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Ask the Builder: Hanging a flat-screen TV where there’s a window

Mounting a flat-screen TV over the window above this fireplace is not as difficult as it seems. It requires making a simple box.  (Tribune News Service)
Mounting a flat-screen TV over the window above this fireplace is not as difficult as it seems. It requires making a simple box. (Tribune News Service)
By Tim Carter Tribune Content Agency

Q. Tim, she who must be obeyed has informed me that the two flat-screen TVs in the unopened boxes must be installed in days. One TV will end up on our bedroom wall, and the other is to go over a living room fireplace. There’s a huge window there. Fortunately, the TV is wider than the window and the wood trim surrounding the window.

How in the world do I attach the flat-screen bracket to glass? Do you have any other tips to share about how to get this right the first time? It’s best not to anger SWMBO. Next time you’re near Houston, I’ll gladly take you out for some superb seafood. – Chris M., Tomball, Texas

A. First and foremost, you’re not going to attach anything to the glass. You’re going to build a simple box using ¾-inch plywood and 1-by-2s that the flat-screen TV bracket or French cleats will attach to in this setup. This little box will be attached securely to the flat window frame material that extends in toward the room.

The most important thing to do is to read the installation instructions that come with both TVs. In almost all cases, they provide clear instructions about which hardware and fasteners to use. Don’t deviate from the instructions. Some even provide online videos to give you the courage to do the job.

The television in the bedroom should not be an issue. You’ll probably just need a handy stud finder to locate the wall studs. You want the fasteners for the TV brackets to attach to the wood studs. Don’t try to use wall anchors hoping these will stand the test of time. There might be wall anchors that will work, but you can’t go wrong fastening the brackets to solid wood.

The box that needs to be made for the fireplace television is simple. You can get all you need at a local home center. The 1-by-2s are common lumber, and you’ll build a box that’s about 4 inches taller than the TV bracket. You ideally want this box to hide behind th television since it’s so wide. Your goal is to create an illusion that your television is floating in space.

You’ll fasten the 1-by-2s together using 1 ⅝-inch drywall screws or similar. Once you’ve determined the height of the television above the floor (refer to the instructions), then you’ll attach this frame to the inside of the window at the height you determined.

Be sure to use the same screws to attach the box to the window frame that you used to create the box. Space them about 4 inches apart. You’ll cut the plywood the same size as this box and screw it to the frame using the same screws. Space those screws every 8 inches.

The ¾-inch-thick plywood is very strong. When you use the recommended bolts to attach the TV bracket, trust me, the television is going to resist the force of gravity for a very long time.

Q. Tim, I’ve got decades-old wallpaper in my kitchen I want to paint. It’s in great shape with only two small tears. Can I paint over the wallpaper, or must I remove the wallpaper before painting? The paper was applied directly onto the drywall. – Frank H., Yorktown, Va.

A. A few years ago, a ham radio friend of mine taught me an interesting thing. He said, “The power is always in the question.” This is a great example of it. I know what Frank wants to know, but it might have been better if he had asked, “Tim, is it a good idea to paint directly over wallpaper, and, if so, is there a special paint?”

The truth is you can put paint on just about anything. It’s similar to putting lipstick on a pig, and many people paint things to disguise not-so-good-looking things. But the issue here is that most paints now are water-based. Water-based paints can often wreak havoc with some wallpaper.

Some wallpaper has an ultra-thin plastic coating that resists water penetration. This is why some wallpapers are scrubbable and washable. That’s a good thing.

But some wallpaper, especially older paper, doesn’t have this clear coating. It’s just paper. You probably know if you get most paper wet, the water soaks right through. When this happens with non-coated wallpaper, you can get ugly blisters in the wallpaper minutes after painting it with a water-based paint.

Oil paints don’t create these blisters. This is why I recommend painting wallpaper with an oil primer or some other product like shellac. Just be sure that the primer doesn’t contain water. Once the oil primer dries, you can paint the wall with whatever you want, including blacktop sealer, although I don’t really feel that would be a good look or smell.

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