Remember the huge, boxy TVs of the past? Three cheers for the flat screen! Talk about a space-saver, particularly if you’re hanging the screen on your wall. There’s just one thing: Tackling how to mount a TV on the wall isn’t as simple as hanging a picture. TVs are heavy, and heaven forbid your subpar work sends your expensive purchase crashing to the ground.
But mounting a TV can be a fairly easy DIY job if you know what to do, and it will save you some money; hiring a professional TV installer can get pricey, running $250 to $375. So if you’re eager to save a few bucks, check out these guidelines on how to mount a flat-screen TV just like a pro.
Tools you’ll need
- Stud finder
- Tape measure
- Phillips screwdriver
Step No. 1: Pick the right wall mount
There are several types of wall mounts, each with its own pros, cons, and weight limits. Once you know the load of your TV, you can start researching. Wall mounts fall into three categories:
- Flat/fixed: This mount is the most common and keeps your TV as close to the wall as possible. These are usually the cheapest, but they limit the angles at which you can position the TV.
- Flat/tilt: This mount is great for users who are hanging their television high up on the wall, such as over a fireplace. This allows for a 15-degree tilt, which helps reduce glare and makes the device easier to see from below.
- Swing arm(s): One of the more versatile options, this mount has a swinging arm that allows the user to swivel, pan, or move the TV from side to side to increase the viewing angle. This is best for large rooms with a lot of seating.
With the mount and tools secured, it’s time to begin setting up your new centerpiece. According to Sarah Karakaian of New York City, CEO of the construction and design company Nestrs, “determining the material your TV is being mounted to is one of the most important steps before you can begin installation.”
This article will focus on installing into studs, which is by far the most common process.
Step No. 2: Attach the mounting arms to the back of the TV
Lay your TV screen-side down on a soft surface. Attach the mounting arms to the back of the TV by inserting the screws provided with the mount into the appropriate holes in the back of the TV (all flat-screens should have holes for this purpose).
Step No. 3: Find the studs
Once the arms are attached to your TV, it’s time to hang the mount to the wall. To do this, you will need to locate the studs, those beams of wood hiding behind your wall. You will screw your mount into the studs to securely carry the weight of the TV.
There are several ways to find studs, but the most common is to use an electric stud finder. Your mount will require either one stud or two. If it’s the latter, you will likely find your second stud anywhere from 16 inches to 24 inches to the left or right of your first, says Catherine Gilliland of Austin, TX, a structural engineer and owner of Vitruvian Designs and Engineering.
Step No. 4: Mark where the bolts will go
Now that you know where the studs are, it’s time to mark where you’re going to be drilling. This is where a second person can come in handy.
Take your mount (making sure it’s right-side up) and align the holes with the studs, marking them with a pencil. These are the points where you will drill the holes for the bolts that will hold everything together.
One word of caution: Unless you want a tilted TV, “always check that the mount is level,” says Karakaian.
Step No. 5: Drill the holes
Now comes the fun part! Take your power drill and create four holes in the exact same spots you just marked. This step will also be a test of whether you correctly found studs.
“You should be able to tell if the drill and/or screw goes in too easy. If so, then you missed your stud,” says Gilliland.
Step No. 6: Hang the mount
Make sure the mount is aligned with the holes you just drilled, then screw the bolts into the holes by hand just enough so that you’re able to let go of the mount to continue working them further in. However, don’t tighten the bolts completely just yet. Once they’re about 90% in, double-check to make sure the mount is level. If it is, continue to tighten; if not, adjust, then recheck. You’ll know the bolts are snug enough when you can tug on the mount and it doesn’t budge.
Step No. 7: Hang your TV on the mount
Here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for (we highly recommend getting a pal to help you with any heavy lifting). Take your TV, with the mounting arms attached, and carefully hoist it onto the bracket. Then, release your grip on the TV very slowly, so you can catch it if there’s been any error in installation. If it stays up, you’re golden!
Got unsightly cables dangling from your TV? Come back tomorrow, and we’ll show you another DIY on how to hide cables behind a wall.
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