How To Run An Ethernet Cable Through The Ceiling (Do This!)

Running an ethernet cable can be a frustrating task, especially when you have to do it through the ceiling, but it doesn’t need to be. Luckily, it is possible to run an ethernet cable without getting a headache with simple tools such as a drill and a 16” extender. Whether it be the tools for the job or the 5 simple steps, let’s take a look at how you can run an ethernet cable through the ceiling.

How To Run An Ethernet Cable Through The Ceiling

If you want to have a good internet connection, you’re going to have to make sure that your house is wired up correctly. This is easy to do in most cases, since it only takes a good connection to your ethernet cable to do it. However, once in a while, you might need to run your cable up onto a second, third, or fourth floor. How can you do this? Well, if it’s going to be run up through the ceiling, it’s a chore.

Running an ethernet cable through the ceiling requires you to work from the floor above your targeted ceiling. To get an ethernet cable through the ceiling, do the following:

  1. Find an entry point for your cable. 
  2. Use a drill with a 3/4 inch bit to drill through the subfloor, making sure the drill is perpendicular to the floor. 
  3. Remove the drill, then use a 16-inch extender with the drill bit to drill all the way through the ceiling. 
  4. Thread the ethernet cable through the hole. 
  5. If necessary, use spackle to cover up additional gaps in your ceiling. 

This sounds easy, and it kind of is. However, there are small problems that can make threading your cable way harder than it should be. TO learn how to navigate your drilling time, keep reading to hear what we were able to research on the topic.

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Before You Begin: Prepping And Running Your Cabling

Like with any type of electrical work, you’re going to have to plan out where your cable is going to go and how you want to run it along your home’s interior. To make sure that your ethernet cable will have a good run (literally), make sure that you do the following:

  1. Start by running most of the cable on your top floor and measuring how much cable you need for your bottom floor. You want to make sure that you have enough cable for the basement. When taking measurements, add an extra 10 feet. While you can always extend an ethernet cable using a couple, it’s a hassle and it’s often easier to have extra.
  2. Figure out where your cable will run. We suggest running it along the sides of your room, in corners where it will not be easily seen. Remember to add runners every four feet to help secure and clip the cable into place.
  3. Check the part of the ceiling that you want to run the cable through first. Do not try to drill through an area that has a notable amount of wiring first. For example, you shouldn’t try to run cable through an area near lighting or near an area close to your circuit breaker.
  4. Mark off the part of your ceiling that you want to run the cable to. You might need to have a quick look at your home’s blueprints to make sure you’re threading it through the right part of your home.

Is This Really Necessary?

I’ll be honest, drilling a hole in your ceiling is rarely ever necessary since there are other ways to run cabling through your home. A good way to do this is to simply run the cable on the floor, down the stairs. While it may not be the nicest look, it is fairly subtle and you won’t have to worry about accidentally drilling through power cords.

We suggest giving this a shot if it’s at all possible. It’s a lot easier and is also a lot safer. After all, even the most well-planned drills can lead to an errant wire, and that can be pretty shocking if you know what I mean.

Should You Call A Professional To Do This?

Honestly, this is up to you. Most people will need to have a helper to run an ethernet cable through a ceiling quickly, which means that it can be a tough solo project for certain people. With that said, calling a professional to run your ethernet cable through the ceiling will probably cost between $50 to $100. 

That’s a steep price to pay for a small project that could be DIY in most cases. It’s up to you to determine whether or not that price tag is worth it. In most cases, people are better off just doing this on their own or just running the cable up the stairs like a normal person.

Running Your Cable Through The Ceiling

Once you’ve done the prep work, it’s time to run the cable through the ceiling. The good news is that the instructions that were on top will tell you how to properly drill the hole. The hard part, of course, is actually pulling the cable through the hole.

How To Avoid Getting Your Ethernet Cable Caught Between Floors

Cables aren’t rigid, which means they can easily flip and flop around in that strange space between floors. You will need to make the ethernet cable stretch out and stay stable. To make running your cable through the ceiling easy, you’re going to have to use a little strategy. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Grab a wire coat hanger and untwist it, straightening it out. If you have another long, thin rod that you can use instead, use it. The key here is that you want a thing, and a straight item to use. Make sure that the item is at least 13 inches long when unfurled.
  2. Tape the end of the cable that you’re threading through the hole to the coat hanger. Using regular scotch tape is fine here, but if you have a tendency of having difficulty with it, better sticky tape is a smart idea. With that said, duct tape is not necessary here. That will just make the wire hard to remove.
  3. Run the cable and coat hanger through the freshly drilled hole. You can choose to do this from the bottom or the top. If you choose the bottom, it should be able to drop down right through without much problem. Drop the coat hanger through the hole, leaving it dangling down below. If you need to guide it more, use the hanger to steer the cable.
  4. Once the tip of the cable is poking through the ceiling end, have a friend pull it through. You can also do this yourself, but honestly, it would be hard to keep it in the hole.
  5. Continue to feed the cable through the hole, gently pulling it up as you go. Try to pull through at least three feet before you get to the next step.
  6. Once an adequate amount of cabling has been fed through the ceiling, remove the clothes hanger. Then, just run through the cable and install it as you see fit.

Keeping Your Ethernet Cable Secured In Place

Part of having your cabling installed properly is making sure that people aren’t tripping over it. To do this, we strongly suggest using cable mounts to help section away the cabling. Cable mounts come with a built-in system that works as a way to install and corner cables, making cable clutter a thing of the past.

Important Things To Keep In Mind When Running Your Cables

Where your cables go is just as important as how you install them. When you’re picking the route for your cables, make sure that you choose areas that are not close to electrical wiring, high heats (like from a fireplace), and areas that could be exposed to water. The ideal route will be dry, chilled, and not an area that deals with high levels of foot traffic.

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Related Questions

Can an electrician install my ethernet cabling?

If you want to install ethernet cabling, then it’s good to know which professional you can call to have it done. Both electricians and handymen are good professionals to dial up when you need to have cabling installed professionally. If you choose to use an electrician, it’s best to ask if they do ethernet installs before you ask them to come over.

One thing you may need to be aware of is that some electricians won’t actually test the cable connection before they leave. When hiring a pro, make sure you understand the full scope of what they’re doing before you plunk down the money.

How far apart should cable mounts be?

Cable mounts only work if you space them properly. Most cable installers suggest placing them every four feet. If you are running a cable up a set of stairs, you will need to have at least one mount per step. When in doubt, use as many mounts as it takes to keep the cable in place without it wiggling around or sagging.

Is ethernet better than wi-fi?

Ethernet may be inconvenient when it comes to wiring installation, but it has its perks. Ethernet connections are generally more reliable than wi-fi, not to mention noticeably faster. With that said, many people tend to liken it to comparing apples to oranges. Each has its own perks and better uses. Most people have a preference between one or the other.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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