Remodeling 101: 8 Things to Know About Upgrading Your Vent Covers


A register is a type of vent cover that contains louvers and dampers, mechanisms that control the direction and volume of air flowing into a space, respectively.

Decorative Vent Covers, or Grilles

A decorative vent cover, commonly referred to as a grille or grill, covers the air ducts and does not have louvers and dampers to adjust the air flow or direction.

a narrow floor vent spotted in at home in upstate new york with amanda pays and 11
Above: A narrow floor vent spotted in At Home in Upstate New York with Amanda Pays and Corbin Bernsen. Photograph by Rebecca Westby.

What materials are vent covers made of?

Vent covers are fabricated from several types of materials, including plastic, wood, and metals such aluminum, brass, bronze, and steel. The location of the vent cover will determine the type of material that can be used. Floor applications require materials that are heavy duty and designed to bear weight, such as steel, cast iron, or aluminum. Cast aluminum vent covers are lightweight and durable, making them perfect for the floor, ceiling, or walls, while laser-cut aluminum vent covers can only be used for walls and ceilings since they cannot bear weight. Wooden vent covers are typically used on walls and ceiling and are not ideal for floors where there is high foot traffic, unless there is a proper metal sub frame installed to support it. Of course, we always vote for wood and metal over plastic, which is less durable, less eco-friendly, and tends to be uglier, too.

What type of styles and finishes are available?

From traditional and ornate to modern and simplistic, there’s a vent cover for every style of home and architecture. Laser cutting technology allow intricate patterns to be fabricated with ease and provides a myriad of selections to choose from. Finish options are abundant, too. Metals vent covers in satin or polished nickel, aged or polished brass, stainless steel, oil-rubbed bronze, and brushed aluminum are attractive and long-lasting options. Wood vent covers may be stained, painted, or lacquered in classic or cheerful colors. Companies like Architectural Grille offer custom painted finishes, such as dry powder coating, a highly durable decorative finish available in a variety of colors for metal vent covers.

another in 10 design ideas to steal from an Über creative remodel by stud 12
Above: Another in 10 Design Ideas to Steal from an Über Creative Remodel by Studio Oink. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista; styling by Alexa Hotz.