How To Mount a TV on the Wall

Obviously, one of the main benefits of owning a flat-panel TV is the ability to mount it to the wall. Here's how you would go about doing that.

Step 1

Gather everything you need before you begin. Here is the list:

-Your flat panel TV

-A universal mount designed for the size TV you have

-A power drill (18v is recommended) with a drill bit kit and a socket adaptor. You will usually need a 1/2" socket, but depending on the mount you buy the hardware will change. (More on that later)

- A stud finder

-A Phillips head screwdriver

-A measuring tape

-A level

-A pencil

Step 2

Make sure you can mount your TV safely to the wall you want. Most basic homes will have wood studs inside your drywall spaced either 16" or 24" apart. Starting from about where you would like the center of the TV to be, use the stud finder to locate the nearest stud to the left of the center and to the right of the center. Make little marks on the wall where you want the center to be, and also where the studs are located. If you want to keep pencil marks to a minimum, you can also use tape to temporarily mark the studs.

In the mount kit, there will be a wide metal plate with slotted holes in it. This is what actually mounts to the wall. Hold it up on the wall across the studs. If the plate covers the studs, you may proceed. If it doesn't, you need to get a bigger mount.

Step 3

Prepare the TV. Before anything else, you want to remove the base from your flat panel TV. Depending on the model, you will have to locate a number of Phillips head screws that keep the mount attached. Leave the TV on the base for now, but remove the screws so you can lift it off later.

In the mounting kit, you will find hardware to attach the "arms" to the back of the TV. Every mount looks a Plasma tv on the walllittle different, but there will be arms that attach to the TV with hooks on one or both sides. These will attach to the wall plate later. For now, locate the hardware you need according to the manual and put the arms on the TV making sure to keep them both even and tightly screwed in.

Don't rush this step. It not only helps decide whether you TV is level, but also whether or not it stays on the wall!

Step 4

Figure out EXACTLY where you want the TV. This is an important step because you are essentially bolting your TV to the wall. Once you hang it, that's where it stays. If you decide afterwards you want it 6" higher, you have to start all over.

That being said, a good rule of thumb is to put the bottom of the TV frame at head level when you are sitting down. Your furniture may change where this is, but it's usually right around 4 ft. Once you have this figured out, you want to measure the distance from the bottom of the TV to the inside of the hooks you just attached to it. It sounds a little confusing, but you are finding out how high to mount the plate so you need to know how far the hooks that hang on the plate are away from the bottom of the TV. Once you know this, you know how high to mount the wall plate.

Note: If you are not super picky about the height of your TV, you can skip the measuring here and just hang the plate roughly 8" below where you want the TOP of the TV.

Step 5

Now that you have your measurement, add that to the height where you want the bottom of your TV and make a mark on the wall in between the two studs you will be using. For example, if you want the TV bottom 4 ft off the ground (48") and you know the distance from the bottom of the TV to the inside of the hooks in 21", you want to make a mark in between the studs at 69". Using your level, make a 4-6" horizontal line through the mark you just made.

The next part of this step may require two people, especially for bigger TV's.

Now you want to hold your wall plate up on the wall so that the very top of it lines up with the line you just made on the wall. Moving the plate left and/or right, line up the slotted holes with the studs you marked earlier. Your helper now has to place the level on the plate so you can get the plate perfectly level, making sure to keep the slotted holes over the studs. Once the plate is level and covering the studs, have your helper trace the slotted holes that cover the studs (there should be four total; one in each corner)

Step 6

Putting the plate aside, you can now prepare the wall. You will need to get your drill with a small bit, usually 1/8" -1/4". Using the drill, drill about 2-3" into the wall in the center of the ovals you just traced. This does two things: It lets you know that you marked the studs correctly, and it gives you a pilot hole for the bolts you will use later.

This step is very important also.  It makes sure that you are mounting the plate to the studs and not just drywall. The mount is only designed to hold the weight of the TV safely if your bolts are in the studs.

Step 7

Next, have your helper hold the plate up to the same position as before, lining up the slotted holes on the plate with your new pilot holes in the wall. Pop your level on one more time and adjust the mount so it is centered where you want it and level. Locate the four large bolts (and washers if included) that come with your mount. Using your drill with the socket adaptor on it, drill one of these bolts (also called "lags") into the pilot hole showing through upper right corner of the wall plate. Only put the lag in about 75% so you can level it again later. Repeat with the other three lags. Now that the plate is hanging loose on its own, have your helper use the level to keep the plate absolutely level and still while you tighten the lags the rest of the way. When you're done, you should have a level metal plate on your wall that you can hang from yourself (I'm 250 lbs. and I actually do this to prove to my customers that it will hold their 80 lb TV.)

Step 8

Remove your TV from the base, and attach the hooks up and over the lip of the wall plate. Before letting go completely, make sure the plate has a hold of the two arms. Once you have the TV up on the wall, use your level one last time to verify it is level. You may also slide the TV back and forth to center it. Once it looks okay, you want to finish by securing the safety bolts/latches included with the mount. These differ by brands, so check your manual to make sure you do it properly. This will assure the TV can't be lifted off the plate accidentally.

That's it! It definitely looks like a lot of work when you read this, but the whole process can take less than an hour. I always tell people doing this for the first time not to rush. Hanging a TV that costs thousands of dollars is not to be taken lightly. But if you are precise with your measurements and careful with the construction aspects of a project like this, there is no reason you can't spend an afternoon installing your own flat panel TV.


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