Concealing TV Cables and Wires: A Guide
TV cable management can be a huge headache, especially when you're trying to mount your TV on a wall. It's frustrating to see a tangle of cables hanging down from your TV to the power socket and AV equipment. But fear not - with a little effort, you can effectively tidy up those pesky wires. Yes, I know that wireless solutions are becoming more popular, but even if you go the wireless route, you still have to deal with the TV power cable when mounting your TV on the wall.
Luckily, certain brands and models, like Samsung and their "One Connect," are making this task much easier for you. They offer a convenient solution where you can connect all your HDMI, optical, Ethernet, USB, and audio cables, as well as traditional TV aerial cables, to a single cable that goes up to your TV, along with a power cable. However, even with this setup, cable management is still something to consider.
In this blog post, I will share some techniques that I use to achieve a seamless appearance for wall-mounted TVs. These techniques will help your TV blend in perfectly with your living space and create a neat and clean look. Let's start with wall-mounted TVs because getting this right can truly enhance the aesthetics of your room and save space. The techniques I employ for cable management depend on the type of wall you are mounting your TV on.
When it comes to stud walls, I have a love-hate relationship with them. I hate dealing with stud walls in general, but I love mounting TVs on them because they offer a great opportunity to hide the cables behind the plasterboard and within the wall. However, many people are still nervous about mounting TVs on stud walls due to concerns about finding the right fixings or damaging the wall. It's definitely a task that requires caution, but with appropriate wall fixing techniques and fixings, it can be done successfully. Now, let's talk about cable management.
If you're lucky, you can simply cut a hole behind your TV and another one lower down where your AV equipment is located or where you want the cables to come out. Then, use electrical rods, a specialist cable routing tool, or even a trunking lid to guide the cables. Attach all your cables, including power cables, HDMI cables, aerial and satellite cables, to this guide and pull them upwards. Install your TV on a bracket in front of the upper hole, and voila - hidden TV cables. However, for a more professional finish, I recommend going a step further. Behind the TV, cut a square hole large enough to install a plasterboard back box, and do the same lower down. If your hands are small enough, this will also provide access to the inside of the wall if needed. Then, install a brushed faceplate on either side. These faceplates have bristles that cover the cable entry and exit points, resulting in a cleaner and more polished appearance.
If you're not so lucky with your cable drop behind the plasterboard and encounter a horizontal stud, you'll need to find a way around it - and the only option is to go through it. You'll have to cut a piece of the plasterboard and remove a section of the stud to create a pathway for the cables. Here's my recommended method: use a rod to determine the distance to the horizontal stud, mark it on the wall, and using a multi-tool, cut a square section of the plasterboard over the stud (slightly wider than the stud itself, but not too much). Take out the cut section, being careful not to break it as you'll need it to fill the hole later. Cut away a section of the stud with the multi-tool, but leave enough space to screw the plasterboard back into place. Route the cables through this opening. Place the cut piece of plasterboard back over the hole and screw it back in using drywall screws. Lastly, chamfer the edges of the cut plasterboard slightly with a Stanley knife or utility knife to make it easier to fill with filler.
If you're attempting to hide cables horizontally in a stud wall, chances are you'll need to repeat this process multiple times since wooden studs are typically spaced 16" apart (center to center), and this distance is marked on most tape measures. This might feel like a lot of work, but it's worth it for achieving a clean and organized look. If you're working with metal studs, which are more challenging to cut, it's worth noting that most of them have built-in holes specifically designed for routing cables. You just need to find these holes and guide your cables through them.
By following these techniques, you can create a seamless and clutter-free appearance for your wall-mounted TV. Say goodbye to unsightly cable mess and hello to a perfectly organized entertainment setup!
In various scenarios, you may come across a situation where the stud wall contains insulation. An effective way to tackle this is by utilizing a flexible routing tool that will naturally conform to the inside of the plasterboard, ensuring close proximity within the wall. However, if a suitable tool is not available, you will need to manually adjust the angle. In cases where the wall is densely packed with Celotex insulation board, creating a channel may be necessary in order to accommodate the cables. I will explain this technique in the upcoming section.
For professional purposes, this type of installation falls under our Silver TV wall mounting package.
Hiding TV cables on drylined and dot and dab walls is similar to stud walls, with the exception that the plasterboard is adhered to brickwork or breeze block using cement-like blobs, known as dots and dabs. This technique has gained popularity in new builds and refurbishments as it significantly saves time compared to applying multiple coats of plaster on solid walls. In the UK, a skim coat is typically added atop the plasterboard. With dot and dab walls, concealing TV cables is relatively easier, though it depends on a few factors. These include the gap behind the plasterboard, which can range from an inch to half a centimeter, and the distance necessary for cable routing in relation to the positions of the adhesive blobs.
