In today’s world of fast-paced technology and the need for high-speed internet, having a reliable ethernet connection is essential. But what do you do when you want to run an Ethernet cable to another room, and you don’t want a tangled mess of cords running along the floor?
The answer lies in running the cables through walls. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the different methods and techniques that you can use to run Ethernet cables through walls, ensuring a clean and organized setup for your home or office.
Preparing to run an Ethernet cable through and along walls
Wondering how to discreetly run an Ethernet cable? It all starts with the right preparation. Ideally, you should cover the following.
The types of cables
There are many different types of cables that you can choose from. Here are some of the most popular ones you need to know about:
- Cat-5e: This class is an improvement over the outdated Cat-5 cable. They come with better resistance to cross-talk and can support up to 1Gbps at bandwidths of 100MHz, making them the most common category found in the consumer market.
- Cat-6: Category 6 is a significant upgrade from Category 5e. It offers a 1Gbps speed for longer distances and can support up to 10Gbps at shorter distances, with up to 250MHz bandwidth.
- Cat-6a: Category 6a is an advanced version of the Cat-6 cable, supporting double the bandwidth and up to 10Gbps, making it an excellent choice for high-speed internet connections.
- Cat-7: Category 7 can reach up to 100Gbps and a bandwidth of 600MHz, making it one of the most capable categories of network cables available.
- Cat-8: The Cat-8 cable is a significant improvement over previous cables, considerably improving speed and bandwidth. It is also more expensive than the aforementioned categories and is suitable for high-end applications.
Choosing the Right Network Cable
When choosing an ethernet cable, consider the capacity of the cable versus the speed of your internet connection. Check your internet speed in Mbps using free speed tests online. Match your cable to handle your internet speed and file transfers. For example, a Cat 6A cable is a good place to start, but Cat 7 and Cat 8 are for extreme capacity. How do you pull a Cat 6 cable through a wall? Simply use the right tools and a step-by-step process.
Flat vs. Round Ethernet Cable
Round and flat Ethernet cables have their advantages, with the primary difference being durability and reliability. Round cables are more flexible and durable than flat cables, which can only flex up and down due to their profile. Round cables are ideal for running Ethernet through walls and have better rigidity when feeding through cavities or drill holes.
On the other hand, flat cables are perfect for low-profile use when running a cable along a wall, rail, baseboard, or under a carpet. They have a broad flat profile, which is great for adhesive contact when sticking them down to a surface.
How Far Can You Run Ethernet Cable from a Router?
When it comes to data cables, it’s important to keep in mind that there are limits to what can be achieved with longer lengths of cable. The following table shows the maximum data rate that can be achieved with different cable lengths.
For most home users who want to run a cable no more than 50 feet, it’s recommended to use a Cat 6a cable or higher to ensure optimal performance. How do I extend my Ethernet to another room? Through inline couplers.
Wall composition and why it matters
To ensure a successful installation of your cable inside the wall, it is essential to have some knowledge about your residential wall. Typically, a wall consists of two primary components, the structural frame made of lumber, and the wallboard or rock sheets.
The structural frame includes several elements that you must understand to optimize the situation. The upper part of the wooden frame uses bolts to connect the roof, while a horizontal plate at the bottom joins the floor. The center parts of these wooden frames are known as studs.
Although most houses have similar walls, if your house is almost a century old, you may have to deal with brick walls. It is important to note that working with sheet rocks is easier than rock walls as the latter requires special tools for cutting. Speaking of tools, here is a list of everything you will need for this job.
The necessary tools
How do I connect to Ethernet without a port in the wall? By having the right tools by your side.
