How High Should You Hang Your TV?

The height of your television can affect everything from muscle strain to picture quality. Here's the best way to figure out how high to hang a TV.

What’s the right height to hang a television? That’s a question debated every time there’s a TV to mount, and for good reason. A gorgeous, high-resolution picture is wasted if poor sight lines and neck pain ruins the experience.

It’s long been known that excessive TV watching can be problematic. The term “television neck” dates back to 1952, when a Journal of the American Medical Association article described sufferers “who in watching television programs, maintain strained postures of the head and neck, often for prolonged periods.”

This trend worsened as wall-mounted flat-screen televisions entered the marketplace. Older, heavier models required TV stands to support their weight, keeping them more in line with our natural viewing angle. But a flat-screen TV resembles a mirror or painting, leading many to install them over their fireplace as a natural focal point.

In one sense, they’re correct – mantel-mounted TVs look great. Unfortunately, viewers tend to be outside the ideal distance and viewing angle. The result: Sore necks, and a TV picture that doesn’t look as good as it should.

Rule of Thumb for TV Height

In general, hang the television so its center is either right at the viewer’s eye height or an inch or two below it. To determine this height, sit on the couch or chair in front of the TV and measure from the floor to your eye line. This holds true for different sized TVs, seating types and viewer heights.

Families with viewers of all ages and heights, sitting on furniture of different sizes, may have to experiment to find a balance. This method also allows for higher mounting in home gyms, where you might be watching from a treadmill or stationary bike.

Calculate the Perfect Height for Your TV

For a deeper look into the numbers, online calculators include factors like screen size and seating distance. But even the best calculators can’t address your exact situation. Here are a few other options to consider.

Safety first

If you have children or pets that might pull, push or crawl around the television, there’s a real risk of damage to the TV and themselves. In that case, consider mounting it higher, beyond the reach of curious little hands (or paws). Just be aware of the neck strain that may come with a steeper viewing angle.

You could also set up a barrier to prevent children or pets from reaching the television, but even the best barriers can only keep a truly determined toddler or cat at bay for so long. A better idea might be an adjustable-height wall mount that raises the TV out of reach when not in use.

Regardless of what look you prefer, if the choice is between safety and the “proper” mounting height, always opt for safety.

Aesthetics matter

Here’s the thing: In most rooms, a wall-mounted TV at couch height doesn’t look great. But a few simple steps can make the TV blend into the room. Wall decor on both sides and/or a narrow table under the TV can break up an stretch of empty wall and provide balance.

Also, there’s no rule that says the TV must be wall-mounted. A TV stand or cabinet makes the proper height look good while providing a place to store everything from extra pillows to game consoles.

If you absolutely must have a mantel-height television, consider an adjustable-height wall mount so you can raise it out of the way when no one’s watching.

Personal preference

Remember, it’s your TV in your home. The only right way to hang it is the way that works for you. If you don’t watch television often and love the look of an over-the-mantel wall mount, go for it! Just be sure you’re making an informed decision based on all the factors and recommendations.

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Dan Stout
Ohio-based freelance writer and author Dan Stout is a former residential remodeler, commercial site supervisor and maintenance manager. He’s worked on nearly all aspects of building and DIY including project planning and permitting, plumbing, basic electric, drywall, carpentry, tiling, painting and more. He also publishes noir fantasy thrillers, including The Carter Series, from Penguin imprint DAW Books.