How To Wall Mount a TV: Guide & DIY Tips
Can I DIY?
Do It Yourself, possibly one of the biggest misconceptions in our modern society is that the time for DIY is over, it almost feels like a taboo nowadays to take control of your life by doing certain things yourself, home improvements seem to be one of them things.
It’s often thought of as skilled work, the ability it is something a person either possesses or doesn’t, and that those who can, have gained this knowledge through many years of hands-on experience.
The above, I’m here to tell you, is not the case, not always at least. From my own personal experience, and this comes from someone who is very handy, I think this is often a self-enforced mindset more than a question of physical skills.
More often than not it is easier to delay a task or fall at the first hurdle and hire a ‘professional’ to do the work rather than actually persevere and try it yourself. This is the case with even the simplest of jobs like installing a wall mounted Television Stand.
That brings us precisely to what this article is about and the different sections it includes. I will list these below.
- A step by step guide, detailing the process of wall mounting a TV and bracket yourself.
- The pros and cons of both the DIY method and hiring professional help.
- The most reliable way to hire someone if that’s the option you choose.
I would hate to teach anyone how to suck eggs but sometimes that’s precisely what it takes, especially when not doing so, could end with a screw going through an electrical cable or possibly worse (depending on your value of life to TV ratio), the TV rips the mounts out the wall, ending with the entire thing as a crumpled heap on the floor with half your wall piled on top of it.
Sounds dramatic, but this can and does happen, a lot more often than you’d think, the sad truth is that mistakes can also be avoided simply by knowing even a few of the basics.
By and large, wall mounting a TV screen is not a big nor complicated task to attempt, but therein the problem arises. It’s very easy to take for granted the simple things like checking if the wall can support the weight of a TV. Another easy mistake to make would be to not consider when drilling the holes for the screws if there are electrical conduits or water and gas mains embedded in the wall you’re about to start poking pointed metal spikes into.
Well here is an article to lay it all out in a simple, easy to follow guide that includes not only the process itself of wall mounting the TV but also the dos and don’ts, tools require, what mounts to go for and the Key points to remember during the installation process.
The DIY Method
Before I cover the safest way to hire someone, I will first give you a step by step guide on how to do the installation yourself. I will include links to videos as we go along that will provide a decent referencing tool for the work.
Step One – Ground Work
How big is your TV? This sounds like a strange question but you’d be surprised how easy it is to overlook the most obvious points to consider during the preparation stage of this whole process.
You may buy a TV that is too big for your wall, buy mounts, screws or anchors the wrong size for the TV or get the form factor wrong, meaning the bracket won’t be compatible with your set, or finally to decide what wall your set is going on, only to find out later you mounted it to drywall that cant support the weight of your massive 100 inch TV.
Oversights like these could make your plans come crashing down, literally.
To start off you need to know the make and model of your TV, this is usually designated by the brand name followed by a lettered and/ or numbered code. Once you have that, you should double check the set can support a bracket, almost all modern units can. Around the centre of the rear face, there should be at least four evenly spaced screw holes where a mounting bracket will attach. The holes may already have four screws in them for use with a bracket.
For extra reassurance before you make a purchase, you can measure the diagonal distance between these holes, that will give you a measurement in inches, you can use this when searching the compatibility specifications given on the bracket type you want.
It will probably be easier, in my opinion, to find a compatible bracket through the measurements you made, this is because it would take far to much ink and space for the outer packaging to contain a full list of every single TV it was compatible with, however, outer packaging will likely contain some wording or diagram referencing to what size set it can be used with.
Also, keep in mind there are at least three different types of brackets on the market, you need to consider which one suits your needs best before you buy.
- Low Profile – This is a fixed frame that lets a TV sit close to the wall without moving.
- Tilting – This allows a bracket to lean forward so the TV looks down, these are used if the set is mounted at an unusual height with the viewer below.
- Full Motion – This allows a TV to be moved and set at different viewing angles, both vertically and horizontally.
Another consideration should be the weight you’re thinking of hanging off the bracket. If you have a huge 50-60+ inch unit hanging off four small screws then you do run the risk of something breaking or coming loose as it goes through daily wear and tear. Especially if the bracket is on some sort of swivel arm.
