I didn’t realize this was such a hot-topic until after the Christmas season. Several family members bought new flat screen TVs and were wondering the best way to get that “clean look” of a wall-mounted screen with no visible cables.
Since most of us with new flat screens don’t also have newly constructed houses to match, let’s talk about how to run the television’s power, HDMI, RCA, and any other cables through the wall.
These are the tools to get ahead of time:
- Wire Fish Tape (or: Fish Tape, Wire Snake, Wall Snake, whatever the kids are calling it these days).
- Two (2) Screwdrivers (a Phillips and a standard)
- Drywall Hand Saw
- Sharpie Marker
- Electrical Tape
Now let’s talk about the hardware you’ll need:
- Two (2) Wall Plates
- Two (2) Existing Construction Gang Boxes
- Cables [in my case: two 15 ft. HDMI (1 for DirecTV, one for HTPC), one RCA cable (goes from TV to surround sound receiver), one TV power cable (of course, this comes with the TV)]
Wondering where to buy this stuff? I recommend mycablemart.com. And no, they’re not paying me to write this. I found the company through a Google search the week before Christmas, and bought a wall mount bracket, face plates, gang boxes, and 2 HDMI cables at a very competitive price. I made this purchase late afternoon 2 days before Dec. 24th, and by the time I got home from the office the next day, the package was waiting for me in my garage. That’s fast shipping during the hectic Holidays. If you have a better place to shop for this stuff, by all means, leave a comment about it.
So why did I buy the “Pass Through” face plate? Because it seems like A/V equipment is always changing the inputs/outputs as the years fly by. I didn’t want to pigeon hole myself into a limited set of i/o ports. With the pass through plate, I have the option of running different cables through the wall as needed (although I don’t plan on doing this often, as it’s a pain).
That said, if you want something a little more customized and even more “finished” looking, check out these wall plates:
- Get out the Sharpie, put the Single Gang Wall Box up to the wall, and trace the inside of it with your marker to get the general size of the rectangular hole you’re going to cut into your wall.
- Do this twice–one down by the baseboard, and one up by the TV’s wall mount bracket. Make sure these holes are directly in-line with each other, in the same stud bay. Otherwise it will be difficult or impossible to run the cables.
- Take your drywall hand saw and cut the rectangular holes out. Just wiggle the saw in, no need to go any deeper than the drywall (say about 1/2 inch). After you cut the rectangular shape, see if the wall gang box fits. It probably won’t, so do some fine tuning and shave away areas that need it.
- Fit the wall gang boxes in the holes. You don’t need to tighten them down yet.
- Feed the wire fish/snake wire through the top hole, down through the wall, and fish it out through the bottom hole. This may be easier said than done, and it’s good to have a helper. In my experience, the “wire fish” tool is necessary… we tried a wire clothes-hanger, and it wouldn’t work.
- Now that you’ve got your fish wire hanging out the bottom hole, take your cables and tape them to the fish wire in a manner that makes them “aerodynamic” and not bulky. Remember, you’re pulling all these wires through a wall with insulation, other wiring, or whatever is inside. You need your cable bundle to be as sleek as possible to avoid getting caught on other stuff as you pull it up.
- Now have your helper push the cables up from the bottom as you pull up your fish wire from the top.
- Once you get the wires ran, make sure you really have all of them. I finished up the entire job before I realized I forgot the TV’s power cord!
- Get your screwdrivers and turn the screws in the gang box so that the little “arms” squeeze tight against the back of the drywall.
- Thread the cables through the openings in the pass through face plates (or plug them into a customized face plate if that’s what you bought).
- Turn the screws on the face plates to attach them to the gang boxes.
That should be everything! Now hang your flat screen back on the bracket, plug your cables in, and enjoy that “clean” look.