Easy How to Build a DIY Home Theater Riser

January 10, 2024
nicole

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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As I shared last week, I recently transformed our old media room into a true home theater room. This is a very big room. So, we were able to add a large sectional for the front row. Which then allowed us to move our older sofa to the back. My primary goal was to have PLENTY of seating. Of course, for the back row to be able to see the movie screen I needed to build a home theater riser platform.

This was a really easy build that only took me a couple hours to finish.

Here’s a video showing exactly how I built it…

A few things I needed to consider before drawing out my home theater riser design:

  • Height of the riser
  • Viewing angle (where to position the riser)
  • Shape of the riser
  • How to cover the riser
  • Steps or no steps

DIY Home Theater Riser

Header image for home theater riser post

Riser Height

Most theater risers are only 12″ tall. This allows plenty of elevation to be able to have full view of the bottom of the screen.

Since our sectional had not yet come when I built our riser platform, I was taking a gamble with the height of the first row. I ended up going with the same measurements as my parents built-in risers for their home theater seating.

They have theirs elevated to 9″ tall and that’s how I built mine. We have never had an issue in my parent’s home cinema, so I assumed it would work for ours too. And it does! It’s the perfect height!

The people in the back row can see over the people in the front row with no issues at all.

If you have high ceilings, you can definitely get away with taller risers.

And of course if you have multiple rows of seating, you’ll need to build the third row to accommodate for the second row of seats.

Let’s get to the build…

(Instructions are based on the following dimensions of the riser I built: 90″ long x 48″ wide; 9″ tall. If building a different size, be sure to adjust measurements accordingly). 

Materials Needed for Home Theater Riser:

(Amazon Affiliate Links Included)

(Lumber amounts needed are dependent on individual project)

Tools Needed for Home Theater Riser:

(Amazon Affiliate Links Included) 

Note: If you don’t have access to a table saw or circular saw, Home Depot will cut your plywood for you. Just have your measurements ready when you go pick up your wood. For quick reference, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 plywood sheet (3/4″) 90″x48″
  • 2 plywood sheets (3/4″) 90″x9″ each
  • 2 plywood sheets (3/4″) 49 1/2″x9″ each

This project requires a Kreg Jig. Here is a great tutorial on how to use a Kreg Jig. It is an awesome tool that I use for almost every building project.

Step One: Build the base

The very first step is to determine the length and width you need your riser to be. These plans are based off of my measurements. Be sure to make adjustments, if your measurements are different.

Cut two 2×4’s at 90″ each

Cut four 2×4’s at 41″ each

Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes into each end of the 41″ boards, using a Kreg Jig.

Attach two of the 41″ boards (as shown below) to the 90″ boards, using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws. You will now have a rectangle….

Square made with 2x4's

Here’s a closer look at one of the ends…

2x4's jigged together for a home theater riser

Attach your remaining two 41″ boards to the 90″ boards. You’ll want to space them out (as shown below). This does not need to be exact. I spaced mine about 20″ from both ends.

My goal here was to make sure I had a solid foundation for where the legs of the couch will sit. Attach using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws.

2x4's jigged together to form a rectangle with stretchers in between

Step Two: Add the vertical risers

For the next step, you will have determined how tall you want your platform to be.

For my platform dimensions, I cut my vertical risers as follows:

Cut (20)  2×4’s at 5 1/4″ each

When determining what length to cut these vertical risers, you’ll want to consider: the base 2×4’s; the top 2×4’s and the thickness of the plywood.

For example:

  • My home theater riser sits 9″ tall. The base 2×4’s are 1 1/2″ thick plus the top 2×4’s are 1 1/2″ thick this equals 3″ total.
  • Now we need to account for the thickness of the plywood (3/4″). Giving us a grand total of 3 3/4″.
  • If we want our riser platform to be 9″ tall, we need to subtract 3 3/4″ from 9″ to determine the length of our vertical risers.
  • Making our vertical risers 5 1/4″ long.

Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes into one end of the 20 vertical risers.

You’ll then attach them using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws. Refer to the picture below for the placement of each board…

2x4's jigged together with risers added for a home theater riser platform

At this point you’ve used 12 of the 20 vertical risers. Attach the remaining 8 vertical risers. Refer to the picture below for the placement of each board…

rectangle made of 2x4's with vertical risers added

Step Three: Add the top supports

As you can see from the picture above, I moved my project to the place where it was going to sit. I knew maneuvering it through the house was going to get very difficult as I added more boards.

So, I moved it to its new home before moving to the next step. It’s actually a good idea to build the entire project in the room where it’s going to end up. This would have made things easier from the get-go.

Now we’re ready for the upper level.

Cut two 2×4’s at 90″ each.

And attach to the risers sitting on the other 90″ boards. Refer to the picture below for further clarification. Attach using 2 1/2″ wood screws…

Rectangle frame for a home theater riser platform

Cut four 2×4’s at 41″ each.

Attach these four top supports directly above the other four 41″ boards; as shown in the picture below. Once again, attach using 2 1/2″ wood screws.

Here’s a picture with two of these boards attached…

Frame built for a platform

And here it is with all four boards attached…

Home theater riser platform frame made of 2x4's

Just for extra support, I decided to add one more support section in the middle. If you choose to do this, you’ll need to make the following cuts:

  • Two 2×4’s at 41″ each
  • Three 2×4’s at 5 1/4″ each
  • Drill pocket holes in one end of each of the 5 1/4″ 2×4’s
  • Drill pocket holes in both ends of one of the 41″ 2×4’s

Following the same method as we did for the other supports, you’ll first….

