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my home was built in 1892. The fireplace was a coal burner that has since been replaced by a propane fireplace insert. I want to mount a TV above the fireplace but am uncertain as to what is behind the wall. The floor dimensions of the fireplace are about 60"x 30" and the coal burning hearth is much smaller and shallower than this structure built around the chimney. Having had a picture mounted, it revealed horsehair plaster for certain and I am sure I hit a lath slat as the nail was springy in my first hole. When I run a stud finder over it, I get some strange arrangement for supposed studs. From the corner, I read about 9" to first "stud" then 15" then 12" then 15" then 9" to other edge... it is 60" wide... stranger still that the center span is only 12" and not wider given the chimney behind.

Does this make sense for studs or is it some kind of thin strapping to attach the lath to?

I haven't started drilling pilot holes but that's my next step. I guess I am looking for some guidance before embarking on this project.

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This answer is related...and contains several helpful suggestions diy.stackexchange.com/questions/2887/… –  Jon Raynor Oct 25 '13 at 21:01
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Before you consider whether the wall can handle a TV, just don't... above a fireplace is one of the WORST places to mount a TV. digitaltrends.com/home-theater/… –  Snowman Apr 8 at 1:40
    
Plasma over fireplace: bad. LCD: just fine if the viewing angle is good. –  Bryce Apr 8 at 5:17
    
The catch is the viewing angle is terrible above the fireplace--unless the room is huge enough that you're seated quite a ways back. Of course, if the room is that huge, there's likely a better location for the TV. –  DA01 Nov 4 at 5:51

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It sounds like you have some arrangement of thin furring strips that has been adhered to the original fireplace in order to install some sort of backer board or drywall. If so, these furring strips might be enough to hold your TV but would be safer to take a look. It's unlikely there are studs around a fireplace in a house that old. I'd assume the original brick is still behind all of that.

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+1, the only thing that can answer this question is a hammer. –  Mazura Nov 4 at 7:29

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