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How to Wall Mount a Television (using a Cheetah Mount)

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Picture of How to Wall Mount a Television (using a Cheetah Mount)
Cheetah Mounts are enormously popular on Amazon. As of this writing, 1557 reviewers have given the model APTMM2B mount a 4.8 star average review. Since the vast majority of the reviews are positive and the mount costs less than $30, I bought one to mount a television in my bedroom.

This is an easy project. The mount actually comes with decent directions, but many Amazon readers complained that the directions were difficult to follow. Since this is a project that many beginners take on, I'll describe the installation process as simply and vividly as possible. There will be many pictures. And I'll do my best to describe workarounds to help you avoid purchasing or borrowing extra tools. 

Basically, my goal is to point friends and family to this 'ible rather than getting roped into doing the project for them. I'd also like to address the needs of the guy who shared the following review. (Holla atcha boy, Jeffrey S. Binford.)

The install instructions were the worst I have ever seen in my entire life. There were extra parts not even listed in the manual, the holes were drilled in the wrong spot, the washers were too small...


This shouldn't take more than an hour and a half. That includes enough time to make two egregious mistakes and one small snafu. Not that you would, but this is a DIY time estimate, and nobody ever believes those. A beginner can easily do this inside of an hour.
 
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Step 1: Tools and Parts

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Here's what you'll need:

Wall Mount & Television

These are rather important.

Pencil

You will need to mark your holes. Pencils are good for making erasable marks.

Drill

Depending on your wall situation, you may need something special. If your walls are drywall over 2x4s, you'll be fine with any type of drill. If your walls are concrete block or masonry, you might need a hammer drill with a special bit.

Phillips head screwdriver

The one with a pointy cross-looking tip. You'll probably want to drive the screws into your television set by hand. The RPMs from the drill are really hard to control, and you may end up cracking the plastic. The actual mount frame is a little bit fiddly, so you'll want to affix your screws with as much precision and control as possible.

Hammer

This is part of finding a stud. You'll gently hammer a few exploratory nails into the drywall to determine where the stud is. In order to protect my walls in the process of pulling the nails, I wrapped the head of my hammer with a rubber band.

Level

There is a free level included in the kit. You are, of course, free to use your smartphone or a fancy level if you've got one.

Stud finder

In order to mount the television, you will want to attach it to the frame behind your wall. Drywall isn't strong enough to hold the weight of a television. There are many tools with which you can find studs, but I prefer to use a powerful magnet to find the fasteners in the 2x4s behind the wall. You can make your own by wrapping a strong magnet in masking tape and sliding it across the wall until it sticks to a ferrous fastener behind the drywall. They also sell electronic ones.

Wrench

The lag bolts that affix the mount to the studs are not slotted. You'll need a wrench to drive them into the stud. I used a socket wrench, but you can use a crescent wrench. You may also use a spanner. For the socket wrench, I used a 10mm and a 1/2 inch socket. (Seriously, you'll be fine with an adjustable crescent wrench here. Don't panic about the tools I used. But you can borrow a socket wrench set at no charge from auto repair stores like O'Reilly's if you really want to use it.)

Thin nails

As part of the stud-finding process, you may want to use a couple of thin nails. You'll stick these into the walls as you try to determine the center of a stud like a nurse trying to find a vein.  Finish nails or brads work well. So do the nails that come in picture-hanging kits.

Step 2: Detach from base unit

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Maybe, like mine, your television is already attached to a stand. Perhaps it swivels, perhaps it doesn't. Whatever the case may be, you're about to move it onto a wall, so that base needs to come off. 

This process varies not only from brand to brand, but also from model to model within a brand. If there are easily-accessible screws around the base, remove those. Use your powers of reason (or the manual, easily found here) to determine which screws are holding the monitor to the base. Remember: lefty loosey, go slow, save your screws, and you might want to give this television away with its base unit someday (so don't break anything.)


For those of you who did not need to remove the base from your unit, congratulations. I hope you skipped this step and felt smug about it. 

