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?
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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.
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
- Wood trim the kind I use is called a “wood bead” its under an 1″
- Decorative Sheet metal
- Wood glue
- Painters tape
- Primer or finishing material
- Sand Paper
Tools you will use to build your DIY register or vent cover
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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
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.
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.
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 the trim together
Place glue on the ends of the trim – make sure to get even coverage.
Bring the ends together. Wrap them with the painter’s tape and let it cure over night.
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.
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.
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.
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!