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.
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.
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, 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.