To ensure a seamless home renovation project, it is important to gather all the required tools beforehand, especially for wiring and connecting Ethernet cables. Here is a list of essential tools you will need:
- Ethernet wall socket
- Ethernet switch
- Correct length cable
- Measuring tape
- Cordless drill
- Label maker
- Stud finder
Scenarios of running an Ethernet cable through walls
What is the best way to run an Ethernet cable through the house? Overall, when it comes to the potential possibilities of running an Ethernet cable through walls, there are three scenarios to consider:
- Running Ethernet cable throughout a wall into a non-adjoining room
- Running Ethernet cable throughout a wall into your attic, basement, or another non-adjoining room
- Running Ethernet Cable Outside Through Exterior Walls
We go into more detail about each scenario later on in this article. First, let’s see what the steps to running an Ethernet cable through walls are.
How to run Ethernet cable through walls – step-by-step
Here is a practical, easy-to-follow guide on how to run Ethernet cables through walls.
1. See if you have existing Ethernet installations
It is possible that you are already aware of the presence of any ethernet installations.
However, it would still be a good idea to inspect your surroundings, as there may be an existing connection that could provide you with the required connectivity by simply rearranging your environment.
2. Identify an optimal path to run the Ethernet cable
When considering the path for running a cable, it is important to answer some fundamental questions. For instance, in the case of laying a cable from Point A to B, the length of the cable needs to be determined. To ensure that the planned socket location can be reached by the cable, you can use a piece of string to approximate the cable’s length and double-check it.
Using the string also provides a visual representation of where holes in the wall need to be drilled, which can be marked with a pencil. Later, the markings can be checked for the presence of studs, live wires, or water pipes. Since each room is separated by walls or ceilings, separate pieces of string can be used for each room and joined together at the end to calculate the total length of wire needed.
Lastly, one should decide where the ethernet cable connectors should be placed approximately to know where to install the wall connector plates.
3. Check for obstacles in the wall: studs, pipes, vents, and live wiring
When running a cable through a wall cavity, whether it’s up, down, or simply through, it is essential to check for obstacles or hazards along the way. For those who don’t know how to check inside the walls for pipes and wiring, finding an effective method might seem like a daunting task.
Checking for studs
One common approach to locating wall studs is to look for a stud next to an existing wall socket. By pushing a narrow screwdriver through the wall, one can usually locate the stud. If an attempt is made on the wrong side of the socket, the repair is usually small. Studs are generally spaced 16 inches apart in the USA and 24 inches apart in the UK. Therefore, locating one stud can allow one to work within the cavity space next to it.
Alternatively, a stud detector can be used to detect wall density and give a beep when it senses an increase in density, indicating the presence of a stud.
Checking for wiring and pipework
To locate wiring and pipework, there are numerous detection methods available. However, for the average DIY installer, purchasing a detection device is recommended. A 5-in-1 detector that can detect wall studs, metal, electrical current, and pipework can be purchased for around $30 from Amazon.com, potentially saving the installer from a costly mistake.
Most homes have attics, which can be accessed by moving insulation out of the way above the wall where the drilling needs to be done. Floorboards are often located underneath the insulation, which can be removed to look underneath. Additionally, drilling a hole in the wall’s top plate can also provide access to the wall cavity.
One method for locating wiring and pipework involves making two holes and shining a flashlight down one while looking through the other hole. Alternatively, using a camera to zoom in might provide better visibility. Pulling up some insulation may reveal the presence of plumbing or wiring in the attic, allowing the installer to avoid that section of the wall.
4. Set up distribution points for the Ethernet cable
After running the Ethernet cable throughout your home, it is essential to set up distribution points. These points will serve as the main connection hubs for all of your wiring.
It is crucial to plan the location of these points to ensure that you have enough outlets for all of your devices.
5. Mark and cut an opening for the wall plate
To create a hole in your drywall for an Ethernet cable, you can use the Ethernet cable wall plate as a guide. Place the plate adjacent to the wall, aligning it with other wall sockets and ensuring it is level. Mark the location of the screw holes.
Avoid tracing the wall plate and cutting along the outline, as this will result in a hole that is too large. Instead, cut a small hole and gradually expand it until the wall plate fits snugly. It is advisable to leave some space around the gap to make it easier to pull the cable through.
If you are cutting a hole for an Ethernet jack, you only need to create a hole that can fit the jack plate. Begin by making a small hole and gradually enlarging it until the jack can be inserted into the opening.
