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Registers and Grilles

 Buying Guide: Registers & Grilles
Registers and grilles are louvered or slatted grates that cover an opening in a floor, wall or ceiling through which air passes into or out of a room. They are designed to help ensure comfort and energy efficiency. Replacing old, generic registers and grilles is an easy way to improve the aesthetics in a room. This guide explains the difference between registers and grilles, the materials they are made of, and how to measure and replace existing vents with new ones.


Registers are the vents through which air enters a room from the heating and cooling systems.
        • They have a damper that allows them to control, direct and diffuse the amount of air that enters a room.
        • Registers may direct air in one, two, three or four different directions.
        • They are located on walls and ceilings so that cold air can fall into a room, and in floors so hot air can rise.
        • If they are blocked the temperature in a room can be greatly affected.
        • Most registers have louvered dampers.


Grilles are the vents through which air is pulled out of a room for circulation back to the central heating or cooling unit.
        • They have no dampers behind the slats to close off the flow of air.
        • They may be located in floors, ceilings and walls.
        • Placement assists circulation within a room; and an unobstructed flow is required for heating/cooling 
          system efficiency.   
        • You may have several small grilles located throughout your home or one large central grille installed near 
           the furnace.
        • Wall transfer grilles, door grilles and jump ducts are helpful for maintaining a steady return air flow in 
           homes that have a centrally located grille.

Materials and Finishes

Registers and grilles are available in a wide array of finishes and materials, including wood, various metals or plastic and come in wide assortment of styles to match the décor of any home.

How to Measure for Replacement Registers & Grilles

Note if the register or grille you are replacing is for a wall, ceiling or floor.

Remove screws holding the vent in place. If the vent is held in place by its own weight or tension, pull the vent forward and out of the opening.

Measure the size of the air duct opening. Do not measure the old register or vent. Write down the measurements as Width and Length because this is how register and grille packaging is labeled.

Make note of the size of the existing hole, you will want to ensure the register or grille you choose will cover the opening. Look for units with wide borders to compensate for large openings.


Clear Plastic Deflectors

These devices attach to registers and give you greater control over the flow of air within a room. Use them to direct cool air up into the room during the summer and warm air down into the room in the winter.


A heating and cooling system cannot operate effectively with a dirty filter. Filters are easy to replace and making sure you have a clean one installed can have a sizeable impact on your energy bill.

Sunburst Pattern

Registers with a sunburst pattern push air out in many different directions to ensure even diffusion throughout a room.

Air Freshener 

Some registers can accommodate an air freshener to keep your home smelling fresh and clean.