Stringing up cables for surrounds

What do you folks use to "string up" your surround sound cables? I'd love to do it all through the wall, but because of how my room is laid out and the location of the speakers, I am not able to do this. For one speaker, I only have to run a couple of feet to a corner, and then down the corner, through the floor, along the basement (above the suspended ceiling tiles) and back up through a wall plate going to my amp. The other speaker is a bit trickier, as I have to either attempt to run the cable along one of the grout lines between the stones in my fireplace (which are straight lines, at least), or go over to the corner UP to the ceiling, along the top of the fireplace to another corner, and then down the corner, through the floor, etc.

I am considering using vinyl tape (painted to match the walls) for the runs down the corners, and small, clear plastic clips with "tabs" for the nail/screw to get them to the corners. The speaker cable itself is 16 guage, 4-conductor (used at two pairs), round cable, with a white shielding that may hold paint (though I am not positive).

Any thoughts, hints, suggestions, warnings?

Thanks, Tom.
When i lived in apartments i would just go out and get some flat cable and some fishtape (a reel of stiff metal or plastic used to route cables, you can get this at GreyBar or any telecommunmications or electicians supply store) then run the fishtape under the carpet to the audio gear, and pull the flat cable under the carpet and bring it out where the rear speaker stands would be, and feed it up the back of the stands. No visible cable that way.

There is also a special baseboard you can buy that is actually a cable trough. you can use that or build your own to replace the existing baseboard, then drill a small hole on the wall where the speaker will be mounted. drop some twine down the hole with a weight on the end, then drill a small hole behing the baseboard and fish out the cable with a coathanger. Tie the cable to the string and pull er up.

A little caution, if you REALLY dont want the cable seen, unless you absolutly CANNOT find another way, always make sure the cable is 100% concealed. Those white cables sure look nice brand new, but believe me they get dirty fast. Just look at em wrong and they get filthy.

If you are not too concerned about the ULTIMATE PERFECT UNCOMPRIMISED GOD-LIKE AUDIOPHILE SOUND coming from your surrounds, i would go with the fishtape and flat cable method on the run that would have to cross your fireplace.

that one run will use a different style of cable, but come on man, were talking about surround speakers. You gotta be pretty anal about sound to go with an uglier method in this case to preserve that high-end sound.

Ive used the flat cable for my surrounds for a long time, never had a single problem with it. it sounded just fine.

i say your best bet is flat cable.
If you do it well, you wont even feel it under the carpet.

if you have hardwood floors, then... uh..
you might always be able to make baseboard that wraps around the bass of your fireplace...

So what is going on here? you have carpet or hardwood floors?
What kind of fireplace? is it one of those lame eco-friendly gas places that is flush with the wall? or a nice brick wood burner that sticks out intop the room?
so you CANNOT run another cable along the one that you can do through the basement for the other surround? maybe make it long enough to reach behind the couch to the other speaker?>

I used to run all sorts of cable for a living, i got pretty wicked at making my audiogear look wireless.
Some good suggestions, Slappy, but apparently I need to better describe my predicament. My family room (where the HT is) opens up into the kitchen. It didn't do this originally, but at some point the people that we bought the house from took out the wall between the two rooms. The guy who we bought the house from built the house (and took out the wall), and was a big time commercial/industrial contractor, so everything is way overbuilt. The beams that he used to support the remainder of the wall between the family room and the kitchen (we have very high ceilings - 13' or so), so they only took out the bottom 7.5' or so of the wall) are huge, and make running wire up through the wall a near impossibility. My surrounds are mounted on the remainder of the wall (is it now an "archway"?) between the family room and the kitchen, about 8-8.5' from the floor. They are angled down, slightly. I figured if in ceiling surrounds would do the trick, this would too. It was darn near the only place to put them.

So, running under the floor isn't a problem. I have carpet, and I could either go under the carpet with flat wire, or just drop down into the basement, run it underneath the floor (where it is hidden by my suspended ceiling in the basement) and back up to the speakers. The difficulty is, getting it from the floor up to the speakers. On one side, it's a relatively easy run, and if I used paintable vinyl tape, I should be able to hide most of it in the corner (where two walls meet). One idea that you gave me, is that maybe it would look better to run the cable to my second speaker along with the first one, and then just continue it to the second speaker.

You see, this second speaker is in a really tough spot. The fireplace in question is quite large, and runs from the corner of the left wall (as you are facing the TV) towards the "archway" between the family room and the kitchen, and then wraps around (such that the fire faces both the family room and the kitchen), and then the stone continues into another room adjacent to the kitchen, where there is a second fireplace. I am not sure if that makes sense, but the reality of it is that the rear left speaker is located above the archway (and right about above your head, as you walk between the fireplace and the couch), and has a floor to ceiling fireplace off to the left (again, as you are facing the TV). So, my intial plan was to run my cable over to where the fireplace stones meet up with the archway, then up the corner between these two to the ceiling, then along the ceiling where it meets the fireplace stones, then down the corner between the fireplace stones and the "left" wall. I should be able to minimize the visual impact - especially if I can paint the cable, or get some vinyl tape over it.