Once you have chosen your bracket type you’re ready to make your purchase.
Next, make your decision on where you will purchase your bracket from, the internet or a store.
A store may be easier as you can go straight to customer assistance and show them your specs and they should be able to find you what you’re after.
If you purchase online then use the collected information to source your product, the brackets available may come under a brand-specific type, for example, if you purchase a Sony TV then Sony will no doubt produce own brand brackets. Be careful here, if you purchase one that is branded, you’ll probably pay a premium for it compared to independent brand products.
I guess really this principle extends well beyond just wall brackets so consider that a tip for life.
Linked here is a useful website that offers information on bracket types and a compatibility calculator.
Having made the purchase, make sure it fits your TV. I recommend keeping the packaging intact as much as possible, this ensures a return is likely possible should the bracket be wrong. At this point, you’ll also need to make some other purchases before you begin the installation.
- Wall Anchors
- Filler Compound – (This is only a potential for repairing any accidental damage)
The bracket will likely come with some basic screws and fixings included, my advice here, take them out the box, say ‘how nice they supplied the fixings’ then throw them away, all but the screws for the TV side that is. My quite vast experience with product supplied screws is that almost one hundred percent of the time, they are horrendously substandard and will likely break shortly after the installation if not during. For the price of a small pack of screws, it hardly seems worth the risk to your electronic equipment.
Other tools will be required such as a screwdriver, drill etc. I don’t want to go too far into that here or we will start a new article reviewing power and hand tools. For now, just know the installation itself will require a small array of tools to make holes and screw screws. Tools are easily purchased, borrowed or will probably be the kind of thing you just happened to have laying around in your toolbox.
Step 2 – Preparation
At this point then you’ve successfully done all the pre-prep work needed, you have your TV, a new bracket of chosen style and hopefully all the tools you need, all you need now is a wall to mount it on and you’re away.
First off though before you go drilling holes, you need to consider a few points about the allocated space you plan to use. Make sure it is free from obstructions, ornamental, human or other, there needs to be plenty of space around where the TV will go. Don’t forget at this to also consider your power supply, peripherals such as DVD players, surround sound speakers and where your cable or satellite will attach.
Secondly, there is some rather important information to take into consideration when choosing a location, failing to follow this advice could lead to serious damage to your walls, your equipment or most important, anyone in the vicinity of the TV.
If your power supply outlet is located in a place that allows the power supply cables to disappear when the TV is mounted then it means the electrical supply cables will run through the wall near where you will be drilling. There is also a potential for water mains to be hidden behind the wall.
There are a number of rather expensive detection tools on the market, these allow you to find out what lurks behind a wall. These tend to be aimed more towards contractors rather than the average home DIY’er as they can be expensive and tricky to use in untrained hands.
There are few tricks to follow if you’re doing it the old-fashioned way of drill and pray. Consider where all the electrical and other mains outlets are.
A light switch, for example, should have all its electrical cables located directly vertical of the switch.
With power outlets, the cables will run either vertical to the ceiling or horizontal towards another outlet if they are linked together in a circuit.
Going off this principle it is easy enough to make a calculated guess as to if you are in danger of hitting any cables, just be careful.
Water mains are a little different however, they won’t necessarily have any obvious, visual markers to reference off.
Pipes need solid anchor points in walls, they follow a vertical or horizontal path along a stud wall. Cables tend to have slack or give in them, pipes do not. If you drill through a wall and into a pipe made of copper, being of harder material your drill bit will likely skim off the surface and you will feel a sudden jerk.
If however, you hit plastic, your drill bit will more than likely carry on through and make a big mess. That is why using a probe isn’t a bad idea, it gives you an indication as to what lurks behind the wall.
Do this by sending a thin piece of metal through a small hole you’ve made and see if you hit anything, if you do then give it a poke around, if the object moves its likely cables or plastic pipe, if it doesn’t it is likely copper pipe or a wooden joist. None of this is an exact science though, if you are unsure then do not proceed until you are.
If you are planning on mounting a large TV, then it would be advised that rather than relying solely on the strength of the drywall, you should consider finding the wooden beams from the stud walling or even using an outer wall of the building, this has a higher chance of being made from brick or some other, more sturdy material. This will offer a lot more security for your fixings and provide a considerable amount more strength.
