I recently bought a 40-in. flat screen TV, only to find I have metal studs spaced 24-inches apart in my wall. The TV itself only weighs about 29 lbs. (the wall mount about 3-4 lbs.), but am unsure whether it is a smart idea to bolt the mount into the metal studs. It's an interior wall and the studs look lightweight, but I'm thinking of using two toggle bolts in each stud which should do the trick. Is this a bad idea?
Dan ~ Lake Worth, Florida
Hi Dan, I understand your concern; flat screen TVs aren't cheap and the last thing you want is to find it on the floor one day. Metal studs come in various gauges or weights and for an interior partition I'm sure you probably have one of the lighter metal studs manufactured.
Light gauge metal studs are easy to work with, but not too good for attaching anything heavier than a painting without adding some blocking. The problem is they are such a thin gauge that they twist, flex, and bend easily. If you don't have a sharp bit when drilling your hole, pushing on the drill to start the hole could cause the stud to bend.
Your idea to use toggle bolts rather than drywall or self tapping screws is good and with a 29 pound TV there's a chance that you may never have a problem with the metal studs carrying the weight, but if it was my wall mount flat screen TV, I don't think I would want to take the chance.
It's pretty easy to add a little blocking to metal studs to beef them up; all it requires is a little drywall and paint work. If you aren't comfortable doing it yourself, you should be able to find a small sheetrock contractor around Lake Worth to give you a hand.
I would cut out a section of drywall between two studs where you would like to install the TV. Attach a vertical wood 2x4 to each of the metal studs using self tapping screws. Place the wood stud on the side of the metal stud towards where you want to locate the TV and then install two horizontal wood 2x6 or 2x8 blocks on edge between the vertical wood blocks at about the height of your wall mount bracket. Stack these blocks one over the other so that when you're looking at the wall you see about 12 or 16 inches of wood to attach to.
You can then attach the same piece of drywall you cut out back over the hole and use some drywall tape and joint compound to patch the seams. The first coat is the tape coat and you'll probably need two more coats of just the compound and a little bit of sanding before the patch is ready to paint.
Once the paint is dry you should be able to attach your wall mount bracket and TV with confidence knowing it won't be going anywhere. One other suggestion if you decide to go this route; when you have the hole open ask an electrician to run a line from the closest outlet over and up the wall to next to where the bracket will be mounted. That way you can plug the TV in without an unsightly cord hanging down the wall. I know construction is a little slow in Florida right now so you may be able to get a good price on the sheetrock and electric work.