However, you have now given me a second idea, and that is running the cable from the right rear speaker straight over to the left rear speaker. Yes, it would be a "naked" run, but it might work. Actually, as I have been typing this up, you have forced me to think of one more option. I may be able to run the speaker cable ALONG the top of the beam supporting the archway, to another wall, where I may then be able to fish it down to the basement. This would totally conceal the speaker cables, although the wall plates for where it would come out of the wall might be slightly above the speakers. Then again, I might be able to keep them low enough to have the surround speakers themselves hide them.

Okay, you have me thinking again, and that is USUALLY not a bad thing!

Thank you very much for your input.

If you get into a really tough spot with the beam in the wall, you have another option if you can't drill through said beam--

Assuming you are using a suitably sized and shaped cable for the run, just take a sharp knife and cut a groove out of the sheetrock, staple the cable into the groove and around the beam, then fill, sand, texture + paint it.

Obviously you need some sheetrock skills and some matching paint...

I must be missing something, because from your description it seems that you could just drill up into the wall from the basement and fish up to the speaker location. Is the beam in the wall between the speaker and the floor? If that's the case, can you cut a retro box into the sheetrock right above the beam and use that as access to drill down through the beam with a bellhanger bit (18" long drillbit with a hole for pulling wire back through) or similar? If you can do that, use the slappy string and weight or buy some ball chain (like the chain on pull cord switches and key rings)-- the ball chain is self-weighted, so if your hole in the beam is small you don't need to add a weight- and you can retrieve it through your hole on the basement side with a little magnet on a stick or coathanger. You could also pull the baseboard off the wall and make a hole behind it into the wall to get the string or whatever you drop, then drill down into the basement from there. That way, there's no blind drilling up, which would be a real mess if you missed the wall.

If you use ball chain, pull a piece of strong string back through with the ball chain, then pull your cable with the string- the ball chain's not strong enough to yank on, it will break.

If you have to blind drill from the basement, take a length of thin solid wire (like coathanger or smaller if you can find it) and cut the tip at an angle with a pair of dykes. Drill down at both sides of the base of the wall with this locator bit- then from the basement you will have a good target to drill the big hole up into the wall. Just fill the tiny hole from the locator bit with nothing (if carpet) or wood putty (if wood floor) or hide the locator bit holes behind the baseboard you pulled.

There's a company called Labor Saving Devices that makes all sorts of cool wire fishing gear, check out their website for products that just might exist to help you out with this problem- they've got some great stuff.
sounds like a heck of a place you got there, but i think i got it figured out.

Well, here is another option, i dont know if this would work for you, but i assume you have some sort of a couch at the viewing position, you could always purchase some speaker stands for the surrounds and place them at the sides and slightly behind the couch and just fish some flat cable under the carpet and have it come out where the stands will be placed. see if you can get some stands where the cable can run up through the center of the stand.

That option of course can cause 2 issues. First issue being that the surrounds are located rather close to you, ive had to have that configurration before and it really diddnt bother me a whole lot.
the 2nd problem is stability, there is always the chance of a dog knocking it over or etc etc.

I considered stands, but with a dog, and two kids two and under, I ruled against them. Plus, I already have my wall mounts installed. I think, however, that between your ideas and Pmkalby's, I can make it work. I never thought of just cutting a groove in the sheetrock, but yes, that should do it. I am not horrendous when it comes to drywall skills, and I have a friend or two who is(are) even better. Yes, the beam is between the floor and the location of the wall mounts. But, your idea of running a box up to the beam may work.

I am going to print out all of your suggestions and go over them while looking at the situation first hand. This is a bit more challenging than I initially thought it would be, but I very much appreciate the two of you taking the time to pass along some advice. It has been very helpful.

Thanks, Tom.
Yeah, im gonna have to remember that Groovin-Drywall suggestion myself, i thought that was pretty slick.
Great if you are gonna be painting a finished basement and want to get some wiring done.
FYI, I finally got to run the wire on Friday, and thanks to your suggestions, I was able to figure out a way to do it with minimal visual impact. I was able to run up through a little stub of wall that was left over from the former wall between the family room and the kitchen, then up into a bulkhead in the kitchen, then along the top of the beam between the kitchen and the family room. From there, I was able to find a spot fairly close to each speaker that I was able to get a long drill bit through. The holes came out fairly neat, so I just left it with the speaker cables coming out of the holes. Doesn't look too bad!

Again, thanks for the advice. Without both of you getting me to think along some different avenues, I would not have come up with that solution.

Take care, Tom.
Good deal.