Hiding TV Wires And Cables
Perhaps the biggest frustration with TV’s is the mess the connecting cables can create. There are honestly few things worse than mounting a TV on a wall just to leave a bundle of cables dangling down to the power socket and to your AV equipment. I know I’m biased but depending how far you want to take it; a little effort can go a long way to tidying your TV wires. I know more and more things are moving wireless nowadays, but even so you will still need to worry about the TV power cable when mounting your TV on the wall.Fortunately, certain brands and models of TV are making this far easier for you like Samsung and their “One Connect”, which all your HDMI, optical, Ethernet,USB, optical and audio cables connect as well as traditional TV aerial cables and from there a single cable can be installed up to your TV, plus a power cable. Even still you will still have to worry about tidying your cables.
In this blog I’m going to share with you some techniques I use for creating a seamless appearance for our TV wall mounting installations and hopefully help you create the perfect result too.
Hiding TV Cable For Wall Mounted TV’s
I’m going to begin with wall mounted TV’s because this be done right to make your TV compliment your living space, when done properly TV’s can really look good and be real space saver. There are a few techniques I use for tidying TV cables and this really does depend on the wall that you’re mounting your TV to.
Hiding TV Cables In Stud Walls
I love stud walls, well I don’t love stud walls. I hate them if I’m honest, I just love mounting TV’s onto stud walls as it can be so easy to hide TV cables behind the plasterboard and in the stud wall. If you’re not familiar a stud wall are sheets of plasterboard which are secured to either wood or metal studs. There is still a lot of nervousness around mounting TV’s on stud walls as many people believe that you will either not be able to get fixing or the TV will tear the wall down. I’m not saying that it’s not a task that should be taken without caution, you just need to make sure that you are using appropriate wall fixing techniques and wall fixings. Anyway, back to the cables.
When you lucky you can simply cut a whole behind your TV and one lower down where your AV equipment is or where you want to bring the cables back out again. Feed something down like some electrical rods, or a specialist cable routing tool or even a trunking lid will do. Tape all your cables to this, like your power cables, HDMI’s, aerial and satellite cables and pull them all up. Install your TV on a bracket in front of this hole and voila we TV cables. I would go a little bit further than this however as wouldn't be the most professional finish. Behind the TV I would usually cut a square hole big enough to install a plasterboard back box and the same lower down. This will also if you have small enough hands allow you to get your hands inside the wall if you are having trouble pulling these out again. You can then install a brushed face plate either side. These are face plates have bristles covering the cable entry and exit and creates a far neater appearance.
If you’re unlucky with your cable drop behind the plaster board you may meet a horizontal stud which you will need to get past. The only option here is to go through it. Chances are you are going to need to cut a piece of the plasterboard out and cut a section of the stud away to allow the cables through. I recommend the following method, insert a rod down into the wall to find the distance to the horizontal stud. Measure this mark out on wall. Using a multi-tool cut a square out of the plasterboard over the top of the stud, you need to cut ever so slightly wider than the stud but not too far, a centremeter or half an inch is fine either side. Remove the cut section of plasterboard, be careful not to break as you will use this to fill the hole. With the multi-tool cut a section away from the stud but not the full width as we need to be able to screw the plasterboard back in position. Route the cables through. Place the cut piece of plasterboard over the hole and screw back in position, dry wall screws are best for this. You will also want to with a Stanley or utility knife chamfer the edges of the cut plasterboard slightly. This will allow the plasterboard to be easily filled with filler.
If you trying to hide cables in a stud wall horizontally, chances are you going to need to do this a few times as wooden studs are typically 16” apart centre to centre and the distance is actually marked on most tape measures, not a lot of people know that, but you do now. If you’re doing this with metal studs which are more difficult to cut away. It’s worth noting that most metal studs are built with holes inside specifically for the routing of cables, you just need to find these and route your cables through.
Another situation you may encounter is that the stud wall is filled with insulation. This is usually easily avoided by using a routing tool that has a natural bend to it keeping it close to the inside of the plasterboard when inside the wall. If you don’t have something similar, you will need to force the angle yourself. If the wall is packed very tightly with Celotex type insulation board you may need to cut a channel to get the cables inside. I will describe this technique in the next section.
For us to do this professionally this would be classed as our Silver+ TV wall mounting installation package.
