Sunday, January 8, 2012

Custom Vent Covers

When I was getting ready to redo the hallway, I had a big problem.  The furnace intake vents along the floor were pretty much original to the house, which means that they were 50+ years old, and had been painted over about 10 times.  Ewww!

This wouldn't have been too problematic, but the existing vent covers were about 30'' long, and try as I might, I could not find anything that would cover the existing vent hole.  Everything was either way too small (length-wise), or too square-shaped, which meant that I'd have a 30'' x 30'' vent cover on my wall.  Can you say overkill?  I even looked everywhere for suitable replacements: Home Depot, Lowes, online--you name it, and I probably looked there.  Ah, frustration! 

So I sat and thought about it for a while...and decided that I'd just have to do something custom, since I could not find what I needed, or even close to what I wanted.

The final result:

These babies are made from radiator grill material and some finishing molding from the hardware store.  The grill material was about $30 if my memory serves me right (it was a BIG piece of metal), and the molding was about $10.  So $40 total for two vent covers (plus enough extra grill material to make about 5 more earring holders if I ever feel like making more!), so I was pretty happy with the results! 

So here is the general how-to.  I should mention that the hubster kind of took the reins on this one and got the project rolling...I was so proud of him ;)  He did kind of lose interest though, so that's when I (eventually) took over and finished it up.
You'll need two types of molding.  First, a small, thin, flat molding that will serve as the back piece of the vent cover.  The second type of molding is the curved decorative piece of molding that you actually see when you look at the vent.  The radiator grill material will get sandwiched between the two types of molding.  See the picture below for a better understanding of the two types of molding:

The husband cut four pieces of molding to frame the vent cover for each set of molding (flat and curved).  Then, he used some liquid nails that I had in my craft cupboard and glued them together, using my heavy duty stapler to hold things together while it dried.  The staples did NOT want to go into the wood very easily...we had to pull some out and redo them.  I should mention that we made the new frames slightly longer and taller than the existing vent cover--by about an 1'' on each side (there were paint ridges on the wall from the previous owners who just painted the wall AND the vent without taking anything off). 

Once the two rectangles of molding were dry, we cut the radiator material to size and sandwiched it between the two frames.  Then, we used more glue to hold it together. 

Once the vent was dry, I used latex caulk to fill in the small gap in the molding along all four edges.  I also used a bit of joint compound to fill in any gaps that might have showed at the corner joints.   

From then on out, it was just taping and then painting the molding white to match the rest of the trim in my house! 

Ta-da!  Don't They look great?  Right now I have them sticking to the wall with Velcro.  Unfortunately, the Velcro does cause a slight gap between the vent cover and the wall.  I think that I might do screws later on, but for right now it works perfectly.  I didn't want to bother going and finding special screws that meshed well with the aesthetics of the molding.  I can also afford to do the Velcro I also don't have little kids who would be tempted to peel those babies off the wall and stick random objects down the dark hole ;)


  1. Thank you sooo much for posting!!! We have an older home & need to replace a yucky vent cover from our kitchen (recently updated). They don't make the special size ANYWHERE - I can't wait to make this!!!! Thank you!!!

    1. You are welcome! I was hoping that someone would find this useful :)

  2. I, too find this very useful we have the same old covers and have remodeled the dining room and had no idea what to do with them, THANK YOU so much.

  3. Can't wait to make! I hate the old vent covers as they are hard to clean! I love the decorative look and tha fact that they are flat will make for easy dusting! Thanks so much for sharing your idea.!

  4. How did you attach it to the wall? How to you remove it to clean?