If you have rusty vent covers, don’t replace them! Let me teach you how to paint metal vent covers easily and quickly in this step-by-step tutorial. You’ll be surprised by how much better your heat registers will look with minimal effort!
It’s the little things that irk me.
Sure, the daily paper clutter and piles of dishes in the kitchen sink make me groan. That’s expected.
But sometimes, I get hung up on the smallest detail in my home and need to fix it immediately or else the thought of it consumes me.
Yeah, I admit that’s a bit dramatic, but I’m OCD about totally random things.
My old metal floor vents (aka heat registers) are one of the random things I strongly cared about one recent Sunday afternoon. Luckily, making them look new was an easy and pretty quick DIY project.
Our dining room is one of the few rooms in our Garrison colonial home that has floor vents for the forced-air heat and air conditioning. Most of the rooms have baseboard units.
Every time I let the dog out through the back door, I walked by the nasty, rusty vent covers on our dining room floor.
Although I painted our powder room’s vent covers two years ago, I never got around to doing these (Why? It’s such a quick fix!).
The transformation is pretty awesome and it’s a quick spray paint project anyone can do (seriously, even the least do-it-herself among us).
Without further ado, I’ll show you how to paint metal vent covers so they won’t be an eyesore for another second.
Should you paint vent covers?
When I first considered whether or not to paint the floor vent in our powder room, I worried if the heat coming up through the vent would affect the paint. Or worse, create a toxic smell.
All I could think of was how the landlady of my old apartment painted the hot-water radiators with regular wall paint. As soon as the heat turned on in the fall, the whole place smelled terrible as the paint burned off!
But, radiators get much hotter than floor vents. I spray painted the metal floor vent in our powder room two years ago and haven’t experienced any smell. Plus, the paint job’s held up over time.Got ugly heating vent covers? Learn how to give them an easy and fast makeover!
How to Paint Metal Vent Covers: Supplies You’ll Need
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Here’s what you’ll need to spray paint rusty metal floor vents (aka heat registers):
- Rustoleum paint & primer in one spray paint (I used oil-rubbed bronze to paint these floor vent covers.)
- Sanding block/paper for metal (optional – I skipped this step)
- Empty cardboard box
If you’re wondering what color floor registers should be, I suggest selecting a color that coordinates with the surface the register/vent is on.
Is your floor mid-dark wood like mine? Then oil-rubbed bronze spray paint looks great.
If the vent is on a ceiling (I have one in my master bath), then choose white to coordinate with your ceiling paint.
You can also match your floor vents with nearby hardware, such as doorknobs.
How to Spray Paint Metal Vent Covers
Step 1: Clean the floor vents
You’ll need to clean the floor vents before spray painting them. Since I only painted two, I washed them by hand in the sink and used an old toothbrush to clean the narrow gaps. If you plan to paint a lot of floor vents at the same time, pop them in the dishwasher to remove dust and grime.
Step 2: Remove the rust
This is an optional step, and one I skipped because I’m lazy and busy. Rusty vent covers will cause the spray paint to adhere unevenly. If you care about perfection – which I don’t – use a sanding block for metal to remove the rust.
Step 3: Spray paint the metal vent covers
Head outside to your driveway or garage (door open!) and pop the vent covers in a cardboard box to contain the over-spray. Give the spray paint can a good shake, then use even strokes to apply the paint. Let dry, then add another coat or two until you’ve achieved solid coverage.
Be sure to turn the vent cover over so you can paint both sides.
Rusty Vent Covers Be Gone!
Now that you know how to paint metal vent covers, you can quickly give all your rusty vent covers a makeover in no time. This is a really quick DIY project you can knock out in an afternoon. The hardest part is waiting for the paint to dry!
In case you’re wondering how my floor vents look since I skipped sanding off the rust before I painted them, here’s an ultra close-up.
You can see that the surface still has a bumpy texture.
But honestly, who is gonna stare at my floor vents??
Now that they’re spray-painted in oil-rubbed bronze, the vents match the doorknobs in our home and blend in with the wood floors much better than before.
The whole point is for people to not notice them. Including me.
Do you have old and rusty metal vent covers? At the very least, run them through the dishwasher to remove dust. And if you can spare a little time this weekend, give them a shot of spray paint to make them look like new!