It’s no secret that today’s audio/video consumer tends to look for products that will integrate well into the home dÃ©cor. Speakers are becoming smaller and thinner, and some actually disappear into the walls and ceilings, while others are hidden beneath artwork. Video displays are being hidden in cabinets, covered with retractable artwork, and disguised as mirrors. Companies are even creating furniture lines with electronics built right in. One of the challenges in accomplishing a seamless installation is hiding wires. This article describes several different techniques and products to assist the installer or DIYer in hiding speaker wires.
We’ll use the wall-mounted speaker as the focus of this discussion. You have a few options for hiding these wires, including:
1. Running wires behind the walls, above the ceilings, and below floors;
2. Installing wire conduit on the surface of the walls, ceilings, and floors and concealing wires inside;
3. Installing flat wire on the surface of the walls, ceilings, floors and cover with paint, wallpaper, carpet, etc.
Let’s look at each option closely.
OPTION 1 – Running Wires Behind Walls
Where practical, this is a preferred method of concealing speaker wires. This method involves fishing wire inside the wall cavity from the speaker location to an accessible space in either the ceiling (i.e. attic) or floor (i.e. basement) and pulling the wire to the amplifier/receiver, usually back up (or down) through another wall. The major advantage of this method, obviously, is that the wire is totally concealed. There are many challenges, however. First, there may not be any access behind the wall where the speaker is located. If it’s an outside wall (or firewall), fishing wire can be difficult or impossible. Second, even if there’s room behind the wall, there may not be sufficient access to the ceiling or floor space to get the wire all the way home. Third, often there are unanticipated barriers along the way that will require additional work (i.e. drilling, cutting etc.). Thus, this option can prove to be very time consuming. (NOTE: UL-rated wire is typically required for in-wall applications. Check local building codes for any approval requirements.)
OPTION 2 – Install Wire Conduit on the Surface
This option is the least aesthetically appealing, but offers the simplest installation. This involves mounting wire track/conduit to the surface of the wall from the speaker down to the floor (or up to the ceiling), and along the wall, over doorways and windows, all the way to the amp/receiver. The obvious drawback is that the installation is not totally concealed. This option is often utilized in commercial installations in older building with solid walls. However, there’s a unique solution in the marketplace called WireTracks™ that hides the wires in the area behind the baseboard trim and/or in ceiling molding.
OPTION 3 – Utilize Flat Wire
Flat wire is gaining in popularity partially due to some innovations in flat wire technology and products. When there’s little or no access behind the walls, or when the walls are solid concrete, DeCorp’s FlatWire Ready™ line of wire is a particularly interesting solution because it offers an installer or DIYer the ability to run wire directly on the surface of the wall or ceiling, thus completely concealing the wire under paint or wallpaper. Our customers have used this product with outstanding results. The installer begins by gluing the wire to the wall, covering with drywall tape and a very thin layer of joint compound, then sanding and either painting or covering with wallpaper. When installed properly, the results are amazing.
Many times, it takes a combination of two or more options and methods to achieve optimal results. In the end, most consumers agree that the best wire is a hidden wire!
Readers should check out Crutchfield Electronics’ free guide on How to Hide the Wires.