Hiding TV Cables On Drylined & Dot & Dab Walls
Drylined and dot and dab walls are similar to stud walls except that the plasterboard is stuck up to brickwork or breeze block with blobs similar to cement. These would be the “dots” and “dabs”. This is now a very popular technique for new builds properties and refurbishments and it is considerably quicker than apply two or three coats of plaster like is required on solid walls. The plaster board is stuck up and then a finish skim coat is applied over the top, in the UK this is true at least. Now dot and dab walls can be very friendly when it comes to hiding TV cables behind them, but this really does depend on a few things. The gap behind the plasterboard, if you’re lucky this will be about an inch, but it could be only half a centre-metre. The distance you need to route the cables and where the blobs of adhesive are in relation to where you want to route the cables.
When routing cables behind dot and bad walls. Before I cut any holes away behind the TV I will spend a few minutes just knocking on the walls to help identify where the blobs of cement are. These will sound more solid whereas when you’re not knocking on a blob it will sound hollower. You are looking for a clear route between your TV and where your AV equipment is avoiding these blobs. Once you have identified these. You will want to cut a hole either end, I recommend using a metal back box usually of around 25mm in depth and cut around this. Hopefully there is a nice gap for you to route to your cables behind the drywall or get some electrical rods fed through. Chances are it’s not going to be big enough to get something like a SCART lead through,does anyone still use them? Anyway, but HDMI cables shouldn’t be a problem. I recommend purchasing some slim HDMI cables for this task, the type without EMI rings as these will usually make the cable to big the fit behind the plasterboard. If you’re concerned about the performance of the HDMI cable and interference, you can actually purchase clip of EMI rings which can be clipped in position after the cable has been installed. Beside HDMI cables things like TV aerial, satellite,ethernet, phono’s and even some power cables. The cable terminations can be installed after the cable has been routed through meaning that the cables could fit through a smaller gap.
If your lucky that will be it, screw your back boxes in place. Maybe install a brush faceplate over the top to keep tidy and away you go. I recommend cutting the top and bottom of the metal back-boxes away to allow the cables though. This will create a sharp edge which itself could damage the cable when pulled through. You need to be especially careful with power cables.I recommend just with some electrical insulation tape covering over the cut edge of the metal back box to protect the cables.
If you’re not so lucky you may need to cut a section of plasterboard out around half way to help the cables through and then using a similar technique as described in the hiding TV cables on stud walls section,where the section of plasterboard cut out will be used to fill the hole afterwards. Chances are you going to need to use a fair amount of filler however as you will securing the plasterboard section to the brickwork behind which will naturally recess this into the wall, unlike a stud wall where you fix this to the stud which will make the plasterboard section sit flush.
If the gap is just too small behind plasterboard to the brickwork,then you’re going to need to cut out a channel to get the cables inside of the wall as well as maybe chasing some of the brickwork behind. To do this I again recommending using a multi-tool, simply mark the lines between the cable entry and cable exit sockets and cut. You could also use a pad saw for this, but this takes a bit more elbow grease. If you are careful with the section of plasterboard you cut away, you may be able to re-use this to fill the channel you have created. Place the cables behind the plasterboard, pin them back to the wall and fill the hole. When doing this I personally like to chase a bit of the wall away and install a section of trunking or conduit inside to help cables to be fed through at a later date without the need to damage the wall in the process. This really can help as you never know what you’re going to need in terms of cabling in the future. I will describe this process in more detail in the following section.
This also would be our Silver+ TV Wall Mounting package.
Hiding TV Cables In Solid Walls / Brickwork
Things are about to get dusty, real dusty! If you want to hide the TV cables that feed up to the TV you’re going to need to chase away the plaster and brickwork. This will involve filling over the hold, sanding and possibly painting, but the end result is well worth it. If you have any professional plasterers as friends you may want to tap them up to come and professionally skim the surface once you have completed the installation, but good results can also be achieved by things like One Time or One Strike Filler, it’s what I use. A lot of people really don’t like the idea of knocking holes in their walls, so you may want to use trunking instead to hide the TV cables.
To do this I recommend following the same process as described in the Hiding TV Cables In Drylined Walls section in regards to the cutting away on metal back-boxes, with the bottom cut away to allow cables to be routed and for a brush exit/ entry face-plate to be installed. To make the chase you’re going to need at the very least need a hammer and a chisel, but this sounds like too much hard work for me. I personally use an SDS drill with a chisel or chasing attachment. This does all the hammering that you will need. You can of course use something like a wall chaser, I have one but to be honest as easy as this makes the job it rarely comes off the van because of the amount of dust that comes off them. Even some of the good ones with the Henry hoover attached. Which brings me to my next point you’re going to need a hoover and some dust sheets.Cover your furniture and open the windows. When doing my wall chasing for TV wall mounting installations I usually have an apprentice with me who can hold the hoover up as you chase, this really helps catching the dust.
