I’ve been installing TV’s on walls since the earliest days of the Plasma display and it amazes me that they keep re-inventing the wheel.
The standard TV mounting bracket has a relatively simple task to perform but there are a gazillion variations on the market, each with bewildering quantities of parts and screws. You don’t always get the bracket that would have worked best for your situation. Here are some things to consider.
1. How heavy, how big?
It makes sense that your first consideration in wall-mounting a TV would be how heavy the display itself is. Television displays have become lighter even as they have become more technically agile and offer better images. A 60” Panasonic plasma, that original flatscreen technology, weighs in at around 80 lbs. compared to 52 lbs. for a 60” Samsung Smart TV. A mounting bracket usually indicates on the packaging its weight limits. They also indicate the size capacity so in most cases if the size fits so will the weight.
2. What is the VESA pattern?
The second consideration is the VESA pattern. This is the rectangular pattern of 4 holes on the back of the TV, where machine screws will be inserted to support it. The patterns vary, as do the size of the screws provided. If you have ever wondered why the box a bracket comes in includes dozens of screws you can’t use, it’s because the manufacturer is allowing for the variations in requirements between TV models. If you buy an obscure brand of TV, or the latest model, you might find even an abundance of screws won’t fit the inserts and you’re off to the hardware store. Just to be safe, some SONY models include adaptors in with the TV box to allow for their specific form of anchoring.
With just a few exceptions, though, the VESA pattern and screw selection that comes with the mount will work for most brands.
3. Where is it going to go, on what kind of wall?
The third consideration is where it will be installed. You would choose the location depending on your furniture setup and preferences but you must confirm that the bracket can be safely installed on the wall. Ideally, you would like to anchor it into wood studs or blocking with lag bolts, but the wall may not accommodate that. It may be concrete, possibly even with a layer of Styrofoam between the concrete and the drywall. If it is solid masonry, that’s not a problem, but it may be a thin stone facing. It may have steel studs rather than wood. If it’s an older house the studs may be on 24” centres behind lath and plaster.
All but the last of these issues is dealt with easily using alternative anchoring techniques. For the standard tilt bracket, the majority of the weight is pulling down rather than out, and that, along with the lighter weight of modern displays, makes secure mounting a little easier. The problem with studs on 24” centres is that some brackets are only big enough to fit on studs spaced at 16”. Even that could be a problem if you want flexibility in locating the mount, because it restricts you to either this stud space or the one beside it.
A longer wall mount will give you better structural support and more flexibility in location. Just make sure that it is not so big that it shows beyond the edge of the TV.
Often, to achieve a nice clean look, a homeowner will build a recess into the wall so that when the TV is installed on the bracket, it sits back within the recess. The issue to be careful of in this case is how you will manage to hang the TV on the bracket that is set back in the recess. One consistent feature of wall mounting brackets is that they connect a hooked plate of some kind to the back of the TV and it fits over a rail on the wall bracket. To set it in place, especially with a larger display, you need to have someone on each end and they have to look in behind the display to manipulate the hooks correctly on to the rail. It usually also requires that you lift the display up higher than the final position, then lower it carefully into place. You can’t do these things within a constricted recessed space.
To get that great recessed look is still possible, using a different bracket.
A reciprocating bracket that includes an elbow mechanism to move it in and out can be installed in the recess. This way you can pull out the rail that supports the display, hook it on, and push the bracket back into place, leaving only a finger-width gap on each side of a nice neat fit. You have to keep in mind that, because of the elbow, the reciprocating bracket takes up more space than a standard tilt bracket.
4. What Type of Bracket Will Work Best?
The fourth consideration, then, is the type of bracket you choose. There are three main types: fixed, tilting and full motion, often called reciprocating brackets. Each has its pros and cons.
A fixed bracket has fewer parts and can fit closer to the wall. It leaves a clean finished appearance. The main disadvantage is that it can’t be tilted toward the seating position, so unless it is installed at a low level, you will be seeing the screen at an angle.
It can also present challenges in fitting the cables behind the TV and in hanging it on the rail that is so close to the wall.
The tilt bracket is the most common because it allows the TV to be mounted higher on the wall and tilted down to the seating area, which is the most common application for a mount. The mechanism behind the tilt bracket takes up a bit of space so it might be seen from the side. Whether or not this is an issue depends on whether the TV is often seen from the side.
The reciprocating or full motion bracket is very useful in many applications. If your TV is on a wall in the Living Room and you want to be able to see it from the open plan kitchen, you can just pull it out and swivel it to the angle that works. The caution here is to check the rotating limit of the bracket before purchasing it so that you are sure that it can swivel to the extent you are looking for. They are not all the same. You also have to have a good look at your space to see if, when it’s fully extended, it can swivel without hitting anything. And the cables have to allow for that extra travelling.
Other considerations, too, come in to play with the reciprocating bracket. Because it moves out from the wall, the forces on the anchoring will be greater the farther it moves away from the wall surface. Even with a relatively light display, you want to anchor it directly into solid material with a strong lag bolt.
Some reciprocating brackets, particularly smaller ones, are designed to mount on a single stud. The thing to keep in mind with this bracket type is that you can choose which stud on which to mount it but you have no other options for determining its position on the wall.
5. What should you spend on a bracket?
The fifth consideration is cost. Wall mount brackets range widely in price, mostly depending on where you buy them. Some cost less than a bag of groceries while others can run you hundreds of dollars. Other than the considerations mentioned above around location and anchoring, fixed and tilt brackets are straightforward, and relatively easy to install. Shopping for a good price is possible without inviting trouble. The full-motion bracket, though, is a piece of machinery that has several moving parts. The less you pay for it, the more likely it is to be a nightmare to install or wobble once its up. If you want to be able to move your TV around, particularly if it’s over 40 inches, you’d be better off to pay more. And one feature that only comes with the more expensive brackets – a feature that saves hours of headaches, is the ability to adjust the level after it is installed. With extending parts, the slightest variation of level at the wall anchoring can become magnified passing through the moving parts. Being able to tweak the level of the TV without revisiting any anchoring is a real plus.
These five considerations will help you get the right mount for your room and your TV. Installation can still be a tricky thing. There’s a lot of measuring and sometimes a lot of parts. Solid anchoring is the most important but the aesthetic considerations of level and spacing, how to route the cables, and how it relates to the room can sometimes take some puzzling out.
There are some special TV mounts as well if you want to get fancy. The TV can rise from a piece of furniture or hang from the ceiling. They require a bit more patience and expertise to put together.
It’s not uncommon for people to mount the TV above the fireplace, a nice neat space saving solution in most cases. Many builders rough in their AV feeds to a box set into the fireplace above the mantle. If you don’t hang a TV on it, you’ll have to hang a painting there.
I have been installing Mantle Mount TV brackets. These mechanical wonders are specifically designed to overcome the disadvantages of a TV up there above the fireplace. They can be pulled out and swivelled around to be viewed from different angles, with pneumatic shock absorbers to hold them in place yet let them move easily and safely. They cost a little more but they are the ideal solution if you have to hang your TV high above a mantel.
Hiring A Professional
Mounting a TV can be an all-day headache if it’s the first time you’ve done it. The easy way out is to hire a professional who has done it often enough to know all the tricks.
My customers tell me it’s difficult to find someone in this area (Meaford + 50 km.) who will install TV’s and wall mounts that they have purchased. Homebuttons can help, and can provide a bracket if you don’t have one, along with necessary interconnects and accessories.
I guess that should be the sixth consideration: call Homebuttons 519-270-2797