6. Drill a hole in the wall for your cable
After locating and cutting out your wall plate, you may consider two different options for running your Ethernet cable. The first option involves running the cable to an adjoining room on the other side of the wall. To do this, you can repeat the process of drilling and cutting through the wall of the adjoining room, starting from the wall plate entry point.
The second option is running the cable to a non-adjoining room in another area of your home. This process is more complex, and you will need to begin with the wall plate where you plan to run the cable from. Follow the wall up to the ceiling directly above your Ethernet wall plate and drill through the ceiling near the wall. This will create a hole for a length of marker cable to be fed through. The marker cable will serve as a visual guide from the attic space, indicating the location of your Ethernet socket along the stud wall in the room below.
Once you have fed the marker cable through the hole, locate it in your attic and remove any insulation to expose the stud wall top plate next to it. Use a paddle or saw drill to drill vertically down into the stud wall top plate, creating a hole to feed one end of your Ethernet cable through. Continue feeding the cable down through the wall cavity until it reaches the floor or at least down to your wall plate hole.
7. Run the Ethernet cable through the hole Into the wall cavity
When running cable into the wall cavity, the fish tape is an essential tool to have. If your cable originates from an outside source, it is best to use materials with weatherproofing to prevent damage. To avoid water damage and reduce the chances of pests entering your home, seal the hole with silicone caulk.
It is crucial to keep in mind that the cable should not run near existing electrical lines, plumbing, or an electrical conduit. Doing so could cause interference or potential safety hazards. Therefore, it is essential to plan the cable routing carefully to avoid such obstacles.
8. Locate the end of the Ethernet cable
Using fish tape can help you locate the end of the cable by yourself. However, it may be more manageable with two people, with one person pushing the cable and the other spotting the end.
After pushing the guide through the hole, make sure to pull enough cable through to prevent it from falling back into the wall cavity.
9. Connect the Ethernet cable to your newly installed wall jack
Connecting an Ethernet cable to a wall jack requires following specific steps. You will need a crimping tool to correctly order the wires. Before starting, unravel all wires, being careful not to lose the punch-down tool that comes with the jack.
Make sure to review the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific cable type.Regardless of the type of jack you have, look for a wiring diagram on the back that shows how the wires should go.
When connecting the Ethernet cable to the wall jack, trim off excess wires and add the wire cover. Alternatively, you can purchase a professional pushdown tool that pushes and cuts in one motion. After assembling your jack, feed the wire through the wall and attach all wall plates.
If installing a new wall plate, use a level to make marks before drilling. Once you drill the screw holes, ensure you get a level plate on the first attempt.
10. Check the installation
Once you’ve covered the previous steps, dedicate a few minutes to analyzing the final results. Check if the installation looks okay and whether or not the final outcome meets your expectations.
Scenario 2: Running Ethernet cable throughout a wall into a non-adjoining room
When planning to run a cable from one room to another, you may find that the most direct path involves going up to the attic and back down to the other room. However, it’s important to note that this will require running the cable through the stud wall top plate and the attic space.
It’s not recommended to run cables through external walls as they are typically insulated, making it difficult to access the top plate for drilling. This is especially true if the roof limits your headroom for access.
Scenario 3: Running Ethernet Cable Outside Through Exterior Walls
The guidelines for exterior walls are similar to those for interior walls discussed earlier. However, there are a few additional factors to keep in mind, including weatherproofing, minimizing EMI exposure, and correctly sealing any holes to prevent water damage and keep pests out.
Since Ethernet cables use low voltage, safety is generally not a major concern. However, if you reside in an area with housing regulations or codes, it’s essential to determine if laying cable complies with the regulations.
Use an outdoor Ethernet cable
When it comes to using Ethernet cables outdoors, it’s important to choose weatherproof options. Opting for a round cable is highly recommended as it reduces the need for frequent replacements or maintenance. It’s worth noting that the longest cable available for purchase is 100 meters.
