In this article we’re going to walk you through, step by step, how to hang a TV on a wall. We’re going to assume that you’re at the very beginning planning stage because... there are some considerations you need to take into account before you rush out and buy all the materials you might want or need to finish this project. If you already have all the parts then jump ahead in the article.
Before you begin any work make sure you turn off all the electrical breakers so no live electrical wires are active in the wall space you are working. This includes adjacent rooms where electrical wiring could be sharing the wall space you plan to hang a TV.
It may seem obvious to some but if that’s not the case you should first think through why you want to hang the TV on the wall and where in a room. Part of this process has involved a popular debate about, “can I hang a TV over a fireplace?”
Well, the short answer is, “yes you can if you’ve planned this out very carefully.” For example, in the photo posted below you see a TV mounted over a fireplace. This TV installation was first “roughed-in” during construction of the home which included many planning meetings at the home with the owners and custom entertainment cabinet maker and at the cabinet maker’s shop to help ensure each stage of the process was correct. The wiring had to all be in place for current and future electronics. Safety had to be taken into account because of the fireplace and pipe. And, coordination with the electrician had to occur for proper placement of electrical receptacles (1 for the TV, 1 for the SubWoofer, and receptacles for the electronics).
Well, not so fast. There are a few variables to consider before you decide to take the plunge. For the sake of disclosure we decided that in order to completely understand every facet of this process we needed to install our own TV over a fireplace and that’s exactly what we did. And boy was that very helpful. What we learned was that, having a TV over the fireplace was not what we wanted. We wanted to put it there because we thought it would look good and it did look good. We were concerned that hanging the TV on an adjacent wall would cause two focal points in the room and therefore not look so good; wrong again!
When we first hung the TV over the fireplace we found we had to constantly look up, it was uncomfortable on the neck. The distance separating the sofa from the TV wasn’t sufficient; it was maybe 10-12 feet. And regarding this topic we believe it’s a matter of preference (It seems the jury is split 50/50 on this topic). A viewing distance of 10-12 feet might work for some people if the TV can be mounted low enough and it’s tough to mount a TV lower when it’s over a fireplace because the firebox itself is off the ground and often there’s a mantel and then the TV so the TV is inherently mounted high up on the wall. You need to work through this to decide for yourself if you want to hang the TV over a fireplace. Also, check the temperature at the mantel with the fire place on to see how hot it gets; sometimes it can get too hot and in other situations the temperature isn't so hot.
TV wall mount - The wrong wall mount can cause your TV to stick 8"-10" off the wall. Shop carefully
Level - You need this tool to ensure the TV hangs straight.
Stud finder - This tool "might" help locate wood studs inside the wall
3” finish nails - These will help you determine the exact dead center of a wooden wall stud
Hammer - For tapping finish nails in and removing the finish nails.
Drill - For drilling small tap holes for the lag screws
Socket Set - you'll want this to help tighten the lag screws. Without a socket it will be difficult
Drywall saw - This special tools helps cut in electrical boxes.
Old work Ring (or box with the back cut off) - electrical boxes designed to retrofit
Electrical receptacle - you'll likely want to hide the power behind the TV
Surge Suppression Strip - Recommended to help reduce risk of damage to your TV via future electrical surges
3/16” wood drill bit for wood stud walls
Concrete bit and anchors for concrete walls
The next steps can be a little bit tricky because if you don’t take the time to do them correctly then the TV will not hang level or it will be too high or too low. So, you’ve maybe heard the old adage, “measure twice, cut once,” it holds very true in this situation; you do not want to get this wrong otherwise your TV will hang crooked and look sloopy.
The first measurement should be how high you want the top of the TV to hang above your floor. Write the measurement on the sketch you made. This dimension is D1
II. Look at the back of your TV and measure from the top pair of VESA mounting holes (these are the holes used to secure part of the TV wall mount bracket to your TV. Typically there are 4 holes in total which form either a square or rectangular layout) to the top of the TV and note this dimension on your sketch as well.
III. Fasten the bracket portion of the TV wall mount to the back of your TV whereby the front face of the TV completely conceals the brackets from view.