When routing cables through dot and dab walls, it is advisable to tap the walls at the preliminary stage to identify the locations of the cement blobs. These areas will produce a denser sound upon tapping compared to the hollow sound when no blob is present. The objective is to find a clear route between the TV and AV equipment while avoiding these blobs. Once you have located them, it is recommended to cut holes on either end. I suggest using a 25mm deep metal back box and cutting around it. Hopefully, there will be a suitable gap behind the drywall to route the cables or insert electrical rods. The gap may not be large enough for a SCART lead, but HDMI cables should pose no difficulty. Slim HDMI cables are recommended for this purpose, preferably without EMI rings as they may make the cable too thick to fit behind the plasterboard. If you are concerned about interference, EMI rings that can be clipped onto the cable after installation are available. Other cables such as TV aerial, satellite, ethernet, phono, and certain power cables can have their terminations installed after routing, allowing them to fit through smaller gaps.
If you are fortunate, this will complete the process. Secure the back boxes in place, consider installing a brush faceplate for a neater appearance, and you are good to go. I recommend cutting the top and bottom of the metal back boxes to allow the cables to pass through. However, be cautious with power cables as the sharp edges could potentially damage them. To protect the cables, simply cover the cut edges of the metal back box with electrical insulation tape.
In less fortunate circumstances, you may need to remove a section of plasterboard approximately halfway to facilitate the passage of cables. You can then follow a technique similar to hiding TV cables on stud walls, using the cut-out section of plasterboard to fill the hole afterward. However, since the plasterboard section will be secured to the brickwork behind, a significant amount of filler may be required to ensure a flush finish, unlike stud walls where the plasterboard section is fixed to the stud.
If the gap between the plasterboard and brickwork is too narrow, you will need to create a channel to accommodate the cables, potentially even chasing the brickwork behind. For this task, I once again recommend using a multi-tool. Simply mark the lines between the cable entry and exit points and cut accordingly. A pad saw may also be used but requires more effort. If you are careful while cutting away the section of plasterboard, you may be able to reuse it to fill the channel. Place the cables behind the plasterboard, secure them to the wall, and fill the hole. Personally, I prefer to carve out a portion of the wall and install conduit or trunking to facilitate future cable feeding without damaging the wall. This can prove beneficial, as you never know what sort of cabling requirements may arise in the future. I will provide a more detailed explanation of this process in the subsequent section.
This is also our magnificent Silver TV Wall Mounting package.
Concealing TV Cables in Solid Walls / BrickworkPrepare yourself for a dusty adventure! If you desire to hide the TV cables that run up to your television, you must excavate the plaster and brickwork. This process involves filling the hole, sanding, and potentially painting, but the end outcome is truly worthwhile. Consider enlisting the assistance of skilled plasterers to expertly skim the surface once you have finished the installation. However, you can also achieve satisfactory results by employing products such as One Time or One Strike Filler, which I personally endorse. Many individuals are reluctant to create holes in their walls, so an alternative option is to utilize trunking to conceal the TV cables.
To accomplish this, I suggest following the same procedure as outlined in the section on Concealing TV Cables in Drylined Walls, which involves cutting away portions of metal back-boxes and allowing enough space for cable routing and the installation of a brush exit/entry face-plate at the bottom. To create the channel, you will need at least a hammer and chisel, though this seems excessively laborious to me. Personally, I prefer using an SDS drill with a chasing or chiseling attachment, as it performs all the necessary hammering. Alternatively, you may choose to use a wall chaser, which, despite its convenience, remains mostly unused due to the copious amount of dust it generates, even when equipped with a Henry hoover. Consequently, you will require a hoover and dust sheets. Cover your furniture and open the windows. During my wall chasing for TV wall mounting projects, I typically bring along an apprentice who can hold the hoover to catch the dust, which greatly aids the process.
When undertaking this endeavor, I highly recommend investing additional time to create a slightly deeper channel in the wall than may be strictly necessary. This will allow for the installation of trunking or conduit within the wall, facilitating the routing of cables in the future without causing damage. Naturally, a wider and deeper conduit is preferable, as it makes it much easier to pull cables through compared to a narrower space. Furthermore, if you are chasing between rooms, it is essential to verify the depth of the wall, as the last thing you want is to inadvertently create a peephole by punching a hole right through it.
