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There's something inherently luxurious about the sight of a a wall-mounted TV. Perhaps owing to the residue of our collective TV past—when boxy CRTs were housed in huge wooden speaker cabinets—a wall-mounted set just exemplifies the modern TV experience: sleek, minimal, and tucked out of the way.
Despite the feeling of luxury, however, it really isn't that hard to wall-mount your own TV at home. Sure, you'll have to acquire a few tools, but a half-hour or so of work can mean you, too, can bathe in the luxury of a wall-mounted TV. Here's what you'll need to mount your TV on the wall at home.
• TV wall mount kit
• Power drill
• Stud finder
• Tape measure
• A friend
• About 30-75 minutes
Basically, you'll need a stud finder to find studs to attach the wall mount bracket to, a Philips screwdriver to attach the bracket to the rear of the TV, a power drill (ideally) to attach the bracket to the wall, and things like a level, tape measure, and pencil to make the right measurements and ensure the TV hangs flush upon the bracket after it's been installed.
Oh, you should also make sure you have a TV worth hanging on a wall—we can help with that, too.
First things first, you'll want to get a TV wall mount kit. This will typically include the part of the bracket that attaches to the wall, the VESA (standardized) section that attaches to the rear of the TV, and the necessary screws for both tasks. There are a bevy of mounts you can buy online, and other than a few occasional discrepancies, they all function roughly the same.
You'll notice discrepancies in price from about $20 to closer to $80, and this (usually) has to do with whether the mount is "articulating" or not, meaning whether it allows the TV to swivel, tilt, or move further/closer to the wall it's mounted on. The cheap Mounting Dream mount listed here, for example, has an easy-to-adjust leveling system but doesn't allow for articulation, and holds the TV exactly 2.9 inches from the wall.
How the mount holds the TV is also very important to keep in mind when you're buying a wall mount kit. You'll want to know where you're watching your TV from before selecting a mount. If it's higher than eye level, you'll want a tilting mount that will angle the TV's screen down towards your eyes. However, if you're mounting the TV at eye level, you'll want to make sure the mount holds the TV flush (non-tilted).
Pro-tip: If you're mounting in a corner, you may want a different kind of wall bracket, such as this single-mount Echogear TV wall mount kit.
If the actual TV wall mount is the most important thing you'll be selecting to ensure the mounting process goes smoothly, getting a decent stud finder is probably the second most important part. Stud finders are notoriously finicky and fickle devices, and the process of tracking down your wall studs is something that takes a little longer than advertised.
Most stud finders have to go through a "calibration" process. They won't always work when actually over a stud, and may light up/beep to tell you they've found one, but it might be a few seconds off.
Most stud finders have a built-in calibration process that you should absolutely follow prior to attempting to locate studs, usually involving holding the power button for a couple of seconds and moving the finder over the wall—here's the directions for the Zircon brand's calibration recommended here.
Once you located your studs—using the included bracket "map" that comes with about 99% of wall mount kits—use a soft-lead pencil to mark the locations on the wall. This is (probably) the easiest step to mess up, but it's also smooth sailing once you've located your studs and attached the bracket via the included screws. That's why it's important to make sure your stud finder is calibrated properly to the wall before drilling any holes or making any marks.
The Zircon Studsensor listed here also includes wire warning detection, which will save you a lot of headaches once you've mounted the TV and are onto the running-wires-through-the-wall part.
Pro-tip: If your wall paint isn't smooth—say it's spackled or pocked/popcorned—lay a thin piece of cardboard between the stud finder and the wall. It'll smooth out the finding process without interrupting the finder's magnetic location functions.
Once you've used the mount map and stud finder to mark the drilling location for the wall studs, use a leveling tool to ensure that the studs/pencil marks are absolutely level—or as close as possible. While 100% accuracy isn't absolutely required—most wall mount brackets have wide enough mounting holes that you'll be able to make micro adjustments and re-check with the level before finalizing the drilling—you still want to start from as accurate a point as possible.
While you can use a standard tape measure for this process, a combination laser level/tape measure can be gotten for pretty cheap if you don't already have something up to the task, and it'll ensure you're getting the bracket as level as possible.
Once you're absolutely sure your studs are set and you've got your drill markings leveled up, it's time to start drilling. The TV wall mount kit will include the correct size screws to attach the wall side of the full bracket to the wall (there will also be a section you attach to your TV). Use the drill to make guide holes at the pencil marks (which you double- and triple-checked were level, right?).
Once you've got guide holes, have a friend hold up the bracket—check that it's level yet again, just in case—and attack the wall-mount bracket using the screws included in the kit. Before moving on to attaching the TV part of the bracket to the back of the TV, check the level of the bracket one last time.
Pro-tip: Drill the screws half-way into the wall and check that the bracket is level before screwing them all the way in.
Using a Philips screwdriver, attach the TV-side of the mounting bracket (sometimes an "X" shape, sometimes two separate "hanger" pieces, depending on your wall mount kit) to the rear of the TV, which will almost always be in 100-millimeter measurements (400x400 being most common).
Once the "TV" half of the mounting bracket (often called the mounting plate) is attached to the rear of the TV, have a friend help you lift, position, and hang the TV. Depending on whether your rear ports are horizontally or vertically inclined, you may want to go ahead and plug in devices like game consoles, DVD players, your cable box, and the power cord before hanging the TV onto the mount.
Once the TV is on the wall, you may be tempted to go ahead and hide the power and AV cables via a cord cover—nothing looks worse than leaving them hanging from the bottom of the TV, but running them through the wall is a complicated and heavily regulated electrical process that you'll have to seek advice elsewhere for.
Pro-tip: Buy longer HDMI, optical, and 3.5mm audio auxiliary cables than you think you'll need.
However, I strongly recommend belaying your disgust over the hanging cables long enough to sit and watch the TV for an afternoon or evening, before going through the process and hiding the cabling in concealers. Make sure it's in the right spot, is level, and isn't being interrupted by errant ambient lighting or windows you weren't anticipating. While you likely won't want to take the bracket off the wall again, you can always make small adjustments.
And if you really can't stand the finished result for whatever reason, you'll be glad you didn't go ahead and hide the cables away only to have to re-run them once you've adjusted the TV.
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