Is it possible to mount a flat screen tv above our pass-through?
February 12, 2013 10:02 PM   Subscribe

In our one-bedroom apartment, we have a pass-through window between our kitchen and living room. It would be the perfect spot for us to hang a flat-screen tv but the surface it would have to be mounted on is a piece of 1/4" plywood abutting the back side of our kitchen cabinets. Is it possible?

There's a 17 1/2" window, The recessed area (backside of cabinets) is 30" high and 54" wide. This photo is somewhat similar to what we have going on, but we don't have a gap at the ceiling.

How would you recommend we mount a TV in this space?

Bonus question! If you think we should do it, what size TV should we get? We were thinking something around 40" Our budget is roughly $500.

If we can't hang the TV there we probably will not get a TV at all.
posted by palegirl to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
It seems unlikely that the wood is strong enough to safely hold a tv, but my bigger concern would be how you're planning to un the wires. At the very least, you're going to need power and cable or hdmi or antenna up there. Also, a good tv mount costs money too. Is $500 your budget for the whole project or just for the actual tv?
posted by primethyme at 10:11 PM on February 12, 2013

Response by poster: We can be flexible about the budget. We'll pay for a good mount if a solution exists.
posted by palegirl at 10:18 PM on February 12, 2013

I wouldn't do it. I bought an LG TV that had someone mount on the wall. They used the largest screws I'd ever seen, directly into studs, to secure the bracket. Your cabinets simply aren't built to anchor something to them. You risk not only losing the TV but also pulling the cabinets and their contents down too.

If you really want to pursue this, in this location, I'd look into getting a ceiling mounted bracket to hang the TV from.
posted by sbutler at 10:31 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

i would not hang a 40 inch tv on the back of a kitchen cabinet, personally. Try something like this instead.
posted by empath at 10:34 PM on February 12, 2013

Modern flat screen screen TVs, especially without a stand are very light - our 46" Samsung is under 30 lbs, which feels lighter than some of the larger framed artwork I own. A smaller TV would weigh less than a set of decent plates that one would normally keep in those cabinets. If you do it, you could get a lightweight mount and buy very large (and I mean the largest you can find) washers or a larger metal plate with holes drilled into it for the bolts you use to attach it to the cabinets.
posted by halogen at 10:43 PM on February 12, 2013

Best answer: I would second sbutler's suggestion to look into a ceiling mount. Depending on the layout of your area, it might be handy to have a swivel mount, so the TV lies flat against the cabinets most of the time, but can be rotated and swung out at other times to be viewed from elsewhere in the room.

TV mountings make me very nervous, so I tend to be cautious. Aside from potential loss of tv and cabinets, you do not want to be underneath one of those if it falls down!
posted by Joh at 10:52 PM on February 12, 2013

First, you need to investigate how the cabinets are fixed to the walls. In theory, cabinets should be able to take quite a bit of weight (imagine the worst-case scenario: stacking nothing but dinner plates on every available shelf, filling all the available space — a well-built upper cabinet should be able to take that) but I've seen a lot of shitty stuff in apartments I've lived in. Cabinets hung with nothing but drywall screws, or worse just attached to the drywall.

So you need to work that out, and if you can't figure how what's holding the cabinets up, then you need to anchor them directly into studs. That has nothing to do with the TV, it would just be fixing a potential issue with your kitchen. You don't want to do anything near those cabinets without making sure they're sturdy.

But even if they are sturdy, I wouldn't mount anything directly into them. Hanging a load off the back is probably not something they're designed for. It might be fine, or it might not, but there's no good way to test it non-destructively, and since the consequences of failure could be rather bad in this case (the cabinets, everything in the cabinets, your new TV, etc. all going down) I'd be pretty conservative. Especially for the huge TV you're considering.

