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How to Paint Vent Covers

Can you paint vent covers so that they complement your wall colors better? Yes, you can! And it makes a huge difference. Learn the easy steps in this post.

How to paint vent covers to match your walls

Hey everyone! Today we’re getting back to some DIY basics with an easy project I just completed. As with almost all of my projects, I thought this would be super fast. And while it was easy, it wasn’t super fast.

That’s because it appears the vents weren’t removed when the house was painted in 2018. I noticed this when we moved in and I painted the whole room off-white…but I didn’t bother to deal with it then.

When I painted the black accent wall, I knew I should deal with it. I knew I should. But I kicked the can down the road and finally decided to deal with it now. Why did I kick the can? Because I knew that the paint and drywall would probably peel off when I removed the vents.

And it definitely did. So before I even got started with the vents, I needed to patch the drywall, let it dry, sand it, and then paint it.

large white wall
white air vent on a black wall
white air vent on a black wall
patching the drywall around the vents
patching the drywall around the vents

But you’re here for the vent painting!

But that’s not what you’re here for. I just thought I’d explain some of the stuff you’ll see in these pics. The painting process was actually the easiest part of this project 🙂

Step 1: Remove and clean the vents

First I took my absolutely ancient vent covers and washed them in the sink with soap and water. They were very dirty. And then, since it was a sunny day, I popped them out on the porch to dry.

Once they were dry, I sanded the main parts of the vents with fine-grit sandpaper. I didn’t get into all of the little openings…that would have taken forever. I just focused on the sides and fronts. Then I rinsed again and put them back outside to dry.

cleaned vents drying

Like this? Check out my post about How to Paint a Stone Fireplace, How to Spray Paint Metal, and How to Paint Terracotta Pots: The Ultimate Guide!

Step 2: Next, paint!

Next is paint! I do recommend using a spray paint that is a paint and primer in one. It’s just easiest. My walls are a very dark gray (Broadway by Behr), so I chose black in a satin finish for my vent color. This is the same paint I recently used to paint our metal storm door, too.

I say I recommend spray paint because, while you can match your vent color to your walls, painting all the little grooves would be super tricky. And latex paint goes on rather thick with a brush.

If you want to use latex paint in a paint sprayer to get a nice fine finish, that’s certainly an option, too! If you want to do that, I’d recommend spraying the vent covers with a spray paint primer first to ensure the latex paint can adhere to the metal covers.

To paint my screws, I stuck them down vertically into my cardboard backdrop I was using. Then I sprayed them.

Rust-oleum satin black spray paint
air vent painted black
painted black screws

Step 3: Put the vent back!

Alright—once the vent cover was dry, I put it back up. And then I quickly realized that the black wall and the black vent REALLY made it obvious that the area behind the vent was a different color.

Especially the strips of white drywall on the inside. Ugh! So I popped that sucker back off, grabbed my can of latex paint from downstairs, and painted the inside of the vent area.

Just a heads up that if you’re dramatically changing colors your colors, you might need to consider painting the inside too. It looks really good now that I have the inside painted!

painted vent covers on the wall

All I need to do in this area now is finish putting stuff back on the new buffet-style cubby storage piece we built for the space and add something to the wall. Super happy with how much better the vents look painted! What do you think?

I’ll be sharing a post about the buffet soon. In the meantime, I also have a post about the DIY Above the Door Plant Shelf I made for this area!

behr broadway wall with a vent cover painted to match
behr broadway wall with a vent cover painted to match
behr broadway wall with a vent cover painted to match

Pin my post about how to paint vent covers!

collage that says want to paint your vent covers? with pictures of the process
Brittany Goldwyn
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