Custom Air Return Vent Cover

6 Materials
4 Hours

After a recent renovation we ended up with a cold air return that was an unusual size. We could not find a cover that we liked the look of, so I created a custom cold air return vent cover using sheet metal and thin decorative trim.

Determine the size of vent cover you need and cut the trim pieces with 45◦ mitre cuts to create a frame.

If you have a router, you can create a channel on the back of the trim for the sheet metal to sit in, but this is optional. Use strong glue to attach the trim together, clamping the corners.

Once you frame has dried, use tin snips to cut your sheet metal to size. Make sure to wear proper gloves, the cut metal is very sharp!

Use glue to secure the metal to the frame.

Drill two small holes on the sides of your frame and use screws to install it over your air return.

I painted the frame of the vent to match the rest of the trim. The finished vent cover looks great and still allows for maximum air flow.

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Casey FitzGerald
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Frequently asked questions

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3 of 10 questions
  • Lisa Lisa on Apr 27, 2020

    I did this same project a few years back. This was a picture prior to painting after filling all the nail holes etc. It was the best decision I ever made. Is you look online for decorative metal sheets you can really find some beautiful screens. Loved this project!

  • Charlotte Larsen Charlotte Larsen on Jul 11, 2020

    Where do you get large pieces of the metal?

  • Jan Moore Jan Moore on Apr 27, 2021

    I have a vent in the middle of my living room floor, the wall between the living room and family room was removed to make 1 big room. Does anyone have an idea for a flat frame? If the frame sticks up even a little bit I will trip over it!


Join the conversation

2 of 12 comments
  • Mary Russell Mary Russell on Apr 26, 2021

    As part of one job I had,we did inspections of large ventilation systems.We found some very stertling thinge out about vent systems.They need to be well balanced and smooth flowing.An example was when we measured the airflow in /through a section of vent,then glued a layer of pool table felt inside the vent,to measure it again.Everyone was shocked at the amount of drop in the airflow.It was really significant.Having said that,I would advise you to be careful when changing/modifying a professionallly installed vent system.Also,it's obviously important to keep your vents as clean as possible.

  • Gloria McKague Gloria McKague on Apr 26, 2021

    Love the look great idea