If you are restoring a period home, you will face a number of challenges along the way. One of these challenges is missing grates from active or inactive ventilation or HVAC systems. Luckily, it is possible to have custom grates made by metal fabricators.
Here are some of the issues you need to keep in mind as you select your grate:
1. Is the opening square?
Over time, floors and walls can shift, and as a result, your opening may not be square. As a result, you cannot just measure the perimeter and order a standard metal grate in that size. Instead, you will need to work with a fabricator to create a grate that will fit over your opening.
To see if this is necessary, hold a square to each corner of your opening. This helps you assess whether or not the corner is 90 degrees or not. If not, you need a custom grate cover.
2. Will the grate be exposed to a lot of foot traffic?
If the grate is an an area that gets a lot of foot traffic such as the bottom of a staircase or the middle of a hallway, that's an important element to consider in the design process. To provide stability, the fabricator may need to mount a stiffener bar under the grate to hold it in place. However, if the grate is going to be on a wall or on a part of the floor that doesn't get much foot traffic, reinforcement and support are not as important.
3. What design matches the period of the home?
In addition to functional elements such as the size of the opening and the amount of foot traffic, you also have to consider the design of the grille. You need to consider which metals and finishes will match the surrounding wall and flooring as well as the decor of the room. However, you also need to consider the period of the home you are restoring.
For example, if you are restoring a turn-of-the-century Victorian home, you may want to opt for ornate bronze grilles featuring sophisticated scrollwork with lots of curved lines. In contrast, if you are restoring a home from the 1920s or 1930s, you may prefer the geometric lines and patterns of an art deco-inspired grille.
4. Do you need the vent to be accessible?
If you are installing the metal grille over a vent that is still actively used, you want a grille that can be lifted in and out easily as needed. However, if it's a defunct vent, you may want the grille permanently in place. In that case, you may want to talk with the metal fabricator about adding holes for hardware so the grille can be locked into place, and you may want flange around the grille to hide the hardware.
For more guidance on selecting metal grilles for a period home restoration, contact a metal fabricator.