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aedegraff

Vent covers: Paint or don't paint?

12 years ago
I believe the "standard" is that vent covers are not painted and are left white. We recently purchased a home and there are no large return vents, but smaller vents in several rooms (on the photo below, the vent near the floor is the return). The seller of our home painted it through out with a neutral color, and although we are changing some colors, we are leaving the neutral for now in some areas until we are sure what is going in which room. With that said, they painted the vent covers the color of the walls (the ones one the ceiling are white). SO, what is the design rule: Do we replace them with white ones? Isn't it considered tacky to paint vent covers? Are you supposed to paint ones on the walls, just not the ones on the ceiling? What IS the standard? HELP!

Comments (31)

  • 12 years ago
    I don't care what the standard is. I think they look better painted so they don't stand out so shockingly!
  • 12 years ago
    pain them unless youre trying to use them as a trim (ick)
  • 12 years ago
    I ALWAYS paint them.. they drive me crazy when i see them unpainted. I blend everything on the walls and ceilings that I can.
  • 11 years ago
    I like them unpainted - clean, fresh and easy to keep that way. The painted ones remind me of an old house and I'm too picky to see brush marks, chipped paint or drips. Plus, do you paint your wall smoke detectors, light plates, door bell, etc. ?nThe white vents just blend in with those white items.
  • 11 years ago
    Designer - stager in my house advized that I should change them all to white - same with all switch plates. Make all these covers consistent throughout the home - we all have them no one is going to be shocked that it's there.

    That said, I have a set of return air grills like you have pictured, on my dining room wall, just to the side of my buffet. The upper grill does stick out somewhat like a sore thumb! Or maybe it draws attention to my wonderful artwork!
  • PRO
    11 years ago
    They should stay white. Painting them will only mask them. We all know they are there :)
  • PRO
    11 years ago
    Definitely paint them the same color of the wall, otherwise they will most certainly "stick out" visually.
  • PRO
    11 years ago
    Clearly a dilemma that has divided the designers! My vote goes for painting it!
  • PRO
    11 years ago
    While we all have them doesn't mean we need to show them off. I paint registers, socket and light covers the color of the wall or paper them if using paper. If you look at the high end decorating books and magazines you will see that they are usually painted so as not to detract from the look of the room. I like to hide as much technology as possible but I am getting used to the exposed flat screen TV.
  • 11 years ago
    Only paint them if you will be able to go a good job. Well painted grills look so much better and adds a custom touch. Poorly painted ones look worse than if they weren't painted at all.
  • 11 years ago
    I always approach all of them in like manner by spray priming the entire vent and follow that with spray PAINTING the louvers WHITE by taping off the face frames. I then mount them into position and paint the face frames using the wall color. they recede into the wall nicely but never have to be dealt with again, except for painting the face frames when the wall color changes down-the-road. You'll hardly notice them on the wall, yet they won't look all botched up as they so often do when painted with a brush. I feel it's the most professional approach to a custom looking finish on something that can otherwise ruin a nice looking space. JMO.
  • 9 years ago
    Ugh, don't paint them. I'm facing a nightmarish clogged bathroom fan vent on the outside of my house because someone painted over it (and painted it right onto the structure). The paint has restricted the airflow and I can't remove the vent without risking damage to the paint job. Vents of all types need to be easy to clean and paint both adds unwanted thickness to them and gives them a more dust attracting surface. Yuck!

    In a previous house, some wise guy painted the baseboard heaters. They gave off paint smell whenever we used them until we got fed up and replaced the whole heating system.
  • 9 years ago
    Suzanne...
    When the painting is done properly that isn't a problem. We've had the vents painted in our house and we have had no air flow restrictions. We had them sprayed and then checked after spraying and before drying for any spots that impeded air flow. They were then not put back until completely dry. We dust them regularly with either a duster on a telescoping handle or with the telescoping vacuum cleaner wand when we're vacuuming that room anyways. It's amazing how much better the rooms look with the returns painted. I would have hesitated if I loved in a very humid environment but that's not a problem here most of the time.
  • 9 years ago
    Very interesting question. I have painted my door bell box red, with the dining room which is hardly noticeable now.

