May 29, 2006
Over the weekend I helped a friend wall mount a Panasonic LCD and thought to myself, hey why not take a few pictures and post an illustrated how-to guide on this. I think it turned out quite nicely here are some before and after shots.
Before you tackle wall mounting a LCD or plasma, you need to ask yourself one question. Is this something best left to a professional installer? If you’re not sure then the answer is yes. I’m not implying that self installation is for everyone.
If you doubt your abilities then by all means it’s worth hiring a professional. However if your reasonably competent with minor home improvement tasks and follow my instructions carefully, this shouldn’t offer you much trouble at all.
So here is my step-by-step guide that illustrates how I install flat-panel displays. With the right preparation, just about any competent do-it your-selfer can accomplish similar installs, in as little as an hour or so.
Picking the right location: Choosing the right place (read wall) to wall mount your LCD or Plasma in my opinion is directly proportional to the difficulty you’ll experience. Exterior walls typically offer more obstructions than interior walls, and if at all possible (especially if you’ve never done this) I recommend using interior walls.
Exterior walls, depending on the region you live in, may (or may not) be built with sway-braces which are sometimes called fire-blocks; although true fire-blocks are typically only found in commercial structures. These horizontal braces or blocks are generally found about mid ways up the wall from the floor, and greatly increase the difficulty of passing the wiring from your equipment up to the display.
Note: choosing an interior wall doesn’t 100% rule out any obstruction in the wall but I have a recommendation for checking this as well, more on that later.
Preparation: First make sure that your chosen LCD or plasma is even capable of being wall-mounted. It’s rare but there are some early models that were table-top only. The easiest way to check this is to see if the box or owners manual mentions ‘VESA Compatible’ or just the words VESA mount. VESA stands for “Video Electronics Standards Association” and is just another way of saying this display is designed to work with VESA standard mounts.
If you don’t see any mention of this, all isn’t lost. Just look at the back of the display and check to see if it has four (or more) threaded screw inserts that a mount can be affixed to. If so, you’re good to go. From there you’ll need to select a mount that’s appropriate for your display. Wall mounts come in a wide range of sizes and styles. For brevity’s sake I’ll just mention the ones I prefer but by all means shop around for what best suits your application.
We pretty much stick with two brands of display mounts, namely OmniMount and Peerless. For LCD’s 37” and under I typically go for the OmniMount and switch-off to Peerless only when I need to mount something heavier than the average 42” Plasma. If these mounts are out of your budget, you should also check out the TV wall mounts at Armor Mount they’re highly recommended as well.
Much of this is just personal habit and not written in stone, since all these manufacturers make excellent mounts and will work just fine in a large range of applications. One last thing to consider in a wall mount is tilt. Tilt wall mounts allow you to tilt the display down slightly, this is a nice feature and one I recommend opting for if possible.
Tools Needed: Most flat panel displays can be wall-mounted with tools you likely already own, that is if you own basic hand-tools (tape measure, screwdrivers, a socket set, cordless drill etc). One item you might not own, that can come in handy for pinpointing the exact location for the mount, is a stud finder (about $20 at Home Depot or Lowe’s).
Recommended tools: Tape Measure, Socket set, Torpedo Level, Sheetrock Saw, Electrical Tape, Stud-Finder, Philips Screw Driver and of course the LCD/Plasma and wall mount, as well as the proper cabling.
First Steps: You’ll need to determine the horizontal placement of the mount on your wall. Once you have a rough idea where you want to place the display (left to right) you’ll need to check for obstructions below the mount down to where your power cable and video feeds will exit the wall, and ultimately make their way to your source equipment. This is where the stud finder comes in handy.
Also in the above step, locate the wall-studs as they relate in position to your bracket. At the very minimum you’ll want to ensure your penetrating into at least one wall-stud (with two anchor bolts, top & bottom) if your mounting a LCD. If you’re mounting a plasma, you’ll want to hit two studs with two anchors bolts on each side, i.e. a total of four anchors.
Note: While it is acceptable to bear the weight of a small to medium sized LCD on one stud, that doesn’t mean you can leave the opposite side loose or free. You’ll still need to toggle or anchor the opposite side, most wall-mount kits come with the necessary hardware for this.
