Heat registers are visible in almost every room of the home. If your are looking rough with their paint peeling and chipping it’s time to spruce them up. Why not turn dirty and damaged white, black or gray into bold, brilliant copper, gold or silver? You would not believe what a difference it will make to your décor.
There are two ways you can approach this refinishing project. The first is to redo the heat register covers and vents room by room. The second is to pull all of them off from your entire home and redo them all in one shot. Doing them room by room is probably easier in the long run, but it takes a little more time. Doing them all in one shot gets them all done at one, yes, but will you remember where they all go? I would recommend doing this room by room. That way too if you want to do each room a different colored finish there will be no confusions are accidental color mix ups.
So, choose a room. Look at the register cover or vent carefully to see what type of screws are holding it in place. You will need a screwdriver that fits and matches the heads of the screws. A horizontal line is a flat head and a cross or and x is a Phillips head. In older mobile homes they may be held in with star or hexagon shaped headed screws. You will need to locate a home supply store that still carries screwdrivers made for these types of heads. Replace odd headed screws with standard flat or Phillips head screws as they are outdated and difficult. It’s actually recommended to replace all of the old screws with new anyway.
Once you have removed the covers and vents for that specific room take them out to your work shop or garage. Lay the face up on a clean work surface. Put on a face mask and eye protection.
Use an electric handheld sander with medium grit sand paper to remove all of the old finish. Rough grit sand paper is too rough for the metal. It will create lines that look like scratches. Medium grit will remove the old finish without causing damage to the metal surface. Once all of the old finish has been removed go over them again using fine grit. The fine grit will remove the lines and will give the metal a smooth clean surface that the new paint will adhere to.
Dust the heat register covers and vents off using a dry cloth. Do this to remove any dust left from sanding. This prevents blemishes in your new finish. Now flip the vents or covers over and dust them all off. The bottom sides of the vents do not need to be sanded unless they are rusty. They do however need to be cleaned as dust can accumulate on them and the dust cannot be painted over.
Pick up all of the sanded, clean vents and set them aside for just a minute. Lay down several sheets of newspaper where you were working on them. Place the vents and covers face down and get your copper, gold or silver spray paint ready. Quickly, lightly spray the bottom sides of the vents or covers. Let them dry for five minutes then spray them again. The bottom sides do not have to be perfect as the will not be seen. The light coating of paint isn’t so much for color as it is for protection. However, spraying the underside of the does make it so that each vent/cover is all one color. Allow the second coat of paint to dry for 20 minutes then flip them all over so that they are face up.
Slowly, evenly apply a coat of the copper, gold or silver colored spray paint to the top side of each register. You want it to be a thick coat, but not so thick that it will drip or run. Just a good, even coat. Let them dry for 10 to 15 minutes then apply another good, even coat. Let that coat dry for 25 to 30 minutes then come back and apply a light, quick coat like you did to the bottom side. This last light coat is the final color perfecting coat. It’s light, it’s barely there but yet it seals those two good coats so well and it also evens the color out to perfection.
Let the vents and covers dry for a couple of hours before bringing them back into your home. When they are fully dry bring them back inside and put them in place. Replace the old screws with new. Once the new screws are in place move on to the next room.