Mounting A TV Above Your Fireplace
There are really two questions that apply when we talk about mounting a television above a fireplace. The first question is, SHOULD you mount your television above your fireplace? The second question is, CAN you mount your television above your fireplace?
We explore each of these questions below and have created a handy printable checklist you can use to decide if the area above your fireplace is the right place to mount your flat screen TV.
Here in the Kingdom of Fireplace Doors Online we always want to give you all of the information you need to protect your family, home, and the home products you invest in. So, we asked our Fire King, Chris his thoughts about adding a TV above a fireplace.
His answer was swift and steadfast, he said NO.
But, he added it could maybe - be safe for anyone who has an Electric Fireplace. If they followed all the necessary guidelines and understood the other risks involved when mounting a TV above a fireplace.
We knew there were hazards with mounting a television above a fireplace but even we were a little surprised to learn all the downsides of mounting a TV above a fireplace.
For everyone, including those with Electric Fireplaces* one of the most important things you need to know is that your television’s warranty might exclude hanging the TV above your fireplace.
This is because of the high heat anything placed above your fireplace opening can endure and also the fall hazard of poor mounting of the television. You’ll want to check your television’s paperwork since most TV manufacturer’s have added this warranty voiding clause.
That is why if you do decide to mount your television to the wall above your fireplace we recommend hiring a licensed and insured company to do the work. While you may void the TV warranty you can rest easier knowing a knowledgeable professional has secured your television safely in your home.
We have answered the question of whether you should mount a TV above your fireplace. But we understand many people will still want to add their television to this open wall space.
And as we look into below, for the very good reason that for many homes this wall is the only wall that really seems to work for a viewing point in the living space.
Read below for steps you can do to increase your success in mounting your TV to any wall and to your fireplace wall. You can learn about alternatives to mounting above your fireplace.
Heat Damage is a huge concern when putting anything above your fireplace. As you can see in the image below fireplaces generate a lot of heat.
How Hot Is Your Fireplace?
The area directly above a fireplace can get very hot as the heat leaves your fireplace. It makes sense that the front top of your fireplace would have very hot air escaping because of how fireplaces are made.
How much heat escapes depends on your type of fireplace, your fireplace installation, and your fireplace configuration in the room. Because the front top of your fireplace can produce a lot of heat you’ll need a heat buffer to send it out and not up toward your mounted TV.
All heat generating fireplaces have the potential to melt not just your new flat screen TV but anything you add above your fireplace.
A well placed Fireplace Mantel or a Fireplace shelf can act as a buffer to help protect your heirlooms and TV from the heat radiating up from the front of your fireplace. It can offer only some protection though, to delicate electronics and the plastic casing around your television.
The mantels and shelves work to both block the heat and as a heat redirecting buffer, between your firebox top and your TV or fireplace knick knacks. Heat buffers used above a fireplace can be hollow steel mantels, log style mantels, a full fireplace surround shelf, a stand alone shelf, concrete mantels, and wood mantels.
For those who already have a mantel or shelf you may have already experienced the heat that radiates up and can make your fireplace mantel or shelf warm if not very hot, on the underside for sure, if not the whole shelf.
Mantels that are too close or fireplaces with a lot of up direction heat have melted TVs, knick knacks, candles, and cable cords.
We thought this would be a good place to drop a line in for our readers who already have a built in shelf, a fireplace mantel, or a fireplace heat transfer hood and want to simply sit the TV on the mantel or shelf. We created an article just for you to guide you in your choices.
The general Fireplace Industry Standard for fireplace combustibles clearance is a minimum of 80 inches. This means 80 inches of fireplace clearance from all sides of the fireplace.
All sides of your fireplace includes the area above your fireplace. So, when you add a mantel or shelf the further out it protrudes - the further up it will need to be to meet the minimum clearance. We help you figure out your up the wall clearance number for all of our shelves and mantels, so you don't need to worry about the math here.
A true concern we look into further in this article, is that in keeping your Flat Screen TV safe from the radiating upward heat you will also increase the view angle of your fireplace mounted Flat Screen TV.
The standard guideline number does not override any other set measurement for your fireplace. This is only a minimum guidance number and each fireplace manufacturer, city or state can set their own safe clearance guidelines as well.
Whether you want to add a shelf or a mantel for knick knacks or to buffer the heat from your TV we created a guide to explain the differences. And to showcase all of the exciting choices you have in fireplace shelves and mantels.
Know Your Weight
There is a real difference in weight when buying the same size flat screen TV. These three weights are for 55 inch flat screen TV’S with internet connectivity included. We aren’t going to name - names, but they are all leaders in Flat Screen Televisions.
The weights of these same size Flat Screen TVs are from lowest to highest, 27.1 pounds 35.1 pounds 38.4 pounds
An 11.3 pound difference may seem like a trivial amount but this is hanging weight on your fireplace wall, so every pound counts. Choosing the lightest TV that meets your needs is highly recommended for any wall mounting.
Thinking of going way big on your new flat screen tv?
These weights are for a 70 inch flat screen and a 75 inch flat screen TV.