About screen height: As you can see in the photo links at the top of the page, this particular screen is positioned somewhat high on the wall, something I try to avoid if at all possible. Our reasoning for placing this LCD high on the wall was the four poster bed in this room, any lower and the view would have been obstructed by the lower left bed post.
A quick note about the aforementioned power cable: There are several methods of getting power to your wall mounted display but not all of them are condoned by the National Electric Code. The preferred method is to employ standard ‘romex’ electrical cable terminated inside a clock-box style receptacle.
This article is geared toward do-it your-self minded individuals with at least a precursory knowledge of home electrical systems. Please use discretion and by all means consult an electrician if in doubt.
Installing the Mount: Before you begin mounting the bracket to the wall, you’ll want to attach the mounting rails to the back of your display. I like to do this first so I can get a better idea of exactly where the display will sit in relation to the bracket on the wall. In other words, if the rails that affix to the rear of the display shift the overall height of the display up by two inches, you’ll need to factor this into where you mount the wall bracket.
Once this is done you’re almost ready to install the mount to the wall. Grab a pencil and make some light marks on the wall, where the anchor bolts will go through the mount and also trace out a pattern where your wall-box (for cabling) will be cut.
Then put the mount aside for a minute. You’ll want to tap or pre-start a pilot hole for your anchor bolts as they can be difficult to start on their own. You can use a cordless drill with small diameter bit for this or by driving in a sheetrock screw and then removing it.
Go ahead and cut-out and install your wall-boxes for the cabling, both at the display location and wherever you want the audio/video cables to interface with your A/V system. This is where the recommended sheetrock saw comes into play but you could probably improvise here with a box-cutter.
If you’re exiting the cables directly below the display (at electrical box height), the actual pulling of the cables will be much easier than if you’re trying to reach another location in the room, by going into the crawlspace or basement and back up into the room.
If the wall your installing the display on is insulated you might find it difficult to get the cables from the wall-box behind the mount down to the box near your equipment. We use a fish-tape for these types of wire pulls, but you could probably substitute two straightened coat hangers, taped together for this as well.
Ok, with your wall-boxes in place and cabling ran you’re ready to attach the mount to the wall. Hold the mount up to the wall and with your torpedo level ensure that its level and in your desired position.
With a socket-wrench secure your first anchor; this may take a bit a pressure to get the bolt started depending on how well you tapped your pilot hole. Move onto the second bolt, third, fourth and give them all a good last twist to ensure they’re snug and you’re ready to hang the display.
As you can see in the photo above, we chose to exit our cables above the mount. We typically exit the cables in the large open rectangular area in the center of the mount, but as this particular LCD’s inputs are located toward the top-half of the display we accommodated for this with the higher cable placement.
Hanging your display: Before you grab that new television you might want to get a family member or friend to help you with this part. It’s definitely easier to hang a display with two people, one on each side than trying to wrangle it into position all by yourself, (especially if it’s a 42” Plasma, don’t try to hang something this heavy by yourself).
I also recommend taking a look at where the inputs for power and video are located on the back of the display before you lift it. It’s much easier to put the cables into their respective slots if you already know where they go.
Once the display is mounted and the cables are all in place, check to make sure the safety tabs are in position. The weight of the display itself will likely keep it secure on the mount but these tabs or “locks” that close over the rails of the mount, add the extra piece of mind you want when it comes to expensive LCD’s or Plasmas.
Final Thoughts: So there you have it, your LCD or Plasma is wall mounted and ready to enjoy and you’ll be able to tell your friends and family ‘Yeah I installed that, it was a piece of cake’.
My goal here was to illustrate the types of things you may encounter while wall-mounting a LCD or plasma, to help you get a better idea if this is even something you want to tackle yourself.
As with any A/V project, specific applications and installation methods can give rise to unforeseen problems, but hopefully at the very least you now have a better understanding of what goes into the process.
I want to make a quick note about cabling. In my photos you’ll see that we only ran a HDMI cable. We didn’t have any component sources that were going to be used in this system, as the receiver that interfaces with this disply will handle all video switching via HDMI. In most cases however I also recommend running a set of component cables, especially if you’re in doubt as to the final system configuration.
Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Home Theater How-to