How to Wall-Mount Your TV
Mounting a new TV on your wall only requires some basic DIY skills—and this step-by-step guide can help
When you buy a new TV, it can be a good idea to mount it on the wall instead of putting it on a stand. That can make it look more appealing—especially if you have a large set—and also keep your family safe from TV tip-overs. For many people this is a very reasonable DIY project. We’ll walk you through the steps below.
Choose the Right Spot for Your TV
Decide where you want to hang your TV before you go shopping for a mount, because that will affect the type of hardware you choose. You can try a few different positions using painter’s tape to mark off the TV’s dimensions on the wall.
You’ll want to attach the mount to framing studs—and not just drywall—to make sure it will support the weight of the TV. Installing a TV on brick, block, or plaster walls generally requires special tools and hardware if it’s not included with the mount.
The height of the screen, and the angle from the screen to where you’ll be sitting, affects picture quality. If you were placing your TV on a stand, you’d want the center of the screen to be at eye level when you were seated. But a wall-mounted TV tends to look weird when installed that low.
Instead, try to hang the TV so the bottom of the screen is no higher than eye level when you’re seated, and the top of the screen no higher than eye-level when you’re standing. If you need to install the TV higher, you’ll want to consider a tilting or articulating mount (see below).
You should make sure the location gives you easy access to an electrical outlet for power, and that you’ll have adequate storage for any components, such as a cable box, streaming player, or game console, you’ll be connecting to the TV.
Get the Right Mount
Start off by making sure any TV mount you’re considering can handle the size and weight of your set. The maximum weight and screen-size specifications will be listed on the TV mount’s box and the company website. Just because two mounts can handle the same size television, don’t assume they are rated for the same weight—that differs by brand.
Next, consider the construction of the wall where you plan to hang your TV. Most TV mounts are compatible with traditional wood-stud framing and drywall, but you might need a special mount if you’re hanging your TV on other types of walls, such as plaster, concrete, or brick.
As described above, you also have to decide what style of TV mount to buy. (We tried several mounts in various styles, and found them all easy to install and use.)
A basic fixed model will simply hold the TV flat against the wall. Models that tilt can compensate if you’re sitting lower than the TV. Some tilting mounts can also swivel. Full-motion, or articulated, mounts can move in any direction, including forward toward the viewer. This is important if you’re hanging the TV at an angle from your seating area.
Once you get the mount home, install the brackets on your TV just to double-check that they fit. Almost all TVs have four mounting holes on the back, arranged in a standard VESA pattern. The name stands for the Video Electronics Standards Association. That means that any TV mount you buy should work, as long as it’s rated for your television’s size.
Once the brackets are attached, we suggest measuring from the bottom of your TV to the bottom of the wall plate. Knowing this distance will help you install the mount so that the TV is at the proper height once it’s on the wall.
Locate the Wall Studs
Before you get started with the next steps, you should have a few tools on hand. These include a stud finder, a level, a power drill and appropriately sized drill bits, along with some painter’s tape, and a socket set. Having a ruler or tape measure can also come in handy if you need to take any measurements.
You’ll want to screw the TV mount into wall studs (or into masonry using the appropriate anchors) for the most secure installation. The easiest way to do this is by using a stud finder.
Move your stud finder across the wall at the height you will be installing the TV mount until it indicates it has found the edge of a stud. When it does, mark that with a pencil or some painter’s tape so you remember the position. Then move it horizontally at the same height to locate the end of the first stud. Next, move on to the start and end of the next stud, marking the positions as you move along. For the most secure attachment, the bolt should be firmly centered in any stud you are using.
If you don’t have a stud finder, there are a few other carpenter’s tricks to locating a wall stud. (With any of these, confirm the position of each stud by drilling a series of small holes to locate the edges of the studs.) Most walls are constructed with the studs installed with the center of each 16 inches away from the next one. Start at a corner of a room and then measure along the wall in 16-inch increments to locate the most likely location of the studs for your installation.
Sheetrock is usually attached to studs using either screws or nails, so using a strong magnet to find a screw or nail head should put you near the center of that stud.