I was going to suggest some scheme involving 2x2s and framing out the back of the cabinets but really what matters is whether you can run some sort of header along the top of the back-side of the cabinets, and anchor it into the joists above. That really depends on whether the cabinets run parallel to or transverse to the joists. If they run parallel, chances are you're SOL and should start thinking of alternatives.

Anyway, a more elegant possible solution than framing out the cabinet back — though this still assumes that the cabinets run at a right angle to the ceiling joists above! — would be to hang some Rapidstrut from the ceiling parallel and flush to the back of the cabinet, going into multiple floor joists with lag screws, and then drop down from it (using threaded rod, probably, but you could probably go with aircraft cable or something if you wanted to look really modern) to support your TV mount. The TV would be kept vertical by the cabinets behind it, although the cabinet wouldn't be bearing any significant load. You'd have to carefully read the specs on the Rapidstrut and the lag screws to make sure you're not exceeding the load of anything, but with a 30-50 lb TV you're probably okay as long as you get the screws anchored properly.

BTW: I would not depend on an ultrasonic stud finder to get the lag screws into the joists. Stud finders are OK for hanging pictures but not, IMO, for anything structural where you really need to get your anchor centered in them. Once you have an idea where the stud/joist is, I like to drill a series of small (1/16" or 1/32") holes in the drywall at 1/4 or 1/2" intervals to find the edges of the stud/joist, and then infer the center based on that.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:08 PM on February 12, 2013

A smaller TV would weigh less than a set of decent plates that one would normally keep in those cabinets.

Sure, but the cabinets are designed to take that load on the shelves inside the cabinet. They may not be designed to take that load attached to the back of the cabinet. At the very least, OP would need to take a hard look at how the cabinets are constructed, whether they're properly mounted, and whether hanging a load off the back of them is going to cause fasteners to start pulling out.

If the back of the cabinet was only ever intended to prevent racking of the cabinet box (i.e. if the load was meant to be borne mostly by the side panels of the box, which is reasonable since in most Euro-style cabinets that's where the shelves are supported), it might just be tacked in with staples or something — my shitty, builders-grade cabinets are made that way. You might be okay initially only to come home to a mess sometime in the future when something fails.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:24 PM on February 12, 2013

If I really, really had to do this I think I'd look at reinforcing the back of the cabinets from the inside. Something like some well-fitted 3/4" plywood glued to the back and fixed to the sides with brackets of some sort. The shelves would need to be cut to the new depth, I'd be pretty careful to check on the cabinet mounts as described above. Reinforcing the cabinet attachment to the wall would be a pretty good idea. If the cabinets are crappy particleboard then forget it.

Then I'd step back and scratch my head on how I was going to wire this thing. Put an outlet in the ceiling for power? You could stream content over wifi to most new TVs but I haven't been all that happy with the results and it limits the sources you can use. Would you be happy with coax/hdmi/patch cables dangling from the back of the TV? If not start thinking about how you can run cables to the cabinet and then to a wall plate behind the TV.

Depending how good you are with a miter saw and wiring most of your budget is going to be a good carpenter and electrician, not the TV mount.
posted by N-stoff at 11:32 PM on February 12, 2013

Ceiling mount, RapidStrut, 1/2" plywood with L-brackets into the ceiling. Don't mount it to the cabinets themselves, especially if they're wood and they look like what's in your picture.
posted by rhizome at 12:19 AM on February 13, 2013

If the back of the cabinet was only ever intended to prevent racking of the cabinet might just be tacked in with staples or something — my shitty, builders-grade cabinets are made that way. You might be okay initially only to come home to a mess sometime in the future when something fails.

I was going to point-out the same thing. It's highly doubtful that the back of the cabinet is going to be able to support the weight of a tv pulling out on it. You'd have to reinforce the cabinet back structurally first, tying-in the cabinet back to the side walls and probably the ceiling.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:50 AM on February 13, 2013

Won't that make it too high to comfortably watch anyway, construction difficulties aside?
posted by Pomo at 6:07 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

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