Buying a plasma TV? Mount it on the wall safely to save space

If you have a new plasma TV and want to mount it on the wall to save space, remember to do first things first. Just as you need to read and follow the instructions to use your new digital camera, you need to read and follow the guidelines from the manufacturer of the plasma TV. Mounts vary. Use one made by the manufacturer that produced your plasma.

A kit to mount a TV to the wall has two arms and a bracket plate. The arms attach to the back of your TV, then lock into the wall plate, which you secure to the wall. Sounds easy, right? That's the problem. It seems so easy to do that many people think they can do it alone, but let us say it now: Never attempt to singlehandedly hang a plasma TV! Mounting brackets take two or more people to install correctly. You run the risk of breaking your television or, worse, hurting yourself.

Plan ahead and then mount your TV

Before you get started, determine which wall you want to use. Look for a place where glare will be at a minimum and the seating arrangement allows for good visibility from all angles. You might need to rearrange the furniture. When people are seated, eye level is at about 45 inches from the floor. Don't forget about the electrical outlet! Test to see if the cord will reach the outlet if the TV is 45 inches off the floor. You may need to lower it a bit or use an extension cord or surge protector to give yourself a little extra space. If you want to hide the TV cord and audio and video cables, you'll also need to purchase a cover. Then read the TV manufacturer's instructions for mounting a television and the instructions from the manufacturer of the wall mount. Make sure you understand both. Call the manufacturer if you need clarification. Gather all the tools you need, which will include the plasma TV, wall mount, stud finder, tape measure, pencil, level, screwdriver, hammer and nail, socket wrench, power drill and various bits and a cable cover kit.

Two warnings: First, if your home has metal studs, you cannot use a television mount. They will not hold the weight of the plasma TV. Wall mount bracket options may still be available, though. Likewise, you cannot use hollow-wall anchors instead of studs. So consult with the manufacturer or seek a carpenter who can find a solution for you. Follow the manufacturer's instructions, but, in general, you will bolt the mounting arms to the special mounting holes on the TV. Make sure they're level, then set aside the TV.

With the stud finder, locate two studs and mark the center of each stud using a pencil. Confirm there are studs by hammering a nail into each and then removing it. Measure the distance between the holes on the mounting arms, and mark the corresponding spots on the wall studs. Once you've checked with a level to make sure the space is even, drill pilot holes and attach the wall plate. If the kit includes lag bolts, you'll need that socket wrench. Attach the cables to the TV. Have two others help you hold the TV near the wall mount and interlock the brackets into the wall plate. Before you let go, test with a few light tugs. It's not difficult to find wall mounts. For plasma TV owners, the key is to find the one made specifically for the TV you purchased and to install it correctly.

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