Hands down, the biggest question after purchasing a new flat screen TV is where to hang it. It’s not surprising. Hanging a flat screen TV wall mount can be quite an intimidating task. A plasma or LCD TV can weigh a lot so it’s important to hang it correctly. A loose TV mount can pose a safety hazard and of course no one wants to damage their new investment with an improper hanging job.
Selecting Your Mount
It used to be the best idea to purchase a mount for your TV that is from the same manufacturer as the TV. However those mounts can be expensive. Fortunately, today there are many aftermarket mounts that are both safe and budget friendly.
Always make sure you check the weight limit on whatever type of mount you end up buying. Flat screen TVs can vary widely in weight. In general LCD TVs weigh less than plasma TVs of the same size but no large screen TV is light. You can expect a 42 inch plasma TV to weigh more than 80 pounds while the same sized LCD TV will weigh 45 to 60 pounds.
Mounts are available in a number of different configurations so be sure to choose the appropriate style for you. There are three basic styles of mounts.
- If you just need to mount your TV in a fixed position, a flush TV wall mount could be just what you need. A flush mount or a low profile TV mount is also a more economical and sturdy choice.
- A tilting TV mount will do the trick for most people. These are mostly stationary but can tilt up or down to avoid glare and to make viewing more comfortable. This is the perfect option if you are mounting your TV above a fireplace.
- If you need maximum control, consider a full motion TV wall mount. This is the right choice for you if you need to swivel your TV from side to side or if you need to pull your TV away from the wall. Some high-end models can even be controlled by remote control. Keep in mind however that an articulating TV wall mount will put a lot of pressure on its supports, so proper installation is critical especially if you have a large plasma TV.
With a little thought, finding the best TV wall mount for you is easy.
Where to Place Your TV
Most times it’s very obvious where your TV should be placed in your room. Sometimes you are dictated by the cable or electrical outlets or sometimes your furniture can only be arranged in a certain way. A central location will always be the most desirable but it’s not always possible.
It’s also important to take into account other factors. Look around for possible sources of glare. Will your TV catch glare from a window or light? Usually the higher the TV is mounted, the more likely glare issues are to arise. If your mount can tilt this problem can usually be alleviated but if you’ve purchased a stationary TV mount you will want to consider this carefully. Also take into consideration whether you will want to view the TV from an adjacent area like the kitchen or dining room.
Keep in mind that the best position for viewing is at eye level while seated, which is usually much lower than most people think. Try hanging a piece of cardboard or newspaper on the wall where you want to hang your TV. Sit on the couch and look at it for a few minutes to determine if it’s at a comfortable height. If you like to watch TV while lying down, be sure to lie down and evaluate that position as well. Tilting your head even slightly for extended periods of TV viewing can cause neck strain over time.
No matter where you are placing your wall mount TV, you will want to consider where your cables are going to go. Many TV stands come with integrated wire management systems. But mounting your TV on the wall will pose a few challenges. An average TV will require at least one power cable, plus video and audio out cables. You will also need a component tower or TV stand located nearby in which to place your receiver, DVD player or gaming consoles. While the answer to the question “can I run power here” is almost always “yes”, the way to accomplish that will vary widely in complexity and cost.
A hidden wire installation is the most preferable solution but it can also be quite expensive. If you want to go this route, it’s best to hire a professional unless you are very comfortable with all the tasks necessary for installation (drywall, painting, electrical etc). Keep in mind that it can also be difficult to install wiring on an exterior wall due to the extra insulation and bracing. Try to locate your TV on an inside wall whenever possible.
It’s also good to note that power cables are not designed or rated for in-wall use. If you plan to install your electrical cable inside the wall, it’s best to hire a licensed professional. Get him/her to install a recessed AC receptacle in the wall in a location that will be covered by your TV by not obscured by your mount. You also might want to consider installing an in-wall power protection unit at the same time to offer built-in surge protection for your electronics. If you don’t want to hire a professional, consider routing the A/V cable through the wall and use a wire raceway on the outside of the wall for the power cord.
