Yes, TVs can be safely attached to chimney breasts using a TV mount or bracket! But there are 3 major factors to consider before you get started: wall strength (chimney breast material), chimney breast wall depth (for drilling mounting studs and brackets) and the TV’s viewing angle when seated comfortably.
In days gone by, the fireplace was the center of every British home. Most houses built before 1956 were constructed with wood-burning stoves (sometimes on multiple floors), a brick chimney flue and a chimney crown on the roof.
These days, families are more likely to gather around the TV than an open fire. In many UK houses, the best TV-viewing position is often on or around a chimney breast.
Before you drill into any wall, you need to know what material it’s made from and any hidden dangers lurking behind it; nobody expects to drill through water pipes or electrical cables until it’s too late!
You may fall foul of the law by interfering with a load-bearing, structurally-unsound or shared chimney – check your local council’s website for chimney-related information and local bylaws.
Do I Have A Chimney Breast?
In the UK, the term “chimney breast” refers to the interior, forward-facing walls covering a chimney flue. It also includes the section of wall that surrounds indoor wood burning stoves and fireplaces, including the bricks that make up the chimney flue.
Chimney breasts can be made from any number of materials. In older buildings, chimney breasts are typically made from stone blocks or bricks.
New builds and properties built without a real chimney sometimes include “faux chimney breasts” or “fake chimney breasts”. These are typically interior-only stud walls consisting of a timber frame covered in plasterboard.
You can mount a TV to most chimney breasts. However, the type of screws and mount required differ drastically between chimney breast materials – there’s no one-size-fits-all method for a TV wall-bracket installation!
Safety and Sizing
Before you start drilling holes and mounting the bracket, check the TV’s weight and mounting bracket type.
Don’t panic if you’re thinking “Argh! Which wall-mounted bracket fits my TV?”. You can quickly work out the precise VESA standards using a ruler or tape measure.
Measure the distance between the top left and top right holes (i.e. 400mm/4cm), measure the distance between the top left and bottom left holes (i.e. 200mm/2cm). These two numbers represent the VESA dimensions of your TV or TV mounting bracket.
For example, 400mm x 200mm. Finally, compare the dimensions with this chart to work out the correct mounting size.
To make life significantly less stressful for consumers, almost all TVs and TV mounting brackets are produced following VESA standards. This means that a Samsung TV can be correctly and safely mounted with an Amazon TV Wall-Bracket, and vice versa, so long as they share the same VESA subtype.
There are 3 major VESA subtypes; each subtype supports a different weight of TV. Cleverly, this means that you generally can’t mount a really heavy TV on a weak bracket – the holes won’t line up!
- Common TV Wall-Mount VESA Types: VESA MIS-D, VESA MIS-E and VESA MIS-F
- Less Common TV Wall-Mount VESA Types: VESA MIS-A, VESA MIS-B and VESA MIS-C
Three sizes of screw are used to fasten the bracket and TV tightly together; M4, M6 and M8 screws, all of which are easy-to-purchase online.
Houses built between 1900 and 1980 may have been constructed with asbestos containing materials (ACM). Asbestos is an amazing material that was used extensively in domestic and industrial settings; it’s fireproof, waterproof, not electrically conductive, cheap to produce and a fantastic insulator.
This wonder material was, unfortunately, too good to be true. The sale, importation and use of ACMs has been completely banned since 1999, with no exceptions.
According to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, asbestos is a highly-potent carcinogen; exposure to even small amounts of asbestos can lead to life-changing events including a massively increased risk of developing mesothelioma.
If you suspect that a wall in your home, including a chimney breast, may contain asbestos, do not attempt any work yourself. Call in a licensed professional.
Stud Wall Chimney Breast: Wall-Bracket Advice
The term “stud wall” refers to timber framing (studwork) covered in sheets of plasterboard (drywall). The plasterboard is covered with plaster and then decorative layers, like paint or wallpaper, are applied.
Stud walls are extremely common in UK households – any interior wall that sounds vaguely “hollow” when you knock it is probably a stud wall.
The long, vertical wooden beams are called “studs” while the smaller horizontal beams between each stud are known as “noggings” or “noggins”.
Can I Mount a TV to a Plasterboard Wall?
Plasterboard is a useful but weak material – plasterboard can not safely hold the weight of a wall-mounted TV!
You may see self-clamping screws for sale online, specifically advertised for mounting objects to drywall. Unfortunately, these are not a viable option for TV mounting – they’re simply not strong enough!
Self-clamping screws can easily rip through plasterboard, potentially smashing your prized device in the process!
However, the timber framing that the plasterboard attaches to is sturdy enough to withstand the massive pressures exerted by TV brackets.
Remember, the top of the TV bracket will try to pull away from the wall while the bottom of the brack will push into the wall. TV wall-mounting brackets can place massive pressures on the surface they’re attached to; the amount of pressure placed on the chimney breast will increase as TV weight increases!
Mounting TVs to Stud Walls, Fake and Faux Chimney Breasts
If you have a stud wall covering your chimney breast, you’re in luck! Mounting a wall-bracketed TV into a wall’s wooden frame is significantly easier, cleaner and quicker than installations for brick and stone chimney breasts.
To mount a TV-hanging bracket to a stud wall chimney breast; first, locate the position of the studwork within the wall. You can buy stud finder devices online starting at around £20 – these beep or light-up when held over studwork.
Alternatively, you could simply tap the chimney breast wall in various places. The areas of wall without wood behind them will sound hollow – the areas of wall directly in front of the studwork will sound muffled instead.
Once you’ve located a suitable spot, follow the wall-mounted TV bracket manufacturer’s installation instructions to safely install your device, in compliance with UK electrical code BS7671.
Brick, Stone & Other Masonry Chimney Breasts: Can I Mount A TV?
Most people prefer their TV power, sound and visual cables to be hidden from view. This is generally feasible, depending on the strength and condition of the chimney breast’s stone or brick.
If it’s old and crumbly, you may have to settle for exposed cables – there are numerous flat, thin TV cables specifically for this purpose, often in a wide range of colours. Otherwise, you could install a mantelpiece to place the TV on; this way, all of the TV’s weight will be directed into the floor, not the chimney breast.
If the stonework of your chimney breast is in good condition, you may be able to bury the cables within the chimney breast; the end result can be fantastic!
This is known as chasing cables – power tools are used to gouge out a channel, while ensuring not to remove too much wall. This could break electrical and building regulations or, worse, cause a wall to collapse!
The TV cables are run through the carved-out section of wall and the remaining space is filled with cement, patching plaster or similar fillers. Unless you have access to a wide range of professional tools, this job is best left to a qualified tradesperson.
Can I Mount a TV to Tile or Marble Walls?
Probably not! Layers of decorative materials, such as tile or stone (i.e. marble) sometimes cover the exterior of chimney breasts to improve appearance.
Drilling through these tough, brittle surfaces while they’re on the chimney breast isn’t a good idea: they simply aren’t tough enough to withstand the constant weight of a flatscreen TV.
Will The TV Viewing Angles Look Good?
If you have a fireplace (wood, gas or electric) beneath your chimney breast, be mindful of eye level. You may end up having to mount your TV in a higher-than-normal position.
To avoid constant neckache from a TV that’s too high, make sure that chimney breast-mounted TVs are not higher than eye level when sitting down in your favourite TV-viewing position.