Ideally, you should aim to use the shortest cable possible to ensure optimal signal quality. Using a cable that exceeds the maximum length of 100 meters will lead to signal degradation. Therefore, it’s important to find a solution that allows for the shortest cable length.
Mount an outdoor-rated box
To ensure that you have a secure and weather-resistant ethernet cable connection, it is important to consider the placement and quality of the box that you use. However, before you go ahead and install a box, it is worth checking if there is already an existing ethernet line in your home that you can use or modify.
If you do need to install a box, it is important to choose a location that offers some level of protection from the elements. Additionally, it is highly recommended that you purchase a high-quality weatherproof box that will offer the necessary level of protection to your ethernet cable connection.
It is also worth noting that many homes already have a weatherproof box installed somewhere on the property. Therefore, it is important to thoroughly check if there is an existing box that you can use before investing in a new one. If you do have to purchase a box, it is worth spending the extra money to ensure that you choose a high-quality option that will not deteriorate due to exposure to the elements. This will help to ensure that your ethernet cable connection remains reliable and secure over time.
Plan your Ethernet cable path
To ensure a successful cable installation, it’s important to plan and measure your cable run before purchasing a weatherproof cable. It’s also a good idea to buy extra cable in case of any unforeseen obstacles that may arise during the installation process.
Typically, the cable will be run to the wall nearest to the ISP hardline, but it’s important to avoid areas with electrical or plumbing components in the walls. Scanning the walls inside the house can be helpful, as thin drywall is easier to scan if you need to go through it.
Basements, attics, and crawl spaces are popular options for running cable as they offer easy access and better visibility of electrical and plumbing components. From these spaces, you can easily reach any room in the house.
Drill an opening for the Ethernet cable
To ensure a successful cable installation, it’s important to have the right tools and equipment on hand. This includes a drill bit that is long enough to get through the wall, as well as heavy-duty drills for certain locations on exterior walls that may require more power.
Depending on the location and building materials, you may need different types of tools for the job. In most cases, a half-inch drill bit that is at least 12 inches long will suffice. When drilling into a room, it’s best to start from the inside and work your way out. For attics, basements, and crawl spaces, drilling from the outside usually works best since you have more space to maneuver, and precision hole placement is not as crucial.
Run the cable to your desired outdoor location
If you drilled into a room, follow the indoor steps above to install a wall jack. Attics and basements can usually provide access to the desired room. Attach the cable to a rod or wire, poke it through the hole, and pull it through from the other side.
Avoid bending or twisting the cable and insulation whenever possible. Use measurements to locate the spot for drilling and running the cable into the interior wall for the wall jack.
Install the wall jack
After determining the location on the wall to install a jack, follow the interior installation steps discussed earlier. It’s recommended to use an RJ45 jack and refer to a diagram to properly arrange the wires.
The standard order for an RJ45 jack, starting from the closest connection on the left, is orange, orange-white, green, and green-white. The closest connection on the right goes brown, brown-white, blue, and blue-white. Verify the wiring order using a network cable tester.
To ensure a secure and weatherproof installation, the box should have a design specifically for outdoor use. Take care to properly seal the box to prevent any weather-related issues.
After running the cable through the exterior wall, locate the hole where the cable enters the home. Use a silicone-based caulk to seal the hole thoroughly. Silicone caulk is particularly effective at resisting shrinkage, and will help prevent any unwanted moisture, weather, or pests from entering the home through the hole.
Do electricians run Ethernet? Yes. But for those who lack experience with wiring, installing an ethernet cable and/or jack can be intimidating, especially when it comes to wiring a wall jack.
Fortunately, the indoor installation process is generally straightforward and should not pose significant difficulties for most homeowners, even those without prior wiring experience. While the prospect of running cables through outdoor walls may seem daunting, once the cable is inside, the task becomes more manageable.
If you find yourself struggling with the task of wiring a jack and are unsuccessful, don’t fret – you can always enlist the help of a professional. Additionally, it’s worth noting that the necessary materials are often already present in the home, which can make the process simpler and less daunting.