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How to wall-mount your flat-panel TV
A step-by-step DIY guide
In this guide, you'll find in-depth info on how to mount your TV on a wall. For a basic overview of the steps involved, you can watch our video on wall-mounting a flat-panel TV. For tips on concealing your TV's power and audio/video cables, check out our articles about managing home A/V cables and installing in-wall wire. If you decide you're not comfortable doing it yourself, look for a certified professional installer in your area.
Easy-to-install cable management raceways hide the cables that run between your TV and an A/V cabinet below.
- Before you get started make sure that you understand local building and fire codes. If you're routing cables inside your walls, use models that are rated for in-wall installations.
- Don't route your TV's power cable through your wall — it's not rated for safe in-wall installation. If you want to keep that cable hidden, you'll need to hire an electrician to install a recessed AC outlet on the wall behind your TV.
- Make sure the area behind your wall is clear before cutting (using the techniques discussed in our in-wall wiring guide).
- If you drill through a fire block, patch it with comparable material. If you drill holes between floors, seal them with fire-resistant caulk per National Electric Code standards.
- Turn off the power in areas you'll be drilling or cutting to avoid electric shock.
- Before you connect your A/V cables to your TV, make sure both your TV and the source components are unplugged.
- Check your TV's owner's manual for mounting guidelines. Most TVs are compatible with brackets that follow VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association) standards. You'll see the word "VESA" followed by a number, which tells you how far apart the holes on the bracket or TV are in millimeters. For example, VESA 75 means that there are 4 holes in a square, and each side of the square is 75mm long. VESA 100/200 means that the holes are in a rectangle, with two sides measuring 100mm and two sides measuring 200mm. You should be able to find that information in the owner's manual, or you can measure the holes yourself to determine which VESA standard fits your TV. Many mounting brackets are compatible with more than one VESA standard, so finding one to fit your TV won't be difficult.
- Always check the screen sizes that the bracket says it can hold, and stay within the appropriate range. You should also to check the maximum weight a bracket can hold and make sure that it can support your TV.
- Think about what you want your bracket to be able to do. Do you want to be able to swivel the TV left and right to avoid glare, or get a better view from different seats? Do you want to be able to nudge your TV up and down in case you don't get the bracket exactly where you want it the first time? There are lots of options out there, so keep such conveniences in mind.
Where to mount your TV
Ideally, the middle of your TV screen needs to be at about eye level while you're seated. You'll want to be comfortable while watching TV, and mounting it too high can result in neck strain. Plus, you'll probably see the best-looking picture when you view your TV head-on, rather than at an angle. If you opt for a higher placement, consider using a tilting wall mount to angle the TV down.
Sit in your favorite TV-watching spot and look at the place on the wall where you plan to mount your TV. Is there light reflecting off that area? If so, is it something fixable (by closing the curtains, or by moving a lamp)? Screen glare can be distracting, and detract from an otherwise beautiful picture, so be aware of potential sources of glare. A tilting or swiveling mount can also help you cut down on glare, by allowing you to angle the TV's screen away from the light source.
See our article on TV placement for more tips on placing your TV for optimum viewing.
Where you're going to run the wires
There are a number of ways to conceal your power and A/V cables — from quick and simple cover-ups to more labor-intensive in-wall options. It's a good idea to figure out how you'd like to manage your wires before deciding where to mount your TV, since some spots may be more conducive to your preferred method than others.
- If you'd like to run your wires on the outside of your wall, you can use paintable cable management raceways to hide your TV's A/V and power cables.
- If you need to run cables further than just straight down to your A/V cabinet, check out our article on managing your A/V cables for some simple options, like running wire behind your baseboard or crown molding. By running your cables in places that won't require drywall repair, you'll save yourself lots of time and effort.
If you want a really clean, professional look, and you feel comfortable with the tasks described at the beginning of this guide, running wires inside your wall may be the option for you. There are some important things to consider before going that route:
- Try to avoid mounting your TV on an exterior wall, since these walls have extra bracing and insulation that can make running wire difficult.
- Follow your local building and fire codes. In many cases, this means you'll need to get UL-rated A/V cable labeled CL2 or CL3.
- See our comprehensive guide to in-wall wiring for more info.
After planning where you're going to route your wire, calculate how much you'll need. Remember that it's better to have a bit too much than too little. Allow ample lengths to run cable:
- From the receiver to the wall
- Inside the wall to the TV location
- From the wall to the TV, with some slack
Attaching the TV portion of the bracket
Wall mounts are generally composed of two pieces — one that you'll attach to the TV, and another that you'll mount to the wall. The portion on the TV then attaches to the piece on the wall, and voilà, you've got a wall-mounted TV. Your first step will be to attach the TV portion of the mount to the back of your TV.
- Most flat-panel TVs don't have their mounting holes exposed — they'll be covered by a plastic cap. Just use a screwdriver to pry them off.