Step 3: Assemble the wall mount

Tools required: Phillips head screwdriver, crescent or 5/16" wrench.
Bottom line: make a rectangle from the two half-rectangles provided.

In this step, you'll assemble the portion of the mount that is attached to the wall. It'll be the only piece that connects directly to the wall, and later on you will hang the television (using the hooked arm attachments) to this frame. We're ignoring the rest of the fasteners and the arm attachments for now.

Surprise! The bolts for attaching the two halves of the mount are already in the mount. But they're in the wrong slots. So your first task here is to remove bolts, washers, and nuts from the ends of the plate. Keep them handy, as you'll need them immediately when you attach the two halves of the mount.

Attach the two halves by sliding the plates together and inserting the bolts as pictured. Tighten by hand.

Notes:
Unless you have unnaturally tiny and superhumanly strong fingers, you'll need a wrench to hold the nut while you screw the bolts into place.
Don't strip your bolts. These fasteners are rather soft, and it is really easy to strip them. (Though a quick trip to the hardware store would make finding replacements easy, so it wouldn't be the end of the world if you did.)

Step 4: Find studs and mark drill holes

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Tools required: stud finder*, measuring tape**, level, pencil, hammer, one or two thin nails
Bottom line: find two studs and mark where you will drill your four holes

Now that you've assembled the piece of the mount that actually attaches to the wall, it's time to determine where on the wall it should go. First you'll find some studs (the 2x4s used that comprise the frame of your walls). Then you'll find the centers of the studs. After which you'll mark where those stud centers are with your trusty pencil. You can then use the wall mount as a template to mark where exactly you'll drill. 

To find the studs:
Use the stud finder. (I'll describe the process for using a magnet. With an electronic stud finder, just follow the directions that it came with.) My stud finder is a few bucks worth of magnets and plastic with a level in the middle. The magnets are powerful enough to be drawn to the metal screws and nails in the 2x4s behind the drywall. By gently sliding the magnet over the wall, you'll soon find at least one stud.

Wall outlets are generally located immediately to the left or the right of a stud.
Studs are generally 16" apart. (Not mine, though. Mine are 24" apart. Which is rare but not unheard-of.)

To find the center of a stud:
Once you find the general location of a stud, you'll want to ensure that you're sinking your lag bolt into the center of the wooden board. Since I'll be hanging a few hundred dollars on the wall, I want to be certain that I'm not driving a bolt into the edge of a 2x4. I don't completely trust my magnetic finder, particularly for finding the center of a stud (and not some poor framer's misplaced thermos).

With your hammer, tap a thin nail into the wall where your stud finder told you a stud might be. If you're off target, the nail will go in disappointingly easily as there is empty space in between the studs. If you're on target, the nail will not penetrate the wall as easily. Repeat this process in the area of the stud to determine where the wood starts and stops.

As mentioned earlier, I wrapped my hammer with a rubber band to ensure that I didn't mark up my wall when I pulled the nail. Holes are easy enough to patch with a bit of spackle (or toothpaste!), but surface marks take a bit of work. Check the main image from step 1 to see how I wrapped the hammer.

Mark drill holes:
Now that you know exactly where the center of your stud is, you can use the mount frame to mark out where your holes will go. Place the mount on the wall, place the level on the mount, ensure that you are marking holes in line with the center of the stud, then mark your four drill holes with your pencil. Keep it level now to avoid the obnoxious tweaks it will take to level the whole apparatus after you've mounted everything to the wall.




*If you refuse to purchase or borrow a stud finder, you can use do a reasonable job of finding the beams without any tools. Just knock on the wall and listen for the dull thud of drywall immediately over a beam. You can get pretty close using this method, and then just find the center of the stud. (But why you wouldn't want a cheap tool that features not only magnets but also a VIKING is beyond me.)
**Measuring tape is also totally optional. You'll just need to eyeball 16".

