The Custom Installer: Are You Ready to Retrofit? Page 2

5. Wall Construction The higher the walls, the more difficult running wiring will be. Walls over 9 feet tall and exterior walls are often braced with purlins - horizontal pieces of wood that run between the studs - which add another layer of difficulty to fishing wire. Sometimes these can be drilled with long, flexible bits, but other times getting through calls for minor open-wall surgery. Homes with steel studs don't have purlins, and walls framed with 2 x 6 studs (instead of the more typical 2 x 4) often don't either. Fiberglass insulation usually doesn't pose a problem for retro work, although spray foam insulation can be a real bear. And if your walls are poured concrete, don't even bother.

6. Carpet Getting wiring from the home run to the surround speakers is one of the most common wiring retrofit requests. When an attic or crawlspace isn't available, running wire under the carpet can be a quick alternative.

7. Baseboards or Crown Molding What do you do when there's no crawlspace, no attic, and no carpet? You get creative, that's what! Baseboards, crown molding, and door frames can all be removed so you can have wire routed behind them. Of course, carefully removing the trim, routing the wire, and then nailing, caulking, and painting the trim back into place adds hours - sometimes a lot of hours - to the labor bill. Another option is to use wire molding that sticks just above the baseboards. When caulked and painted, it camouflages itself perfectly.

8. The Great Outdoors If you find that your wiring runs begin or end near an exterior wall, your best bet might be to rout the wiring outside the house. Whether it's behind vinyl siding, through a soffit, tacked underneath trim, run through a gutter or conduit, or buried underground, going outdoors might open up a number of new avenues for getting from here to there.

9. Going Wireless When all else fails, you might want to consider a wireless system. Manufacturers are making tremendous strides with wireless technologies that offer greater range and reliability. Whether for surround speakers or multiroom audio, there might be a wireless option that makes the difference between experiencing the sounds of music or nothing at all.

For more on wiring, see How to Run Wire Through Walls, How to Run Wire Like a Pro, and Basic Cable.

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