Like most flat-panel TVs, the one pictured above has four plastic caps over the holes used for wall-mounting. You can use a screwdriver to pry them off.
- If you place the TV face down on the glass to attach the bracket, lay it on a soft blanket, and keep it well out of the way of foot traffic.
- The TV portion of the bracket often comes in two pieces. Make sure that you line up the screw holes on each side, so that the mount is level.
- If you're using a tilting or swiveling mount, make sure the screws attaching the mount to the TV won't impede the mount's movement. If they do, don't worry — wall mounts typically have multiple sets of screw holes to choose from, and you can simply use another set.
Measuring for your TV
Follow the steps below to figure out how high to mount your bracket on the wall. Or, better yet, use our height finder application. Also check the owner's manual for additional tips.
- Start by attaching the wall portion of the bracket to the TV portion of the bracket already on your TV.
- Next, measure the distance from the bottom of the panel to the bottom of the wall portion of the bracket. Since the bottom edge of the TV probably isn't on the same plane as the bracket, you can use a level to ensure you get an accurate measurement.
- Measure the height of your panel, and use a pencil or masking tape to mark this measurement on your wall. Make sure the middle of the TV screen will be at around seated eye level, and that the screen will cover up any power or A/V outlets you're planning to install behind your set. It might take a couple of tries to figure out exactly where you want your TV screen.
- Once you've figured out where the bottom of your screen should be, use your previous measurement to determine where the bottom of the bracket should be. Mark that spot.
To figure out how high to mount the bracket: (1) Measure the distance from the bottom of the wall bracket (A) to the bottom of the panel (B). (2) Make a mark on the wall where you want the bottom of the TV to be. (3) Using your measurement from (1), mark the wall where the bottom of the bracket should be.
Attaching the wall portion of the bracket
- To safely and securely mount your TV to the wall, you'll need to drill the bracket into wooden studs. After you've chosen your ideal TV mount location, use a stud finder to locate nearby studs.Mark each stud with a pencil or masking tape.
- Verify that the mounting holes in the bracket line up with the center of the studs.
- Always use a level to verify that the bracket is level before securing it to the wall. Follow the mounting directions in the owner's manual. Have your helper keep it stable while you screw it into the wall to make sure it stays level. After securing the bracket to the wall, check the level again. It's much easier to make changes now than after the TV's on the wall.
- Note: Brick, solid concrete, and concrete block mounting — Not all brackets are mountable on concrete or brick, and only some will include the appropriate hardware. You may need to order additional materials from the manufacturer or purchase some supplies from your local hardware store, such as concrete wall anchors. Be sure to follow the instructions in the owner's manual.
Routing cables for your TV
Below, we'll cover some basic things to keep in mind when running the power and A/V cables for your TV. You can find complete details on concealing wire outside your walls and routing wire inside your walls in our wiring guides.
- If you route your cables along the outside of your wall, you'll want to keep the power and A/V cables separate to avoid interference. Don't bundle them together, and try to keep a couple of inches of distance between them throughout the run. Some cable management raceways include two separate wiring channels for this purpose.
If you're going to run the A/V cables inside the wall:
- Shut off the power to the area you're working in.
- You'll need to cut holes for the A/V cables to enter and exit the wall. Use your stud finder to check for obstacles behind the wall. Then drill a pilot hole. This is a small exploratory hole, drilled in the center of the space. Use caution when drilling pilot holes, so you don't plunge your bit into a pipe or electrical conduit. Next, insert a sturdy wire (such as a bent coat hanger) into the pilot hole, and explore the space behind the wall where you'd like to cut. You should also explore nearby crawlspaces or review your electrical and plumbing plans (available from your builder) to make sure you know what's behind the drywall before you cut. Don't cut unless you know that the area behind the wall is clear.
- When cutting drywall, use a hand-held drywall saw (not an electric one) and cut slowly. Cut the drywall in one piece, on an inward slant, so that it's easier to patch later if necessary.
Use a sturdy wire (such as a bent coat hanger) to explore your pilot holes. Be sure that the space behind the wall is clear before cutting.
Many brackets have pre-existing holes for A/V cables. Trace the one that's closest to the A/V connectors on your TV. Drill a pilot hole, and explore the space behind the wall where you'd like to cut. Once you know that area is clear, cut the hole in one piece using a drywall saw.
Hanging the TV on the wall
- Do not attempt to do this part on your own. Ask a helper to assist you in lifting the TV and securing it to the bracket..
- If your bracket allows for tilting or swiveling, make those adjustments.
- Finally, connect the A/V and power cables to your TV.
When you attach the bracket on the back of the TV to the bracket on the wall, have your helper assist you in lifting the TV, lining up the bracket, and keeping it steady. If you have an adjustable bracket, use a level to position the screen.