How to safely and securely mount a TV on the wall

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How to safely and securely mount a TV on the wall
TV mount options include fixed, swivel, tilt, or full-motion. Carles Navarro Parcerisas/Getty Images
  • TVs and TV mounts use the VESA standard, match the numbers to find a mount that fits.
  • Never mount a TV to drywall only, and always use the studs inside the wall.
  • The TV and mount can be heavy, so it might be a good idea to have an extra set of hands to help.
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Mounting a TV to the wall can offer a subtle, yet effective way of elevating and decluttering an entertaining space without having to make many permanent changes.

"When our clients are purchasing a TV, we often hear that they want to minimize clutter so the space is as clean as possible," says Darius Jackson, senior in-home design agent for Best Buy. "Mounting a TV to a wall can help save space in a room, and create a more professional and welcoming appearance."

Although the idea of mounting a TV on the wall may seem daunting, with a few basic tools, a compatible wall mount, and a friend to help lift up the TV, it's not too hard to do.

Before you begin

How to safely and securely mount a TV on the wall
Before mounting a TV, it's important to consider factors like type of TV mount, where you'll place it, and the wall type you have. Alexander Penyushkin/Shutterstock

Before you start drilling holes in the wall, there are a few key things you need to know that will help tell you how and what to use to mount a TV.

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  • Know what size you need: All TVs and mounts use the VESA standard, which standardizes the hole pattern on the back of the TV used to bolt the mounting frame to the TV. Consult the TV owner's manual to get the exact VESA size needed. VESA sizes are always two numbers (200 x 200, 400 x 400, 400 x 600) and the larger the TV, the larger the numbers.
  • Identify the wall type: Most walls are drywall, which is backed by wood or metal vertical studs. The TV cannot be mounted to the drywall alone - it must be secured into the studs. If your wall is brick or cinder block, you'll need masonry anchors. Some older homes have plaster walls, which sometimes do not have studs. For these walls, you'll need toggle bolts and toggle anchors.
  • Picking the right TV mount: TV mounts come in different styles, and which one you pick depends on what's best for your space. Fixed mounts simply mount the TV to the wall with no movement. Swivel or tilting mounts allow the TV to be adjusted vertically or horizontally, and full-motion mounts enable the TV to be extended out from the wall and moved around in any direction. If your space requires your TV to have a bit more mobility for people to watch, then a swivel, tilting, or full-motion mount might be best.
  • Determine where you want to mount your TV: Consider how you like to watch TV to select the best place. Keep in mind the location of the closest electrical outlet and the studs inside the wall. The holes on the TV mount template must be placed over the centers of the studs, so this will also dictate where the TV can be mounted.

Quick tip: The studs in your wall are in fixed locations which may not exactly align with where you want to mount your TV. If this is the case, offset the bracket. The mounting template will provide multiple hole options to compensate for the location of the studs, and the part of the mount that attaches to the TV can be shifted as well.

What you'll need

How to mount a TV on the wall

How to safely and securely mount a TV on the wall
TVs and mounts can be heavy, so have a friend help when securing it to the wall. Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

  1. Mark the studs. Using the stud finder, find the studs in the area you want to mount the TV and mark the center point of each one. Studs are typically 2 inches wide and 16 inches apart, measuring from the center point. Some walls have studs 24 inches apart. The center point of a stud is where you'll drill the holes.
  2. Tape the mount template to the wall. Use a level to make sure the template is straight. TV wall mounts come with a template which indicates the size and location of the holes to drill. You will want to drill four holes in total. The holes on the template must be placed over the centers of the studs, so this will dictate where the TV can be mounted. If the stud locations don't correspond to exactly where you want the TV to go, you can offset the mounting holes - that's why there are multiple hole options on the template. You can also adjust where you mount the hardware on the back of the TV.
  3. Drill the holes. Using the drill bit size suggested by the TV mount instructions, drill into the four marked hole locations on the template. Drill in about 2 inches, through the drywall, and about an inch into the stud. For a wooden stud you don't want to drill the full screw length, just create a pilot hole to guide the screw. If you're not mounting to drywall, drill a hole the depth of the anchor then insert the anchors into the holes you have drilled. Always double-check the location of the holes before drilling. Once you've drilled the holes, remove the template.
  4. Attach the mount to the wall. The wall mount itself may be heavy, so, if necessary, have a friend help hold it to the wall as you secure it. If indicated in the instructions, be sure to use any washers provided. Tighten the hardware so it's securely mounted but do not tighten it fully, so you can make any necessary adjustments. Place the level on top of the wall mount to confirm it's level. Adjust if necessary, then finish tightening the screws or bolts fully into the wall.
  5. Mount the hardware to the back of the TV. Most wall mounts come with a separate framework section you mount to the back of the TV. Place the frame onto the rear of the TV and line it up with four of the holes there. Ensure the mount is centered both horizontally and vertically unless you need to offset the mount based on the location of your studs. Use the hex wrench to secure the frame to the back of the TV.
  6. Fit the TV onto the mount. Attach the mounting hardware on the back of the TV to the mounting hardware secured to the wall. Do not yet tighten everything firmly as you will now make final adjustments. Place the level on top of the TV and ensure it is level. Make any adjustments and, once level, tighten the screws, bolts, and other hardware.

Insider's takeaway

With the proper tools, a friend to help, and the instructions that come with a TV mount, you too can mount a TV on the wall. Make sure the mount and TV are compatible by matching the VESA numbers. Always measure twice before drilling holes and always remember the TV can never be just mounted to the drywall, it needs to be secured to the studs inside the wall. If the studs aren't exactly where you want the TV to go, simply offset the mount using the paper template that comes with the mounting bracket.

Because of the weight of a wall-mounted TV, and the danger to pets and people should it fall, correct mounting is critical. If you have any doubts about any part of the process or your ability to follow the directions included with the TV mount exactly, call a professional.

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