After mounting thousands and thousands of TVs in all sorts of different settings and wall materials, I have written this complete guide on how to mount a TV. Is it hard? Not really. Can it be frustrating? At times, oh ya! But hopefully this guide will answer all your questions. You should be able to bang this out in less than an hour.
The first step in all this is to determine your wall and stud material. Here is a list of most common configurations:
- Detached homes in US and Canada: drywall (gypsum) on wood studs
- High-rises and condos: drywall (gypsum) on steel / metal studs
- Old wood burning fireplaces: solid brick
- Newer gas fireplaces: Tile on backer board framed on wood studs
We would say 65% of the installations we have done are on wood studs, 25% are on steel studs, and the remaining 10% are on tile, brick, concrete, or something else.
This guide will continue on assuming drywall on wood studs, but if you have other materials we have guides for those too:
How to Mount a TV onto Metal Studs (coming soon)
How to Mount a TV onto Tile (coming soon)
How to Mount a TV onto Brick / Concrete (coming soon)
After you determine what type of wall and stud material you have, you’ll need to find out where your studs are. The studs are what will give you the structural support your TV needs, so finding them is obviously important. I have never, and will never mount a TV directly onto drywall. In my opinion this is a big no-no and a disaster waiting to happen. Also, some full motion brackets are either center stud mounting, or spanning studs mounting — you’ll need to see where your studs are to determine which bracket to get.
The most common stud spacing is 16″ on center. This means if you take the middle (or center) of any stud and measure it to the next stud’s center you’ll get 16″. Now of course contractors want to save money where they can and 24″ spacing is becoming more and more common. So if you bought a mount that is designed to span 16″ studs and you have 24″ studs — then you’ll be hopped!
When I first started out this seemed to be one of the hardest parts. Finding those dang studs! I went through countless stud finders that always seemed to give mixed results. I finally found a stud finder that I am confident with and has very very rarely led me astray. It’s the Franklin ProSensor 710+ Professional. I don’t work for them or anything like that. It’s honestly just the best one out there in my opinion. Anyway, if finding studs makes you nervous and is putting you off this project — this stud finder will help you out!
Ok let’s get to it! Firstly, mark out where you want the center of the TV on the wall. Where the center of the TV is going can be very obvious or somewhat difficult. If it’s going above a fireplace, the most likely the TV center will be at the center of fireplace. If you have an off-shifted living room though, then it becomes a little more harder to decide. Look for symmetries in the room. Is the TV going between a window and doorway? Then the center of that wall will probably look good. If there is really no obvious correct aesthetic answer, then I always tell my clients to put it in the most functional spot — even if this creates an asymmetry (maybe it won’t be in the middle of a wall).
Once you have where the center of the TV is going on the wall, then get the old stud finder out and start marking out the studs. Meaning take a pencil and draw on the wall where the stud starts and stops.
You will have two likely scenarios:
- There is a stud exactly where the center of the TV will be.
- There are studs on either side of the where the center of the TV will be (about 2-10 inches on either side).
I should mention you’ll get the best results if the bracket on the wall can be centered with where you want the center of the TV. You can get brackets with horizontal off-shifts and all this fancy stuff — but this guide is aiming to get the best results with minimum effort and frustration.
Alright now that you have your stud markings, it’s time for bracket selection!
To determine the correct bracket for you, you’ll need to consider a few aspects. The first is what kind of functionality you want once the TV is mounted. If you are looking to mount your TV super close to the wall and have no tilting or movement, then a fixed bracket is the way to go. If you want to able to tilt the TV down (good for glare), then a tilting bracket will do you good. If you want the ability to bring the TV away from the wall, move it left and right, and swing it then you’ll need a full motion bracket.
Next, measure your TV size from corner to corner. You can also google the model number to get this number. Typical sizes are 43″, 55″, 65″, 75″, 77″, 85″. Technically we should go by something known as the VESA pattern on the back of the TV, but the brackets are so universal these days it’s easier to just go by the size of the TV.
Finally, we’ll take the stud placement into account. For example: if you have a stud exactly where you want the center of the TV, want a full motion bracket, and have a 55″ TV — then you’ll need a full motion center stud bracket. These mounts don’t span two studs, but go on one. They are arguably less secure than ones that span two studs, but after mounting thousands of TVs on them and not one falling off — I think it’s fine!
There is a lot of different brackets out there. Each with it’s own specs, quality, adjustability, etc. The fixed and tilting brackets are categorized by one thing really: TV size — although there are fixed and tilting brackets that span a huge selection of sizes nowadays. You can mount these to the center stud using the holes in the middle of the bracket, or mount them to spanning studs by using the spanned holes. The full motion brackets are categorized by TV size and stud placement. Below is my personal recommendation on what brackets to use:
Full Motion Brackets
Installation of Bracket Arms on TV
Ok, once you have a bracket selected it’s time to mount the arms or plate on the back of the TV. If you have a TV that is out of it’s original box then place it screen side down on a couch or bed. If it has feet attached to it, then unscrew those as well. If you have a brand new TV that is 55″ or over then I find it easier to keep it in the box while mounting the arms. Most TV boxes slide up exposing the back of the TV while it remains in an upright position (the bottom of the box supports it).
Now look at the back of your TV and find which screw size you need. Pretty much any mount out there will include a bunch of different screws sizes for all possibilities. Once you have the correct thread size then it’s just a matter of find the right length. Start screwing in (BY HAND!) one that threads in. Does it sit flush with the back of the TV nicely? Then this is your screw! Is it too long? Then see if there is a shorter one.
If there is not then you can use those black rubber spacers to compensate the extra length. With the screw bottomed out, start placing spacers next to it to visually see what spacer size you need.
Now it’s just a matter of securing the arm to the back of the TV with the properly picked out screws (and possibly spacers).