  • find the middle of the platform frame.
  • Attach the 41″ 2×4 to the 90″  2×4’s, using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws.
  • Attach the three 5 1/4″ vertical risers, using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws.
  • Refer to the picture below for placement.
  • Attach your remaining 41″ 2×4 on top of the vertical risers, using 2 1/2″ wood screws.

You should now have a base that looks like this…

frame for a platform made of 2x4's

Step Four: Add the plywood

Cut the plywood to fit. Using a circular saw or table saw, cut the plywood to fully cover the base of the project. Attach using 1 1/2″ wood screws.

Platform frame with plywood added to top

Note: If you do not have access to a circular saw or table saw, Home Depot can make your cuts for you. Materials and cut list is detailed above in the Materials Needed section.

Now you’re ready for the sides. Cut the sides of the platform to fit. Attach using 1 1/2″ wood screws.

DIY home theater riser platform constructed with frame and wrapped with plywood

Step Five: Add the carpet

How do you want to cover your home theater riser? My recommendation is to cover it with carpet.

This will help with the acoustics in the room. Sound bounces off of hard surfaces and can create an echo. Whereas, a soft surface like carpet, absorbs the sound. This makes for a much better movie theater experience.

My parents had some carpet leftover from a recent remodel and offered it up for this project.

While it’s a different color from the rest of the carpet in this room, it’s pretty darn close to the same. And with the lighting in this room being dark most of the time, it’s really not noticeable at all.

And the best part–it was free!! So, I went with it and love it!

This was actually pretty simple to do. I failed to take pictures of the process. (Huge blogger-fail) But basically, I cut the top and long sides to fit the platform (all one piece). I then used my nail gun to attach the carpet to the platform.

I am not a carpet-layer one bit and will not claim to be. But this actually made this part of the project very easy and no one would ever know that I nailed it into the plywood.

Once the top and long sides were attached, I cut the shorter sides to fit and attached them the same way. I tucked the carpet together as much as I could, so as to make the seams less noticeable.

Overall, I think it turned out very well! After finishing this project, we had family over and they were so impressed that I laid this carpet by myself. It ALMOST looks like it was professionally done….

Platform covered with carpet

At this point we waited patiently for our new sectional to fill all of that empty space. When it finally arrived (6 months after we purchased it 🙁 ), it was perfect!

I was a little nervous that it was going to be lighter than what I was anticipating. But while it is light, I love it! With the darker sofa on the riser platform, it’s a great contrast between the two.

Theater room with a large sectional and dark sofa on a home theater riser

I’m so happy I went with a basic design for this riser. You could, of course, get very fancy by building a higher riser and adding steps. This was something I did consider, but in the end, I decided to keep it simple. I love it!

There is one thing I would change if I could. I would extend the platform all the way to the back wall.

Eventually, I would like to add a bar top behind the back sofa. I want the bar top to sit flush with the top of the sofa and face the TV.

Therefore, I will need to extend the platform before I add this feature. It would have made more sense and less work for myself to have just done it all at once. Poor planning on my part.

But other than that one mishap, I couldn’t be happier with how this all came together. The home theater riser fits our couch perfectly.

Here are the dimensions of our sofa, in case it helps in planning your platform build: 36″ deep; 86″ long.

Because our sofa does recline, I was sure to leave plenty of room between the back of the front sofa and the recliners on the back sofa fully extended. I also allowed for walking space between when fully reclined.

Light colored sectional sofa in a DIY home theater room

This was a very easy DIY. Much less expensive than accruing the additional cost of hiring it out. If you’re looking to add extra seating in your theater room, you’ll love this riser platform. It’s the perfect size and height for any standard sofa.

Home Theater Riser FAQ’s

How close should my seating be to my theater screen?

This is really dependent on the size of the screen and the space available in the room. According to the Theater Seat Store, “The optimal viewing distance for your home theater screen depends on its size.

Professionals often recommend sitting at a distance of 1.5 to 2.5 times the diagonal screen measurement.”

Can I build a home theater riser without any prior construction experience?

Yes! Constructed fully with 2×4’s, this is a very easy, basic build. A great project for a beginner!

What are the benefits of having a home theater riser in my entertainment room?

A theater riser Is perfect for a theater room that has layered seating. It enables the people in the back “row” to be able to see the screen without any obstructions.

What are the standard dimensions for a home theater riser?

The dimensions of the home theater riser is dependent upon the size of the seating being placed on it.

Do I need to secure the riser to the floor or wall for stability?

No. There is no need to secure the home theater riser to the floor or the wall. This thing is solid and is not going anywhere. Especially once you add furniture on top of it.

Are there any specific seating recommendations for a comfortable home theater experience?

First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure that everyone has an optimal view of the screen. When considering the type of theater furniture, recliners are the most ideal and most popular.

What is the best screen size for a home theater room?

A true theater room will have a screen size 120″ or larger. This will also affect where you place your seating, as it is not ideal to strain your neck to look up at the screen.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Drop your questions and comments below. I promise to get back to you soon.

Check out more of my Home Theater Room Series…Here’s the link!

Let’s go beyond the design to build something beautiful together!

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