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Install Your Own Flat Screen Ceiling Mount

Sections: DIY, HDTV

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There are any number of reasons you may decide to install a flat screen television using a ceiling mount. You may have wall stud limitations. You may want the TV positioned at the height of the ceiling. Or you may just have no walls. Whatever the reason, it ought to be a good one because it definitely adds time, expense and most-of-all risk to the operation.

For me, the reason was simple. There was one appropriate location for the 42-inch Philips 1080p set in my rented apartment – above the fireplace. The landlord would’ve evicted me had I wall-mounted it into the customized wood paneling above the mantel and an entertainment center would’ve prevented us from enjoying the fireplace.

Most of the work I undertook completing this project came in the planning. First, I had to find a mount that would work. This took me over a week. The vast majority of ceiling mounts suffered from two limitations. They maxed out around the 27- to 32-inch screen size and only lowered 12 inches from the ceiling. I needed to support a 42-inch unit that sat around 3 feet from the ceiling.

I finally found one that would not only serve my purposes, but do so in a sleek and customizable fashion. Chief Manufacturing’s ceiling mount comes in three separate pieces, any one of which can be swapped out with other parts they sell:

* a white ceiling plate (CMS-115W)

* a 2- to 3-foot adjustable column (CMS-0203), and

* a universal flat screen mount (MCSU).

Equipment list:

• Stud finder

• Pencil

• Tape measure

• Step ladder

• Cordless drill

• (2) 3/8-inch x 2-1/2-inch lag screws

• (2) 5/16-inch washers

• hack saw (optional)

The ceiling plate comes in other colors, while the adjustable column comes in additional lengths. Chief doesn’t sell directly to consumers, however a customer service rep recommended I purchase the supplies from MountsAndMore.com. Finding the parts was the most difficult part of the job. Once I had them, I was amazed at how easy it was to mount the TV. Here’s how I did it:

Step 1: Find your spot

Use a stud finder to line up a reliable ceiling joist into which you’ll drive the ceiling plate. Joists are typically 16 or 24 inches apart. I lucked out on this job because the joist happened to be just a half inch off the center of the fireplace mantel – virtually unnoticeable to visitors. If you find the spot you want to install the mount is several inches from the joist, check out Chief’s Web site for a two-joist ceiling plate option. It will work with the rest of the equipment. Once you have your spot, mark its location and drive in pilot holes using the ceiling plate as a guide.

Step 2: Install the ceiling plate

Strangely, the ceiling plate does not come with the screws you need to install it (two 3/8-inch x 2-1/2-inch lag screws as well as two 5/16-inch washers). However, I found them at the local Ace Hardware for less than $3. You’ll need a 9/16-inch socket wrench to drive them in. Be careful as the washers might jam in the holes of the ceiling plate.

Step 3: Fasten the adjustable column

Screw the first part of the adjustable column into the ceiling plate. You’ll find several adjustment holes along the side of the first column. Make sure these remain accessible for the time being. The directions will tell you to tighten a set screw into the place where the column and the ceiling plate meet, which serves to better support the installation, but hold off on this part for now.

Step 4: Insert mating column

(See Step 6 before proceeding with this step.) Now you can use the accompanying screw and washers to mate the second column with the first at the height you prefer. The screw will notch into the adjustment hole. When choosing an adjustment hole, keep in mind the bottom of the column will end up around the middle to upper third of your flat screen TV. Of course, you can adjust this later, but you’ll be doing so with the weight of the TV on the column so it helps to get this part right the first time (which I did not).

Step 5: Line up the column

Twist the column so the adjustment holes are facing the rear (better not to have these visible). Now you can tighten that set screw in the ceiling plate.

Step 6: Install the first half of the universal mount

There are two parts to the actual mount – the back part which attaches to the bottom of the column and the front part which attaches to the back of the TV. Install the former first. You may want to do this before Step 4. Why? Because you’ll be rotating the mount on like a screw and if the wall is too close (which it was for me) you won’t be able to do that. You’ll have to remove the bottom half of the column, attach the back part of the mount and reinsert the column. Again, once you’ve finished this step, the directions will tell you to tighten a set screw that better fastens the back mount to the column. Hold off on this for now.

Step 7: Line up the front mount

Use the directions to properly line up the mount’s bars with the appropriate holes on the back of your TV and screw the mount in. One obstacle I encountered when I did this was that the bottom bar completely blocked off access to the component inputs of the TV. Once I discovered this however, I was able to use a hack saw to remove that portion of the bar – with no noticeable effect to the mount’s stability.

Step 8: Mount the TV

Find a friend/spouse/neighbor/whoever – just don’t do this part alone. Each person should grab a side of the TV and line up the knobs on the front mount with the holes on the back mount. The knobs should latch onto the back part and a locking mechanism in one hole will click into place.

Step 9: Tighten things up

Swivel the TV until it’s straight. Then you can tighten the set screw I told you to delay tightening in Step 6. Next, use the socket wrench to adjust the nut on the top of the mount to change the roll of the TV. Then use the included Allen wrench to adjust the TV’s pitch screw on the side of the mount.

Step 10: Quality assurance

Take one more trip around all of your screws, nuts and knobs. Make sure everything is in its place and fastened tightly. This is a valuable investment you don’t want crashing to the floor. Be patient—these extra five minutes won’t kill you.

The job is extremely simple once you get going. It should take no more than two or three hours. However, make sure you know the joists into which you are drilling the mount, and make sure you hit the center of those joists. In the end, two screws is all that holds your flat screen beauty from crashing to the ground.

The Chief equipment makes it very simple to hide your wires through the column and into the ceiling. Unfortunately, I live in an apartment and don’t have access above it, so I used a cable management system to string the cables to my entertainment center.

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