A new class of accessories was born when plasma screen TVs hit the scene in the late ‘90s and turned sci-fi dreams of wall hanging TVs into reality. As flat screen TVs became progressively thinner, lighter, cheaper and nudged (okay, pushed) bulky CRTs into extinction, a new method to install a TV hit the mainstream, and with it, a new, hot accessory: the TV wall mount. As a result, finding the right TV mount can sometimes be a daunting task.
Simple wall mounts once the standard are now joined by models that tilt, swivel, rotate, pull out from the wall and hang from the ceiling. Creative genius gave way to elaborate systems that would make James Bond proud. A TV that pops up from a dresser at the touch of a button? No problem. A mirror that becomes a video screen? Done.
Of course, once you figure out where you want to place your TV, what the layout of the room is and where the viewers will be seated, finding the appropriate mount becomes a little less daunting (especially if you go by our list of recommended TV mounts based off this year’s CE Pro Brand Analysis). There’s a wide variety of wall mounts, lifts and concealment mechanisms are available from a few dozen companies, providing solutions for just about any situation you (or your client) can imagine.
Here, we look out how to figure out which TV mount is the best for the job.
Finding the Proper Specifications for TV Mounts
Before we get into specific types of TV mounts, let’s take a quick look at features that are important to know when trying to find the best solution for the job.
Finding the UL Safety Rating
The first checklist item is to find the UL safety rating for the TV mount. Outside organizations that include UL have developed safety standards to help ensure the mechanical safety of televisions that are held on walls by TV mounts. The reason is that TV mounts that are not properly designed have the potential to cause harm to children and pets, and they can damage property.
Addressing these issues UL developed its UL 2442 standard. This is a Standard for Safety for Wall- and Ceiling-Mounts and Accessories, and if the standard is followed by manufacturers and the mount and TV are properly installed, the TV will hang safely in a wall-mount application.
To pass the UL 2442 testing procedures, UL summarizes the process by stating there is a certain amount of weight the mount must be able to support. The standard requires a mount must be tested to four times its weight rating if supporting a television that weighs less than 100 pounds or two times its rating if the television weighs more than 200 pounds. The mounts must also resist fractures and other anomalies to pass the testing.
Be sure to always double-check the UL-listing. For example, one manufacturer might say that its, while its double-stud mounts that are UL-listed at 150 to 200 pounds capacity, they can really hold 4x that weight. Yes, the Underwriters Laboratories-listed weight capacity is usually very conservative, but why risk it?
When getting ready to select the proper mount for the desired TV, also don’t forget that the weight of the mount must also be included in your calculations, not just the weight of the TV alone. If the mount you have selected for the job barely covers the total weight capacity of the TV, the odds are that it is insufficient to handle the total weight of the mount and the TV.
Finding the Mount’s VESA Rating
The next checklist item to examine is a mount’s ability to complement a television. The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) has developed a set of standards to facilitate the proper integration of a TV and mount. VESA points out the TV and the mount must both comply to the same VESA standard. What this means in simple terms is the bolt pattern on the TV’s rear panel lines up with the hole pattern on the mount.
This information can usually be found either in the TV manual, or online. It can also be found by measuring the horizontal and vertical distance between the four mounting holes on the back of the TV in millimeters, which then translate into the dimensions used for VESA pattern sizes.
Be on the lookout for cable management solutions as well. Many companies offer attachable accessories, including shelving for components or a camera and speaker brackets, and some provide mounting kits that include an in-wall wiring box and other accessories.
Some wall mounts even come with the option to laterally shift the position of the TV once installed you can find the absolute best positioning even after affixing the hardware to the wall.
Understanding the Different Types of TV Mounts
As mentioned earlier, there are many different types of TV mounts that can cover nearly every situation you might find yourself in. All you need to do is figure out the room layout, TV position and viewer position ahead of time. Once that’s squared away, finding the perfect TV mount comes down to knowing what each fixture can do. With that in mind, here’s all you need to know about the different types of TV mounts.
The fixed mount provides a simple solution for installations where a fixed viewing location is desired. Most hold the display an inch or two from the wall or you can opt for an ultra-slim model that hugs the wall with a gap of a half inch or less. While most fixed TV mounts require one or more studs for stability, Vanco offers a “stud-free” model that uses braces behind the wall to support flat-panel TVs weighing up to 150 pounds.
Moving a step up in functionality, the tilt mount is designed primarily for situations where the TV must be mounted high on the wall—above a fireplace, for instance—requiring the screen to be angled down for optimum viewing.
There are two basic varieties: Those providing continuous adjustment, typically between 0 and 15 degrees (some tilt slightly upward as well), and those with preset locking points. Tilt mounts also tend to hold the TV an inch or farther from the wall than fixed mounts.
Offering a unique twist, Chief sells a mount with a built-in compartment for concealing a media player; the tradeoff is a 4-inch gap between the wall and TV.
The articulating (or pivoting) mount is ideal for rooms with a large or off-center seating area where versatility is necessary to position the TV for optimum viewing. Although a huge assortment of models is available, “articulating” usually refers to a mount that has one or two support arms and multiple pivot points allowing it to pull out from the wall (and retract), tilt up and down, swivel, and pan left and right.
