Ways To Hide Your Return Vent Without Blocking Airflow
The air return vent is an essential component of your heating and cooling system. However, they are not pretty to look at, resulting in many people looking for ways to hide them.
You may be wondering if you can hide a return air vent without obstructing airflow. There are ways to hide your return air vent without impeding airflow. Its important not to block your return air vent because your HVAC system needs constant return air to work properly. Blocked air return ducts will cause your system to lose energy efficiency and cause premature failure of your HVAC system.
This does not mean you dont have many options for hiding your return air vent. This article will discuss ten ways to hide your return air vent without obstructing the air movement to your heating and cooling system.
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How To Make A Diy Air Vent Cover
Air vent covers arent built for looks. At least the builder-basic ones arent.
We had a standard white cover on our air exchange vent in the basement. When the wall was white and it was mostly used for storage, I didnt notice or care very much:
But then I decided to reclaim the space and turn it into a music room for my husband to enjoy. I hung his beautiful guitars with these hooks, created a seating area, and clad this formerly ignorable white wall in gorgeous reclaimed wood planks.
Dont miss the transformation, here!
PROJECT: How to Install a Peel and Stick Wood Plank Wall
There was no way I could use that white metal eyesore in the beautiful new space!
I figured I would just buy a decorative vent cover but, guys, decorative vent covers are expensive. I just knew I could DIY a custom vent cover that looked just as good, at a fraction of the cost.
In this post, Im going to show you how to make a decorative air vent cover using basic materials for a fraction of the cost of custom covers.
How Much Space Does A Return Vent Need
The minimum clearance is 6 inches of space in front of cold air returns. However, this is often not enough. I generally recommend that the return vent have a minimum clearance of 12 inches in front, 12 inches on each side, and 6 inches above and below the return vent. This allows for enough air space on all sides for the return vent to draw in air for proper operation.
Due to the downward slight on the louvers in the standard grille cover the most important clearance space is in front of and below the return grille.
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How To Make A Decorative Air Return Vent Cover
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Lets face it when you think HVAC, you dont think stylish. Many HVAC system components are visible inside the home, and while some people arent bothered by their presence, some homeowners would love to cover up or change out those eyesores. One not-so-attractive HVAC element that is present throughout the home is the return air vent.
Most return air vents look like this:
Depending on your system, it may be located on the wall, ceiling, or floor. Some return air vents also utilize a filter. While there are some decorative options available for standard floor registers at your local hardware store or online, the return air vent is typically larger, and there arent many options available that look much different than the above.
Completing this project yourself instead of ordering a designer vent cover online can save you a lot of money and allow you to create exactly what youre looking for. The materials youll need to create a custom return air vent can be found at your local hardware store.
Can Decorative Air Vents Affect Hvac Performance
Air vent covers come in a wide range of styles and colors to complement every design style. They shouldnt be a concern as long as theyre the right size and are kept secure. Decorative vent covers can instantly transform the look of your home.
For your homes HVAC needs, you can depend on Stone Heating and Air. We offer quality HVAC repair, replacement and maintenance services. Give us a call at 855-5521 or fill out our contact form to request an appointment.
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What Is The Purpose Of A Return Air Grille
The standard return air grille is a metal louvered door covering the return air duct opening. It also serves as a placeholder for return vent filters.
Typical metal louvered grille comes in various sizes and comes typically painted white. However, this is only a basic design. Decorative metal grilles or custom-built wood air return grilles can serve the same purpose and look better doing it.
Can I Put Furniture Over My Floor Vents
Covering your supply register vents may cause your HVAC system to work harder to distribute air properly and could cause pressure to build up in your air ducts. With that said, keep in mind that the airflow will follow the path of least resistance. For example, if you have a basement that stays really cold in the summer even without A/C, you may want to prevent the A/C from flowing into the basement so more air pressure can be sent to the other rooms in the house. Just keep this in mind when you cover or close floor vents.
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What Color Should Vent Covers Be
The color of your vent cover really depends on the design aesthetic of your home. Most homeowners do not want to draw attention to a vent register, but if it has to be in the open and visible, then its worth making it beautiful and integral with your decor style. Vent covers can be made from a wide variety of materials such as plastic, metal, high quality and high density fiberboard, and wood. Each type of material can be dyed, painted, or stained to match your style.