Again be very careful if you manage to locate a stud or noggin of the stud wall. These often have electrical or water mains running through them and a probe will only hit the wood itself or a pipe but you likely won’t be able to tell the difference.
Theoretically, all the beams should have a protective plate over the points where cables and pipes run through, this is to stop the very problem we are talking about, it takes away the risk of a utility conduit being drilled or nailed into. It’s not guaranteed these plates will be there however, nor does this plate cover more than the diameter of the wood, this leads to the general rule being that you should drill and insert your fixings either half way in the void, the space between two upright studs, or you should drill into the wooden beam itself.
Don’t ever drill along the side of a stud wall beam, down the side is where electrical cables and water mains are secured and don’t have the extra protection of the safety plate.
Presuming you have found a location to secure your bracket too, you need to check the material your wall is made of, this will determine precisely what type of fixing you need.
For a wooden stud wall, if drilling directly into the wooden beam then a longer wood screw would be ideal.
For drywall, you should consider using a threaded drywall anchor or some type of winged anchor.
There are far too many variants of similar products to go into them all here, sorry to say. If you purchase from a hardware store then you can ask the clerk and they should be able to tell you what is best for the wall your dealing with.
For any type of brick or a harder material wall, then expansion anchors are a must.
Apologies that I cannot be of more use when discussing how to locate a safe place to drill, without specialist tools for detecting cables, pipes and stud walling. It really is half dumb luck and half estimation going off key features like electrical outlets and switches on the wall.
To try and help however here is a video that gives a bit more of an insight:
Step 3- Labour
Next comes the actual construction, with all the prep work finished, location decided, probing done then it is time to proceed with drilling and mounting.
Once you’ve decided on the right place for the brackets to go then follow the guide below.
- Using a spirit level, mark a horizontal line on the wall the width of the brackets screw holes.
- On the marked line, place the bracket and mark out the four screw holes.
- Remove the bracket and drill the holes following the rules in the previous section.
If drilling into wood or softer material, use a twist drill bit.
For harder material like brick, use a masonry bit.
- Next, you need to insert into the holes, whatever type of wall anchor your using and make sure they are secure.
- If your wall needs any immediate repair work, repainting etc, now is the time to do it. It is far easier to get these jobs out the way before the TV is mounted, it may be there for some time, right? So why not make it easier for your future self and do all the DIY at once.
- Without the TV attached, offer up the bracket to the wall and screw it into the fixings. Remembering to use your store bought screws and not the ones supplied with the bracket.
- Do the ‘tug test’, giving the bracket just enough pressure to emulate the weight of the TV, give it a move around, try gently pulling your weight down, side to side and finally away from the wall. It is far better to see if the bracket will move now that before the TV is attached and it all comes crashing down.
- If the worse case happens and the bracket comes loose then you’ll need to do some repair work. It seems cruel to leave you without backup so here is are a few pointers.
Before you begin the repair, think if this is absolutely one hundred percent the place you want the TV to go, if so you’ll need to reinforce the wall first.
Presuming that we are talking about stud walling as that is the most likely scenario that a wall would fail, some sort of frame will need constructing.
To build reinforce, you will need to consider taking a portion of the drywall off and building a wooden frame inside the stud walling. Once complete then replace the drywall and take care of the surface.
You may also want to consider simply moving the bracket a few inches in another direction until you find some sort of supporting beam, probe any new holes first. Keep in mind any damage done you’ll need to repair which just adds to the cost of the job overall.
Paint, wallpaper, drywall board, tape and filler for the drywall itself. These costs soon add up and these are just a few items you may need for a repair job.
The best advice is to get the preparation right and repairing won’t be an issue.
Above is just a rundown of what a repair should look like but there is a lot of material out there that can offer further help or better still go to your hardware store and speak to a professional.
* If the TV is on a ‘full motion’ or ’tilting bracket’, the process for securing the set may be a little more tedious. With an assistant, extend the bracket and offer the TV up to it, screw the set to the bracket plate using the supplied screws.
If however, the bracket is supplied in two halves then secure them to the wall and set separately, then slot them together. This is usually the case with ‘Low Profile’ mounts.