Most models are continuously adjustable, providing 90 or 180 degrees of horizontal movement and 5/15 degrees of (up/down) tilt action, though some offer a greater (or more restricted) range of motion.
Articulating mounts extend from 1 to 3 feet from the wall and retract to a “home position” 2 to 4 inches from the wall, depending on the type of mount and size of the TV. Variations include slim profile models that protrude less than 2 inches from the wall, models designed for corner placement and mounts that rotate the screen 90 degrees for a portrait orientation.
It’s important to read manufacturer’s descriptions for specific models to make sure you understand what they can and can’t do.
In-Wall TV Mounts
In-wall mounting is perfect for those who want an ultra-clean look where the TV really hugs the wall. Several companies offer backboxes that conceal mounting hardware when the TV is retracted; they sit between studs and can accommodate articulating mounts that extend 1 to 2 feet from the wall.
Going a step further, Premier Mounts makes a box with a built-in fan that enables the TV to be recessed so its screen is flush with the wall. Read on down to “Motorized Mounts” for more in-wall options.
It’s also worth noting that while recessed flat screens look great, creating a recessed niche often means the 2×4 wall studs are no longer behind the TV. In that case, additional support must be added to a recessed niche, usually in the form of a ¾-inch (minimum) sheet of plywood as a wall plate.
If wall mounting isn’t possible (or desired), several companies offer mounts that suspend the TV from the ceiling, usually on a straight or curved column. Most models provide one or more adjustments for height, tilt or swivel (many turn 360 degrees).
Simple, fixed models are also available for installations where a stationary screen is acceptable. Other variations include models designed for suspended ceilings and a truss mount from SnapAV for hanging the TV in an open area; instead of attaching directly to the ceiling, the post supporting the TV is secured to a horizontal pole with U bolts. Similar to In-Walls, ceiling mounts also come with a variety of motorized options
Furniture mounts are designed to secure a flat-panel TV atop a cabinet, counter, desk or other furniture and offer a practical alternative to wall mounting. Most common is a tilt/swivel mount with a vertical post that supports the display, conceals wiring and, in some cases, rotates 360 degrees; height can also be adjusted on some models.
Variations for small screens include freestanding stands, under-cabinet mounts, a highly flexible mount from Peerless with a hinged arm and four pivot points and a low-profile stand from Chief that tilts 90 degrees allowing the monitor to lay flat (screen up). If furniture mounting is not in the cards, a few companies also offer floor-mount TV pedestals.
Motorized TV Mounts
Enter the realm of motorization and you find an intriguing variety of remote-controllable flat-panel mounts that run the gamut from “simple” wall brackets that extend, retract, tilt and swivel to intricate concealment systems befitting of a James Bond movie.
Motorized mounts, available from a dozen or so companies, include stationary and swiveling mechanisms for hiding a TV in the ceiling, wall, floor or a cabinet from which it will drop down, slide out or pop-up on command. Other concealment tricks include sliding-door systems and an apparatus from Future Automation that extends the TV forward—allowing it to clear, say, a mantle—before dropping it down into position.
Perhaps the most exotic example of motorization is Activated Designs’ Under Bed Lift: Hit the remote and the TV extends out from under the foot of the bed, turns 90 degrees and rises gracefully into position; it even swivels if you decide you want to watch your favorite show while getting ready for bed.
There’s also Trak-kit’s customizable “mobile TV” system, which suspends any size TV from a recessed ceiling track, allowing it to glide across the room, move up and down and even rotate 360 degrees.
This advanced form of motorized concealment should be considered a work of art. The concept is straightforward: The TV is mounted flush in the wall, or in a wall enclosure, and concealed by a painting, photo, or panel that moves up or down, left or right, or left and right in the case of “picture splitting” mechanisms.
There are two basic types of systems: Those that reveal the screen by moving the artwork (which remains in view), and those that hide the TV in a frame with scrolling artwork that “disappears” when the set is turned on; some systems even mask the bezel of the TV so that only the screen is visible.
Mirror concealment is the same idea except the TV sits behind a mirror instead of artwork. When the set is turned on the mirror reveals the TV screen though the use of “beam splitting” technology or by lifting a black-out curtain between the TV and the mirror.
Séura’s Vanishing Television Mirrors take a different approach, combining a mirror with a low-profile LED-backlit LCD TV configured for on-wall or in-wall mounting; when the set is turned on, the mirror morphs into a TV screen. (Check out this recent project to see Séura’s Vanishing Television Mirror in action.)
Installing a TV Mount
Once you’ve decided on what TV mount you want to use, next comes the installation (well, you should also make sure you have the perfect TV for the project, too).
Baseline, most TV mounts come with basic instructions on how to affix it to the back of the TV, but from there, things may start to get a little tricky. Say you’re installing an in-wall mount that requires you to remove the studs you otherwise would’ve hung the mount on: what do you do then? How about trying to install a mount on something other than drywall? Metal studs?
If you have any questions regarding getting started mounting a TV on a wall, be sure to check out CE Pro‘s TV wall mount installation guide.
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