We think the weight of these flat screen televisions is not considered often enough because they are very thin and look like a lighter version of what we all knew TV’S to look like just a few years ago.
We know though, that hanging 67 pounds of hanging weight on any wall needs to be carefully considered. Even more consideration needs to be given before you mount an almost 70 pound TV above your fireplace.
We all hang lots of pictures with or with glass and other home design decorations on our walls with very little news of these crashing down from those walls. The difference in these home decor wall hangings and a flat screen TV four fold:
If a lone mount fails from holding a lot of flat screen TV weight means potential wall damage, a broken flat screen TV, and maybe injury to a family member or pet.
But your TV may not just be hanging on the wall. It might be downward hanging weight if you choose an adjustable TV mounting. Which means your brackets and anchor screws will not just be holding the TV to the wall but holding the weight of the TV in mid-air.
Or with the adjustable view TV mountings your wall pressure hold will change each time someone moves the TV to view comfortably for their preference. Which creates all around uneven wear on the TV holding mounts in the wall.
You’ll also want to be sure your TV mounting brackets can hold the television weight and that they are secured into a framing portion inside your wall.
Fall Hazards and Wall Hanging Issues
Television Fall Hazards are a real concern no matter what wall you mount your television to or where you sit your television.
So much so the Consumer Product Safety Commission created a campaign to raise awareness on both the dangers of unsecured televisions and other household furniture. As well as how inexpensive and easy the fix can be. As you can see from this chart from the CPSC this is serious business.
We don’t normally send our customers off site but from our family to yours this page is worth a look.
It is clear that a lot can go haywire when mounting your TV to your fireplace wall. Even with the best of intentions and planning. While wall damage or a melted TV is not something any of us want to deal with fixing, they can be repaired.
But improperly mounted televisions can cause real harm and death to people, and most often to children. You can read more about how to pick the correct bracket below.
Know What Type of Wall You Have Before You Buy Your TV Mounting Brackets.
Your fireplace wall area may be constructed of the same building materials as the rest of your home. Or as often is the case for Masonry Brick Fireplaces, it may be a stand alone feature material.
You must know what type of wall you are mounting your television to before you buy your mounting hardware. While this is sage guidance for any wall it is doubly true of the wall above your fireplace. The damages that can occur when mounting a TV to a wall are mostly due to poor planning before you mount your television to the wall.
Modern home interior walls are often constructed of drywall. While easier to mount things to, a drywall - wall isn’t designed to hold a lot of hanging weight like a mounted television, even when you mount into the studs behind the drywall.
Knowing what type of fireplace wall you have before you try to mount a television to the wall is even more imperative if you have an older home or a much older home. These often have stucco walls or a lath and plaster wall. Both may look like drywall to a layperson.
And it is not uncommon for the stucco or lath and plaster walls in older homes to just be recovered in drywall, wood veneers, or wall paper. These wall patches make for a very dangerous situation when mounting a TV above the fireplace, or anywhere in your older home.
Figuring out your type of wall, the construction around your fireplace walls, and how you can or can not safely mount and hang items on these walls is explained in more detail at the below links.
You can learn how to find what type of home walls you have and how mounting to those walls works at the link below.
And you can learn more how your inside fireplace is constructed.
The Wall Mounting TV Brackets
Now that you know what type of wall you have you can choose the correct bracket for your fireplace wall, your television width, and your television weight.
Before you purchase a bracket you may check with your Certified Installer as they will often have city code approved hardware for all mounting wall types already on hand.
A bracket that barely fits your weight requirements can fail. You may be thinking that you would never use the wrong bracket for your weight-type of TV and we believe you.
This problem happens most of the time when people upgrade or replace their televisions. But instead of having a new bracket system installed they add the new TV to their old bracket.
There are cases where brackets failed that were the right weight and were mounted properly. The reasons for this can include, product failure, too thin drywall board with an inferior stud, too long holding the weight of a hanging television, anchoring screws not properly installed, wall fatigue due to age or weathering, and of course unknown failure reasons.
Failing brackets is one reason that it is always recommended that you add a fail safe back-up anti-fall wall strap or hook to your wall mounts. A second, independent system holding your TV to the wall works like a fail safe in keeping your television from falling off the wall. This fail safe should be secured into different studs or other back of the wall holding system.
Brick or Stone Front Fireplaces
There can be major questions when drilling into the area of your brick or stone work fireplace front wall. The first is where you will drill, with two choices that can be drilled into when adding a TV to your brick or stone fireplace front. One is the mortar in between the stone or brick and the other is the stone or brick itself. Neither was designed to hold forward facing weight.
We asked Chris again for his recommendation between drilling into the mortar or the stone - brick face front of a fireplace, for those who are going to mount their television into their masonry fireplaces no matter what.
His answer was neither are good choices. But if he had to pick it would be the mortar around the fireplace brick for mounting a television. Because the actual brick can chip and fall away. Neither of these are good choices to hold hanging weight televisions of between 20 and 120 pounds. He added several in wall design tips for those who are constructing new homes and you can read these tips.
If the stone or brick is chosen a special drill and anchor screws made for stone will be used to make the holes, and set a good connection for the mounting hardware. These special stone or brick anchors screws are rated by weight with holds starting at 50 pounds and going up.