Step 5: Drill and attach

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Tools required: drill, bits (either 3mm and 8mm, or 3/16" and 1/8"), wrench
Bottom line: drill two 3mm holes and two 8mm holes in your wall, attach the mount

Using the 3/16" drill bit, drill a 2.5" hole in each of your top two marks. We'll be attaching the mount with a pair of hefty, unslotted lag bolts in those spots.

Do the same thing with the smaller bit for the bottom two holes. There will be a pair of slightly smaller, still hefty, unslotted lag bolts going in them.

Mount the mount:
All right! Now comes the fun part.

Get the mount into place and put in the bolts. Start by hand, then use the wrench. They should go in fairly easily. If you find yourself turning the wrench without making any forward progress, you may need to redrill the hole slightly larger. (Obviously, stop before you use a drill bit larger than your bolt.) Don't overtighten, or you will crack the the drywall.

Step 6: Attach mounting arms to television

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Tools required: Phillips screwdriver
Bottom line: attach the mount arms to the back of your television

Determine what size screws you need:
You may luck out and already have screws for this purpose on the back of your TV set. If you are not so lucky (I wasn't), the mounting kit comes with a few sizes that fit most sets. I used some of the provided M6 20mm bolts.

Open up the bandolier of parts and find the screws you'll need.

Attach the arm brackets:
Arrange the arms on the back of your television in whatever way makes the most sense for you. To avoid slippage, I was careful to use one of the individual holes on the bottom, but that might not work in your situation. You can experiment with a couple of options at this point and decide what works the best for you.

For the actual attachment, use a lock washer and a bolt. Check the pictures for how that should look. (I used the plastic spacers. You probably won't need to.)

Step 7: Assemble

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Tools required: a friend
Bottom line: get that television onto the wall

Lift the display until the hooks are just above the wall mount frame. Gently hang the television. You'll appreciate having a friend on hand to ensure that you don't scratch your walls up or drop the monitor.

Tighten the safety screws at the bottom of the arm brackets. And you're done.


Step 8: Final note

Now that you are finished with the nitty gritty task of actually mounting the television, you will want to make the whole system look a bit more attractive by hiding your cords.

There are a number of ways to hide your cords, and they come with an attractiveness vs. complexity trade-off. Every one of these options will look significantly better than black cables flopped in stark contrast over a plain white wall.
  • Just snapping a cable cover the color of your walls over the cords is an easy option, but one that doesn't look all that great.
  • Installing a combination power outlet and HDMI cable will look amazing (and save you cash on cable length), but messing around with your electrical wiring can be a pretty daunting task.
  • Snaking the wires behind the drywall to reach an existing outlet or hidden components is a compromise that many people make, although running flexible power cables inside of a wall is against electrical code in Canada and the USA.
  • Hide them in plain sight by making an artistic pattern from the cables. This one is a reasonable option for people who are really uncomfortable putting holes in their walls but also can't stand the industrial look of a plastic cable cover.

I have two these both was around 25 bux each and they work perfect. I need get third for the bedroom.

I attached my 50" plasma to wall using a 12€ metal support which keeps snap-fit tools braces and metal drawers... I replaced them with a pair of steel (U section) bars drilled for the TV. I obtained a very sturdy wall snap-fit support for that 30 Kg beast!
wilgubeast (author)  andrea biffi1 year ago
That sounds awesome. You out-cheaped me!
zrcochran2 years ago
I just put one of these together and it's great! Thanks for sharing!
wilgubeast (author)  zrcochran2 years ago
Nice. Share a pic in the comments and I'll set you up with a free 3 month pro membership.
Here's my wall hanger...
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Here's a photo of the completed installation. I was a bit worried at first given how inexpensive these mounts are, but they are really quite sturdy and I was excited how easy it was to put up. Thanks for the instructable!
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wilgubeast (author)  zrcochran2 years ago
Nice work. The magical pro membership button glitched, so you now have a pair of 3 month pro memberships. They're transferable, so you can bestow three months of decreased ads, PDF downloads, and pro status upon whomever you feel deserves it.