Solved! How High to Mount a TV
Ready to install your new flat-screen television? Use this guide to find the best height to hang a TV in any room of the house.
Q: I’m eager to try out my new flat screen television on movie night—less so to rig it up to the wall. How high should I mount the TV? And do you have any tips for physically mounting the TV at the appropriate height?
A: How high to mount a TV is a question that dogs binge-watchers and cinephiles alike. Position the TV too high or low, and you’ll force yourself and guests to crane your neck or slump your shoulders to take in the on-screen action. The ongoing discomfort aside, a misplaced TV can also be a pain to remove and reinstall at another height, which is why it’s in your best interest to get its position—and the mounting itself—right the first time.
TV manufacturers and home entertainment enthusiasts alike recommend mounting the flat-screen at eye level for optimal viewing, but that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. The best mounting height for you will depend on which room and position you plan to watch the TV from and whether any wall obstructions stand in your way. Read on to learn how high to mount a TV in your scenario to create the best viewing experience possible.
For standard seated viewing in conventional rooms, position your TV 42 inches on-center—that is, so that the center point of the TV sits that far above the floor. Forty-two inches factors in the 18 inches above the floor at which a traditional sofa seat is raised in interiors ranging from living rooms to family rooms, plus another 24 inches above that to reach the eye level of the average adult in a seated pose. No matter the size of your flat-screen TV, this rule of thumb puts the action happening in the middle of the screen directly at or close to eye level for all of your seated household members and guests.
The distance from the floor to the top or bottom of the TV will vary depending on the dimensions of your specific flat screen—which may or may not be problematic. Some larger TVs may risk running into a media center below or coming to close to a fireplace hearth if you set out determined to mount your screen at 42 inches on-center. Keep reading for how you can accommodate furnishings and room layouts.
Increase the height to 48 to 53 inches on-center if viewing from a home bar. Let’s say you’re looking to mount a flat-screen in a home bar to watch TV from stools rather than in a living room. Bar stool seats are higher off the ground than sofa seats—anywhere from 24 to 29 inches to reach the counter—so you’ll need to adjust what height is considered “eye level” for the average adult seated at your swanky home bar. To find the best height to mount a TV, add 24 inches to the height of your stool. Your new mounting height will be anywhere from 48 to 53 inches on-center.
Increase the height to 60 inches on-center if you view it more often while standing. This may be the case in a game room where other equipment (e.g. a pool or foosball table) occupies the main focus of the room and the TV is mounted to a nearby wall to watch while you wait your turn. It also applies in home gyms, where you’d be watching TV while on a treadmill or other gym equipment. A mounting height of 60 inches on-center will put the center of the screen at eye level for the average person standing at 5’6″ tall.
Position the TV as close to eye level as possible when mounting above a wall obstruction. As mentioned, it might not be possible to mount your TV at the recommended heights if that would cause it to run into an existing appliance or piece of furniture. No matter: Simply position the TV as close to eye level as possible (seated or standing eye level, depending on the location) while still leaving some clearance between the obstruction and the TV.
Above shelves or a media center, an appropriate amount of clearance might be four to six inches—about the same distance you’d hang a mirror above a dresser. When considering mounting a TV above a fireplace, though, it’s important to consider how hot the wall will get while the fire is roaring and whether this could cause heat-related damage to the screen mounted there. Here, leave a clearance of six to 12 inches from the top of the mantel to the bottom of the TV (or from the top of the fireplace to the bottom of the TV, if your fireplace has no mantel) to minimize the risk of damage. Even so, mounting a TV any distance above a fireplace may void the warranty on your big-ticket purchase, so read the fine print before you do so.
Depending on how high you mount a TV, you may want to angle it using its hardware. According to standards laid out by the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers, you shouldn’t ever position your television so high that it requires viewers to tilt their heads up more than 35 degrees from eye level in order to see the top of the TV screen. Now, that’s not typically a problem for a TV set at eye level according to guidelines listed above, but screens mounted in a game room or well above a wall obstruction may run into problems.
Fortunately, tilting a television down—effectively lowering the top of the television screen—can help you get away with positioning it higher than eye level without causing discomfort or neck strain over an extended period of time. This requires upgrading from a basic low-profile mount (which is stationary) to one of two other types of hardware: a tilting wall mount (which can move up or down) or full-motion mount (which can swivel in all directions).
Measure twice, mount once. With the right type of wall mount kit, a few basic tools, and attention to detail, you can mount your TV at precisely the right height on the wall for your needs. Follow these tips for accurate mounting:
• Screw the two mounting arms (vertical brackets) from the kit to the back of the TV, then secure the mounting arms to the provided wall plate as if completing wall mount assembly.
• Measure 42 inches (or adjusted height) up the wall from any horizontal location and mark the spot with a pencil. This is where the centerline of the TV will hit.
• Divide the height of your TV by two. Measure and mark this distance above the 42-inch mark—this is where the top of the TV will hit. Measure and mark the same distance below the 42-inch mark—there is where the bottom of the TV will hit.
• Enlist a friend to help you hold the TV in front of the wall at this height so that the top and bottom of the screen line up with the top and bottom marks on the wall. Have a second helper trace an outline of the TV onto the wall using painter’s tape and do the same around the four corners of the wall plate. (You should see a box within a box when this exercise is through.)
• Check your outlines with a level to make sure you’re satisfied with the way the TV will appear. Then proceed to grab a stud finder and toolbox to finish mounting your flat screen.