Wall-mounted flat screen TVs has become the bread and butter of home design. As such, knowing how to mount a flat screen TV on a wall has become a very valuable skill to have, especially in the realm of home improvement.
Not only does it offer a more refined, minimalist aesthetic, it’s also a tremendous space-saver, clearing up floor clutter caused by wires, storage and other accessories.
While there are many different mounting methods for a flat screen TV depending on location, this article will cover the basics on how to work with a traditional drywall surface using wood studs. (We have a separate article on how to mount a TV to a fireplace.)
Wood stud mounting can be the easiest and most reliable surface on which to mount the flat panel. For instance, an 84″ 335 lb. flat panel TV could safely be mounted on wood studs—if precautionary measures are taken.
Additionally, regarding the advice given here, it is always advised to consult the mount manufacturer’s instructions on how to install that specific TV mount with the flat screen you have selected before trying to affix it to the wall.
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That being said, this guide will help better understand how to mount a TV on the wall. You can use the navigation below to jump to any step in the guide.
- Find the Studs
- Mark the Pilot Holes
- Affix the TV Mount to the Wall
- Attach the Mounting Plate to the TV
- Attach TV Mounting Plate to Wall Mount
Finding the Right Position
Before you do anything, you need to know where the TV is going to be mounted. That includes knowing the layout of the room, where the intended audience will be seated, what the ideal height is going to be, how far away you will want the TV positioned, and, perhaps most importantly, what available wall space there is for the TV.
This is important, as even if you plan on using a full motion wall mount, options for positioning adjustments post-installation will be fairly limited. Many will say the optimal wall height for mounting the TV is to have it so the display centered at eye level when seated. This can be noted by having a helper sit in the intended seating area and using either a tape measure or laser pointer to mark the center at eye-level on the wall.
Other elements you will want to consider include:
- Access to power: The closer it is to an outlet, the easier it will be to run the cable. Of course, running cable through the wall is also an option.
- Storage for media components: consider how cable boxes, gaming consoles and other media devices will be stored in relation to the TV. Many TV mounts come with accessories or additional storage that assist in concealing or holding these items.
- Be sure the wall can support the weight.
- For swivel, tilt, swing arm or articulating mounts: make sure the TV bezel is going to clear obstructions like cabinet doors once mounted.
- Lighting: Ensure the TV is not going to be in direct sunlight for extended periods of time.
For other helpful tips on positioning, you can also check out our guide for the finding the best height and viewing angle for your TV.
Selecting the Perfect TV Mount
Once you have the location and the TV selected, the next step is to select the right mount for the job. There are a variety of different wall (or ceiling) mounts for flat screen TVs, and just about every other type of TV under the sun, so determining what’s the most appropriate may take some time.
Baseline, you want to ensure that the mount you are using can accommodate both the size and weight of the TV you have selected. We cover how to figure this out, in addition to what else you should be looking for in a TV mount in our TV mount buying guide.
Also, as a reminder, you should NEVER make alterations to a TV mount when installing. Not only does this void the warranty, but it could compromise the integrity of the mount and thereby put the entire installation in jeopardy.
How Do I Hide the Cables from the TV?
There are multiple methods for hiding the cables and wires that inevitably spill out from a wall-mounted TV. The simplest way is to purchase a cable cover kit that hides the cables in a plastic tube attached to the wall.
If even this ends up being unsightly, or not a viable option, there is also the option of running wire through the wall. Cable access plates offer a convenient way of doing this, however, for more complex situations, we also have a guide on how to run wires through walls.
How to Mount a Flat Screen TV on a Wall
1. Find the Studs
When mounting a flat screen TV to the wall, you’re always going to want to affix the mount to studs for stability. Once you’ve figured out the perfect location, it’s time to find the studs. The best and most reliable method is to use a stud finder tool to do so.
Best practices dictate using two studs to mount a flat screen TV to the wall. Though some mounts claim to require only a single stud to mount, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If, however, you have the fortune to be planning this installation during the construction of a home, you can have the carpenter double up the studs where you plan on mounting the TV, making a “single-stud” installation that much safer.
With all that said, once you’ve located two studs to support the TV mount, mark the location of each stud’s center with a pencil. Then, use a nail to confirm a stud has been located.
Take note that metal studs are not conducive to mounting flat-screen TVs because they are much weaker than wood studs, with the ability to hold about one-third the weight of their wood counterparts. There is consistent banter on the DIY Web sites from consumers bragging about how they mounted 50-inch TVs on single metal studs with “special screws” and “haven’t had any problems yet.”
The operative word there is “yet.” Don’t risk your investment by mounting a heavy flat screen on metal studs. The recommended solution is to install a plywood backer on the wall behind the screen on the drywall to distribute the weight.
This technique also works to help reinforce recessed flat screen TV wall mounts.
2. Mark Your Pilot Holes
Follow this up by measuring the distance between the top and bottom holes on the TV mount and marking two points in the center of each wall stud. Using a level, double-check to ensure everything is appropriately spaced and level. This will provide the template that you will use to install the wall mount and later the flat screen TV.
3. Affix the TV Mount to the Wall
Following the marking of your pilot holes, you want to hold the TV mount brackets against the wall. Use a level during this process to ensure it’s even. Then drill the pilot holes.
After that, while still holding the mount to the wall, use the pilot holes to drive the screws in, attaching the mount to the wall. After you’ve finished, check the mount last time to ensure it’s level.
4. Attach the Mounting Plate to the TV
Each TV mount will come with different instructions on how to attach it to your chosen TV. For instance, affixing a mounting plate for a fixed TV mount will be far less complex compared to a fully articulated TV wall mount. Check the manufacturer instructions on how to attach the mounting plate to your flat screen TV.
5. Attach the TV Mounting Plate onto the Wall Mount
Get some help for this stage. Flat screen TVs may be far lighter than their earlier ancestors, but that doesn’t mean they’re not still heavy, especially when you’re trying to mount them on a wall. They’re also fragile, so any mishap may result in buying a new TV. Consult the manufacturer’s guide for this step as well, as how each mounting plate affixes to the wall mount varies from product to product.
Once finished, double-check to make sure that the connection between the wall mount and the flat screen TV is secure.
Want to make sure you didn’t miss anything else when it comes to mounting your TV? Or perhaps you’re looking for some more specialized info? Be sure to check out our TV Mount Master Guide if you haven’t already for more.
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