To Flange or Not to Flange? What Happens Underneath a Modern Metal Vent Cover? 

We are currently working on a project with a local San Francisco architect who is using our standard line of floor grilles, Accentuate Foor Vents, throughout a Northern California residence.  As many of our customers do, he’s supplementing it with a few custom items as some duct openings are odd sizes, or a bit funky.  I love these sorts of projects because the combination of standard in stock vent covers with custom made to order vent covers is more budget friendly. Our in stock covers are all priced under $145/piece and custom covers often begin at $250.  Also, we KNOW it’s going to be an amazing asset to the house, and the homeowner is going to love their vents like they never have before!   

I learned a lot working with this firm.  I was reminded that what we assume is basic may not be basic to our customers, even if they are trained architects. There were a few times along the way where the architect said to me, “I know it seems obvious to you, but it just isn’t to us”.   We speak vent cover lingo all day long, and my goal is to make this an easy simple process for our customers.  I spent time talking through and explaining the drawings to him so that they were more understandable. The take away for me was to try to do a better job educating, so this week’s post is all about the underside of a vent cover!  

What is a flange? 

It is that little lip pictured above that is welded to the back (underside) of the vent cover.  It is designed to fit into the duct opening in the ceiling, wall or floor.  It is usually 3/4” deep but can be customized.  One customer once wanted a flange to be 4” deep because he wanted to hide the wall’s interior.  We ask you for the opening size and then draw our technical drawings accordingly, usually designing the flange to be about 1/8” smaller all around than the given duct dimension.  The flange functions to help secure the vent snugly into the duct opening, and also to cover up all the ugly stuff inside the wall, sheetrock, wood etc.  I always recommend a flange because it makes the piece that much more tailored and complete.  

One could simply cover a duct with a flat piece but it’s just not as refined.  A personal choice, but we will always recommend a flange when appropriate.  In fact, of our standard line vent covers include a flange except the toe kicks which are only a few inches high.  In this case,  on this project, the architect had actually signed off on the drawings and we were about to go into production when our brilliant project manager, Jessica Willits, didn’t just act, but thought.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate my team THINKING and not just going through the motions.  It would be easy to do, to act efficiently without thought,  as we are all so busy, meeting deadlines and multi-tasking with so much on our plates.  But Jessica, intelligently brought this to my attention and said, “hey I’m just wondering if this is for a floor, why did they specifically specify the piece to be flat?  Are they building something out to make it flush with the floor?  Do you know their install intentions? Do you think it’s worth us asking?”.  This is always a tough call as nobody wants to question someone’s instructions (particularly those made by an architect), and certainly no-one wants to slow down the process.  BUT it would be so much worse to cut the item out of metal, deliver it, only to find out they didn’t realize what they were specifying.  

Sure enough, we went back to the architect expressing our concern, and they opted to add the flange on.  This was a custom piece, so adding a flange of course would require more material, more labor, more time, and be more expensive.  I am thankful Jessica had the insight to question the drawings and application, and I’m thankful we took the time to double check.  Yes this meant pausing the timeline a tad, but quality and perfection is our top priority.  Every detail matters and we truly care.  We want our product to work with your project seamlessly.  Cheers to the flange!