How to Install and Route Low Voltage Audiovisual Cables inside a Wall to Provide Wiring Camouflage

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How to Install and Route Low Voltage Audiovisual Cables inside a Wall to Provide Wiring Camouflage

13 April 2016
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Articles

With the advent and widespread use of flat-screen televisions in the past couple of decades, many homeowners are forgoing the use of traditional entertainment cabinets and are now attaching televisions directly to the wall. While this increases available space to homeowners, it also presents a dilemma by revealing the presence of cables from the television and any connected audiovisual components. These unsightly cables are difficult to camouflage when they're lying naked against the wall. However, a solution to hide the cables is available to homeowners, and it costs relatively little money to implement. Below are instructions for how you can install recessed cable plates and use them to route these cables behind the wall:

What you will need

  • recessed cable wall plates (quantity of 2)

  • electric drill with ¼-inch drill bit

  • keyhole saw

  • screwdriver

  • scissors

  • tape

  • pencil

  • stud finder

Step-by-step procedure

1. Know what can and cannot be routed. It is important to keep in mind that power cables should never be routed inside drywall panels; this is a violation of building codes throughout the United States because it could be a potential fire hazard. Instead, install an extra outlet in the wall if necessary to keep power cords hidden. The only acceptable cables to route inside the walls are low-voltage or zero-voltage cables that connect equipment together. These include speaker wires, HDMI cables, and any other non-high current wiring.

2. Plan the location for your recessed wall plates.The locations of your wall plates will depend upon where your television and other audiovisual equipment is placed. In most cases, you will want to put the upper wall plate behind your television as close as possible to its center line; the lower wall plate should be in the same vertical axis as the upper plate but centered behind the  audiovisual components.

If your television and components are located in the corner of your room, you may wish to offset the wall plate placement in order to better fit the available space. There are no right or wrong locations, just as long as you are able to keep the wall plates within the space surrounded by the same pair of wall studs.

3. Confirm the location for the plates is available. Once you have decided where you wish to place the wall plates, you will need to verify the location behind the drywall is open space and not bisected by a stud. To confirm it is clear, use a stud finder to check for the presence of studs or other obstructions. If the stud finder indicates there may be an underlying obstruction, you will need to move to the right or left of the location and find space without intruding studs.

4. Mark the locations for the wall plates. After you have made a final decision regarding the locations for your wall plates, locate the cutting template; it may be a separate piece of paper within the wall plate packaging or printed on the instructions or packaging itself. If the template needs trimming, use scissors to carefully cut around its edges.

Next, use small pieces of tape to hold the templates in place where you wish to place each wall plate, then trace around the edges with a pencil. Remove the templates and drill ¼-inch holes into the middle of the tracings.

5. Install the wall plates. Once holes have been drilled into the middle of the template tracings, insert a keyhole saw into the holes and cut across the inside of the tracings until you reach the lines drawn in step 4. Then, cut carefully along each line of the tracing until all lines have been completely cut; at that point, slowly and carefully pull the drywall cut-outs from the wall plate openings.

Next, align the wall plates so their recessed compartments fit into the cut-outs and the rims of the plates sit flush against the drywall. While holding the wall plates in position, use the small screws that come with the wall plates to firmly fasten the plates. Be careful not to over-tighten the screws, as they will strip the screw holes in the soft drywall.

6. Install the cables. The last step is to route the cables through the openings. Beginning at the top wall plate, slide the cables into the opening and carefully work them downward into the open space between studs. Push them downward until you can see them in the lower wall plate recessed area, then grasp the cables carefully with a pair of pliers or similar tool. Pull the cable ends through the lower wall plate opening and attach them to their respective audiovisual components.

If you need help with this project, consider hiring an electrician.