Deciding on a wall mount kit

While you could always just use the included pedestal stand, flat LCD TVs and plasma TVs just scream out to be mounted on a wall. There are lots of different wall mounts -- and different types of wall mounts -- to choose from, though your budget and room setup can help narrow down the choices. Here are some other tips to make finding and installing the perfect TV wall mount just a little easier:

  • Tilt mounts are best for most situations. They are economical, easy to install and let you mount an LCD TV or a plasma TV high up on a wall and still let you see the best picture quality from the comfort of your couch or easy chair. Articulating wall mounts are more expensive and bulkier, but can be a good solution if you want to be able to have multiple seating locations or to overcome difficult room configurations. Flat mounts are inexpensive, easy to install and hold the TV tight to the wall, but offer the least flexibility.
  • Installation is easier than you might think. Experts say that if you can do basic tasks -- such as hanging a picture or a shelf -- you have the skills needed to install a TV wall mount.
  • Have a helper. Flat TVs are thin, but heavy. You'll really be grateful for that second pair of hands when it comes time to hang that 80-pound TV -- especially if you opt (as most do) to hang it high on your wall.
  • Remember: Safety first. Take care to protect yourself and your property when installing a mount. Make sure to follow all manufacturer safety warnings, and make sure you install onto wood studs or solid masonry -- not wallboard.
  • Measure twice, drill once. Figure out where you will place your mount before you start. Keep your seating position in mind, and remember that the best picture is usually seen from only a narrow arc of viewing angles -- especially in the case of LCD sets. If installing onto wall studs, make sure you've found their centers. Make sure that the mount is perfectly level.

Installing a wall mount

Though some might cringe at the idea of installing a TV wall mount, thinking it is something best left to a professional installer, many wall mounts are made with the average homeowner in mind. Experts add that as long as you have some basic home-improvement skills, safely and securely mounting your flat-panel to a wall is a task that most can tackle with confidence.

To avoid damaging your TV, other property or -- most important -- yourself, it is essential to secure your mount to your wall properly. Most mounts are designed to accommodate the most popular type of interior wall -- sheetrock mounted on wood studs. Many will also work with masonry walls (concrete block, etc.). When mounting to a sheetrock wall, it is essential to attach the mount squarely to the wood studs rather than to the sheetrock; an inexpensive stud finder (see our report for suggestions) can be a great help, though there are other tricks that can be used to locate studs behind a wall.

Mounts for larger TVs will typically span two studs for safety, and a few of the largest will span three studs. Most (but not all) such mounts can accommodate standard -- and even some non-standard -- stud spacing ranging from 16 inches to 24 inches on center. When mounting to a masonry wall, be sure to drill squarely into the concrete and not into any mortar.

You'll also want to protect your TV when attaching the mount's brackets. Don't place the TV facedown directly on the floor, as it is easy to scratch the glass; instead, protect it with a blanket or other soft, thick material. Another technique, as Crutchfield.com suggests (see below), is to use the included stand to keep the set upright when attaching the brackets. Also, be careful not to overtighten the mounting screws.

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