I strongly recommend when doing this to take a bit of extra time and chase the wall a little bit deeper than would have been perhaps necessary,so you can install a trunking or conduit with the wall to allow cables to be routed through at a later date without damaging the wall. Obviously the deeper of wider the conduit the better as this will make pulling cables through at a later date much easier than one with a tighter space. You will just want to check the depth of your wall if you are chasing between rooms as the last thing you will want to do is to knock a hole right through and create a peep hole!
I personally do it this way. Using the trunking that we be installed in the wall mark the wall slightly wider on both sides. Then using a drill bit mark wrap around with tape slightly deeper than that of the trunking or conduit itself. Along the lines marked on the wall, with your drill bit,drill holes to the depth as marked with the tape about 2cm or an inch apart.This will help you chasing the wall to the correct depth. I then pop in the wide chisel attachment into my drill and chase hole to hole over the holes that have been drilled, this will help create a straight edge. Now chase the brickwork and plaster away in the middle. Place your trunking or conduit in place to make sure that bit is going to fit ensuring that all of it will recess beneath the finished wall line. If not chase away the bits of brick that are preventing it fitting in place. Once it does secure in place with screws and rawl/ wallplugs. Insert the cables and then fill over with filler or plaster. Then run the hoover around!
To do this for you, this would be our Gold TV Wall Mounting package.
Hiding TV Cables In Trunking
The methods described in the above methods are not for everyone. Some people don’t like the idea of the cables not being easily pulled out, some people don’t like the idea of cutting holes in walls and others just don’t like the idea of the dust! If this is, you then installing cables in PVC trunking will be your next best option. This can be painted over to match the wall if you don’t like the idea of it being a different colour. It’s not always the most popular choice and some people despise the stuff, but it does look significantly better than loose cables. When done neatly trunking can almost be invisible, like with the correct size and shaped trunking ran across a square skirting board.
There are also some decorative style trunking, like the D-Line range. These can in many different shapes and sizes but the most popular would be a half round trunking that runs up to a TV. There are also other types like their quadrant trunking which is like a quarter round style trunking that can be attached to the bottom of skirting boards and looks like beading or scotia’s used to tidy the edge of flooring where it meets the skirting board. This is perfect for hiding TV and AV cables like speaker cables which may need to run to all corners of your room for a surround sound system and you can even get a wood effect colour to match your laminate or oak flooring.
Tips For Hiding TV Cables
Beneath are some of the tricks of the trade that we use to hide TV cables on our installations like our TV wall mounting installations.
Shorten All Cables
Behind your TV can turn into a right mess if left to its own devices. I recommend where possible to shorten all cables that you only have as much cable as you need. Less cable length means less cable to hide. This may mean buying shorter cables for things like HDMI and optical cables where the cable plugs can be easily replaced. For coaxial cables used for TV aerial and satellite connections and cat5 and cat6 cables used for Ethernet connections, these can be cut shorter and the cable plug re-terminated. You can also shorten many electrical type and power cables, I just recommend that you don’t do this yourself unless you know what you are doing.
To help you if need to shorten coaxial cables or terminate cat5 or Ethernet cables click the links below for a video demonstration by yours truly.
Become Friends With Cable Ties/ Zip Ties
I probably go through a pack of a hundred of these a week.Where you have excess cabling, I recommend coiling this up and keeping tidy with a couple of cable ties, or zip ties if you’re reading this in the USA. Doing this will also stop the cable from getting tangled and knotted with other cables which may take a lifetime to untangle. As I regularly say, “anything a cable can get caught around it will”.
Cable ties can also be used to tie cables behind stuff. I use cable ties to tie around furniture legs, TV brackets and when installing cables outside behind things like rainwater drainpipes.
Run Cables Outside
Ok, so technically this isn’t hiding them so much but often cables look better installed outside than they do inside. This isn’t my preferred option but things like trunking could also be used to hide them outside.
Run Cables Through Other Rooms/ Cupboards/ Wardrobes
It really does depend on your property and the way the rooms lie., but often with a bit on inventiveness you can route cables behind and through cupboards and things like built in wardrobes.