Here is my personal approach. Using the trunking that will be installed in the wall, mark the wall's edges slightly wider on both sides. Then, using a drill bit, apply a layer of tape slightly deeper than the trunking or conduit itself. Along the marked lines, drill holes approximately 2cm or an inch apart, reaching the depth indicated by the tape. This will assist in achieving the correct depth for the wall chasing. Next, insert the wide chisel attachment into the drill and chase from hole to hole, which will help create a straight edge. Proceed to chase away the brickwork and plaster in the central area. Position the trunking or conduit to ensure that it fits snugly and recesses beneath the finished wall line. If necessary, remove any obstructing fragments of brick preventing a proper fit. Once in place, secure it with screws and rawl/wall plugs. Insert the cables and then fill the surrounding area with filler or plaster. Finally, give the area a thorough vacuuming!
To provide this service, we offer our exceptional Gold TV Wall Mounting package.
Concealing TV Cables in TrunkingThe methods previously described may not suit everyone's preferences. Some individuals are averse to the idea of cables being difficult to remove, while others dislike the notion of cutting holes in walls. And of course, there are those who detest the prospect of dealing with dust! If you fall into any of these categories, installing cables in PVC trunking represents your next best alternative. This trunking can be painted to match the wall, thereby eliminating any concerns about it appearing different in color. Although it may not be the most beloved choice for some, it undoubtedly looks far superior to loose cables. When executed with precision, trunking can virtually disappear, especially when it is the appropriate size and shape and carefully placed along a square skirting board.
There are various types of decorative trunking available, such as the D-Line range. These trunkings come in different shapes and sizes, but the half-round trunking that runs up to a TV is the most popular. Another type is the quadrant trunking, which resembles a quarter-round style and can be attached to the bottom of skirting boards. It looks like beading or scotia used to tidy the edge of the flooring where it meets the skirting board. This type of trunking is ideal for concealing TV and AV cables, including speaker cables that may need to run to different corners of the room for a surround sound system. It even comes in a wood effect color that matches your laminate or oak flooring.
Techniques for Concealing TV Cables
Here are some effective methods we use in our TV wall mounting installations to hide TV cables.
Shorten All Cables
Leaving the cables behind your TV unattended can create a messy situation. To reduce cable clutter, it is advisable to shorten all cables to the required length. Having less cable means less hiding to do. You can purchase shorter cables for HDMI and optical cables, as their plugs can be easily replaced. Coaxial cables for TV aerial and satellite connections, as well as cat5 and cat6 cables for Ethernet connections, can be cut shorter and re-terminated. Although it's essential to exercise caution, you can also shorten certain types of power cables on your own if you possess the necessary knowledge.
To assist you in shortening coaxial cables or terminating cat5 or Ethernet cables, click the links below for video demonstrations.
Step-by-Step Guide: Fitting a Coax Plug
Step-by-Step Guide: Fitting an F Plug
Step-by-Step Guide: Fitting an RJ45 Plug
You can also find a wide variety of helpful videos in our DIY section and on our Youtube channel.
Befriend Cable Ties/ Zip Ties
I personally go through approximately a hundred of these ties every week. These ties are incredibly useful in keeping excess cables well-organized. Coil up any extra cabling and secure it with a couple of cable ties, or zip ties if you're reading this in the USA. This will prevent the cables from becoming tangled and knotted with other cables, which can take a significant amount of time to untangle. As I always say, "cables have a knack for getting caught on anything they can."
Cable ties can also be used to tie cables behind objects. I often use them to secure cables around furniture legs, TV brackets, and when installing cables outside, such as behind rainwater drainpipes.
Route Cables Outside
Although technically not a method for hiding cables, sometimes cables can look more aesthetically pleasing when installed outside. While this may not be the preferred option for everyone, trunking can be utilized to conceal the cables when they are installed externally.
Route Cables Through Other Rooms, Cupboards, or Wardrobes
The feasibility of this method depends on the layout of your property and the positioning of the rooms. With some creativity, cables can often be routed behind and through cupboards and built-in wardrobes.
Route Cables Under Floorboards
If you need to connect cables from one side of a room to another, routing them beneath the floorboards can be an excellent solution for hiding wires. In older houses with carpets, you can usually lift the carpet along with any underlay to expose the floorboards. If you're fortunate, the floorboards will run perpendicular to the desired cable route. In such cases, you can lift one or two boards, insert cable-routing rods, and guide the cables through. Once the cables are in place, simply tape them to the rods and pull them through to their intended locations.
