As flat screen televisions have become more popular, so have the innovative ways of hanging and mounting them. Years ago TV sets were so large and heavy they could only sit on the floor or on specially designed media centers, but today’s flat screen televisions, while being large, are also much thinner and lighter and can easily be mounted on walls in a number of different ways. There are lots of custom options for hiding your TV when you aren’t using it, but if you’re like most people then hiding the TV itself is not nearly as important as finding a way to hide those numerous unsightly television cords. Fortunately, you have lots of options when it comes to hiding TV wires and cables.
Let’s begin by considering what sort of inputs and wires a TV has these days and then we’ll worry about how to hide them. First, you’ll have a power cord coming out of the back of your flat screen television. As far as I know there are no battery-powered flat screen TVs of note, so this is an absolute. The power cord is also the most difficult TV wire to hide because it’s usually the thickest and least flexible. You’ll also most likely have at least one, if not many more, audio/visual (AV) cables of some sort. If you have HDTV then you probably have some HDMI cables running from your TV to various DVD players, VCRs, cable boxes and gaming consoles. If you don’t have any of those then you may simply have a cable coaxial cable running from your wall or floor into the back of your TV.
While ever room and situation is slightly different, you generally have two options for hiding your TV wires: you can run the wires and cables down and along the outside of the wall or you can run your TV wires through the interior of your walls and other structures. For the moment we’ll just discuss the first scenario.
There are a number of different devices and methods for hiding TV wires outside your wall. The advantages to hiding your TV cables externally are obvious: most external methods are easy to implement and install and they can usually be moved or taken down if needed. This is especially important if you’re renting or if you simply don’t have the time or money it sometimes takes to run your TV wires inside your walls. Here are some of the tools and methods that can be used to hide your TV wires, and you can obviously use several of these things together depending upon how your TV room is set up.
Hiding TV Wires with Cord and Cable Covers
The cheapest and most sophisticated way of easily hiding your TV wires is to install some sort of wire or cable cover that is designed specifically for the job. You can save a few bucks by buying a cord cover online that will fit your exact needs. If you just need to run your TV wires down the wall and to the floor then you may just want to go with the infamous Wiremold flat TV cord cover. It’s remarkably affordable and it has a thin design that is still wide enough to handle a lot of TV cables. If your walls aren’t white, don’t worry, it’s also made to be painted and relatively easy to install. Your cables may not be completely invisible, but this is clearly one of the most affordable and easiest solutions to hide TV wires that run down your wall.
Rewiring your Video and Audio with Flatwire
If you have a little more than a basic budget for setting up your TV wires just the way you want them then you may want to consider FlatWire. Flatwire cables are, as the name implies, really flat wires that can be used for data, video or audio. They’re so flat in fact that ideally you’re supposed to attach them to a wall and then paint over them, making them virtually invisible. Yes, they’re that flat. They look a bit like long, wide ribbons, but in those ribbons are wires which carry your audio or video data. At the end of each flat length you need to attach a component wall box which then has the normal audio and video outlets for your components. They’re really pretty impressive, but they don’t come cheap. You can expect to spend a couple hundred bucks when all is said and done in most cases. You may also want to be really sure you’re not going to want to move your TV anytime in the near future because once you paint over the wires it’s going to be quite a job to remove them and paint the wall again.
If you just need to run some wires for speakers along your wall then you may want to skip the expensive stuff and instead go with some much cheaper flat audio wire. It’s generally the same idea as the pricy stuff, but this wire is only designed for speakers and audio data, not video or networking data.
Hiding TV Wires With Furniture, Plants and More
If you’re going to run your wires straight down the wall and you’re still not happy with the cable covers then you can get creative and actually put things in front of the cable cover (or just the tv wires themselves) that look pretty good. Since your TV is probably mounted on the wall you will probably need a place to store your DVD player, cable box and other TV peripherals so a small cabinet, bookcase or even media center table may work out well. A clever photo arrangement under your TV or even some decent wall art can do wonders in a pinch. I’ve seen people combine ideas and put a media cabinet under their TV and then put a little potted plant on top of the cabinet to hide the foot or so of wall space between the top of the furniture and the bottom of the TV. I’ve even seen an old art easel used to mount and display some small flat screen TVs (though I’d worry about stability).
