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I have a 51.8lb Sharp Aquos LC46D85U that I'd like to mount above my fireplace.

The problem is that there aren't any studs (at least none that I can find) behind my wood walls. My walls are not wood paneling; they're solid tongue-in-groove wood (see picture).

The only structure I can find behind the walls is a few horizontal bars of wood at intervals. The wood walls are nailed into these horizontal braces. The intervals are too widely spaced for me to get all mounting bracket screws into them. I could get either the top or bottom mounting screws into them, but not both.

Given that the walls are wood (not just paneling), do you think they would be able to bear a 52lb TV mounted to it? If not, how should I safely mount my TV given my lack of studs?

enter image description here

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That's horizontal strapping installed over the 2x4's to give you something to nail the T&G wood into. Otherwise you'd have to install the wood wall horizontally. Keep in mind that TV's over fireplaces are bad for ergonomics (neck strain from looking up) and can result in excessive heat to the TV. –  BMitch Dec 14 '13 at 17:15
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If you use decent screws, you should have no problem mounting right to the surface wood, without worrying about where you are behind it. It's a much more robust material than drywall, and 52 lbs is not all that heavy. You could certainly line up the top bracket screws with a strap and use longer screws there, but you probably don't need to.

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You can even add a few more if you choose. The screws that are usually provided with those kits have screws that are long enough to go through drywall then into the stud. You really only need screws that are 1" long, 1 1/4" at most. Yes the ergonomics aren't the best, but if you have a large screen (50" and bigger) you need to view the tv from a distance that reduces the angle to were it won't cramp your neck My TV is set like that, I am 59 years old and it does not get to me at all. Our sofa is 12' back, the view is great. –  Jack Dec 14 '13 at 20:46
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If your mantel projection is sufficient, it will protect the TV. Mine is set above the woodburning fireplace, it was cranking out the heat after a couple of hours burning red oak, it was not getting the TV hot at all. It is a zero clearance prefab Heatolator brand I installed myself, the mantel has a 8 1/2" projection at the top, with the TV 5" above to the bottom edge and the top of the mantel is 16" above the firebox top. Although everything gets really hot, yes, there is a "wall" of cooler air entering the firebox from the room at the same top edge. –  Jack Dec 14 '13 at 20:55
    
This is what I have done, and it worked just fine. I used the 4 lag bolts on the top of the bracket, and just used two wood screws on the bottom. Those four lag bolts bit plenty into the horizontal strapping. My TV is now securely mounted, thanks! –  John Ruiz Feb 9 at 21:41
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I agree with BMitch that there's horizontal strapping over the studs. You might want to try a Bosch GMS120 Wall Scanner instead of a regular stud finder. It claims it can find wood substructures 1-1/2" deep which is going to be about how deep your studs are from the front of the panels.

The other side of the wall is probably an exterior wall which will make this difficult but try finding the studs from that side. Also electrical boxes are usually mounted on the side of studs so use them as a cue.

Another option, would be to try and figure out where the studs are through trial and error. Measure out from one corner, factor in the depth of the panels and strapping from the side wall then over your fireplace drill a small exploratory hole near where a stud should be but not directly over the strapping. Poke around with a wire bent into the shape of an L and see if you can find a stud. If you can't try measuring from the opposite wall. Once you find one you should be able to easily find the rest since they should be space 16" on center.

Just remember to get longer lag bolts.

Also, there are some replies in this forum thread that might be useful to you.

I had to mount a TV fairly high. Make sure you get a mount that has tilt control to reduce neck strain.

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If the wood walls are nailed why not using a powerful magnet and a level to follow the studs. I have this one amazon.com/CH-Hanson-03040-Magnetic-Finder/dp/B000IKK0OI/… –  Javier Dec 18 '13 at 21:22
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Ecenrwal is right. You can even add a few more if you choose. The screws that are usually provided with those kits have screws that are long enough to go through drywall then into the stud. You really only need screws that are 1" long, 1 1/4" at most. Yes the ergonomics aren't the best, but if you have a large screen (50" and bigger) you need to view the tv from a distance that reduces the angle to were it won't cramp your neck My TV is set like that, I am 59 years old and it does not get to me at all. Our sofa is 12' back, the view is great.

If your mantel projection is sufficient, it will protect the TV. Mine is set above the woodburning fireplace, it was cranking out the heat after a couple of hours burning red oak, it was not getting the TV hot at all. It is a zero clearance prefab Heatolator brand I installed myself, the mantel has a 8 1/2" projection at the top, with the TV 5" above to the bottom edge and the top of the mantel is 16" above the firebox top. Although everything gets really hot, yes, but there is a "wall" of cooler air entering the firebox from the room at the same top edge. That makes the front of the box cooler than the front.enter image description here

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