How to Install a Television Wall Mount
Learn the types and installation techniques for mounting a flat screen television using a variety of different wall mounts.
The majority of Americans seem to have ongoing love affairs with the flat screen television. Hardware manufacture's have responded in kind, with a variety of television wall mounts. Most of them install similarly, if you can drill holes, you can install a flat screen wall mount.
Wall Mount Types
Two Individual Pieces
Even though some mounts are fixed, and others tilt or swivel, the majority of them have two pieces; one for the wall, and another that couples with the mount on the television. When the mount swivels or tilts, the moving parts may be attached to either half, depending on manufacturer. Even when they do differ, the plates that attach to the wall, and to the TV are very similar.
If you're switching from a free-standing mount, or your television didn't come with a mount, you can purchase one. Television mounts are often made by a different company than your TV, and are designed generically with a variety of hole spacing to fit most brands. There are different types to choose from.
- Standard Flat-Mount positions the television in a fixed, flat position on the wall.
- Full Motion pulls away from the wall to swivel to the left or right, up or down. Use full motion to watch TV from different chairs, or different rooms.
- Tilting Option tilts up or down for watching TV on the floor, in a chair, or when glare is an issue. Tilt as needed for best picture quality.
- Low Profile places the TV almost flush or flat on the wall, similar to how a picture hangs on the wall, for a neat appearance. It won't move, so plan on placing it exactly where you want it.
Go With the Heavy Mount
It's smart to choose a mount with the highest weight capacity available. That way, if you choose to later swap your TV for a bigger one, the mount can handle it. But unless your TV is smaller than 30 inches, larger than 60 inches, or weighs more than 75 pounds, most contemporary wall mounts should support it just fine. However if it's not in that range, a custom mount may be required. Some of the larger mounts are capable of supporting up to 125 pounds.
The general rule of thumb is that one stud is adequate for 80 pounds of television. Most TV mounts employ two studs. Two studs are typically more than enough to support the TV, but follow specific instructions per manufacturer.
Where to Mount It
Place your television head-on, at eye level for the best viewing. Sit in your favorite chair, and imagine where windows or doors might project light on the screen, producing annoying glare. If there's no other options, a tilting or swivel mount is your best option.
Wires and Cables
The Cover Option
Use cable management raceways, which are paintable, plastic covers with adhesive backing. Bundle the cables loosely with plastic wire ties. Choose a design, or size of raceway that will accommodate the cords, peel the paper from the back, and press them over the bundles.
The Wall Option
If you choose to place cables in the wall, select a location behind the television that has an open stud bay. Cut a hole in the drywall as needed with another hole near the bottom where cables will emerge. If you're uncomfortable with wiring, hire an electrician.
Even though flat screens are neat and trim, they do have cables and wires that will be visible. Decide where your outlets and incoming cables will emerge and plan for it. There are options.
Install The TV Bracket
Television mounts are two pieces: One piece attaches to the TV, and the other to the wall. Separate and identify the two pieces. The television half attaches to the TV, and the corresponding wall part screws to the studs. The two pieces click together to secure the TV to the wall.
Place the television on it's face. Use a blanket or soft pad to cushion it. Center the television half of the mount on the back of the TV.
Locate four matching holes in the back of the TV -- they may have plastic caps than need to be pried off with a screwdriver. When holes in the mount line up with the holes in the TV, it's positioned correctly.
Screw the mount to the TV with a drill/driver, and the screws provided in the packaging. If the mount is the swiveling or tilting type, work the movement to test it. If the screws interfere with the movement, select different screws from the packaging, repeat screwing it on and re-test.
Mount the Television Piece
Locate and Position the Holes
Fasten the Mount
The wall bracket also regulates the height of the TV on the wall. Connect the wall bracket on the TV bracket, as if they were already installed on the wall -- they should lock together tight. Measure the difference between the height of the TV and the top of the bracket. Transfer the measurement to the wall to ensure the top of the TV is where you want it on the wall. When you've got it figured out, remove the wall bracket from the back of the TV.
Install the Wall Bracket
The installation of the wall bracket includes finding studs, leveling and driving screws.
Use a stud finder to locate the studs in the wall and mark them. The bracket may be a single piece, or two individual pieces -- one for each stud. If it's a single bracket it should be designed to span the stud bay, and tap into at least two studs. Place the bracket or brackets on the wall, centered on the studs.
Use a carpenters level to plumb and level the bracket or brackets. Hold the bracket steady -- use an assistant if possible -- and use the screws provided with the kit to screw it to the wall with the drill/driver, driving the screws into wall studs.
Lift the television, place it slightly above the mounting point, and allow the TV bracket to settle into the wall mount bracket. It should fit with a satisfying chunk. Check the TV for level. If it's uneven, remove the TV, adjust the mount on the wall and retest.
Find the Studs
Couple the Parts
Wall mounts have weight and size ratings regarding fixed-mount, swivel or extension capabilities. Even though TV mounts are typically over-built to support their given weight capacity, always check with the manufacturer, dealer or consult the installation instructions for specific weight limitations and information regarding your television and mount.
If you plan on running wires inside the wall, avoid placing the television on an exterior wall if possible. Exterior walls contain wires and insulation that can make the task more difficult.
Things You Will Need
- Tape measure
The mount likely has lots of holes. Choose holes that align with those on the TV and mount as close to the vertical center as possible.
Things You Will Need
- Stud finder
If you're installing the mount on metal studs, pilot holes must be drilled into the center of the stud. Metal studs are 1 1/4-inch wide. Use a nail or small drill bit to locate the edges of the stud, and then find the center.
If you're installing a mount on brick or concrete, you don't need to find studs. Level the mount on the wall and mark the holes. Use a masonry drill bit to drill the holes, and follow up with masonry or concrete inserts or anchors to secure the wall mount.
Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.