    I have just painted the great room and wondered about the biggest return grill of the house, which is in plain view of everything. Now that it has (my) original art hanging above, the grill looks awfully obvious. I may paint it for once.
  • 9 years ago
    I vote for "paint them". If you get them sprayed, you won't see any brush marks etc. And look at it this way....if in the end, you hate them colored...well then, replace them with white ones. But you'll never know unless you try.
  • PRO
    9 years ago
    Painting sometimes makes them look like you're trying to hide them which in turn makes them stand out more. Why not replace them with decorative ones?
  • PRO
    9 years ago
    This is an old post.
  • 7 years ago
    I'd say match them to the trim. I think it looks unpolished to paint vents the same color of the wall. I also like the idea of buying decorative covers.
  • 7 years ago

    @Jennifer Clark Seriously, this post is 4.5 years old. I think we can move on to other threads!

  • 7 years ago
    lol its my first time seeing it!
  • 6 years ago

    If I had ducts, (thank god I don't) I wouldn't paint them. I did in a previous house and they turned in to a dirt magnet. The manufactures smooth finish lets dust and particles flow through smoothly.

  • 6 years ago
    My cold air returns that are highlife that are upstairs in my bedrooms. I paint them. And vents in my baseboards I don't paint.
  • 4 years ago

    Painted - and like all trim they should be spray painted so there are no brush marks

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Paint or no paint the 2 rectangle duct covers? This is the “before” photo and the new wall paint is almost exact same color. Or.. replace with decorative ones? The house is 9 years old.


  • 4 years ago

    I paint vent covers to match the wall they are on. If there is white molding near it, I sometimes have the vent painted to match the molding, but usually I do vents in flat paint to match the wall.

  • 4 years ago

    Absolutely paint them! I used light sandpaper and then sprayed with a latex primer. Carefully brush interior grill area and then use roller.

    This is the “after” photo.

  • 4 years ago

    I'm facing the same delimma i recently bought house and owner painted the darn vents color as the walls. It is horrible and tacky comments abount painting vents is ok it is NOT. My bedroom horrible mauve pink and the vents were painted the same. YUCK!. I am replacing the vents so they will be as i purchase from hardware store. I am painting my room gray. Mauve pink vents got to go

  • 3 years ago

    I personally like them painted. Ours are in the ceiling in our finished basement and they were originally this wretched gray metal. Doing it the right way is super important though! If you are concerned about dust there are clear matte finish spray paints. This not only seals them to help prevent chipping but makes them much easier to clean.


    Granted, I also think its just fine to paint baseboards, crown molding and ceilings not white. Perhaps that's a pain for the next owner but I'd sooner have to paint over work that was done correctly in a color I don't care for then deal with peeling or bubbling paint from poorly done work.

  • 3 years ago

    I know this is an old thread, but if you are like me you just found it and want an updated answer. Paint if you like, just know you may need to replace. If you ever have an issue in your home and you need your AC and ducts cleaned, the company will come and scrub those covers. The paint will chip. You will need to fix or replace. If they are metal and not painted, they will be easy to clean and replace. If you have a mold issue and they are painted, plan on replacing. You can now get many colors and designs online, so maybe try that route. Having gone through a nightmare with mold, the experts recommended metal, not spray painted. Function over fun.

  • 3 years ago

    It probably depends on how long you’re planning to keep the house and if you wouldn’t mind changing them back to white before you sell. I’m not a designer but I find painting them pretty tacky tbh. I just bought a house and the former owners painted all the registers, outlets, light switches, vacuum covers, and door hinges. It‘s pretty obvious that they were just painted without much thought. It just makes the house look older. Our realtor said they probably could have asked a lot more if they cleaned those things up since the rest of the house was in pretty nice condition. I’ve changed all the light switches and outlets so far and I’ll do the registers and hinges soon but it drives me crazy seeing them now. Hope this helps.