Finish a Basement: A DIY remodeling adventure!
Great home theater tips to help you design and setup your basement home theater!

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Home theater wiring

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Home theater componentsWith the home theater components on the way, and the ceiling grid and electrical complete, it was time to run the speaker wiring & HDMI cable for the home theater system.

Wiring the home theater

I should have completed this step before calling Joe back to the house to finish installing the acoustic ceiling tiles, but it turned out I was ready to wire the basement the same day Joe was coming to install the tiles. Luckily, it wasn't too big of a deal since my speaker cable went in a straight line across the basement. I simply moved the tiles aside and ran the cables over the grid.

Drop ceilings make it easy to hide home theater cables & wiring.

Home Theater wiring tips

  • Empty wall box & PVC for home theater wiring.Before you hang drywall, run a 2" PVC pipe from an empty wall box, up one of the studs. Do this in the spot you're putting your home theater equipment. This will allow you to easily run cables behind the wall after the drywall is installed.
  • Plan how to run your speaker cable beforehand. This is the only way you'll know exactly how much cable you need for each speaker. You don't want a bunch of wires cris-crossing your entire basement.
  • Run the cable in straight lines when possible.
  • Don't run speaker cable parallel to electrical wiring. The electric current may cause a hum in your speakers.
  • Keep the cable as far away from your wiring as possible, and when you do need to cross, do so at 90 degree angles.
  • Measure and cut cable for each speaker and label both ends of the wire so you won't have to figure out which goes with what speaker.
  • Consider wiring for a 7.1 surround system (like I did) even if you're installing a 5.1 surround system. It's easier to run the cables all at once- even if you won't use them right away.
  • Wrap a piece of masking tape around each end and label as follows:
    • LF: Left front
    • C: Center
    • RF: Right front
    • LS: Left surround
    • RS: Right surround
    • LR: Left rear **
    • RR: Right rear **

      **If wiring for 7.1. surround sound

  • Since your subwoofer will probably be in the front of the room, you don't need to run that cable up the wall.
  • Secure speaker wire without damaging it.After you've measured and cut your speaker cable wrap a piece of masking table around the cables every 8-10 feet. It's much easier to run one thick wad of cable than to do it separately .
  • Do NOT secure speaker cable with a staple gun. Any crimp in the cable could damage the wiring. My electrician suggested plastic rings (which are really supposed to be used to protect wires inside metal studs) to run the cable through that I could then screw to the joists above.
  • For single runs of cable (after the cable is separated) you can use electrician's staples.



Wiring the home theater

Installing speaker wire in drop ceiling.For my installation, I ran a 30' HDMI cable I purchased from up the wall, along with the 4 strands of speaker cable I labeled and secured together with masking tape. (The front speaker wiring will run along the baseboard.)

I went straight across the middle of the room for about 15 feet- separating the HDMI cable at the projector location about 12' from the screen. At the 15 foot mark I separated the left/right surround wiring from the rear surround wiring which I then ran to the back of the room and tucked neatly above the last row of ceiling tiles.

After the carpet installation is complete, I'll be ready to install and setup the home theater components.

Progress Topics

Priming the walls

Deciding on a paint color

Buying home theater systems

Painting basement walls

Insulating basement ceiling

Installing drop ceiling grid

Drop ceiling tile selection

Drop ceiling tile installation

Finishing electrical

Home theater wiring

Buying carpeting

Buying laminate flooring

Installing laminate & hardwood flooring

See also...
Phase 1: Basement prep and framing

Phase 2: Electrical and drywall




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