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What are the Different Types of Vent Covers?

J. Beam
J. Beam

Vent covers are made for both register vents and return air vents. There are several different types of vents and therefore several different types of covers. They can be made of wood or metal and are designed to simply cover a vent, giving it a finished look rather than leaving a hole in the wall, floor, or ceiling.

When homeowners select vent covers for their register and return air vents, it is important for them to pay attention to the types of vents they have. Covers for floor registers are made to fit the opening and simply rest in the hole, usually with no means of attachment because gravity holds them in place. On the other hand, a cover for a wall or ceiling vent must include an element to attach it to the wall or ceiling so it won’t fall off.

Exterior wall vent.
Exterior wall vent.

There are several different styles available for the home, ranging from simple to decorative. Basic covers are typically made of metal and come in a variety of finishes, including coated white, brass, almond, and bronze. Homeowners should choose the finish that best matches their decor because, though painting metal covers is possible, the paint often doesn’t last long. It will typically chip and become unsightly long before the wall or ceiling needs to be repainted. Wood covers can be stained or painted to match the interior, but are significantly more expensive than metal.

A vent cover.
A vent cover.

Decorative vent covers have intricate shapes or designs incorporated into the grill. These are more expensive than basic ones and are also available in different finishes. Most people only elect to install decorative covers when their home’s architecture and interior decor call for it, such as in the restoration of a Victorian style home or in stately homes with grand designs or a specific period-style.

Vent covers may feature filters that help reduce allergens in the air.
Vent covers may feature filters that help reduce allergens in the air.

Vent covers, or more specifically air return grilles and covers, sometimes come with a filter built in. This can help reduce allergens in the circulating air, but a high-efficiency furnace with the proper filter should adequately do the job. When measuring for new covers, a homeowner simply needs to measure the width and height of the vent opening, rounding up to the nearest whole inch (or centimeter). Most manufacturers allow for extra space around the perimeter of the cover, and many sizes are standard. People who have an odd-shaped or very old vent can custom order vent covers from a variety of sources, including most local home improvement stores.

Discussion Comments


We were told by some cat experts that we can use double side duct tape to tape our floor vents.


I have a vent at the base of the wall - not in the floor. I can't find a new cover for it anywhere. Baseboard registers are made for the vent opening to be in the floor at the base of the wall.

This vent opening is in the wall at the base of the floor. Any ideas where to find a cover?


This may sound weird, but I used to be terrified of those huge round vent covers that are on the ceilings of some businesses and warehouses. My parents took me to a big discount warehouse when I was little, and the ceiling had these vents that were about the size of my bedroom.

They were made of several round pieces with gaps around their edges for air to flow through. They sounded like big monsters roaring.

I was too scared to walk underneath them. My parents didn't have much fun shopping that day, because there were so many areas in the store where I couldn't go, because they were directly beneath the giant vents.


@wavy58 – It is kind of strange that they can be shut all the way. I understand why those louvered vent covers that are on the floor of every room in a house have the option to be closed, because you might want to shut the air off to one room but keep it flowing in the rest of the house, but if you have a air conditioner in just one room, you would just turn it off instead.

I have floor vent covers in my house, and they work a bit differently than your air conditioner cover. Instead of manipulating the exterior slats, the lever moves two panels on the interior, just beneath the slats.

If I get cold in my room but everyone else in the house is hot, I can just shut the panels altogether without affecting anyone else. I like having this option, because I'm rather cold-natured.


I have one of those air conditioners that sits in a window in my backyard workshop. It has a vent cover that lets me adjust the direction of the airflow.

My air conditioner vent cover is pretty standard. The slats are controlled by a handle. Underneath them is an empty space through which air flows.

When I move the handle, I can either open the slats all the way out, open them partially, or close them entirely. I really don't know why anyone would want to close them all the way, though. Why wouldn't you just turn off the air conditioner instead?


My neighbor has some cool air return vent covers installed in her baseboards. I had never seen vent covers on baseboards before going inside her house.

The openings are like slats but rounded. They are arranged in a semi-circle radiating outward from the center. All she has to do is pull or push the lever in the center to open or close the vent.

Baseboard vents are a nice alternative to the kind on the floor that nearly everyone has. Vertical vent covers are more interesting to me.


Why aren't manufacturers listening? We need vent covers(airtight) to cover vent covers and prevent cold air from coming through the ceiling ducts from a central air or heat pump system when using an alternate source of heat in cold weather -- something besides duct tape and plastic. A lot of them would be sold! Anyone out there listening?


I would like to purchase wall vents that are decorative, *not* the slatted ones you can find anywhere. I can find floor ones all the time but no wall ones. Anyone know where i can find them?


I have plastic air vents in the ceiling for my air conditioning but I have electric heat. I would like to buy covers for my plastic air vents but I haven't been able to find any. Do you know of any place that I can look?


I have a question - our cats started to pull off vent covers and sneak into the vent system, I saw them doing it downstairs, but if they do in upstairs they can end up in the furnace, right? So, right now we just put chairs or something heavy over the corners of all the vents but there has to be a better solution, besides gluing them to wood or ceramic or carpet floor... any idea what we can do?

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    • Exterior wall vent.
      By: Tony Baggett
      Exterior wall vent.
    • A vent cover.
      By: vlorzor
      A vent cover.
    • Vent covers may feature filters that help reduce allergens in the air.
      By: Irena Misevic
      Vent covers may feature filters that help reduce allergens in the air.
    • A ceiling vent cover.
      By: Kevin Penhallow
      A ceiling vent cover.