How to hide speaker wires in your home

what to know

  • Cover wires with carpet or runners, tuck them between carpet and baseboards, or camouflage them with paint.
  • Hide wires next to light strips, install cable ducts or covers, or consider chair rail molding.
  • Alternatively, use flat bonded speaker wire or a snake of wire that runs through the walls and ceiling.

This article explains how to hide speaker wires so they are less noticeable. Depending on the layout of your home, some methods will be better suited than others.

Before you begin, make sure every speaker and component is disconnected and placed where you want it. Plan on getting extra spools of speaker wire. For connections up to 20 feet long, use gauge 16; for connections over 20 feet, use gauge 14 as some methods require additional length.

Useful tools to have on hand are wire strippers, tape measure or ruler, pliers, utility knife, scissors, zip ties or cable ties, bubble level, nail gun, cordless drill, jigsaw, hammer and stud finder. (If you rent a space that you live in, double-check permissions with your landlord before making any permanent modifications to the property.)

If your speaker wires must run through open floor space, a convenient option is to hide them under an area rug or carpet runners. Rugs add character and draw aesthetic attention, plus they help prevent tripping hazards.

In most cases, carpet won't cover every inch of exposed speaker wires. Still, they offer a flexible, non-permanent solution to keeping a room tidy. You are free to rearrange the furniture layout as needed, and you can easily relocate carpets and electrical cords. No tools, no installation required!

Whether you choose to install rugs over carpet or hardwood floors, it is recommended that each rug be equipped with the same size rug pad. Available in a variety of materials, these mats prevent carpet slippage, make vacuuming easier, allow the carpet material to breathe, and provide an extra layer of cushioning to hide and protect speaker wires.

You can also use slim cable/wire covers to wrap wires under carpet to provide extra support in high-traffic areas. Perhaps the most difficult part of deciding on a rug or area rug is choosing the size, style, color, and pattern.

If your home is carpeted, you may have baseboards in the room. Baseboards are usually installed slightly off the floor to leave room for carpeting. There should also be gaps between the nail strips and the wall, and under the carpet and baseboards. This area is a great way to discreetly route speaker wire around and between rooms.

Take a length of wire and see if you can tuck it between the carpet and baseboards with your fingers. If the space seems tight, use a thin screwdriver or ruler to gently push the wire against the wall until it no longer shows.

If all goes well, measure and route enough wiring so the speakers can reach the stereo equipment. Tuck the wires under the base plate before connecting the ends of the wires to the terminals.

While this method should be easy for many people, some may find that the space between the carpet and baseboards is too tight to squeeze the wires in with their fingers.

If this is the case, start at one end and use a pair of pliers to carefully pull up a section of carpet. You should be able to see the exposed wood flooring, the nail strips (which are sharp, so be careful with your fingers ), and the gap between the wall and the nail strips (under the baseboards). Slide the speaker wires in and push the edge of the carpet back down onto the tack strips.

Continue working your way until all the desired speaker wires are hidden.

If you have wall-mounted speakers (for example, a multi-channel surround system), expect the wires to run partially along the wall. For those who can't tuck the wires between the carpet and baseboards, any speaker wires may still have to be run horizontally along the wall. Either way, you can make these ropes less noticeable by painting them to blend with the background.

If you rent a place that allows hanging paintings with nails, you may be able to use a nail gun (but check first if you're not sure). So you'll need plenty of staples, twist ties or zip ties (twist ties are better because you can always untie them), a paintbrush, and paint to match your wall color.

The idea here is to attach the speaker wires straight and flush to the wall before painting the wall. But don't use a staple gun to secure the wires, instead use nails/zip ties. Place a tie on the wall where you want the speaker wires to be secured, and staple the tie in the middle. Then, place the wire over the staples and tie the tie. Since you're not pinning the speaker wires, there's no risk of damage.

Do this every few feet. You can trim excess tie length with scissors. Once complete, use matching paint to camouflage the wires and ties from the wall. The best part about this semi-permanent method is that if the wire needs to be moved or removed, the tiny staple holes are the only mark left.

If you prefer pretty lights to paint, you can hide your speaker wires by decorating them with flexible LED strips. LED strips come in a variety of lengths, lumens (brightness), temperatures, output colors, materials, and features. Some are powered by an AC wall adapter, while others can use USB power. Many come with remote controls, while some can be controlled via mobile apps.

Fixing these lights to the wall, you could run speaker wire next to them, but no one would be the wiser.