IV. Now, on the brackets you just mounted to the TV identify the hook portion of the bracket located at the top of the bracket. Measure from inside the hook to the top of your TV and write that dimension down on your sketch. This is dimension D2
V. You now calculate what height to fasten the wall mount portion above your floor simply by subtracting….the formula is: Height of Top of Wall bracket from floor = D1-D2
Finding the wall Studs
Sometimes a stud finder will be successful in locating a wooden stud inside a wall and sometimes it will not. Factors that affect the success rate include but are not limited to: the quality of the stud finder, the strength of the batteries, the type of and how much covering is on the wall such as stucco, orange peel, knock down etc. More wall covering decreases the stud finders success and accuracy rate.
We do not recommend trying to hang a TV on a wall constructed with metal studs. Doing so requires different work to solidify steel studs and it is outside the scope of this article.
(We published this large image directly above to depict vertical wall studs which are typically concealed from your view by wall board. Find the absolute dead center of the vertical wall studs.)
Wooden wall studs typically are installed 16” apart, this is commonly referred to as 16 inches on center. This means that if you take a tape measure and measure the distance from the center of one stud to the adjacent wall stud it will be 16”. But, we don’t live in a perfect world so don’t be a bit surprised if the studs you are hoping to use aren’t 16” on center. There could be countless reasons why they are not 16” on center, too many potential reasons to note here. The finish nails, when tapped through the wall board using your hammer will either strike the wooden stud or miss completely. You can easily feel it in your hands when you’ve struck a solid wooden stud as opposed to missing it entirely. Once you hit the stud repeat the process until you've determined the dead center.
VI. Use the finish nails to identify the exact dead center of the wooden stud. This is a very important step because when you drill and fasten the lag screw into the stud you want to make sure you’re hitting center as opposed to just barely grazing the side. Grazing the side of the wood is not a secure way to hang a TV on a wall.
VII. Once you’ve identified the center of the stud hold the wall mount plate to the wall and level it, then mark your four holes.
VIII. Next use the wood drill bit to drill your pilot holes making sure you drill in a straight and level manner. This helps ensure the lag screw secures to the wood stud properly.
VIIII. After drilling your pilot holes use the correct sized socket wrench and start turning the lag screw into the hole just enough to get it going and then remove the screw. Repeat this for all four lag screw holes.
X. Next you need to prepare for running your wires. Become familiar with the connections on the back of your TV including the electrical connection. Take note of whether the connections are above or below the wall bracket. Also, keep in mind that later on in the process, when you are ready to actually hang the TV up on the wall mount you first have to hook up the TV ( How to hook up TV ) with the connection cables and power and then somehow manage to hide the extra length of wire by either pushing back inside the wall or some other way. It’s really best to think this through before you make any additional cuts.
Once you’ve figured out how you want to run the wires (wall surface mount conduit – not concealed vs. inside the wall and totally concealed) you can determine where to locate the connection cables outlet and the electrical outlet. Do not plan to run both in the same hole; not only is it not safe and usually against code but you run the risk and electrical inference appearing on your TV screen. Separate these wires by at least a wall stud cavity if possible.
XI. Mark your holes for the connection cables box and the electrical and only make your cut after paying special attention to making sure your planned for hole isn’t obstructed by anything like other wiring or wall stud etc.
XII. Cut your holes and fish you wiring. If you’ve selected a wall finish plate to dress your wiring go ahead and install 'em now.
XIII. Lastly, prepare to hang the TV on the wall by removing the TV stand and connecting all the wiring. This process usually requires two people and sometimes 3 depending on the size, weight and installation of the TV (plasma can be very heavy whereas LCD's are not nearly as heavy). As you gently lift the TV into place someone can take up the excess wiring so that it becomes hidden within the wall cavity and concealed completely out of view. Hang the TV, straighten as necessary, and secure the TV to the wall mount bracket using any specially provided safety bracket(s) supplied by the manufacturer of the TV wall mount. Finish the wiring coming out of the wall toward the floor and hook up the TV.