Run Cables Under Floorboards
If you need to get a cable from one side of a room to another,routing floorboards may be the best way to hide wires. If you live in an older type house and have something like carpets, you can usually lift this together with any underlay to reveal the floorboards. If you’re lucky the floorboards will be laid at a right angle to the way you wish to route the cables, this will usually mean that the beams to which the floorboards are attached will run the same way to which you want to run the cable. This will mean much less work as you can often just lift one or two boards and then insert cable some cable routing rods and fish them through and back out again. Once this is through you can simply just tape your cables to it and pull them through.
If the floor boards are running the same way to which you want to route the cables, then this will be somewhat more different as they will be beams and joists that you will need to get through. This will mean lifting more boards and having to drill holes or notch holes, so the cables can route through. For this you will either need a battery drill with wood bit attachment for drilling holes or some sort of chisel or multi-tool for notching. Before you start lifting boards I recommend just spending 1 a minute or so seeing if there are any short boards that can be lifting which are within your cable route. These will be far easier to lift, and chances are the have been cut lifted before and are often just screwed down. If not, you will have to lift them with a crowbar or the claw end of a hammer or hammers. You may also find that you need to cut some boards to get them up. This should be done above joists so that both ends can be laid back into position. I recommend that when you have lofted a board that has been nailed down, to screw it back down instead. This will make it easier to get up at a later date and stop any creaking floorboards. How about that? You read a blog on how to hide TV cables and you get advice on creaking floorboards also! Donations can be made directly into my personal bank account. 😊
It’s possible that once you lift your carpet up that you do not have conventional type floorboards, like in new builds where tunnel and groove flooring is now most common to prevent any airflow. To get this up you need to break the grooves that enter the tunnels in between boards. I personally hate doing this, but you have got to do what you have got to do.
Obviously, you may have neither option if you have something like a tiled floor or solid flooring. In which case I recommend that you try something else like trunking.
Hide Cables Behind Coving
I have done this once or twice.It’s far easier to feed cables in position and then just install coving to hide them, but if you’re patient cables can often be fished through afterwards. This can be used for ceiling mounted speakers. You many consider adopting a wireless sound system instead however.
Hide Cables Behind Kick-boards In Kitchen
When a cable needs to run through a kitchen, one of the simplest and most effective ways of doing this is just to remove the kickboards at the bottom of the kitchen cabinets, feed your cables through and then clip the boards back in place. I have used this trick many times. It isn’t always possible like when the floor has been tiled afterwards preventing the kickboards to be pulled away. In which case you’re just going to have to try something else my friend.
Wireless technology can come a long way in recent years, with things like wireless sound systems so as Sonos and WIFI giving faster speeds. TV systems have started to follow also like Sky Q which operates using a mesh system for it’s multi-room systems and going wireless may be the way to go. You also have things like Bluetooth can give a wireless connection between equipment, this is particularly useful for wall mounted soundbars and it removes the need to install a cable between the equipment and other technologies like screen mirroring allow things from your smart phone or tablet directly up to your TV wirelessly.
I must say that I operate on the philosophy that. “Wireless for things that move and wires for things that don’t”. This means that in my opinion like many other AV professionals, things like TV’s and AV equipment a wire would deliver a far greater performance than wireless. In fact, because of the way radio waves travel through the air it’s not always possible to go wireless particularly in big buildings or when passing through metallic type substances such as metal and insulation board. I recently did a comparison video on speeds on my Xbox between a WIFI and wired connection. I recommend that you check it out when you're done here.
This means at the re-wire stage of a project, perhaps in the middle of a renovation or refurbishment you should give some serious consideration on what TV and AV systems you will have in place. I always recommend installing a couple of coaxial cables and cat5 cables to every TV/AV position even if you have no immediate need for them as this will give you so much flexibility as to what can be done in the future and bring all the cables back to a central location for ease of maintenance etc. I have had many strange looks in the past suggesting that this is unnecessary in this day and age and often accompanied with the sentence. “Isn’t it all just done over WIFI these days.” The answer is usually no. For instance, I recently completed some work at a property where I had suggested that they should install extra cables to future proof the system, for which a family member butted in and suggested this was unnecessary as they would be just getting Sky Q and no cables were necessary. Come the installation of the Sky Q system because of the length and size of the property t get the system to work Sky had to run data cables on the outside of the building, instead of being hidden away and I see this scenario so many times.
I hoped that you liked this blog,another whooper over 4300 words, this is becoming a bit of a habit now. As always if you have any questions please do LEAVE A COMMENT in the comments section below and I will get back to you in the soonest.
If you’re in the South East of the UK and want to discuss hiding your TV cables, please do contact us and we will be delighted to help you providing you’re in our coverage area.
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