money on the sound system, choose the flooring for your home theater project carefully. Poor acoustics are often due to floors made from hard materials, which can cause sound to reverberate. Carpeting is usually a better option because it absorbs sound. The cost of carpeting a home theater depends on the size of the room and the type of carpet you choose, but it usually costs $3.50 to $11, including installation. 

Risers for Multi-Level Theaters

If your home theater is in a big room, you may want to add risers (aka platforms) to the back rows so that every seat has a good view of the screen. You can build one riser yourself, if you’re handy, for about $150. If you hire a pro to do it for you, the cost will range from $300 to $450 per riser.  

Financing Options for Building a Home Theater

Now that you know what kind of costs you’re looking at, you need to figure out how to pay for your home theater project. If you don’t have enough cash on hand to pay for it, there are a few different home theater financing options to consider. Credit cardsUsing a credit card can be an easy and convenient way to pay for building a home theater. Just make sure that your credit limit is high enough to cover the cost of the project. Also, credit cards have high interest rates, which means that you could end up paying quite a bit extra in interest for the home theater project unless you pay off the balance quickly.Home Equity LoanA home equity loan lets you use the equity in your house as collateral to borrow money. However, building equity in your home can take years. To qualify for a home equity loan, lenders typically require you to have at least 15% equity. Also, because home equity loans are secured by your home, if you fail to repay the loan on time, the lender might seize your home to recoup their loss. Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)Another home theater financing method is a home equity line of credit (HELOC). A HELOC allows you to borrow against your home’s equity up to an approved limit. Instead of receiving a lump sum, you can borrow HELOC funds as needed during what’s called the draw period. When the draw period ends, the repayment period begins, which can be as many as 30 years. However, like a home equity loan, if you can’t pay off what you owe on a HELOC, the lender could foreclose on your house. Personal loansPersonal loans tend to be unsecured, which means they don’t require you to put up collateral. With a personal loan, a bank, online lender, or credit union lends you a lump sum that you repay with interest in installments over time. The higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate you may get. You can shop around for top personal loans to see what rates and terms you qualify for.Personal loans are flexible and can be used for almost any purpose. In fact, personal loans for home improvement are a popular way to fund renovation projects.The amount you can borrow ranges from small personal loans of a few thousand dollars, to big loans up to $100,000. Once you’re approved for a personal loan, you may expect to receive funds quickly, typically within one to five days. 

The Takeaway

Building a home theater can help you get more enjoyment out of your home, and let you entertain family and friends in style. Just be sure to understand the full costs of the project, and explore different financing methods, before you move ahead. If you decide to finance your home theater project with a personal loan, Lantern can simplify the process for you. Just fill out one quick form and you’ll get offers from multiple lenders in our network. That way you can easily compare rates and terms to find the best option for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to build a home theater?
Does a home theater add value?
Can I DIY a home theater myself or do I need a professional?
Photo credit: iStock/EricVega

About the Author

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles. He focuses on personal finance, retirement, business, and health care with an eye toward helping others understand complex topics.
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