What You Should Know About Decorative Vent Covers
Vent covers are the gateway between your HVAC system and your living space. There will be two types of vents within your home cold air return vents and supply register vents. The cold air return will pull in air from your home and send it back to the HVAC to keep temperatures regulated. Supply register vents are what most people think of when you mention vent covers this is where the warm or cold air will be deposited into your living area. You may find these on the floor, the lower areas of your walls, or even on the ceiling of every room in your home.
Designer: Christopher Scott Cabinetry & Design
Designer: Christopher Scott Cabinetry & Design
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Is Plastic Better Than Wood For Vent Covers
This really comes down to your desired aesthetic and durability. While plastic is lightweight and can be made into a variety of colors, wood, and high density fiberboard is more durable and can blend in seamlessly with wood floors or wood-slatted ceilings. You will want to look at where the vent cover will be and what materials will surround the vent cover to make the best decision for your decor. Wood and high quality and high density fiberboard, is more durable and can be painted more effectively.
Drill Pocket Holes And Construct Frame
Next, drill two pocket holes using a 3/4 material depth into each end of your vertical frame pieces. Be sure to add the holes on the bad side of the wood that you previously marked.
Note: You definitely dont have to screw your frame together. You can easily use wood glue instead and clamp until dry. I just happen to have a bunch of pocket hole screws and jump on any chance to use my Kreg jig
Brianna Thomas, Big fan of pocket holes
Using 1-1/2 pocket screws, attach the side boards to the top, then bottom frame pieces. Drive your screws carefully, otherwise, you could crack the boards. Like I did. Wood filler to the rescue!
Try to gently guide your boards to square if theyre a little twisty like mine were. There is some give to the board, so with a slightly loosened screw and a little nudge you can correct anything too egregious.
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Will Decorative Air Grilles Or Vent Covers Affect Your Hvac System
Vent covers allow conditioned air to reach your living spaces and are essential components of your HVAC system. They work together with air filters to remove air pollutants such as pollen, dirt and dust. Most times, homeowners dont worry about decorative air grilles or vent covers unless they clash with a rooms decor.
A trusted air conditioning repair expert explains how these components can affect your HVAC system in this post.
Sand Vent Cover Frame Until Smooth
Sand your vent cover frame smooth with 80 grit sandpaper. This is partly a matter of personal preference, but I like to follow up with a 120 then a 180 grit for the best finish. Others dont care as much.
Do what works best for you!
For more about why I sand in steps, check out this easy laptop desk build for more detail.
Brianna Thomas, Picky about sanding
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Vent Covers Or Grilles
Supply and return vents cant just be empty holes in your walls or flooring they need to be fitted with air vent covers. Air vent covers are essential for properly directing airflow to rooms and ensuring your home is cooling to the programmed temperature on the thermostat. Vent covers also work in conjunction with your air filters to remove impurities from the air such as dust, dirt, pollen, and other contaminants.
Do Decorative Air Vent Covers Affect Your Ac
One form of vent covers are . But, does the style of an air vent cover affect your AC? Air vent covers come in a variety of designs to help fit in with your homes décor. As long as theyre properly sized and secured, decorative air vent covers do not negatively affect AC efficiency. Decorative air vent covers are an excellent way to easily upgrade the look and feel of your home. They are easy to install and are a perfect DIY home improvement project.
Related: How to Clean Air Vents in 4 Steps
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Measure The Opening Of Your Air Vent
First, you need to measure the opening of your air vent. In this example, the air exchange vent is 10 x 10 but that actual opening is not.
You want to be sure to cover any messy bits . I measured from the highest point of the drywall to the top of the vent.
Take this vertical measurement and subtract 1/2 to give yourself a 1/4 overlap on each side. This is number will be the height of your side frame boards.
Now, measure the width of the opening and subtract 1/2 for your overlap. Then, add 3 to this number.* This number will be the length of your top and bottom frame boards.
*Why do you add 3? To account for the width of the vertical frame boards. Since were using 1 x 2 boards to build the frame, each side of the frame will be 1-1/2 wide.
1-1/2 + 1-1/2 = 3
Directions On How To Make A Decorative Air Return Vent Cover:
Since our heating and cooling system has the filter built-in to the air handler, the frame I made only needed to encase the opening and hold the metal screen. Ill show you in just a second how to make it hold a filter.
To make it easy to remove the frame, I countersunk the screw holes where its secured it to the studs and covered the holes with wooden buttons . If you need a frame that opens, you will need to secure it to the studs with hinges. Your best bet would be a piano hinge at the top of the frame so it lifts from the bottom.
