Replacement Vent Covers (Early 1900's?)

applesandshananaApril 19, 2011

My husband and I purchased our first home last summer. We've been spending the past year sprucing up the nearly 100 year old house (you can see our journey in our blog at the bottom link!). There's one thing we haven't been able to replace that's been bothering us, though.

Replacement ductwork (and air conditioning - thank goodness) was put into the house a few years back. There are still old, possibly original vent covers in the floors of several rooms. They're in pretty hideous shape, so we've been trying to replace them but are having a tough time finding something square and appropriate. Does anyone have any sources we could use?

Here is a link that might be useful: Our Renovation Blog

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If you really need to replace them, your best bet would be to hit up flea markets or antique stores. But be prepared to pay a pretty penny!! I am always on the lookout for them (I have 4 rooms that need them because there are big holes covered with sheets of metal right now). Generally they're around the $100 range.

That being said, I'm in Canada where all things old tend to be more expensive.

I'm curious why you need to replace them, though. If they are gunked up with paint, take a heat gun to them. If they're rusty, use some steel wool to remove it. Then finish with a nice fresh coat of black spray paint. Good as new!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 9:26AM
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Reggio Registers

Here is a link that might be useful: Reggio registers

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 10:34AM
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Ditto on cleaning and repainting...unless they're broken, then replacement is necessary. Reggio Registers is a big name, big price outfit, and they don't really look the part to me.
Not only antique stores, but salvage shops, and possibly old heating supply vendors--I got ductwork and the deep boxes needed to run a new line to my parlor at a local shop when the big stores like Lowes were clueless.
A local antique mall I go to had piles of grates, and I think the most expensive was about $25.00.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 6:09PM
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also check out flea markets, i see them there alot (but make sure you have your measurements and take a tape measure)

concure with others about clean and reuse what you have ...

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 6:17PM
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If you have a salvage shop, check and see if they have them...but here's what we ended up doing for our old house. We had a strip-n-dip place strip the paint and finish from them, and then had a powdercoating place coat them. I didn't do the best job picking out the color so I'm not in love with that part (tried for "aged brass" but ended up with brown...d'oh!), but they work perfectly now and look clean and crisp, and it was only $300 to do an entire house worth of grates---much cheaper than buying replacements!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 9:13PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions! Stripping and repainting will work for some of them, but we have some that are pretty damaged :/ Now that I know it's possible, we'll see what we can do!

Here is a link that might be useful: Our Renovation Blog

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 7:42AM
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Since you're in Richmond, take a trip across the 14th St bridge to Caravati's. If anybody has old ones, it will be them.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 12:57PM
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"tried for "aged brass" but ended up with brown...d'oh!"

That is the color of aged brass, at least if it does not turn green from verdigris (copper chloride, copper carbonate, or copper acetate).

What the aging solutions do not tell you is to wipe away the chemical quickly on areas you want to stay lighter in color.

Like a door know will be brown in the middle of the knob and places seldom touched, but lighter (almost no color if used frequently) from hand contact on the diameter of the knob.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 3:54PM
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Oh, for sure---we were trying to get somewhat close to the brass doorknobs, which is why we chose that color. But since our registers aren't brass at all (some matte silver-colored metal---zinc, maybe, or steel?---they date to 1930 when heat was first put in), the color was just from the paint that was powdercoated on---so nothing to wipe off or not. It was a metallic tone that the place insisted would looked like brass, but in retrospect we should have just gone with black. Ah, well. At the time I had pipe dreams of eventually stripping the baseboards and thought black would look wrong with the oak, but now I know that a) it wouldn't have, and b) I am not going to strip the woodwork in this lifetime. Ah, well.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 11:45PM
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