Here's a quick and relatively easy guide to making an inexpensive floating wall for your flat screen TV. I had been debating the best way to mount my TV for a while now based on my current layout and a couple of mildly troublesome factors. Unfortunately, I don't have many in-progress pictures, but it's fairly simple to explain.
First things first, I have a 65" TV that I wanted to get up on the wall. My walls have 16" stud spacing, and there was one stud dead center of where I wanted to mount the TV. I also had previously run a cable channel up the surface of the wall for my surround speakers and did not really want to have to undo that and worry about rerouting those around a mount. The center stud runs directly along side where the cable channel is for reference. Also, with the 16" studs, and one being dead center, I was left with either having to get a mount that spanned 3 studs (32") or use smaller, 2-stud, one and have the TV quite a bit off center of the mount. Neither of these are a huge problem, but I wanted to do something a bit nicer than just a plain mount. Also, I would need a huge cable channel under the TV to carry TV and speaker cables without cutting into the wall. In addition, I would need to manage the cables for my center and front channel speakers as well. All in all, those are several minor issues that were adding up to a huge headache, so I decided to creat a floating wall for my TV.
7 - 1" x 8" x 6' wood boards (as straight and unbowed as you can get).
5 - 1" x 4" x approx 50-52" long (these can be cheaper and less nice looking as they are structural only)
A boat load of structural screws. I bought the best and strongest and probably went overboard on the amount, but the last thing I wanted was for this to come crashing down on me.
TV Mount - whatever you think is appropriate for your TV size. As you'll see, stud spacing is not an issue.
Nuts, bolts, washers - I replaced the TV mounting hardware (lag bolts) with standard bolts and nuts. I used 8 total, which again is probably overkill, but whatever.
Stain of your preferred color.
All told I spent roughly $150 on materials. It was well below $200 total. Time wise, I stained the boards the night before I began my build and started the next day around 9 AM. By 2 PM the same day I was watching TV on my new floating wall setup. It probably would have gone a bit faster, and would have been easier with an extra set of hands, but it can be a one person job.
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Step 1: Building "Faux" Studs
On to the build! Based on our board sizes, without cutting anything, the 2x8 boards will give us a 6' wide by 4'8" mounting area for our TV. You can go bigger or smaller as you see fit, however as you can see in the finished product, this gave me a pretty equal boarder all the way around my TV which left room for mounting my left, right, and center channel speakers beside and below the TV.
At 72" wide, the wall spans 5 studs (16" spacing, with one stud on-center) and leaves a few inches of over hang on each end. And at 56" tall, you should cut your 1x4 boards to leave 2-3" of overhang on either side as well. This overhang all around provides for the floating look and leaves some space for cable management on the around the outer edge.
To begin, take each of your 5 1x4 boards and tack them into each of the 5 studs your wall will span. Obviously they should be level all around and installed all at the same height, and height wise the center of the boards should be where you want the center of the TV when you finish. I used 3 screws per board just to hold them up since in my next step I'm goign to screw through the wall boards, through "faux" studs, and into the actuall wall studs.
Unfortunately I don't have a picture of this step, but if you look at how my screws in the next step are aligned you can get the idea of what it looks like behind the wall.
Step 2: Building the Wall
Starting at the bottom, mount your first 1x8 (ABL - Always Be Levelling), ensure that it is centered on your "faux" studs with equal overhang on each end and around 3" of overhang on the bottom. Screw through the outer board, the "faux" stud, and into the wall stud. I used 3-and-a-half inch screws to ensure I got enough purchase in the real studs (you're going through a 1x8, a 1x4, and 1/2 to 3/4 inches of drywall).
The first board is where I could have used some extra hands, but once this first board is up, it's pretty much easy street. Continue working your way up the wall with your 1x8s, provided there is no crazy curvature or mis-cuts, it should remain pretty level through out. Just need to ensure you get uniformly cut boards when you purchase them. I did have one that was bowed slightly that I had to hammer into place, but that's on me for not looking more closely when I bought them.
When you get to the middle board, the board where your TV mount is to go, tack it up with a couple of screws but don't worry about fully attaching it just yet as we have to take it back down.
Once that board is up, line up your TV mount where you want it, and mark your mounting holes (or if you want make some pilot holes, that is fine too). BE SURE TO LEVEL THE MOUNT ITSELF when you are marking, and do not assume that your middle board is perfectly level. It should be close to level if not level, however just to be safe you want to guarantee your TV mount is level.
Take the mount and the board down, finish drilling your mounting holes, and then use your nuts, bolts, and washers to securly attach the TV mount to the board. At this point, you can go a head and drill an appropriate sized hole in this board to run your TV cables through. Take a look at your TV and figure out where best to put this hole (or holes if necessary). Once that's done, you can put the board back into place and finish attaching it to the wall.
Continue up the wall until you've finished your new floating TV wall.
Step 3: Mounting and Cable Management
Now, you may have been wondering why I originally put the "faux" studs up at all, why not just mount the boards straight to the wall? Hopefully you figured it out quickly or have since figured it out. Not only does it give the nice floating effect, but now we have a nice bit of space behind our floating wall to hide our cables. I put my wall up so that the bottom board dropped just below the top shelf of my entertainment stand. I like how it flows together, but it also keeps the cords at the bottom hidden better.
In the previous step we drilled a hole for the TV cables, however if you didn't do it then, you can do it now. For my front speakers, I just used screws to hang them up and then drilled a small hole through the new wall to feed the speaker wires. I drew all the cables together at the bottom center just so I'd have one bundle coming out from behind the bottom of the wall.
Mount your TV and and other equipment if you have it (speakers, soundbar, etc), and then sit back and enjoy your handy work.
Step 4: The Final Product
Here is my final setup. I'm glad to have the top shelf of my entertainment center available for use now. I think this looks far better than just a regular mount, and it was far cheaper than a manufactured solution. And as always, if you build it yourself, you will appreciate it much more. I must admit sometimes I don't even pay attention to the TV and just stare at my handywork. An additional added benefit of this build is that if I ever move, I can take the whole thing down in pieces and reassemble it at the new place. Plus, there's plenty of room for if and when I get a larger TV.
I hope you enjoy this and can use a few of my ideas for your own project. Happy building!
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