Mounting the TV above the living room fireplace has become quite popular, and it's easy to see why. There are several advantages to mounting a television on the wall, and doing it over the fireplace makes for a clean look and helps to maintain a single focal point in the room. It's not all sunshine and roses, however. There are as many reasons to avoid this living room configuration as there are to embrace it.
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Things to Consider When Mounting a TV Over a Fireplace
When you plan to mount your TV over your fireplace, there are a few key things to keep in mind.
There's no denying that a television so big you can see individual grass blades on the field is pretty fun when the big game is on, but that TV will probably dwarf your fireplace and look downright silly if you mount it above it. If you want to make sure you'll love the look of a television over the fireplace, cut a piece of cardboard to the size of the TV, stand back, and look at it with the fireplace to make sure the proportions and dimensions look good to you.
Remember that electronic devices and heat don't usually mix well. If you can't mount your TV at least 5 feet above the floor of your fireplace, you're asking for trouble. Yes, you could harm the TV, but even worse, you could hurt yourself. A TV that catches on fire or starts to melt releases toxins that can harm you and your family when inhaled. Look at the manual that came with your television to read information on your device's heat limits from the TV manufacturer.
Another word of caution is to avoid watching the TV and enjoying a fire at the same time. Getting cozy in front of the fireplace and watching your favorite show may sound like heaven, but the flickering light of a fire and the television at the same time can cause serious eye strain. It's better to enjoy one or the other rather than both at the same time.
About 25 percent of new houses are being built with an alcove above the fireplace that's already wired and ready for a TV. In this case, DIY installation is fine. If not, consider hiring a professional to mount your TV for you. A professional install helps make sure that the TV is properly anchored to the wall without the use of screws or anchors that accidentally penetrate the chimney or vent. A pro will also know whether your TV is a safe distance from the fireplace and can help ensure the TV doesn't get too hot.
Pros of Mounting a TV Over a Gas Fireplace
1. It Saves Space
If your living room is small, mounting the TV to the wall can save a lot of space. Even small entertainment centers and television stands require floor space, and things can start to feel crowded in a hurry. Saving space can also mean preventing accidents — there's no need to worry about anyone knocking over the TV while navigating tight spaces if it's hung over the fireplace out of harm's way.
2. It Keeps Little Ones Safe
Toddlers tend to touch things they shouldn't even under the most watchful eyes. Emergency rooms see about 22,500 people every year who suffer an injury due to TVs and other appliances or furniture falling onto them and many are children who were reaching for the TV on the TV stand. Mounting your TV over the fireplace puts it safely outside the reach of small children.
3. It Improves Visibility
Children and pets always seem to stand or walk in front of the television, blocking your view during the game or your favorite show. Mounting the TV above your gas fireplace raises the viewing height, which may combat this problem while promoting comfortable viewing. Not only does mounting your TV improve your viewing experience, but it also helps everyone avoid the dreaded "you make a better door than a window" joke.
Be cautious here, though. Some flat-screen TVs have multiple viewing angles, while others start to appear fuzzy or discolored if you don't look at them from eye level. Before hanging your TV, make sure it doesn't require a very specific viewing angle.
4. It Looks Clean
Some people accept visible power cords as part of modern life, but others can't stand looking at the cords when relaxing in the living room. It's very easy to hide the cord when your home already has an alcove over the fireplace ready and waiting for your TV. In other situations, you can add outlets behind the television and run cords inside the wall where they won't be seen. You may need the help of an electrician, depending on what kind of setup you have, but you can absolutely hide the cords when mounting a TV over the fireplace.
5. It's a Versatile Option
Wall mounts for TVs have come a long way and are much more versatile than they once were. Once available primarily as fixed units, tilt and full-motion models are now available. A tilt mount lets you tilt the television downward, making it easier to view a TV mounted over the fireplace without neck strain. You can simply tilt the TV down toward you for easier viewing.
Some full-motion mounts are even more flexible. These mounts hold the TV on an arm that you can swivel, turn, and tilt for a full range of viewing choices. The articulating arm that holds the TV can, of course, be folded back against itself to return the TV to a position flat against the wall. This way, you don't have to worry that your TV will still be sticking out into the room when company comes.
6. It's Trendy
Mounting the TV above the fireplace is a popular design choice among homeowners. If you're looking to sell your home in the near future, some buyers may expect the TV and the fireplace to be together. The opposite could be true in 20 years, however. There is no way to predict the future of this trend or any other, so don't let this completely sway you one way or another. That said, it's a good thing to be aware of.
Cons of Mounting a TV Over a Gas Fireplace
1. It Can Cause Eye and Neck Strain
If your living room is too narrow, hanging the television over the fireplace can feel like sitting in the front row of a movie theater, even if you've used a tilt or full-motion mount. For comfortable viewing, you ideally need to have at least 15 feet of space between the screen and your couch. At 8 to 20 feet, eye strain is likely due to the need to look up, and both eye and neck strain will likely occur at distances of less than 8 feet.
2. It Can Get Hot
Heat can lead to an overheating TV and smoke can infiltrate the interior components and damage the sound and picture quality. Generally, heat and smoke aren't too much of a problem if you have a gas fireplace. A wood-burning fireplace, however, can leave you with both heat and smoke problems. Even though this isn't as much of a factor with gas, you still need to make sure the area where your TV will mount never exceeds 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pay close attention to the warranty information on your TV as well. Some manufacturers void or severely limit the warranties on televisions hung above fireplaces. This isn't an issue on older TVs, of course, but it might be a limiting factor on a newer unit.
3. It Can Clash With Design Elements
Hanging a TV above the fireplace is a fairly modern trend. Some people love this style of living room decor, but for others, this trend can ruin the aesthetic of the room. A mounted flat-screen hanging on a big stone fireplace in the living room of a log cabin, for instance, can really change the natural feel of the space. Some people don't mind this since there is going to be a TV somewhere in the living room anyway. Others find the look of a fireplace-mounted TV to be an eyesore that doesn't mesh with the existing interior design.
4. It Can Be Too Heavy
Modern televisions are much lighter than earlier versions, but you may still find yourself dealing with a TV that weighs in at around 65 pounds. You need to make sure that your fireplace can handle that much weight. Is your fireplace truly made of brick, or is that a brick facade? It's important to know exactly what you'll anchor the TV to. Ask a contractor for advice as needed.
You should also check the distance between the fireplace facade and the chimney. You need to drill into the fireplace or wall to mount the TV but not so deeply that you interfere with the chimney or vent.
5. It's a Constant
A fireplace is almost always the focal point of a room. If you mount your TV above your fireplace, it too will become part of that focal point. If the look of a big, black screen bothers you, you can choose a TV that displays artwork or something like an artificial fish tank when it's not in use. You can also pair the TV to a computer and display a chosen photo that way. Still, some people don't want their TV to figure into the living room quite so prominently.