A word of warning before drilling into your masonry brick or stone fireplace. It will create holes that are not easy to hide with patches. It is easier to patch holes in the mortar but they may show too.
This can not be undone!
Brick and stone mortar is designed to fill and hold layers and it does that very well, but it is not designed to hold forward facing weight, and most definitely not forward facing weight forever.
Brick face fronts may - will crumble beneath the hold weight sooner than a solid stone anchor screw would. This is due to brick being made of clay or shale and dried. But solid stone anchors can give out leaving the anchor in the stone but releasing the holding medium.
We suggest you check on a bi-weekly basis the anchors and mounts holding your TV above your fireplace. To be sure they are still holding tight over time. An anchor, screw anchor or mount can look like this when it starts to give out.
Mounting a TV is Hanging Down Weight on Your Fireplace Wall
You also need to think about ‘how’ your TV will be held on the wall. As seen in our picture a flat against the wall hold is a different weight distribution than a TV mounting with an adjustable downward hang.
But all mounting of heavy objects on a wall creates a downward weight pull on the wall.
More issues that can happen when mounting a TV above a fireplace is unexpected wall damage, damage to the interior fireplace system in -wall, and the TV falling hazard.
Of course, Electric Fireplaces don’t have the same interior wall built-in fireplace parts as masonry fireplaces or zero-clearance gas or wood burning fireplaces but there is still a danger of wall damage and the falling hazard.
As you can see in the image above this Flat Screen TV hits all of our points on why you need to think about how and where your Flat Screen TV will hang.
It hangs very far down - putting downward pressure on the mounting.It hangs in front of the fire box which is fine providing you don't need a fire. And it has an adjustable mount that allows for down and side to side movement. Which can cause all around wear inside the wall around anchor screws.
Watching a TV Above a Fireplace
The number one reason, and also a problem when mounting your TV above your fireplace, is that normally a fireplace in a room IS the focus point of that room. For many people it can be hard to configure a room with two centers of attraction.
Because you need a certain amount of clearance from the top of your fireplace to add a buffer in the form of a fireplace mantel or a fireplace shelf your television is going to be quite high on the wall. Which means you aren’t going to have two viewing points, you will have three.
Where are you going to look?
The natural sitting position line of sight view will be the space between the fireplace and the tv when you are sitting on the couch looking forward.
In design terms this is called dead space because you can’t move it, fix it, or cover it. No matter how plain, small, pretty, or huge the shelf or mantel between your fireplace and your TV it will always create a third competing view point.
Some people find the view of a fireplace mounted TV so hard on their necks that they end up moving their televisions from the fireplace wall. You can put real strain on your neck viewing a television that is out of your natural line of sight. And some people report feelings of dizziness or of being out of balance after watching their high fireplace mounted TV.
Hiding the Cords
We probably should have started our article here, with where will your cords go? Because you can get every point and tip here right, only to end up with a huge cord salad with nowhere for them to go.
There are no great answers to this. Each installation is going to depend on what your Certified Installers judgement tells them is the best for your home. We want to note for you that it is just as important for these cords to be as far away from the direct heat as it is your TV.
We have put together a list here with tips and hints to help hide your TV and cable cords problem.
Which leads us to another issue that is often overlooked until you are ready to turn your TV on. Most homes with built-in new constructed fireplaces tend to leave the entire wall where they built the fireplace electrical outlet free. Or, if they do include a wall plug-in it is as far as possible from the fireplace.
Where will you plug it in?
This is because it is just easier and safer to put the electrical outlets on the other walls. And until recently no one really needed electric outlets near their fireplace.
We have some suggestions and tips for where your Flat Screen TV can get the power it needs. And some tips on hiding your cords at the links below. Because whether you call it a socket, plug in, outlet, wall socket, socket plug, wall plug, or whatever else the people in your hometown call it, you won't find an electrical outlet at the top of most fireplaces.
*We know that Electric Fireplaces don’t generate the same volume of heat that other traditional fireplaces do. Your TV warranty may exclude them from the exclusion. But since it is a warranty exclusion we doubt the manufacturer’s thought of the heat differences by type. You should check your paperwork or call directly to your TV maker to be sure before mounting your TV above your fireplace.
We laid out above why mounting a TV above your fireplace isn’t a good idea And steps you can take to reduce the real risks involved in mounting a TV to any wall. We note here though that even in doing all of this, and with taking every precaution you could still face issues.
A Note on the Art of Home Construction and Upgrading Features
While our official answer is to use the mortar if you MUST mount to the brick or stone front face of your fireplace. And neither the brick work or the mortar should be used for mounting a TV.
You will hear equally passionate views for using the mortar or the brick-stone work. Home construction is really an art form and as such your installer will choose based on their personal experience.
So, if the fireplace TV mounting professional you hire has had a good experience in crafting on the brick they may double down on that being the ONLY WAY. Or if an installer had a bad experience in drilling into the stone they may tell you the only way is through the mortar.
It doesn’t mean either person is right or wrong, it is just their point of view and we hope as they construct into your fireplace they are well versed in whichever mode they choose.