Keep in mind that many light strips are simply LEDs with a peel-off backing that allows them to adhere to the surface. Some, like the Power Practical Luminoodle, are more like LED ropes with mounting accessories. But if you want to adjust or reposition the light strip in the future, consider using command wire hooks or decorative clips.

These products adhere to many surfaces and can be removed safely without leaving residue or damaging the surface. Attach the hooks to the wall where you want them, hang the speaker wires behind or under the LED strips, plug everything in, and enjoy the ambience!

For a more permanent solution to concealing wires, consider installing cable ducts or cable ducts/covers. This can be a useful option for those who need to run multiple lengths of electrical wiring, especially in homes with baseboards and no carpeting.

Cable ducts (similar to PVC pipes, but a little better) can be found as kits that include connectors, caps, elbow connectors, screws and anchors, and double-sided tape. They offer open or closed channels that keep wires securely tucked inside. Many cable ducts are slim and concealed, and they can be installed above baseboards and painted to match.

While cable trunking is very effective for hiding speaker wires, they are not always easy to remove. Another alternative that is less likely to leave any traces is a cable cover. Cable covers have flat bottoms and rounded tops, making them look like speed bumps.

Cable covers, usually made of rubber or PVC, provide protection for wires and are best suited for carpet-free floors pressed against walls. They are also ideal for use when wires need to cross open thresholds. In most cases, no adhesive is required to hold the cable cover in place. Cable jacketing is available in a variety of widths, colors and patterns.

If you want truly invisible but permanent wire placement (avoiding drilling holes and running wires through the wall), flat speaker wire may be the way to go. This type of wire, such as Sewell's Ghost Wire, looks and unrolls like a roll of ribbon or packing tape. Peel-off backing exposes an industrial-strength adhesive surface that works on virtually any flat surface.

Since this wire is very flexible and ultra-thin, you won't have any problems going around corners. The outward facing side can be painted to match the color of the wall or baseboards.

Flat speaker wire is most commonly 16 gauge and comes with two or four conductors, the latter being ideal for those looking to bi-wire or bi-amp speakers. When using this type of wire, you'll also need some flat wire terminal blocks (one pair per speaker). One side of the junction box clips onto a flat copper wire, while the other side clips onto a regular speaker cable (which usually connects to the back of the speaker and receiver). Carefully measure and install the flat speaker wire, then paint it.

If you plan on using in-wall or in-ceiling speakers, expect some work. Before you get started, weigh the pros and cons of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers.

While you can complete this type of project without any outside help, if you're not confident in your DIY skills, it's best to hire a professional contractor. Planning for the installation of both in-wall and in-ceiling speakers is required as there are many factors to consider. But the result? Not only are the speaker wires completely invisible, but you can also mount the speakers flush and hidden in the wall.

If you don't have or plan to use in-wall or in-ceiling speakers, you can still run speaker wire through walls, ceilings, attics, or basements. Sometimes it's easier to cut small holes in the wall, especially if your stereo receiver will control multiple speakers in multiple rooms.

If you want your wiring to look clean and elegant, use speaker wall panels. These plates look similar to electrical outlet covers but provide binding posts or spring-clamp terminals for groups of speakers. Some even come with HDMI ports, perfect for home theater systems.

Most of us are familiar with crown molding—the interior pieces that seamlessly line ceilings and capped walls. You can also find chair rail molding (or wainscoting), which is a molding that bisects the wall horizontally. People often choose to paint their walls so that the color above the chair rail is different but complementary to the color below.

Chair rail styling changes the look of your living space, and many types of designs allow speaker wires to be hidden underneath.

Installation of chair rail molding requires planning. The wall must be measured to determine the amount of molding to purchase. The studs need to be positioned ahead of time so that the chair rail can be nailed in securely. The parts need to be cut precisely so that all ends connect flush with each other. It also requires sanding, finishing and painting. Don't forget to thread the speaker wire safely as needed.

  • To test a speaker wire, lightly touch one end of the wire to the battery. If you hear noise, that's a good sign. If you don't hear anything, make sure to verify that everything is connected correctly and try again with another wire.

  • To connect speaker wire to an amplifier, the positive speaker terminal (red) on the amplifier must be connected to the positive terminal on the speaker, the same applies to the negative terminal on all devices. Make sure all speakers are in phase: positive to positive (red to red) and negative to negative (black to black).

  • To splice the speaker wires, set up the speakers and device, then make sure the power is off. Next, measure and cut each wire, strip the wires, attach crimp connectors, and heat shrink. Finally, reconnect the speakers.