The only supplied screws you’ll need to keep are the ones that secure the bracket to the TV. These would be a lot harder to find in a hardware store as all rear TV screws tend to follow an industry standard form factor. Meaning they follow standard sizes, they do this to make it easier for companies to mass produce and sell the specific products. In general, the supplied rear screws will be a lot more fit for purpose as well so concerns over changing these are less of an issue.
* The final hurdle, cable management is something I would always consider important yet often gets overlooked after the main install has been completed. I mean you don’t want to go to all the effort and expense of having a nice wall mounted television, to have it ruined by cables running all over the wall and hanging down. It’s unsightly and unnecessary. There are two options at this point, the first is to have electrical outlets mounted behind the TV, this will allow for the cables to completely disappear, meaning you won’t have them hanging down over the wall.
The next option is the one where you do have them all over the wall, usually because there isn’t a power supply anywhere in close proximity and it’s too late to add one. Sometimes this is the case but there are still options here, the easiest being the use of some sort of plastic cover or cable trunking.
There are far too many products on the market to go into them all in great detail so instead, I will supply a simple overview. They range in price from very cheap to very expensive. The sad truth is they all more or less do the exact same job, that is too provide a safe, neat cover to run your cables through. Being plastic means they are easy to paint over as well helping it to blend into a wall.
Linked below is a video of one particular brand that provides a good example of how these products work and how and also how to fit them. This is a target video for one particular brand but they more or less all work the same, and are mounted and cut the same.
This particular product is screw fixed, however, if you are in a position where you don’t want to risk more holes in your wall then go for the double sided tape option, if this doesn’t come as standard then there is nothing stopping you from buying some double sided tape and applying it yourself instead of drilling. That way, should you need to remove it at any point, you’ll only have to do minor surface repairs to a wall where the tape was removed instead of having the extra effort of filling and repairing the holes.
DIY or Not?
Now we’ve gone through the self-installation side I want to quickly run through and weight up the pros and cons of hiring a handyperson to do the job for you. It is certainly an easy option but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best option. They often come at an expense that is steep considering the relatively small amount of work that’s involved in mounting the average TV.
Now, if we are talking about an entire wall unit that acts as an in-home theatre for you and all your buddies to watch the big game on, then yes, you’d probably benefit from calling a professional over to install your equipment.
If however, we are talking about a 40-50 inch TV, which is the 2017-2018 average screen size, then you may want to reconsider. Although the units are still pretty hefty in size, the panels are getting thinner and the materials lighter meaning the sets themselves get ever more suitable for the DIY home installation option.
Hiring the professionals then, is it worth getting help?
There are Pros and Cons either way so here are a few of the most obvious:
- One of the most significant pros is that you are almost guaranteed to have the job done correctly.
- There is less risk of an expensive mistake, should the worse happen and the person doing the install mess something up, it should be their responsibility to repair it.
- Aside from possibly purchasing the bracket, depending on the service they offer, you shouldn’t have to purchase any other materials or accessories.
- There is always a chance that the professional you hire will turn out to be a phoney. If this is the case then you will pay a lot of money for a second rate job with potentially a lot more risk for blunders. That brings us to our second Con.
- It is definitely not guaranteed that the person you hired won’t charge you if something goes wrong and requires extra time and materials, even if it was his or her fault.
- Hiring a professional will cost you, if you’re working to a budget then even the professionals offering a cheaper rate may be too much.
Here is something you may want to consider before you go to the effort of hiring a professional yourself.
Perchance you haven’t even purchased the TV itself yet, but you were going to do it all at once instead, buy the set and have it wall mounted, then you must shop around. Do research on local stores, especially some of the smaller more independent retailers, they are usually more appreciative of your business and will want to go that extra mile for you, one of the ways they may show their appreciation for your custom is by offering free or seriously reduced price of in-home setup.
There is always a chance they have their own person or persons that will come and install your unit as part of the service, especially if you purchased a brand new TV from them. This means you may get it free or at a reduced rate and would thus seriously undercut any price a private contractor could offer.