Pro Tip: if the back of the TV has holes 400mm apart, you will have to max out your mounting arm. However, if it’s less, it’s always better to position the mounting arm in the middle of the holes. Why? If you want to adjust the height of your TV later then it’s much easier to just move the mounting arms on the back of the TV then to remove the wall bracket and remount at a different height.
Installation of Bracket on Wall
Now it’s time to install the wall bracket on the wall. This is obviously an important part, as this is where the structural integrity of the installation comes from. The first step is to figure out what height you want your TV at. Is there a right answer for how high you should mount it? NO! Again, after thousands of TV mountings everyone is all over the map with this question I have found. Some people like their TVs sky high, some like it low, and some like it in the middle. The usual conversation goes like this:
me: “how high would you like the TV”
client: “oh you’re the expert, what do you recommend?”
me: “well for comfort the recommended height is 42″ to the middle of the TV”
–proceeds to show how that would look like with a measuring tape —
client: “oh that’s much too low, can we bring it up?”
So really, just go by with what will look good and is comfortable to watch. The higher you put your TV the more your neck will suffer. The lower you put it, the more awkward it looks. Find a balance point right for you.
Moving on, say you find your sweet spot that puts the bottom of the TV at 40″ from the floor. Now we have to put the bracket on the wall that will get the TV to this height. My trick in doing this is to put the bracket on the back of the TV on the mounting arms. It doesn’t matter if you have a single stud mount, a fixed, tilting, or full motion mount. This will work. With the wall bracket on the back of the TV, measure from the bottom of the TV to the top of the wall bracket. Say this measure at 16″. Now we know the top of the wall bracket must go at 56″ above the floor to position the TV bottom at 40″. I find this way easier than using the templates and crazy measuring guides.
Mark on the wall where the top of the bracket must go (56″ in our case”). Now using the digital level, and our previous stud markings place the bracket on the wall. Position the top of the bracket with our height marker and make sure the mounting holes span two stud markings (if using a spanning bracket), or are on the center stud (using a center stud bracket). If using a spanning bracket try to position the center of the bracket with where you want the center of the TV. Usually brackets allow you to move the TV left and right a bit, but if you’re on an extreme then there might not be enough compensation for this to work.
Place the digital level onto of the bracket and level out the bracket. Use a pencil to mark where the mounting holes on the bracket overlap the stud markings. Now we know exactly where to drill to ensure our TV is level, centered, and at the proper height.
Your bracket should tell you the drill bit to use to drill a pilot hole into the wood. Follow their recommendation, as different brackets have different lag bolts they include (which need different pilot holes). Usually I just go with a 3/16″ bit, and drill down 2 inches or so — doesn’t really have to be exact nor perfect. Drill into the wood where you marked the overlaps in this step.
With the pilot holes drilled it’s time to attach the bracket onto the wall. Your bracket will have included lag bolts. Use the nut driver set to find which one fits onto your bolts, and attach the bit to the impact drill. Position the bracket as you had and drive the lag bolts in. Use the digital level at the end to make sure it’s still level. If not, back the bolts out a little bit so they are semi-tight and adjust the bracket. Drive them in again and recheck the level.
Congrats, the hard part is over.
Lifting TV onto Bracket
All your hard work is about to pay off. It’s now time to lift the TV onto the wall bracket. I can usually do up to a 65″ alone but man oh man is it easier with two people. Anything over a 65″ I don’t even bother solo. Definitely get a hand with this step unless it’s a tiny TV. Most arm bracket systems work with a latch / release system or a securing screw system. See the manual on your bracket on how to secure it to the bracket.
Basically lift the TV with your partner on each side. Then angle the TV up to hook the arms onto the bracket and slowly tilt back down. Gradually start letting go of the TV and make sure the bracket is supporting the weight. Again, your bracket might be slightly different, but with all the variations it’s impossible to hit them all. The bracket manual should provide better guidance in this step.
Pro Tip: Plug in the power cable and any hdmi cables into the back of the TV before lifting it on the wall. Unless you are mounting on a full motion bracket, you’ll have a heck of a time trying to plug stuff in once it’s on the wall.
Adjusting and Securing
So stand back and look at your beautiful job! It’s perfect right? Nice and level, exactly the height you wanted, nicely centered where you wanted — right!? What’s that, the TV is crooked? It’s not perfectly centered? uh-oh!
Don’t worry about it. Often I go through all the above steps, and make sure everything is level and centered during the measuring stage only to find the TV is leaning to one side. This happens for many reasons. The most common is bracket quality. Having the weight of the TV on the bracket sometimes moves things every so slightly, or makes the bracket sag unevenly. It doesn’t mean the TV is not secure it’s just something that needs adjusting. Thankfully almost all brackets have a level adjustment. This can mean tightening leveling screws, or undoing a securing screw, putting the TV into a level position, and retighten them. Follow your brackets manual to find out how to level the TV. Putting your digital level onto of the TV is a useful aid in this.
Pro Tip: Get a bracket with levelling screws!! You’ll thank me later.
Centering the TV is simply done by just moving the TV on the bracket left and right until it’s centered. Again you might have to undo a securing screw to make this happen. Consult the bracket manual.
It’s very difficult to write a comprehensive one-fits-all guide for tv mounting. There are so many different types of walls, tv sizes, brackets, unique construction conditions, etc. This guide aims to hit about 65-75% of people’s situations perfectly. For the remaining people with unique conditions I hope this guide has helped in some useful way.
You might be asking: what about those dangling cords? Well we have a guide for that too: How to In-Wall Wire Conceal TV Cords (coming soon)
If you are in the Vancouver, BC area and wish for us to come mount your TV in a professional manner please see our service website here: dynamictech.ca/tv-mounting