How to Plan for a Custom Built-In Cabinet for Your TV How to Plan for a Custom Built-In Cabinet for Your TV

What You'll Need
Tape measure
Stud finder
Home blueprint (if possible)

As an alternative to a wall mount for your high definition, flat-screen TV, consider a custom built-in cabinet to contain it. With a built-in cabinet, your television will actually sit flush with the wall, if not a little within it. This has the benefit of eliminating the television from view from the profile and making it look more like a permanent fixture than an addition. It also makes it easier to enclose the television with a screen or door to conceal it when not in use. Constructing the built-in cabinet will require some planning. This how-to will walk you through the preparatory steps. 

Step 1: Determine Load of Wall

The first step in planning to install a built-in cabinet for your TV is to determine if the wall of choice is a good candidate. Most importantly, it cannot be a load bearing wall. If it is, modifying the internal studs could be disastrous. Only non-load bearing walls are eligible to such internal modification. If you have the blueprint to your home, consult it to determine which walls are load bearing and which are not. Determine the direction of the floor joists. Interior walls that run perpendicular to the joists are often load bearing, meaning they support a portion of the weight of the home. Exterior walls should be left alone as well as any walls that contain obvious beams. 

Step 2: Determine Wall Thickness

Once you determine that a particular wall bears no load but is instead only a partition, you have to determine its thickness. Given that most walls are constructed with a 2x4 frame with 2 ½-inch to ¾-inch layers of drywall, many walls are no more than 4 inches thick. A television inset into the wall requires at least that much space with room to spare. A wall should be 6 inches thick at minimum, without being load bearing to provide adequate room for a built-in cabinet. If not, you are liable to punch through the other side of the wall when installing it. 

Step 3: Determine Placement of Studs

With the appropriate wall picked out that is non-load bearing and thick enough, use the stud finder to determine where studs are placed along the wall. Measure the width of the television to know the distance you must span. Pick an area of the wall located over an outlet to provide an easy power supply. Mark on the wall with a pencil the location of the studs on either end. Ideally, the built-in cabinet will install with unaffected studs directly on either side, but this may not be the case for some TVs. Measure the height of the TV. Indicate with light marks on the wall the dimension of the cabinet. Don’t forget to include the thickness of the box frame once the cabinet is in place. 

By making these necessary measurements after determining the right wall in which to build a cabinet for your TV, you’ll save a lot of time and energy when it comes time to cut into the drywall, through the studs and build the cabinet. 

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