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I'm trying to mount a TV in our Edwardian (1906) building. The living room walls are (starting from the floor) 8" of solid wood molding, 7' of board-and-batten, 1' of plaster-and-lathe, and a box ceiling. From looking behind outlets on other walls the boards appear to be 1" thick pieces of some kind of soft wood (I can dent it with my nail). Given the era and the geography I'm thinking redwood.

I'm not having any luck finding studs or coming up with an alternative:

  • The plaster and lathe above the boards gives unreliable readings
  • The boards have 3" battens every 10-12 inches (yep, not evenly spaced) making it impossible to run a stud finder for any distance
  • The floor moldings are solid wood
  • The crown moldings are huge and flush to the plaster
  • The wall is an exterior wall and we're on the third floor
  • I have no access into the wall without cutting a hole
  • I need two studs 16" apart and I'm not convinced the studs are 16" apart (it's a short wall and I suspect at least one is placed irregularly)
  • The battens effectively make the wall uneven
  • I'm reasonably certain that mounting to the panels is a bad idea

So: does anyone have any good ideas for how to safely attach a 100lb mount to this wall?

I can attach pictures if you tell me what pictures would help.

Update (and decision): I ended up combining a few techniques here.

It turns out that there is a spot above the crown molding where the plaster and lathe can't be seen unless you are standing on a ladder. The painters didn't even bother painting the last 1/4" and there even are small gaps between the plaster and the molding.

I used a stud finder to get a rough idea of where the studs might be. It was kind of right but not really. I took a small bit and drilled some holes to find the studs. I drilled enough holes that I could get tell where the edge of the stud was within a half inch. I then put a hangar in the hole to tap on the stud to make sure it was where I thought it was. I marked that spot. Then, based on this answer, I marked a spot 3/4" into the stud.

If I was better with the hangar I could probably have drilled fewer holes, but the lathe is pretty thick and I was having trouble inserting the bend to spin it.

I'll update this thread if the TV falls off the wall or anything exciting happens when I'm putting in the bolts.

  • At the receptacle box yiu should be able to ascertain which side of the box is attached to a stud. Use a level to transfer upward from this stud. Additional studs will be located at 16” or 24” increments to the right and left of this location. – Kris Nov 20 '19 at 17:01
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If the thing you are mounting is wide (like a shelf or TV) it will cover a few small test holes.

Drill a small hole through the board and lathe-and-plaster, then force a piece of bent wire through the hole into the void. The wire should have two right angle bends, one that goes inside the wall void and one that stays outside. The bit inside the wall must be shorter than the depth of the void, or it won't go in, but you also want it as long as possible to give you the maximum reach.

As you spin the wire, the end inside the wall will feel for the studs and you can use the other end to judge where the stud is.

If you can spin the wire right around, you know there are no studs within a few inches either side of your hole, so repeat the process double that distance to one side.

If the void between studs is full of insulation, this won't work. You may have to just drill holes every few inches until you hit a stud. You can reduce the number of visible holes by drilling diagonally in both directions,

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Here is what you need to do:

  1. Find two vertical studs, that is all you need TWO...
  2. Get a nice rectangular piece of poplar or oak (maybe 2by2 or 2by3 depending on the size of the TV; the idea is to make this an anchor for the TV).
  3. Affix this piece of board to the studs with 3 inch nails or screws around the location where you intend to hang the TV.
  4. (optional) Paint this board to match the wall color.
  5. Once secured, you can bold the mounting hardware anywhere on this piece of board.
  6. Secure the TV to mounting hardware.

If you have other items to mount such as BluRay, DVD player, Roku, etc. follow the steps below:

  1. Purchase a pack of "cable tie mounts"
  2. Pack of thin zip tie (the idea is to place cable mount at the location where you plan to mount the device example, device is 4 by 4 inch, secure four cable mount 1 inch apart and 4 inch between in height)
  3. Run zip tie under those cable ties and secure device you wish to mount.

Let me know if you need clarification on any of this.

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  • I think he also needed idea on hanging a 100lb tv. From it sounds like (and I might be wrong) he is searching for the studs at the location where he believes it should be. Even if he finds it, he strongly believes due to the size of the area it will be irregular. To add to my answer, I would just cut a hole right in the area he wished to hang the tv since that hole will be covered either way when he secure that 2*3 board. .....because he will be thanking me later. – Don Powell Nov 20 '19 at 15:10
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Try sweeping a small neodymium magnet all over the area you're searching. It might stick to any nails which (hopefully) secure the boards to the studs.

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  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. – Daniel Griscom Nov 22 '19 at 19:12
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Note, because of the age of the house/building, I'm not entirely sure this is accurate for you, but it is still a good technique for most people.

Electrical outlets and switch boxes are almost always installed right next to a stud. Using that knowledge, you can take off an outlet or switch cover and probe the sides of the box to see which side the stud is on. If you don't want to mess with the outlets, you can drill a small hole 3/4" away from the switch box on either side to find the stud (this can be done close to the floor to make the hole less noticeable - use a level to accurately translate the location of the switch).

Once you find one stud (or find a few on the same wall), it's a safe bet that the others studs are 16" away from that one. Measure between two of the outlet-box-studs that you found to see if it is a multiple of 16" to double check that part of the equation.

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