TV mounts have become increasingly popular during the new era of the flat screen TV. Now that TVs are not giant, heavy boxes that require a dedicated TV stand, a simple mount can be used instead to save space and provide a sleeker look. There are just a few facts to know before selecting a TV mount to make sure you choose the best unit for your needs.

TV mounts come in three varieties: fixed, tilting, and articulating. Fixed TV mounts are solid; the TV simply hangs in place and cannot be moved. Tilting TV mounts can tilt down a little, making them easier to see when hung up high and saving viewers from straining their necks. Articulating TV mounts are wall mounts with a swinging arm, allowing the mount to face different directions. Most articulating mounts can also tilt as well. Ceiling TV mounts can also have the option to swivel, which is a rough equivalent to the articulating wall mounts.

Every TV mount is compatible with drywall and comes with the bolts, drywall anchors, and other equipment needed to secure the unit. If you need to install on a different surface, such as masonry, you will likely need to find a hardware store and picking up more heavy-duty equipment. Always make sure you have the right tools for the job when securing a new TV mount; no one wants their TV to come crashing down to the floor later.

Ceiling TV Mounts

Ceiling mounts are designed to hang from the ceiling and are most commonly used in professional settings such as waiting areas in doctor’s offices or banks. Larger ceiling mounts are longer, hanging down further from the ceiling to better accommodate the sizes of larger TVs. Many ceiling mounts are flat and immobile, but there are also versions that have the freedom of movement to tilt and swivel. Weight limits on TV mounts also tend to exceed the actual weight of modern TVs, but it never hurts to double-check before hanging anything.

Wall TV Mounts

Wall TV mounts are very solid and available in all three varieties. The fixed and tilting versions of the mounts look very similar, with the tilting mounting arms being the only real difference visually. Articulating (also called swing arm) wall mounts are a bit more popular since they provide a greater degree of movement. The swing arm can move the attached TV horizontally and tilt it both up and down to get the screen at the perfect angle. Articulating mounts are generally the only option for TVs over 70-inches in length as well and many newer units are designed to work with curved TVs.

VESA Patterns

Each TV has a series of holes on the back called a VESA pattern, named after its creator, the Video Electronics Standard Association. VESA is also known as a Flat Display Mounting Interface (FDMI) and Mounting Interface Standard (MIS). VESA patterns are the number of millimeters between the holes used to attach a TV to a mount. Generally, the size of the TV determines the size of the VESA pattern:

TV Screen Size

VESA Pattern (mm)

32-inches or less

200 x 200

33 to 60-inches

400 x 400

Above 60-inches

600 x 400

Not every TV adheres to the sizes listed in the above chart, so be sure to measure the distance between the holes and double-check before selecting a TV mount. Most TV mounts are able to accommodate multiple VESA sizes and patterns, as not all TV manufacturers set up VESA patterns the same way. When a mount is not quite the right size, they can be adjusted using a VESA mount adapter.

VESA Mount Adapters

VESA mount adapters come in two main varieties, a set of bars and a metal plate. When securing a TV to a mount, four screws are used and form a square or rectangle shape to distribute the weight of the TV evenly. The more common VESA adapters come as a set of four metal bars. These are used to extend the VESA pattern outward, making it bigger. The second type is a metal plate that attaches to an existing mount to provide more options for larger VESA patterns. These adapters are an excellent way to keep an existing mount in use when upgrading to a new TV.