diy decorative vent cover or register in a finished ikea closet

When I moved the air duct/vent down 6″ in our closet, I wanted to cover it with something decorative. We don’t have a door on our closet, so the vent is always visible. I don’t need to open or close the vent or remove the cover.

My goals for the vent cover were to blend in to the wall and not look ugly. Seems easy enough?

before the vent was too close to the ceiling for crown moulding to be installed.
Aside from the demo caused by the flood damage you can see the original vent before I moved it.

Some of the links I share are affiliate links, and if you purchase through them it won’t cost you any extra, however, I may be paid a small commission. That small support helps me keep the lights on and we appreciate all of it.

It was too late to put in an Aria vent but if you are just starting construction and want something that really disappears, these are amazing.
ogee profile trim moulding panel moulding was used for the vent register diy cover
I chose a simple ogee profile for the register vent cover frame

This is a tutorial on how to make a decorative register. Register is the name for something that covers a hole in the wall for an hvac system. Everyone I know usually just calls them vent covers.

Supplies you will need for your diy vent cover

  1. Wood trim the kind I use is called a “wood bead” its under an 1″
  2. Decorative Sheet metal
  3. Wood glue
  4. Painters tape
  5. Primer or finishing material
  6. Sand Paper
Once the the vent was relocated further down on the wall, the crown moulding was able to be installed without having to jog around an hvac register or vent.
Here’s the vent in its new location

Tools you will use to build your DIY register or vent cover

  1. Miter saw or miter box
  2. Table saw or router
  3. Measuring tape
  4. Tin snips

Up to $100 Off Select Tools + Free 2-Day Delivery

Steps to build your diy vent cover

Cut your trim to size

Measure the size of the hole you are covering. Mine was 6 x 12.

Using your miter saw, cut your trim with 45 degree cuts to build the frame. You want the shorter dimension – or inside dimension to be the same size as the hole you are covering

close up view of the rabbet created in the moulding for the mesh decorative sheet metal to sit in when the trim is made in to a frame for the vent cover.
Here is the same profile but with a rabbet cut into the back side of the moulding.

Cut a rabbet into your wood trim.

You can do this before or after you cut your trim to size. The timing doesn’t matter. However, I don’t like to waste trim so I do it after my final cuts.

close up view of the blade raised just enough to cut a rabbet into the trim without cutting all the way through the trim.
Zoomed in and you can see how high I make my blade in order to create my rabbet

I place my trim next to my table saw and squat down to eye level with the blade.

I raise the blade so that it is 1/8″ high. This will make a cut 1/8″ high. A table saw blade is 1/8″ wide. By moving the fence to the right 1/8″ I will have a rabbet that is 1/8″ high by 1/4″ wide.

Clean up any remaining wood with a chisel or with another pass on the table saw – moving the fence so that the blade will take off the remainder.

If you have a router table, use a 1/4″ straight bit and set the height to 1/8″ to make the same cut.

SAFETY TIP: As a rule I usually cut my wood the opposite way: I like to have the side I am cutting on the left. In the picture imagine the trim with the smaller side against the fence and the larger side (the side where we are cutting the rabbet against the blade. The fence would be further away from the blade. 

There is more control cutting this way because as you push your stock through, it will have a tendency to turn clockwise (away from the fence). 

When I cut the way I do in the image above I am cutting away the part that is touching the fence, if I am not careful, at the end of my cut things can get a little sketchy. 

I rarely cut with the cut side to the right of my blade. My fence has a small gap between it and the table. My trim would sink into the gap and then the little cove side of my trim would be pressing against the fence. When this happens I clamp a board to my fence to cover the gap. I didn't here so it's easier to see the rabbet being made. 

Joining your trim pieces into a frame

Small trim like this can be joined easily with tape and glue. This will make a permanent bond and you won’t need any nails.

Pre-cut strips of tape roughly a little longer than the length of your trim.

Place your tape sticky side up, and then set your trim on the tape like I did below.

tape is positioned along the sections of wood in order to hold the wood together while the glue cures
The tape is set with one side of the trim on the tape and one side off of it for a reason.

I offset the tape on the trim like this on purpose, so that I can place the trim that doesn’t have tape onto the tape of the trim piece it will attach to. (I trimmed the left trim tape before I joined the top trim to the left trim piece.)

glue is added to the either side of the miter cut moulding to make a permanent bond between the pieces of wood.
Glue is added evenly onto the cut ends of the wood. The tape is positioned to wrap the wood pieces together.

Glue the trim together

Place glue on the ends of the trim – make sure to get even coverage.

Overlap the blue tape like this and then press the seam together

Bring the ends together. Wrap them with the painter’s tape and let it cure over night.

Wrap the two sections of wood together and repeat to the other three vent frame cover corners

Prepare your sheet metal

Cut your sheet metal to fit inside the frame – I made mine 1/8″ smaller than the inside measurements of my frame. By making it a little smaller I could adjust for the inaccuracy of my tin snip cuts.

decorative sheet metal is placed and glued into the vent frame
Cut the sheet metal with tin snips to the inside dimensions of the frame for the vent cover.

Put wood glue along the inside of the frame and place your decorative sheet metal inside.

Weigh it down so that when the glue dries the metal is completely embedded into the frame. It doesn’t take much weight – the edges just need to stay down. Let that cure over night.

the diy register vent cover is fully assembled and ready for be finished with paint or stain.
The register/vent cover is now ready to be finished with paint or stain.
Alternative Finish: If you want to stain the wood and paint the sheet metal, prime and paint the sheet metal before installing it. Also, stain and seal your wood before attaching the sheet metal to the frame.

Install your new register or vent cover

Finish your register or vent cover

Sand and finish the register.

I primed my register before I installed it. I love using a primer called INSL-X STIX. It’s made by Benjamin Moore and sticks to everything. It also sands incredibly easy and smooth. It is very similar to BIN Shellac primer (if you have ever used that). However, it cleans up with soap and water (not like shellac primer). It doesn’t block stains or tannins, so if you need that you should use BIN.

Once the primer dried I installed the register.

the diy register vent cover is installed and blends perfectly with the rest of the closet decor.
I painted the register the same color as the closet walls so that it blends in better.

Attach register or vent cover to the wall

To attach to the wall I put a bead of caulk around the backside of the frame and pressed it against the wall.

Around every registry penetration there is wood framing around it to hold it in place. If you need to you can tack it in with a couple of finish nails. Just make sure they are long enough to go through your trim, drywall and then into the studs framing the ducting.

Mine held against the wall with the caulk and I didn’t need any nails. Once that was dry I painted it to match the wall it was sitting against.

Disclaimer: Working with power tools and DIY projects can be dangerous and post inherent risks. While we work hard to ensure the accuracy and effectiveness of the tutorials along with the information displayed on this website, Hambels Get Real cannot be held responsible for damages or losses sustained or incurred in the course of your project or in the use of the item you create.

If you liked this tutorial, check out the final closet reveal post or my tutorial on installing baseboards. If you want to know when I share a new post or extra content – like free plans – sign up for my newsletter!

Similar Posts

I promise to reply if you do!