How To Install Speaker Wires: A D-I-Y Guide
A college dorm or first apartment wouldn’t look "authentic" without speaker wires draped all over the furniture or running haphazardly across the floor. Once you’re a real grown-up, though, the appearance of your living space becomes important – and you certainly don’t want a tangle of cables and wires creating an eyesore or even a hazard.
There are several effective ways you can connect the speakers in your home or apartment while hiding the wires from view. Here’s a rundown.
The Easy Way Out
This may or may not make your speaker wires 100% "invisible,”but it’s certainly the simplest approach: placing the speakers where they can be easily reached by wires running behind furniture or underneath rugs. The resultant sound quality may be a bit less than ideal, since you’re putting the speakers where they’re most convenient instead of where they’ll provide the best audio – but having the wires mostly out of sight with no additional expense or work may be worth the sacrifice to you.
Hide the Wires on the Walls
Most people have never heard of it, but you can buy extremely thin and flat low-voltage wire with an adhesive backing. If you attach the wire to your wall and then paint or wallpaper over it, it will never be seen. The only potential problem comes when you have to make a 90-degree turn with the wire, because that will cause a small bump at the corner; make all turns as high on the wall as possible and that will make the painted bump less visible. Where the wire terminates, install a junction box into the wall for your speaker jacks and no one will ever guess that the wire is hiding in plain sight.
Use the Baseboards
There are two ways to utilize the baseboards in a room to hide wires. The easier way is only possible if you have wall-to-wall carpeting: you can usually push thin speaker wire into the small space between the rug and the bottom of the baseboard. Just be sure to use a blunt tool like a ruler or a credit card to push the wire into the space, rather than something sharp which could pierce the insulation and damage the wire.
The other approach is by attaching what’s called a plastic "raceway" to the top of the baseboard. Raceways are designed for this exact purpose and are available at all hardware stores. Just paint the raceway to match the wall or baseboard, insert your wires, remove the adhesive backing and attach – and you’re all set.
The Professional Way
People who are comfortable with home repair and renovation would simply run their speaker wires through the walls and terminate them in junction boxes with plugs – and if you have a little time, some UL-listed speaker wire and a basement, you can do it too. Figure out where you want the two junction boxes to go and make holes in the wall, a little less than a foot above the floor. Drill down into the basement (behind the wall, of course) using a spade bit and extension. Then just use a snake to fish the wire from one junction box down into the basement, along the ceiling, and back up into the other junction box. You can try doing this through your attic as well, but it’s a much tougher job because of insulation and small spaces.
These same approaches can be used for any sort of low-voltage wiring applications like telephones or thermostats, as well as audio speakers. Hiding any of these wires is well worth the few minutes and few dollars it might take, making your living area look like it belongs to an adult and not a teenager.