Building your own HOME THEATER space can be one of the most exciting and rewarding home improvement projects you ever undertake. We have compiled some FACTORS to take into consideration when planning your space and deciding how many home theater seats you need. This will ensure that you get the most out of your home theater space.  Not only is it worth considering the spacing between seating rows but also the home theater seating distance to the screen and from the walls.  So, let’s get right down to it and answer the question we receive every day:  What is the best home theater seating distance from the screen and between rows?

Audience Size

The first thing to consider is how many people you want to fit in your home theater. Do you prefer small intimate screenings, or a large roomful of people? Either way, the answer to this question will be largely determined by the size of your home theater area.

white house home theater room

Select a room that is large enough to fit your crowd comfortably, or if you are working with a large empty space like an unfinished basement, allocate enough square footage to fit the number of seats that you need.

Don’t forget to include space for things like your home theater equipment and optional pieces of furniture like a concession stand, bar or tables.

Home Theater Seating Distance From Screen

Screen size is also going to be a factor in your design. According to the Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers, or SMPTE, each theater seat should have a view of the entire screen that is within a 30-degree field of view. It is important to determine the maximum and minimum distances. Viewers sitting too close may experience discomfort and eyestrain, while seats set too far away lose the benefits of HD and widescreen resolution.

NOTE: The following suggestions are designed to give you a basic idea of dimensions. If you want more precise measurements, we recommend that you reference the Microsoft Excel-based calculator by Carlton Bale.

The easiest way to determine MINIMUM AND MAXIMUM distances from the screen, follow this simple formula: Take the horizontal length of your screen ( NOT the diagonal length). Multiply the length by 2 to get the minimum distance, and multiply by 5 to get the maximum distance.

For example if your Screen is 70 inches across: Your first row of seats needs to be at least 140 inches, or 11 feet, 8 inches away from the screen.

Your last row of seats needs to be no further than 350 inches, or 29 feet, 2 inches away from the screen.

home theater design and theater seating arrangement

Other factors like the lighting in the room, brightness of the screen and HD technology will also affect the home theater seating distance. For best results, be sure to test the view of each seat, especially if you plan to attach them to the floor.

Number of Seats Per Row

The next step is to determine the number of theater recliners you can fit in each row. You will want to be sure that you leave enough space for people to get past. We recommend that you leave at least 20 inches of space on either side of the row.

Home theater seats are measured from “center-to-center”, meaning from the center of one armrest to the center of the other. Multiply that amount by the number of chairs you desire to see if they fit.

Here is a simple formula to help you:

white home theater seating with lights

If your home theater seats are 22 inches wide apiece.

And your Home theater space is 11 feet (132 inches) wide.

1. Subtract 40 inches from the room space (132 – 40 = 92 inches). This gives us enough space on either side of the row.

2. Divide this new number by the home theater chair width to get the number of seats (92 divided by 22 = 4.18, or 4 theater seats)

seat width in home theater

3. You will also need to factor in the width of one armrest to the theater seat row. A good standard size is about 8 inches, or check your seat’s manual for the right width.arm width

Home Theater Seating Distance Between Rows

Other factors like the lighting in the room, brightness of the screen and HD technology will also affect these distances. For best results, be sure to test the view of each seat, especially if you plan to attach them to the floor.

1. Determine the total length of each theater seat.

2. Add 20 inches between each seat for the row space.

distance between rows of seating in home theater room

3. If your seats recline, determine the recline length of each set to make sure they do not overlap.

distance between seating in home theater when chairs are fully reclined

4. If they do not overlap, increase the row space slightly until they no longer touch

distance between rows of chairs in media room or home theater

NOTE: If you need more room, you can decrease the space between rows. Just make sure that you do not make it less than 14 inches. This is the minimum space for comfortable Carlton Bale.


If you have more than one row of theater seats, you may want to place risers under the back rows. This gives every viewer a clear view of the screen and makes your home entertainment space more like a commercial theater.

Risers are low platforms built under your home theater seats to raise them higher than the row in front. A good basic height for risers is 12 inches (1 foot) per row, or if you need more precise measurements, Carlton Bale’s aforementioned calculator has a section to help you determine this height.

riser for home theater seating second row