Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) ducts require exposed holes in floors, walls or ceilings in order to allow heated or cooled air to pass from the ductwork to the interior of a building. Since no one wants exposed holes in the surfaces of a home or office building, for safety as well as aesthetic reasons, vent covers are placed over these holes. There are many designs to choose from, from decorative covers, which can be quite detailed, to those that are very simple in design and are purely functional.
Vent covers are obviously constructed in a way that allows air to pass through them. Some are styled more like a grate, while others have louvers which can be adjusted to increase or decrease airflow, or to direct air to a certain part of the room. Air deflectors, which sit on top of the covers, are also used for this purpose. They can redirect warm air, which rises, toward the lower part of the room, and push cool air higher into the room. They also work great under cabinets or furniture to redirect heat or air conditioning for better air dispersal.
Most vent covers require only two screws for installation, making them simple enough for nearly anyone to install. Maintaining them is also simple and requires only minimal effort. Simply go over them with a duster, clean them with a small brush, or remove the attachment from your vacuum and clean them with the hose. You can also purchase filters to place beneath vent covers, which will collect dust and debris so you don't have to clean them as often. Simply unscrew the cover, remove the old filter, and slip in a new one.
You may have heard of magnetic vent covers as well. These are used to cut off or limit airflow to certain spaces, and they are inexpensive and simple to use. They are made out of thin but sturdy magnetic sheeting, which can be cut down to fit any size vent. Since they are magnetic, they slip into place easily and stay there.
Magnetic covers also have another feature that makes them popular. They can be painted, wallpapered, and even covered with carpet so that they blend in and become virtually unnoticeable. To make standard vent covers blend in better, you can paint them the same tone as the floor, wall or ceiling.