Hiding Speaker Wires

Various ways to hide stereo speaker wiring in the home.

These days, high end stereo systems typically come equipped with no less than six speakers: front left and right, rear left and right, center and bass. Along with those speakers come yards of speaker wire. The better the system, the thicker the wire. After it's all connected, it may not look like the sleek system in the store with the wires carefully hidden behind panels.

You can hide your speaker wires too. Depending on your level of ambition, home handyperson skill and tolerance for clutter, it can be a simple task or a major project. In all cases, you'll leverage the low heat dissipation property and relatively fine gauge of speaker wire to hide it in places where you should never think of hiding an AC cord.

Let's start simple. If all you want to do is keep the wires all bunched together and out of the way, you may just want to buy a length of tubing specially designed to hide wires. Such tubing is slit all the way down its length, but is corrugated to keep its shape. You simply cut the tubing to the desired length and push the exposed wires into the tube. If it fits your decor, you can get different colored tubing and let it snake across the floor like an object d'art.

Moving up the taste scale a notch, you can buy hollow tracks made for hiding telephone wires on surfaces where the wiring cannot be hidden any other way. It's a bit on the expensive side, compared to most other methods, but is one of the fastest and most direct solutions. You just lay the track along the wall from the stereo to each speaker location, attach the track with screws as close to the bottom of the wall as you can, then run the speaker wire into the track. Elbows that bend up and down, in and out, allow you to navigate wall edges and doorways. When you're done, you finish up by painting the track the same color as the wall.

Probably the most common way to hide speaker wire is to run it along the baseboard in the tiny gap above the floor covering. If you have carpeting, you may be able to carefully wedge some or all of the wire into that gap. Otherwise, you can pull up the carpet and run the wire between the tacking strip (that lethal-looking strip of wood with the little spikes sticking up out of it) and the wall. Then you replace the carpeting over the wire and hope you can tuck it back in just like it was before you pulled it up. It's really not that difficult and there are tools available for rent to make it easier to reset your carpet edge. The trick is to pull the carpet taut, push it down onto the tacking strip and tuck the edge under the baseboard with a putty knife.

Other floor coverings, such as tile or wood, do not give you as much room, if any, and you certainly don't want to pull up a wood floor panel to lay speaker wire. One trick is to remove the baseboard and route a groove into its back side. Lay the wire into the groove and nail the baseboard back into place. This is more or less a permanent solution, so you'd better be pretty happy with the placement of your speakers before you start tearing up baseboards. Actually, if you find the finishing nails that hold the baseboard in place and counterset those nails deep into the wood, you should be able to take a crowbar and pull the baseboard right off of those nails. Then you remove the nails, fill the holes in the baseboard and proceed as above.

Okay. Time to bring in the heavy artillery. If a set of speakers needs to be on the opposite side of the room -- and how can you have SurroundSound without that? -- you will probably need fish wire. Fish wire is a long, flat or tubular cable that comes in a coil but that can extend into a semi-rigid rod for snaking up walls and under carpeting. Use this the same way you would if you were installing a ceiling fan. You will either go down through a slit in the carpet and back up through another slit close to where your speakers are to be set up, or you will go up the inside of the wall, over the ceiling joists, and back down the wall. If your speakers are hanging, you can exit the wall right behind the speaker bracket. Simple, right? As easy as installing a ceiling fan.

Failing at all of the above, look for hiding spaces along the way between your stereo and the remote speaker. Cabinet ledges, furniture, throw pillows and wainscoting all can be used as clever camouflage for your sprawling speaker wire. Perhaps not the best solutions to your wiry entanglement, temporary creative concealment allows you the best opportunity to kick back and listen to your favorite music on your new stereo in the shortest amount of time.

© High Speed Ventures 2011