This was my first time using the Kreg Jig. I accidentally put my first set of holes too close to the inside corners. So, just overlook those. Youll want to keep your holes closer to the center.
After you cut the boards to length, make pocket holes with the Kreg Jig. Secure the corners using wood glue and the screws that come with the kit. The face clamp is essential to keeping your corners squared and level when joining your boards.
Cut the metal screen the size of the opening plus two inches. I used my kitchen shears to cut the metal. The raw edges are sharp, so cover them with duct tape. Secure the screen with staples.
I had a reader email me and ask me how I could make the frame hold a filter, so after searching the home improvement store for something that works, this is what I came up with.
The filter holders are made from 1 corner brackets spaced about 6 apart and attached to a 3/4 square dowel rod.
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Is It Ok To Cover A Return Air Vent
A return air vent is a critical component to ensuring your heating and cooling system works properly. Blocking return ducts can cause the HVAC system not to operate efficiently and cause premature damage to the components inside your HVAC system.
Let me explain. The air handler portion of your central heating and cooling system is equipped with a blower fan. This fan draws indoor air from the house through the return air vent. The incoming air then flows over the evaporator coil, where it is either heated or cooled before air flows into the supply duct, where it is distributed back into your house via the supply air vents.
Why Christopher Scott Cabinetry And Design For Your Decorative Vent Covers
At Christopher Scott Cabinetry and Design we work to elevate your home decor and never overlook the fine details. can make a big impact on any space. We will take the time to ensure your choice of vent cover flows beautifully with your desired home accents. Vent covers should be functional and not draw attention from the other beautiful details of your home, but we dont want to disregard their inevitable presence. We will work to bring you gorgeous vent covers to ensure your entire home is precisely the way you want.
Some of the benefits of our decorative vent covers include:
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Cut Your Frame Boards
Using the measurements you just calculated, cut two pieces in each length from a 1 x 2 board. I used a scrap of pine common board since I had some laying around, but if you decide to buy a new board for this, make sure yours is very straight. Mine wasnt and caused some alignment issues that Ill talk about in a bit.
The amount of wood youll need will depend on how big your cover is. My decorative vent cover for a 10 x 10 air return vent required 41 of the board. Depending on what you have on hand, you might be able to use scrap like I did! Otherwise, a 1 x 2 x 8 common board will run you between $3 and $4.
The Short Answer: It Depends
But you need not worryas long as decorative vent covers are sized and secured correctly, they wont negatively affect the HVAC systems performance. You can count on Superior Air, the reliable air conditioning maintenance company in the area, to take care of this. Well take precise measurements of the free area to ensure a proper fit for the cover.
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Dry Fit Your Vent Cover Frame
Before fastening your frame pieces together, youll want to do a dry fit. Whats a dry fit? Its when you place the boards together like a puzzle to be sure your cuts are correct.
Identify which side of the boards you want facing out , and which side you want facing the wall . Make a mark with a pencil on the bad sides to remember which is which.
What Decorative Vent Cover Should You Pick
Most options are available in either wood, plastic or metal. If you plan to choose a wood or plastic cover, just note that they should be thick enough that if theyre placed over an air vent on the floor, theyll be able to handle the pressure of being stepped on. You wont have to worry as much about this particular issue with decorative metal vent covers. If the vents are located on the walls or ceiling, youre free to choose the option you most prefer.
Few HVAC companies can deliver the same exceptional air conditioning installation service as Superior Air. Weve always been dedicated to providing the highest-quality results, which we make possible through superior workmanship and customer-centric services. Call us today at 734-2002 or fill out this contact form to schedule your HVAC evaluation. We proudly serve Tulare, CA, and the surrounding areas.
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Supplies To Make A Decorative Air Return Vent Cover:
1. 4 wide boards. I used the same primed finger joint boards that I used for our gallery shelves.
2. Wood glue
3. Decorative metal radiator screen found at Lowes. Heres the item number to help you find what you need. There were three different types of screens, but I the quatrefoil pattern was my favorite. You can also order it on Amazon.com by if you cant find it in the stores.
6. Power Drill
7. Miter Saw
If youre unfamiliar with the Kreg Jig, heres the link to a video from the super cute and talented, Ana White. If you put Kreg Jig in the search box on her website, youll come up with all sorts of projects that you can make with it.