We are often asked how to run Ethernet cable through walls. While a wireless network is convenient, a wired network has several advantages. In terms of speed, reliability and security, a wired network setup is the way to go. You can wire your entire home over a weekend and we’re going to give you some pointers on how to do this. When you’re finished, each computer in your house will have a Gigabit connection with blazing fast Internet and file-sharing capabilities.
What you’ll need to run Ethernet cables through walls in your home:
PTC Premium 1000 ft Category 5e (Cat5e) Blue Ethernet Cable Kit with tester, crimper and connectors
WOOD SPADE BIT 1-1/2
50′ Electrician’s Fish Tape
Twine Heavy Duty
Cat 5e 8-Wire QuickPort Adaptor Jack (and wall plate)
Intel PWLA8391GT PRO/1000 GT PCI Network Adapter
D-Link DIR-655 Extreme N Gigabit Wireless Router
You might already have a Gigabit router and a Gigabit network card. Check your system specifications before buying them. The router above is only a recommendation. You can use any Gigabit router to install wired network devices, but we recommend sticking with D-link routers or Linksys routers. The wired network router should have at least four LAN ports on the back.
Steps to run network cables through walls
Of course, everyone’s wired network setup will be different. They theory is this: You have an Internet service coming into your home through a basement and you want to run Ethernet cable through walls.
The best way to do this is to situate your router in the basement near where you want to run your leads.
Locate an electrical cable for an outlet on the first floor. This tells you where the wall upstairs. If you do not do this, you risk drilling through the floor and carpeting upstairs.
Once you locate the electrical cable, measure over several inches and drill your hole.
Next, go upstairs to the wall where you drilled your hole. You should see the electric outlet from the electrical cable you noticed in the basement. Using a step ladder and the drywall saw, carefully cut a 6 x 6 inch square hole in the wall near the ceiling (just large enough to fit your hand in). Cut the hole as clean as possible, as you will need to use the piece you remove to patch the wall afterward. You should see the 2 x 4 wall stud and the ceiling joists running across it.
You will now need to go to the second story and locate the wall directly above where you made the ceiling cutout. You will then need to cut a larger square to accommodate the drill. The idea is to go through the floorboards, miss the ceiling joist and then drill down through the stud of the wall where you made your smaller cut.
Then, go into the attic directly above the space where you made the larger cutout on the second floor. You can use the same method you used in the basement if the second floor room wall happens to have an electrical outlet. The electrical wires are likely run through the attic and down into the wall. Drill through the attic floor and then insert the electrical fish lead into the hole. You should be able to grab the fish in the hole you made in the second floor wall. Insert the fish into the hole you drilled in the floor and then pull it through on the first floor.
Tie and tape the twine to the hook on the end of the fish and return to the attic. It’s best if someone can hold the twine on the first floor so it doesn’t get tangled. Pull the twine up through the attic floor. Pull through several extra feet and tie it off on one of the trusses on the ceiling.
In the basement, work the fish upward, then return to the first floor and pull it through the opening where the twine is going up to the attic. Give yourself about ten feet of slack and then cut the twine. Tie and tape it to the fish and then return to the basement and pull it through the floor. You now have a single piece of heavy-duty twine leading from the basement all the way up to the attic.
Next, take some measurements and figure out how much Ethernet cable you’ll need to go up to the attic and then down into the rooms on the second level. Once you have the measurements, add an additional twenty feet ( it’s better to have extra cable than not enough). You should be able to run all of the lines up together if the hole you drilled is large enough for the wires to fit through easily (you do not wan to bend or crimp the network cables). If the holes are not large enough, run the network cables up one at a time. The trick to this part is to tape another piece of twine to the wired network cable going up so, when you run Ethernet cable through the wall, you still have a piece of twine leading from the basement to the attic.
Tip: Even if you can fit all of the Ethernet cables through at the same time, you should still run the twine up to the attic and tie it off for future network setup use. You only want to cut holes in your wall once.
Once you have all of the network cables run, you can make the connections to the router and then to the wall jacks in the second floor rooms.
Install Wired Network and Integrate Wireless
You will still want to have a wireless network after you install wired network devices, you can easily integrate portable devices such a smart phones and laptops. The router’s signal installed in your basement will not likely reach the second floor. You can install an old wireless router that has been converted into a Wireless Access Point on the second floor. Read more about converting a router to a wireless access point here. Or you can buy a Wireless Access Point (WAP)and install it upstairs. The WAP will plug into your wired network and provide WiFi for those areas of the home not covered by the router in the basement.
If you have questions about how to run Ethernet cable through walls, contact us on our forums. Everyone’s network setup will be different, but wiring your home for Ethernet will provide you with a faster, safer network.