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Mounting a TV to the wall without damaging it can be tough if you don’t have a stud to hold the weight. If you hang it from the bare wall board, you run the risk of damaging the wall and the TV. But having a TV that’s not where you really want it can be annoying. There are a few simple tricks though, to getting your setup just right for movie night.

Why add support?

While there are some mounting brackets that claim to be “studless,” if you hang something heavy on the face of your drywall without anchoring it to the studs, you risk pulling the wallboard away from the frame behind it. This might not happen right away; it could take a while, meaning that your TV could fall face first onto the floor, taking part of the wall with it, while you’re not looking. To avoid this, straddling the studs when you don’t have a good place to anchor your hardware and connecting to the wall frame will give you a much sturdier result.

What you’ll need

You can hang a TV from your wall with a stud finder, some 1 5 ⁄ 8 inch drywall screws (not toggle bolts), a screw gun, a tape measure, and a countersink bit. In addition, you will need a board long enough to span across two studs to support the TV’s mounting bracket. Most modern studs are 16 inches apart, but older homes can have spaces as big as 20 inches between studs. A scrap of 3⁄4 inch plywood, a scrap of 1 by 4, or something of a similar thickness will work fine.

Measure, mark, and hang your board

Begin by finding the closest studs to where you need to place the bracket and determine how far apart they are. To place the bracket between two studs, you will need to place a board across the two to give yourself something to attach it to. Measure the height you want your bracket to go and then mark the studs out at that height with a pencil. Place your board at the height that you marked, lining up each end with the marks you made for the height to make sure it’s level, and use a countersink bit to predrill holes for your screws. Then screw the board in with the drywall screws, making sure to line them up with your stud marks.

For taller mounting brackets for larger TVs, you might need two rows of boards for your bracket. Measure the height of your bracket and then mark the height on the wall to determine where your boards need to go to successfully attach the bracket. If the placement is difficult to see, you can trace the bracket with a pencil before placing your boards so that you can see where they need to go. You can check out this video to see how a pro would install backing or blocking on finished drywall. Our shortcut involves mounting the board in front of the drywall, so it’s a little different from the video.

Attach your mounting bracket

Once you have set up a sturdy surface to attach it, follow the instructions on the mounting bracket or ones that came with the TV to finish installing. You should attach the mounting bracket to the boards first to make sure everything looks level before hanging the TV. It’s much easier to make adjustments without the weight of an appliance on the bracket. If the boards are visible, you can paint them to match the wall color to make them less noticeable. When you’re ready to take your TV down, you can undo the bracket and then unscrew the board. You’ll have just a few tiny holes that can be easily patched.

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