Always keep your power and your A/V cords separate wherever possible. Avoid bundling them together and try to keep a few inches distance between them wherever possible. If you are installing your cables inside the wall, make sure your A/V cables are rated CL2 or CL3 for fire safety.
Wire management poses a bigger challenge if you are mounting your flat screen TV mount over a fireplace. It might be possible to recess them if you have a modern fireplace with a drywall surround (you will want to check to make sure there is adequate insulation first). A brick or stone fireplace will most likely prevent the installation of hidden wires. In that case, you will have to use decorative exposed conduit or another wire management system to disguise them.
If a recessed cable installation is not feasible for you, not to worry! There are many other options on the market. A cable raceway is one such possibility. Some types of raceways are even paintable to help them blend into your wall or baseboards. This is a great solution for TVs that are mounted above a TV Stand or a TV cabinet. Wire tacks are a great solution for handling speaker wire but they are not suitable for larger cables.
There are also a number of other ways to disguise cable. Consider hiding your cables behind your baseboards, door or crown moldings or even the carpet. Any method that doesn’t require opening up the wall will be somewhat economical. With a little effort and ingenuity, your guests will be admiring your new TV and not looking at the cabling behind it.
If you have a full motion TV mount, it’s a good idea to anchor the cables to the mount’s arm to prevent any blockages or tangles. Some models will have integrated cable channels or other wire management systems and some will not. If your mount doesn’t have a system built in, a cost-effective way to achieve this is to use zip ties or electrical tape to secure any cords or cables out of the way. Wrap the cables around the arm of the mount to keep the cabling out of sight.
TV Wall Mount Installation
It’s also important to investigate what you are anchoring the TV to. If your wall is sheetrock, regular hollow-wall anchors will simply not do the job. You must make sure that you are attaching your TV mount to a stud or to a concrete wall. If your TV is under 80 pounds or 40 inches you can attach your mount to a single stud. But if your TV is larger or heavier, it’s important to attach it to two studs for the extra support. Most TV mounts will let you adjust the center of the TV mount slightly but you will be somewhat limited by the structure of your house. Sometimes this will mean that your TV is not perfectly centered on the wall.
To safely attach your TV wall mount bracket, you’ll need to drill the bracket into the wood studs. Use a stud finder to find the stud and mark off the centers where you want to hang your TV. Be sure that you are mounting to the center of the stud for maximum support. A high quality stud finder will tell you where the centers are. If your stud finder can’t locate them, you’ll need to find them manually.
(Note: This applies to wood studs only. Most metal studs do not provide enough support for a flat tv wall mount.)
Use the wall bracket as a template to mark the position of your holes. Usually a mount will require some heavy-duty lag screws or bolts that will require a socket wrench to install.
TV mounts are usually made up of two parts. One piece attaches to the wall and one attaches to the TV. Usually the two will snap or slot together. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results. Make sure to double check that your mount is level before completely securing it to the wall. It’s better to check now than after your TV is hung!
Once your mount is installed, turn your attention to the TV itself. Place your TV face down on a towel or other soft surface to prevent damages. Make sure to remove the TV stand before you mount it. Usually these are held in place by four screws in the back. Most flat panel TVs don’t have exposed mounting holes. You will have to pry off a plastic cap to reveal them. If you have purchased a mount specifically made for your TV, then installation should be straightforward. An aftermarket plasma TV wall mount or LCD TV wall mount will usually include a number of bolts and washers. It will take a little trial and error to figure out which are the right ones for you.
If you are mounting into brick, solid concrete or concrete block you will probably need to order additional parts from the manufacturer or purchase some extra supplies from your hardware store (like concrete wall anchors). Always be sure to follow the instructions in the owner’s manual.
Now that your mount is attached to the wall, it’s a great idea to get a second person to help you mount your TV to the wall. It can be a tricky thing to do and can pose a safety hazard. If your TV is very large, three people might be an even better idea. Check again to ensure that everything is securely attached. Give your TV mount a few gentle tugs to see if it’s secure. Then stand back and admire your handiwork.
Installing a wall mount for your TV can definitely pose a few challenges. But with a little knowledge and planning, hanging your flat screen TV can be a straightforward process. You’ll be sitting back and watching your TV in comfort in no time at all.