Hiding TV Wires Along the Baseboards With Small Cord Covers
If you also have to run your TV wires around your room then you may also want to consider some longer or thinner cord covers as well. A lot of people run the longer cord covers immediately above their baseboard molding (and then paint the cord covers) or run the cord along ground, where the flooring meets the baseboards. Either way works, though if you have carpeting you may also want to hide your TV wires and cables under your carpets.
Hiding TV Wires Along Crown Molding and Door Jambs
I’m personally not a big fan of trying to hide TV wires in crown molding and door jambs and the like because you’re ultimately taking off the crown molding, running wires behind it and then reinstalling it. There’s also a pretty good chance that you’re going to hit something structural that you weren’t expecting (especially around door jambs) and it’s a lot of work in the end. You also have to be very careful about installing nail plates so that no one accidentally nails something into the wall which then cuts your cables. And even then these solutions are only good for hiding TV AV wires and cables, not power cables due to safety issues. By the way, Crutchfield (yes, those audio guys) actually have a little tutorial on how to hide speaker and AV wires behind door jambs and molding. It seems like way too much work to me and their tutorial makes it sound much easier than it probably is.
Hiding TV Wires with Cloth Covers
These cloth wire covers are purely decorative, but I’ve seen these used to “hide” TV cables and other cords by giving them a little cloth flare. They’re not really my style but I have seen them used to keep cords together without being too obvious. Personally, I think these are a little freaky and look as though you have a worm crawling out of your wall, but hey, you might be into that.
Reducing The Number of Wires With an HDMI Switch
If you’re thinking of buying new wires or you’re wiring up an HDTV for the first time you may want to think about a wiring strategy before you go too far. Most people have three or four different things they need to connect to a big TV. They might have one or two video game systems, a DVD or Blu-ray player and a cable box. Instead of running and hiding a dozen different wires behind your TV, you may want to think about whether or not an HDMI switch box could solve a lot of your problems. The idea is simple: run all your peripherals into the HDMI switchbox (which sits in your audio or video cabinet with them) and then from the HDMI switch you just run one cable (and HDMI cable) to the back of your TV. Now you really only have to hide two cables at most: your TV’s power cord and your single HDMI cable. You just use a remote to “switch” the box from one video input to another.
However you’re going to hide your TV cables outside your wall, there are some general rules you should follow:
- Always leave a little slack when running TV wires around the room. You never know when an extra inch or two will come in handy (just tilting or adjusting your TV may make this necessary).
- No matter what method you use to hide your TV wire try to avoid any sort of rubbing or pinching of your cables. Even a little pinching of the wires could eventually lead to a cord failure or, in the case of power cords, potentially cause a fire.
- When hiding TV cables under rugs or carpets only hide them along the edges of the room. If you have carpet pads you may want to put the cable between the carpet and pad to avoid rubbing.
- If possible try to avoid running your TV power cord right against your AV wires. The electricity in the power cord can cause interference in some cases. If you’re using the Wiremold cable cover you may want to consider putting a little strip of extra foam between the power cable and AV cables just to keep them a few centimeters apart.
- Don’t bend any cables too sharply. Try to curve your TV wires and power cords gently because a sharp crease or bend can actually break or weaken the wire.
- While you’re taking the time to hide your TV cables, why not label both ends, too? You can get some quality cord labels for next to nothing or if you’re into a slightly less neat solution you can just use little pieces of tape on each end. I use these for all my computer cables and wires, too.
The methods you can use to hide your TV wires (or computer wires or speaker wires or any other cords and wires in your home) along the outside of your walls are unlimited, but most come down to hiding the wires with something more pleasing and more customizable than a dangling cord.
One more cautionary note: If you are still thinking about buying a new flat screen TV and you’re thinking about having it installed by professionals, then be aware that many services do not make any attempts to hide your TV cables and cords. Services like Best Buy’s Geeksquad will often offer installation, but that typically only includes mounting the TV bracket on the wall and hanging your TV on the mount, not running any of the TV cables into or down the wall. Remember that your mounting bracket will have to be screwed into the frame of your house to hold the weight, so you may want to be ready to look for wall studs before you plan on any cord or mounting options.
Of course, if you have a little more time and money or you just want to have a really professional looking installation then you may want to consider hiding your TV wires inside your wall. If you don’t have much of a budget but you do have a flair for design and you want to add a little visual interest to your walls then you can take the opposite approach your problem and actually make art from your video cords. It’s a funky and clever idea, but it’s not for everyone.