One of the biggest pains for anyone who values the look and aesthetic of their home is visible cables running through the house. Of course, the most popular solution to this problem is to run the cables through your walls rather than out in the open. But how do you accomplish this both safely and effectively?
The basic process of running ethernet cables through your home’s walls is to start in either your attic or crawl space and then to drop connections down (or up) into the rooms you’d like as needed. This can get pretty tricky, but is DIY-able if you put the time in.
Pulling cable seem’s like a complicated process, but don’t worry. That’s what we’re here for. Let’s go through the steps of feeding ethernet cables through your home’s walls to help you get wired internet throughout your home with minimal fuss.
Before You Begin
Unfortunately, we can’t just instantly go into the parts where we’re cutting through walls and floors.
First, we must develop a basic plan and gather materials. So let’s quickly go through what you’ll need to do before you start.
Determine Which Rooms Need Ethernet
Before you can do anything, you need to determine which rooms in your house need ethernet connectivity.
It will be infinitely easier to plan out where your ethernet cables should run if you have an idea of what rooms in your home you would like them to run through.
One of the most important things to consider when planning which rooms you would like to run your ethernet cables through is the purpose of those rooms. Essentially, it would be best if you thought about whether or not those rooms need ethernet in the first place.
For example, if you have an office in your home that you work from, this is an obvious room to that you would want to have ethernet access.
It can be tempting only to consider the rooms that seem obvious like this, but when considering ethernet access in your home, the most important phrase to remember is “better safe than sorry.”
For instance, if you have young kids in your home right now, you may laugh at giving their rooms ethernet access. However, when those kids grow up, they may want ethernet access in their room or rooms.
Additionally, what if you later decide to move your office to a different room in the house that doesn’t have ethernet access?
It is essential to consider every room in your home and whether you would ever want ethernet access in each room.
Make a Plan
Now that you have identified the rooms you would like to have ethernet access to, you need to plan out the route your cords will take to get to those rooms.
The easiest way to do this is by drawing a diagram of your home, including each room and the walls surrounding them. Then, mark down and label the room that contains your modem and router, as this will be the starting point for all your ethernet cables.
Now, you need to mark all the rooms you would like an ethernet connection. These will serve as the endpoints, essentially showing where you would like to get your cables to.
After this, you need to draw lines from where your router is to where you would like the ethernet to reach. At this point, if you would like to avoid any walls, you can draw your lines around them.
After you’ve created this diagram, you now have an accurate plan for laying out your ethernet system.
Now that you have a basic plan of what you need to do, all you need before you can get to work are the necessary tools.
For example, you’ll need the required materials if you plan to feed your ethernet cables through the wall.
First, it’s possible to get the job done without one, but we recommend purchasing a stud finder if you don’t already have one. You don’t need to buy an expensive one; get something like this $12 Stud Finder from eOUTIL (on Amazon).
You will also need a drywall saw to cut through your walls. These can also be found for pretty cheap. For example, here’s a 7” saw (on Amazon).
Finally, we recommend purchasing a structured wiring panel. This is a box that will keep all of your cables contained and organized. You can find one of these from Benner-Nawman (on Amazon).
How to Choose the Right Cable
Now for the most critical part of the job: we need to pick out the right cable. The difference in internet quality provided by two different cables can be as striking as the difference between night and day, so it is very much worth the time to look into what makes an ethernet cable high quality.
When looking into ethernet wiring for your home, you should consider two basic types of cables: Cat 6 and Cat 6a. Let’s quickly go over how these two kinds of cables compare.
First, Cat 6 and Cat 6a cables run at the same speed of 10Gbps. However, Cat 6a cables can run at this speed for greater distances.
For example, once a Cat 6 cable gets over 55 meters from your distribution point, it will go down to about 1Gbps.
Cat 6a cables also have more bandwidth than Cat 6 cables. Although both cables run at about the same speed, Cat 6a cables can transfer more data simultaneously than Cat 6 cables.
The one area in which Cat 6 cables defeat Cat 6a cables is price. You will typically be able to find Cat 6 cables for cheaper than Cat 6a cables.
This means that you will need to weigh which is more critical: bandwidth and distance or price. Overall, Cat 6 cables will be able to get the job done well, but Cat 6a cables will be able to do it better.
The basic process of running an ethernet cable through your home involves three basic steps.
First, we construct a distribution point that houses all of your cables. Second, we cut holes in your walls for the cables to run through. And third, we feed the cables through the holes and into the rooms you want them in.
Let’s go through these three steps in detail to help you get the job done right.
How to Construct the Distribution Point
First off, we need to construct our distribution point. This will serve as the central unit for your ethernet connection and will house all the cables you will use.
Before you start, you must turn off the power in the area where you will be working.
The cables you are using won’t be live, but as we will be cutting through walls, you may be cutting into spaces where electrical wires could be.
The next step is locating two studs where you would like your wiring panel. To do this, slide a stud finder along your wall and mark the locations it indicates as studs.
You must find the studs via sound if you do not have a stud finder. Tap along your wall; if the resulting sound is hollow, there isn’t a stud. However, if there is instead a sharp and quick sound, you may have found a stud.
Next, between the two studs you located, cut a 4-in x 4-in square in your wall using your drywall saw. If you see pipes or wiring behind the wall, you may need to select another location.
However, if the wall only has empty space behind it, cut out the whole selection of drywall between your two studs. (Make sure to leave about 2 inches of drywall under your ceiling).
After this, place your structured wiring panel in between the two studs and use a power drill to screw it to the studs. (There should be latches on the box that will allow you to insert screws).
How to Cut Holes for Cables
Cutting holes for cables to run through is relatively easy, but first, you need to determine where you would like your cables to run.
You have two basic choices: run your cables through your attic or your crawl space, depending on what is more convenient for you.
Once you have decided, you need to use a 2.5-inch boring drill bit to drill a hole either above or below your distribution point based on whether you’re using your attic or crawlspace.
Now go into your attic (or crawl space), find the spot directly above (or below) your distribution point, and drill another 2.5-inch hole leading to the hole you already drilled.
This should give you a hole where you can feed wires from the distribution point to the attic (or crawl space).
Now you need to drill this same hole leading to all the rooms you want to have ethernet access.
How to Run Cables Through the Walls
Now for the fun part, we need to feed the cables through your walls and into the rooms you want them in. This is typically a two-person job where one person feeds the cable through the hole, and the other pulls it through at the other side.
- First, begin by labeling each cord to avoid confusion.
- Then, put a piece of tape on each ethernet cord and write on the tape what room it leads to.
- Now you need to feed the cable through the wall from either your attic or crawl space into the distribution point area with the help of another person on the other side.
- One way to make this job easier is to attach a piece of string to the ethernet cable with which the person on the other side can pull the cable.
- Now all you have to do is run the wires through the attic or crawl space and into the holes that you drilled for each room. Again, ensure you are feeding your cables gently, as forcing them through could cause them to get stuck or even tear.
- After this point, you should have ethernet cables leading from your distribution point into each room that you want them in.