Marquee Construction


This homemade marquee is
45" X 84".

It is built in two parts.
Three strings of 26 lights each are installed on each part.
Five sockets on each light string are not utilized.

The white area that announces what is playing is not lit up and cannot be read after dark.

The flexible letters are 6" high.

Below are the steps I used to build it.

1. I had Lowes cut a 4 X 8 sheet of masonite in half.
At home, I shoved them back together and, using my newly purchased plastic letters, laid out three fairly long movie titles across the two sheets.

Using the length of the three titles as a guide, I made a guesstimate as to what would be the narrowest width I could reasonably get away with.
(Storage and weight were major factors. More than likely, I would be the only one hoisting up the marquee. I didn't want any more bulk than necessary.)

2. I drew out a tentative design and trimmed off the excess.


3. The two panels (45" high by 42" wide) received three coats of white paint.

4. When dry, they were glued and nailed to a 1" X 2" frame.

5. Four bolts with washers and wing nuts were used to attach
the two panels together, making the total length of the marquee 84 inches.


6. Braces were added to each corner.


7. Lines were drawn to create a border.

8. Part of the box in which the globe lights were packed
was used as a template for the holes along the three edges of each panel.


9. Holes were drilled for the string lights
and the border was painted.


10. Using a pointed grinding stone, I re-drilled the holes,
so that the globes would sit farther down into the holes,
but the light sockets would remain fully on the back side
of the marquee. That way, all connections met and were


11. Starting at the bottom, plastic channels were predrilled and
screwed to the marquee face.

12. The space that remained at the top was painted black.



13. Nine inch letters were printed. I intended to cut them out and Mod Podge them onto the marquee.

Despite their vivid colors in the picture to the left, they just didn't look right.
I liked the gradient effect.


14. I traced around the letters and filled in the outlines with paint.


15. Starting at the top of the right panel, three light strings were attached.
As there are only 63 holes and each string has 26 lights,
the first five sockets on each of the strings on the right panel were not used.
Starting at the bottom of the left panel, three additional light strings were attached.
The last five sockets on each of the strings on the left panel were not used.

Once the panels are connected, the three strings on the right panel plug
directly into the three strings on the left panel. The excess cord and sockets
were banded into bundles at the top of the each panel.

16. PVC plugs (4 in all) were glued and screwed near the bottom,
on either side of each panel.
(Turns out, I only needed one in an inside corner.)

file-98 17. Eye bolts and eye screws were attached to the panel frames.

Nylon rope was strung from side to side for hanging. The rope has already stretched after two hangings and will have to be tightened, as I want the marquee to hang higher than it presently hangs.

18. Two ceiling hooks were screwed into the fascia board.
I've purposely taken a picture at an angle that allows you to
clearly see where they're located, but the hooks aren't very noticeable unless you're actually looking for them.

19. Each panel was hung separately and bolted together while suspended from the hooks.

Since I more or less made this up as I went along, three questions remained unanswered until this step:

a) Was constructing the marquee in two parts worth the trouble?
Yes. Not only is it easier to store and MUCH easier to lift overhead, but its smaller bulk
makes it easier to control, even if a good size breeze comes up as you are hanging it.

b) Once the panels were hung, could they easily be brought together to receive the bolts?
Yes. After I got them up, I righted each one as though I were hanging two pictures. It was no trouble inching them together and inserting the first bolt. Once the first bolt was in, the others almost installed themselves.

c) Since each panel hangs on a separate line, would it be possible to level the marquee?
Yes. I'm still a bit surprised at this, but it is not a problem.


20. After the marquee was hung, a length of PVC pipe with a coupling on one end (to slip over the plug) and a piece of felt on the other (to prevent the garage door from getting scratched), was placed between the marquee and the garage door. I anticipated needing four lengths of pipe, but one piece does the trick.

The weight of the marquee pushing back on the pipe seems to keep the pipe in place.

I hang up the marquee around 1 p.m. The Santa Ana winds, which can be quite strong, blow across the face of the marquee from about 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The letters stay in place and the marquee remains upright with little or no movement.

. . .As you can see, a floodlight would need to be focused
. . .on the marquee if it is to be read after nightfall.

. . .I've considered making a backlit marquee from
. . .time-to-time, but with little enthusiasm.
. . .The marquee is hung on the front of our house,
. . .and is meant for the pleasure of our arriving guests,
. . .so they won't miss any of the fun.


Let me say from the get-go that this is expensive. The two big ticket items were (1) the marquee letters and plastic channels and (2) the globe lights.

I spent over $300 before I'd even settled on a design. Mercifully, the rest of the materials only cost about $50.

Originally, I purchased globe lights at Target. The lights were $13 a set. DON'T BUY THIS TYPE for this project! Although they're good patio lights, they're much too fragile for this type of application. I wouldn't bother with anything other than LEDs.

I've ordered LED string lights with REMOVABLE bulbs and a separate controller. I plan to exchange the Target lights for the LEDs as soon a they arrive. My LEDs were purchased from Inirgee Colours. I recently came across larger LED globe lights at Christmas Light Source. Not only do they have a larger diameter, but they're cheaper too. Too late for me though. You may find cheaper pricing if you shop Big Box Stores during or just after the holidays.

You can always skip the lights altogether, or use those old Christmas lights you have stored in the shed.

The letters and channels came from a merchant on eBay. I'm not sure how to get around the cost of this item, other than cutting out your own letters from black construction paper. I tried finding bulletin board letters at a teacher supply store, but was only able to find colorful letters in fancy font.
In addition, there's the problem of attaching paper letters to the marquee face in a fairly straight line and hoping they don't blow away.
There is a site that suggests covering the white area with white felt and then cutting letters from black felt. This may be a solution if your marquee will be located in a sheltered area.

A note about the letters: I wanted to make the marquee as narrow as possible and still be able to fit the average-length movie title on a single line. Therefore, I chose letters that were labeled "condensed". Whether you buy or cut your own, you might want to keep this in mind.

No. ITEM Unit Cost Total
6 Removable LED light strings 30.00 180.00
1 controller/chaser 26.00 26.00
1 box flexible marquee letters and 5 channels 94.00 94.00
1 1/8" X 4' X 8' masonite 11.00 11.00
4 1" X 2" X 8' .98 4.00
1 wood glue had some free
4 ea. bolts, washers, wing nuts ? approx. 10.00
2 1/4 X 2-1/2 eye bolts 1.00 2.00
1 bottle 2 oz. Gorilla Glue 5.00 5.00
4 1" PVC Sch 40 couplings 0.40 1.60
4 1" PVC Sch 40 Plug 0.90 3.60
1 46" lengths of 1" PVC pipe had some free
2 4-5/16" ceiling hooks bolts 1.00 2.00
1 ea. yellow, red, black, white acrylic paint had themfree
3 disposal sponge brushes 0.69 2.10
2 pkgs. 4" flat corner braces 4.00 8.00
1 3/4in. 1-1/16 inch pointed grinding stone 3.00 3.00
several screws of various sizes had some, bought some approx. 6.00
TOTAL approx. 350.00


In order to ease my conscience when speaking of the cost, I made a small banner that converts the marquee into a poor man's Time Square headliner.


(Remember, it's OK for grandmas to brag.)

For a look at how I store the marquee during the winter months, click here.

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