Hiring a Handyperson
So let’s just say you’re not confident in your own ability to do the work no matter home much research you may or may not have done, or possibly you simply don’t want to do the work yourself. You’re dead set on hiring someone to do the work and you’ve also asked the retailer, they don’t offer an installation service for free. What they can offer however is either a contact line to a recommended fitter that is store approved or, an in-home service that is extra to your purchase price, is it worth it? Presuming you think it is then the first thing you need to look for is precisely what service they offer. There are different options that may not always be clear so make sure you ask the right questions to start with, here are a few I would ask.
- Who will carry out the installation, an individual or team?
- How long will the work take?
- Will there be more than one callout, i.e. will the unit and mounts TV and wall need measuring and assessed first, then will the installation be done at a later date?
- Does the company supply the mounts and fixings, if so will they have to measure the wall space and get the TV specs first.
Once you have covered all the essentials and you’re happy with the information the installation company has provided then it is generally a simple case of waiting for the installer to show up and do the job.
My advice with regards to finding a trusted trader yourself is to search the local reviews. There are websites and apps these days that exist solely to help people hire a professional in more or less any field.
People who have previously hired a person via these means will be able to leave honest reviews about the trader and the quality of their work.
This is possibly one of the safest ways to find and hire a professional as you will know exactly what you are paying for.
A few websites & places to search could include:
Yelp – This website is one that allows you to find services, ranging from restaurants to landscaping they effectively help you find any service you require.
Bulletin Boards– Are a very useful asset. Often located in shopping malls, convenient stores and hardware stores. Again they can be an easy way to find a reliable handyman.
Word of Mouth – Never take for granted word of mouth. It can be a valuable asset to have someone recommend a person they previously hired. It shows they do good work and may also come at a cheaper rate out of gratitude.
Our Site – our site features a search form for contractors where you will be able to get up to 4 free contractor quotes.
In general, it’s unlikely you’d ever find someone advertising directly what you want, e.g. A TV wall mount installer is too specific and would therefore likely never come up, however searching for words like handyman or appliance installer may yield better results.
In conclusion to ‘hiring a guy’… or girl, is a great option if you either can not or simply don’t want to do the work.
Price for hiring someone can be quite varied. Starting at about $70 for a ‘low end’ handyperson to as steep as $1000+ for ‘high end’.
The national average is around $380 for a handyperson to come and do an in-home job but I always say try and negotiate.
It is almost impossible to give an exact figure, least of all because different companies or individuals will be different in their pricing methods, some will charge per hour a job takes, others per day, and others per job itself, so an overall price.
Gets the facts and figures first, write them down then shop around for another two or three quotes before you make a final decision.
DIY – Price Guide
So here is a quick rundown of the price if you are considering proceeding with the DIY method.
Bracket – $100+/-
Screws plus Wall Anchors – $5-$10
Cable Trunking – $10
Filler – $10-$20
Total Cost = $140
Comparison to hiring a handy person:
At an estimated $140 for the DIY option, it certainly isn’t worth complaining about at all.
Comparatively the cheapest handyperson for hire was about $70, now it’s unlikely at that price or for anything less than $100 at least you’d get the TV bracket thrown in free. That means at $100 for a bracket plus $70 for the work, you’re already more expensive than doing the job yourself.
These figures are for reference only, they are estimates and taken from data collected from multiple sources on the internet and may vary when searching yourself.
DIY as a whole has gone through a change in recent years, I think this is largely due to companies making products harder to repair. Now it’s strange to think that when the battery on your iPhone starts to fade, you can’t just pop the back off anymore and replace it, instead, you have to send off for specialist repairs at an ‘approved’ repair shop. This may not seem to relate but it does, it gives an illusion that things are no longer doable at home, that includes things like painting a wall, constructing a table or wall mounting brackets for your TV.
I think in terms of wall mounting a TV, there are many pros and cons to what option you choose for the mounting. It’s easy to forget how simple doing jobs yourself can be without throwing lots of money at ‘professionals’. What you need to weigh up and consider is your own time and what value you put on it. If you have a day or a few of hours free and have all the tools at your disposal then its definitely worth a serious thought, especially if you have relative confidence in your own DIY skills.
I hope this guide has given you some useful insights and has helped to guide you in your decision, whichever that may be.