If the orientation of the floorboards aligns with your desired cable route, you will encounter some variation as you will need to navigate beams and joists. This entails raising multiple boards and creating holes or notches for the cables to pass through. To accomplish this, you will require a battery-powered drill with a wood bit attachment for drilling holes or a chisel or multi-tool for notching. Before proceeding to lift the boards, I suggest taking a minute to check if there are any shorter boards along the cable route that can be easily lifted. These are typically simpler to remove and are often held in place with screws. If not, you will need to use a crowbar or the claw end of a hammer to lift them, and it may also be necessary to cut certain boards to remove them. It is advisable to make cuts above the joists so that both ends of the board can be repositioned. Once a board that was originally nailed down has been lifted, I recommend securing it with screws instead. This will facilitate future removal and prevent any creaking of the floorboards. Surprisingly, while reading a blog on hiding TV cables, you also receive advice on addressing creaking floorboards! If you find the information helpful, you have the option to make donations directly to my personal bank account. 😊
It is worth noting that if you lift the carpet and discover that your floorboards vary from the conventional type typically found in new constructions, such as tongue and groove flooring designed to prevent airflow, additional steps will be necessary. To remove this type of flooring, you must break the grooves that interlock the boards. Personally, I dislike doing this, but sometimes it becomes a necessary task.
Of course, if you have a tiled or solid floor, the aforementioned options may not be viable. In such cases, I recommend considering alternatives like trunking.
Concealing Cables Behind Coving: I have employed this method on a few occasions. It is much simpler to position the cables and then install coving to cover them. However, if you are patient, it is often possible to thread the cables through after the coving has been installed. This approach can be particularly useful for ceiling-mounted speakers. However, you may also want to explore the option of using a wireless sound system.
Hiding Cables Behind Kickboards in the Kitchen: When you need to route cables through a kitchen, one of the easiest and most effective methods is to remove the kickboards at the bottom of the kitchen cabinets, thread the cables through, and then reattach the kickboards. I have successfully employed this technique numerous times. Be aware that there are situations where this is not feasible, such as when the floor has been tiled, which prevents the kickboards from being detached. In such instances, you will need to consider alternative solutions, my friend.
Go Wireless: Recent advancements in wireless technology have greatly expanded the possibilities. For example, wireless sound systems like Sonos and high-speed Wi-Fi connections have ushered in a new era. TV systems have also followed suit, with options like Sky Q utilizing a mesh system for multi-room setups. Going wireless may be the ideal solution. Additional alternatives include Bluetooth for establishing a wireless connection between devices, which works particularly well for wall-mounted soundbars. There are also technologies like screen mirroring that enable wireless streaming of content from smartphones or tablets to TVs.
Personally, I adhere to the philosophy of "wireless for things that move and wires for things that don't." In my opinion, and that of many other professionals in the audiovisual field, wired connections offer superior performance for devices like TVs and AV equipment. It is worth noting that due to the behavior of radio waves in the air, wireless connections may not always be feasible, especially in larger buildings or when traversing metallic materials like metal or insulation board. I recently conducted a comparison test on the speeds between a Wi-Fi and wired connection for my Xbox. If you are interested, I recommend watching the video here once you have finished reading this.
During the rewiring phase of a project, such as during a renovation or refurbishment, it is crucial to carefully consider the TV and AV systems that will be in place. I always recommend installing a couple of coaxial cables and Cat5 cables to each TV/AV location, even if they are not immediately needed. This provides immense flexibility for future modifications and allows for all cables to be centralized for easy maintenance. In the past, I have received perplexed expressions when suggesting this approach, often accompanied by the statement, "Isn't everything done via Wi-Fi these days?" The answer is typically no. I recently worked on a project where I advised the installation of additional cables to future-proof the system. However, a family member interjected, insisting that no cables were necessary as they were planning to use Sky Q. When the Sky Q system was eventually installed, due to the size and layout of the property, data cables had to be run on the exterior of the building instead of being hidden away. This scenario is all too common.
I truly hope that you have enjoyed perusing this blog post. It certainly was an extensive endeavor, spanning over 4300 words. It appears that this has become quite a regular occurrence now, which is quite peculiar. As always, if you have any inquiries or queries, please feel free to leave a comment down in the comments section below, and I will make it a priority to respond to you promptly.
For those individuals who happen to reside in the South East region of the United Kingdom and are interested in engaging in a discussion regarding the concealing of their television cables, I implore you to reach out to us. You can contact us by clicking on the following link: [MY_REDIRECT_PREFIX]https://www.smartaerials.co.uk/contact-us[/MY_REDIRECT_PREFIX]. Rest assured that we will be more than ecstatic to assist you, provided that you fall within our coverage area.
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