Nowadays, a wall-mounted television is as integral to a living room as, say, a coffee table or ridiculously cozy couch.
But while you might love the look and practicality of a mounted television—this design hack is practicality begging for a Netflix marathon—figuring out how to do so is easier said than done.
That’s exactly what I realized when I received my 65-inch television from VIZIO. You see, my apartment has a mantel that could perfectly frame a mounted television. But what if I did it wrong? One false move and my living room can turn into a complete design disaster. Or, even worse, it could cost my boyfriend and I our entire security deposit. And I have a feeling I’m not the only one who’s had this internal debate.
If you’re trying to navigate the complicated—and okay, anxiety-inducing—world of mounting a television, here are five questions to ask before you start this project.
1. Can My Walls Hold a Television?
Chances are, this is your most burning mounting question—and for good reason. While some surfaces are strong enough to hold your television, others will get seriously damaged if you try to hang anything. So, how can you tell whether or not your walls are built for the task? It’s all about the studs.
Mount-friendly walls are comprised of studs, which are essentially boards behind your walls that support the overall frame. Not only do the studs support the walls, but they also make it possible to hang things—yes, including your television.
It’s important to anchor the screw of your mount to the studs, or else your television (and wall) run the risk of getting seriously damaged.
Sure, some people may use drywall anchors to hang smaller pieces like art or curtains, but many experts will agree it’s a recipe for disaster.
So how are you supposed to find these mysterious studs? For starters, you can easily pick up a stud finder on Amazon. But while you might be itching to flex your DIY muscle, enlist a pro to do the legwork if you have any uncertainty about getting the job done. After all, better safe than sorry.
2. What Type of Mount Do I Want?
Believe it or not, a television mount is not a one-size-fits-all situation. According to Carlos Angulo, the director of product marketing at VIZIO, you’ll need to choose between an articulating and slim mount.
“Full articulating mounts stick out from the wall quite a bit and can make managing your cables more difficult, and in many cases, people don’t move their TVs around as much as they think,” he says. “On the other hand, slim mounts are usually best if you don’t plan to move your TV.”
While we’re on the topic of wall mounts, it’s important to get the right option for your television.
“While looking at the size may seem like an obvious first step, it’s an easy mistake to get a mount that’s the wrong size for your TV, because it comes up as a recommended product online,” says Angulo. “For instance, the VIZIO 75” P-Series Quantum X TV will require a different mount than the VIZIO 43” V-Series TV.”
3. Are There Any Environmental Factors?
Call us crazy, but we actually want to be able to hear our television. Before you start mounting your walls, take a moment to consider any environmental factors that could cramp your style.
“Think about where you want to mount your TV and consider external environmental factors that could impact your experience,” he says. “ [For example,] is your television too close to the radiator or fireplace?”
But just because you have a roaring fireplace or noisy air conditioning unit doesn’t mean you have to kiss your mounted television goodbye. Instead, you might need to call in some reinforcements.
“Sound systems that have a wireless subwoofer create a great entertainment experience with minimal setup hassle and don’t leave any wires running across the room.
4. What the Heck Do I Do With the Cords?
One of the biggest appeals for mounting your television is how crisp the screen looks on your otherwise blank wall. Instead of your room feeling cluttered by a bulky media center or gallery wall, all the attention is on whatever’s playing. However, very few things can ruin that clean, minimalist look like superfluous wires jutting out of your screen.
In a world where virtually every gadget we can think of has a wireless option, it’s easy to forget that all televisions still require a few cables.
Fortunately, you have some options.
“If you’re setting up a new TV on a wall mount, you’re probably looking for a clean, sleek look in your home or apartment,” shares Angulo. “Don’t leave wires hanging out and instead consider looking into an IWPE (a.k.a. in-wall power extension) or power bridge kit.”
Living in a rental apartment? Cable covers are an easy, construction-free way to mask those cords.
5. Wait, Did I Measure?
Confession time: It’s all-too-easy to forget to measure your walls. Somewhere between finding your frame’s studs and masking those superfluous cords, the dimensions take a backseat—never to be revisited again.
“You probably have the perfect set-up in mind, and what could look worse than a slightly slanted TV or one that’s off-center?” asks Angulo.
The good news is measuring your walls doesn’t have to be a long, draining process. And trust us, it’s one step that’ll pay off in the long run.
“Take the measuring tape and leveler out of your toolkit—or download a free level on your smartphone,” he recommends. "Draw pencil marks on the wall or use blue painter’s tape to outline where your TV will hang.”
Once you’ve drawn the outline, take a seat, and evaluate. Will the television be mounted high enough? Will it be centered? Since you haven’t mounted the television just yet, it’s easy to make any necessary changes.