Installing a TV behind a mirror, the complete step by step guide.

The idea of putting a TV behind a mirror is pretty cool and in some cases, even a necessity. We’re going to take you through the steps for installing a TV behind a 2-way mirror.Please know, this project takes considerable planning and effort to do a proper job. All though this article identifies important steps, every situation is different, don’t rely on this article alone when doing this project. Consider hiring a professional licensed contractor and also talk to your local building inspections department, they can be an important tool in helping you complete the work correctly.

How to plan for a TV behind a mirror.

Step # 1  As strange as this may seem, you need to understand the exact reasons why you want to put a TV behind a mirror. This will help you plan decisions such as where on the wall and how high or how low on the wall to plan for your TV. Think about what programs you might watch and when or what activities you’ll be doing when you are watching the TV. Take into account how many people might be in the room at a given time when the TV is on and what they will be doing. Oddly, this step might be more important then any other because, once you start the process it can be difficult and costly to make changes.

TV behind 2-way mirror depiction drawing

What are the building code requirements for a TV behind a mirror.

Step #2  Building codes can vary from location to location. Talk to your local building inspections department before you begin your work, there could be code related matters that you’re required to take into account and its far better to know about them before you invest a lot of time and effort. You don’t want to find out later, during an inspection, that you have to make a major change before the inspector will sign off on part of your job.

Is a TV behind a mirror installed before or after construction.

Step #3  Begin your plan. If this is a house still under construction then take photos of the wall framing you want to install your TV. While you can make changes to the wall framing the photos will help you during the planning process especially if items such as plumbing, electrical or duct work in already in the wall.

Top down view of wall studs and sheetrock of tv behind mirrorWhat size TV can I put behind a mirror?

Step # 4 Selecting the size of the TV to install behind the mirror: Flat panel TVs come in all sizes and types. Because the TV will most likely be installed in an enclosed space you’ll need to take into account how to get rid of the hot air that will accumulate. Plasma TVs are notoriously hot and therefore probably the least desirable to install behind a 2-way mirror. LCD and LED TVs tend to give off the least amount of heat of all the TV types in the flat screen marketplace but the bigger the TV the more heat. A buildup of heat can and will damage the TV or in some extreme cases increase the risk of fire.

If you plan to install this TV on an exterior wall of a home, a wall often full of insulation, our opinion would be you reconsider moving the TV elsewhere in the room as possible. As a general rule of thumb, a small TV 15 inches or 17 inches will be easier to install compared to larger TVs. For larger TVs, if you have to make significant changes to the wall framing this can become both costly and time consuming, not to mention increasing the complexity of the project and decreasing the options for actually mounting a TV that is larger.

If you are limited in the amount of width of the wall then your choices of TVs and sizes might also reduced. Also take into account, how are you going to access the TV in the future for any service needs? What happens if the TV is damaged by any cause, for example, an electrical surge or lightning strike, will you be able to fix the TV or buy the same replacement?  How are you going to get access to the TV for service?

Measurements you will need

Step #5  Draw the installation design on paper first, we posted an example drawing below. You’ll need to know things like the exact dimensions of the TV your will be installing: width, height, depth etc. You need the precise measurement of the depth of your wall stud and your sheet rock or any other wall finishes. What about your mirror, how thick is it? Is it framed and will it stand off from the wall even in the slightest?

What type of mirror should you use?

Step #6  We recommend you call around to a few of the local glass shops and ask them for pricing on an appropriate 2 way mirror to use over your TV. You need to also decide, if you are buying just the mirror from the glass shop how are you going to finish around the mirror? Are you even going to finish around the mirror? Are you going to frame the mirror? Will you need to paint the wall behind the mirror black so the wall color doesn’t show through the mirror? If you walls are being sprayed with textures will that effect the appearance of the TV because the texture causes a gap to separate the mirror from the face of the TV? This step is critical because you need to make a final decision about the mirror finish so that you can complete the planning step. In order to complete this project properly we strongly recommend you have a complete and accurate final plan before you begin the work. Without a good plan the project risks not turning out the way you’ve originally hoped.

Selecting the TV mount system for behind the mirror

Step # 7 Decide what type of TV mount or how you plan to actually mount the TV. Ahhh…. this is where things can become a bit tricky and where some of the real work begins. You see, many times the amount of space in the wall is so limited that each 1/16th of an inch matters. Now, in some cases you might be able to fur out the wall to allow for more room, again, this project is on a case by case basis and if you have the option of a fur out consider yourself lucky otherwise prepare for more precise planning work to begin by decideing how to attach the TV to a mounting system. Ideally you want the face of the TV to practically touch the back of the mirror but before you make this decision check with the mirror supplier to see if this is ok, the mirror has a special coating and the heat from the TV could potentially degrade that coating but only your glass company can advise you best on this matter.

Sideview depiction of tv behind mirror

If the dimensions of your wall cavity and TV permit you to fit an in a store bought TV mount consider yourself very fortunate. For everyone else, plan to build a custom mounting system (depicted below), a box that mounts inside the wall stud cavity having a removable back plate whereby you fasten screws into the VESA mounting holes of the TV

Can you hear the TV audio through the mirror?

Step # 8 How to hear what’s on TV when the TV is behind a mirror. Chances are good, if you want to see whats on the TV behind a 2 way mirror you will also want to clearly hear what’s playing on the TV. The mirror, in most cases, will inhibit or degrade the sound. You need to plan for a speaker or pair of speakers. Typically the speakers are put in the ceiling, assuming of course your ceiling isn’t very tall (not over 12 feet). And because you can’t connect those speaker directly to the TV they will need to be connected from a TV set-top box to a speaker amp and then to the ceiling speakers.Speakers for TV behind 2 way mirror

What framing or modifications or fabrications will I need to do?

Step #9  Wall framing and Custom TV Mounting box:  Below is a drawing of a custom box used to install between the wall studs and which the VESA holes can be marked for securing the tv to the custom back mounting plate. We recommend painting the custom box a flat black so it can not be seen through the mirror. The back mounting plate can be accessed, removed and reinstalled by accessing from behind the wall from another room.
diagram for installing tv behind mirror

What wiring is needed to put a TV behind a mirror?

Step #10  Wiring for a TV behind a mirror:  Once your framing is complete and your custom box is installed its time for the wiring. Naturally, your TV will need its own electrical receptacle for power. You need to make sure the electrical receptacle is in the exact correct location. We recommend you put a safety plug into the unused portion of the receptacle, this can help prevent debris from falling into the receptacle. We recommend you run one coax to the TV as a spare and one HDMI, the HDMI is run from between the TV and your TV set-top box as shown in the depiction below (the set-top box provided by your TV service provider). Important note, if you are installing an HDMI wire make sure your set-top box uses HDMI otherwise call your TV service provider first to discover the correct High Definition wire to run.

Once you’ve completed these steps its simply a matter of sliding the TV into place, making the wiring connections, hanging your mirror and completing the wall finishes (front and back).

TV behind two way mirror wiring diagram sample

Will my TV Remote Control work through the mirror when a TV is installed behind a mirror?

Yes.