Wall trim or baseboards are usually nailed to the studs. You might be able to find these small holes by feeling for dimples—though they may be spackled and painted—or by running a magnet across the surface to locate the nails. Then, use an upright straightedge or yardstick, plus a vertical level, to mark a location higher on the wall. You can also look for a light switch or power outlet, since these are mounted on the side of a stud. Measure out 3/4 of an inch to find the center of the studs, and then use 16-inch increments to find the other studs nearest the TV’s mounting location.
Mark and Drill the Pilot Holes
Once you’ve found the studs, it’s time to mark the locations to drill small pilot holes for your mounting screws or lag bolts. The pilot holes will make it easier to drive the bolts into the studs without splintering the wood.
Many mounts come with a template you can use to ensure the proper position for the mounting holes. If you’re using the mount itself as a guide, you’ll probably want a partner to hold it up to the wall. Either way, you should use a level to make sure it’s straight. (Some mounts have a built-in level to help with the task.) Then make marks with a pencil where you’ll be drilling.
Make sure the wood or masonry bits you use for the pilot holes have a smaller diameter than the bolts you’ll use to attach the mount, so there’s still enough wood to let the bolts get a strong, secure bite.
Attach the Mount
Once again, a friend can help make this job a bit easier by holding the mount against the wall, lining up the mount with the pilot holes you’ve drilled. To drive the lag bolts, use a ratcheting socket wrench. The mounts we tested recently all came with either two or four lag bolts, plus washers and anchors in case the lag bolts were going to be used in masonry walls.
Don’t fully tighten the bolts until you make sure that everything will be level once it’s firmly mounted. Then finish driving the bolts all the way in, and once again check to make sure the mount is level.
Mount the TV on the Wall
As tempting as it may be to go it alone, placing the TV onto the wall should be a two-person job: Large TVs can be awkward to hold and tricky to align and secure without help. With your partner, align the mounting brackets on the TV with the wall plate or arm on the wall mount. Most brackets will then get secured with the tightening of a few screws. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as they vary from brand to brand.
Many mounts have leveling screws, which will allow you to make small adjustments to keep the TV straight and level after it’s installed. Some models also let the TV slide a bit horizontally to make sure it’s centered.
One thing to consider before you attach the TV to the mount is whether you’ll have access to the TVs ports and inputs once the set is installed. Most newer TVs have inputs on the side of the cabinet, but some models only have them at the rear of the TV. Also, some slim mounts will leave little room between the TV and the wall, so it could be hard to get to HDMI inputs or USB ports once the set is installed. If so, consider attaching the cables for all the devices you’ll be connecting to the TV before it’s completely mounted.
Organize and Hide Your Cables
A mess of wires or cables can ruin an otherwise clean-looking installation, so you’ll likely want to conceal or camouflage the wires running to the TV. If you’re going to hide HDMI and Ethernet cable wires inside the walls, you may want to consider professional installation (see below) unless you’re knowledgeable about wiring. Audio-video and Ethernet cables that run through walls require a specific rating for fire resistance.
Power cables shouldn’t be routed in a wall, so you might consider having an electrician install a recessed outlet behind where the TV will be installed.
If you don’t want to go to that trouble and expense, most retailers sell cable concealment kits, also called raceways, that let you hide and organize cables without cutting into the wall. These typically have an adhesive backing, so they can stick to the wall without damaging it, with covers that snap shut once the cables are inserted. Many can be painted to match your wall color.
What if You Want to Hire a Pro?
If you’re handy, it’s really not too hard to wall-mount a TV, but not everyone has the DIY skills, or inclination, to take on the job. And you don’t need to. Retailers, including Best Buy, Target, and Walmart all offer installation services.
Prices vary, depending on how complicated the installation will be. For example, Best Buy’s Geek Squad charges $200 for a basic installation, which includes mounting the TV (on a drywalled wall), connecting a few devices, and programming your remote. They’ll also make sure all the wires and cables are neatly dressed. There’s a $100 surcharge for mounting a set on brick, stone, or plaster wall, or if you want the TV mounted above a fireplace.
Target works with a company called HelloTech, and charges $100 to mount your TV, connect any necessary A/V devices or peripherals, and neatly dress your wires. You pay extra for masking the wires or hiding them in the wall.