How to Measure Floor Registers and Grilles

“Measure Twice Order Once”

One of the most common returns we receive concerning our floor registers, involves a customer who miss-measured.. They’ve measured the faceplate of their existing register or grille, and ordered using those numbers. This is incorrect for floor registers and grilles. It is an industry standard to measure your duct work or the actual hole in the floor.  This blog explains just what a register is and how it differs from a grille, and how to properly measure and install them.

Register vs. Return Air Grille

The official definition of a register is “an adjustable, grill-like device through which heated or cooled air is released into a room.” A register most commonly has air coming out of it (whether it be cold air or warm air) and will have a damper to control the airflow. The damper would drop into the hole/opening in your floor, and have a movable plate for regulating the airflow usually by a visible knob the protrudes from the faceplate (this will vary by style of register). Other common names for a floor register include: diffuser, vents, air register, supplies, air outlets, etc.

A register is different from a return air grille. Floor return air grilles are used as a return or exhaust air inlets to ducts. Because air does not come out of the duct work, dampers are not included (because there is no forced air flow to control). Floor return air grilles will still have a small drop in area that will go into your floor opening, but there will not be a damper. There is not a wide selection of styles and finishes for floor grilles, and if you have a small enough opening (that matches floor register sizes) you could use a decorative floor register and leave the damper completely open. Other common names for floor air return grilles: floor grilles, floor returns, floor grates, etc.

How to Measure Floor Registers and Grilles

It is an industry standard to measure the actual hole/opening in the floor to get the correct size of floor register or grille that you will need. Take out the existing floor register, and measure the length/width of the opening in inches (all registers will be listed in inches). If your duct work/opening in the floor is 4″ x 10″, you’ll need to purchase a 4×10 floor register. It will not matter if you say the length first or the width first, example 10×4 or 4×10, when it comes to floor registers. Most floor register dampers will drop into the hole about 1 inch or so, so make sure you have enough clearance in your duct work for this. DO NOT MEASURE THE FACEPLATE OF THE EXISTING REGISTER!

                
A register/grille faceplate will differ from style to style and manufacturer to manufacturer. The packaging of the floor register or listing on a website, will have the opening dimensions. The faceplate dimensions should be listed in the description- but that will not be the main number identifier, nor will you likely find a replacement register/grille that will have the exact same faceplate dimensions. Standard floor registers and grilles will an even-whole number (measurement)- for example 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 etc. There are some registers out there that can work for 3″ opening sizes- but choices are limited. If you have lets say a 2″ x 11″ opening- you may want to try to extend the hole size by 1″ so you can get the standard size 2 x 12 register. Otherwise you may have to get something custom-made for your opening.

**Register listing on our website- Order by hole dimensions, but the faceplate dimensions will be listed for your reference.

Installation of Floor Registers and Grilles

Once you purchase a register or grille that is a match for your opening size, you may now install it. Hopefully you have left the previous (old) floor register in place (so nothing or no one could fall down in the duct work). Installing floor registers and grilles is a breeze compared to wall or ceiling registers – no drilling or screwing in anything. Simply take out your existing floor register, and drop in (damper first) your new register. The damper should keep the register in place. If you purchased a register, you’ll be able to control the airflow using the damper control.

Haven’t ordered a floor register/grille yet and need help on different styles and finishes available? Check back for an informative blog walking you through the different styles, finishes, and types of floor registers available on Installerstore.com, as well as custom-made grilles!

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15 Responses to How to Measure Floor Registers and Grilles

  1. Donald R. Riley says:

    I need some type of vent or register (screen) to cover an opening of 5 5/8 x 33 7/8 (inside dimentions). This is to be mounted on a brick fireplace which has the opening above the firebox to allow heat from the heatalator to vent into the room.

    • Hello Donald,

      There are a couple of different options you can go with. I will list them below with links, but the special order items won’t be listed on our site. I will gladly email photos/more info to you if you provide your email address. Our phone number is 866-258-1554 and my name is Katie.

      White Stamped Steel Return Air Grille
      You could go with just a standard white steel return air grille for this size. Because the opening is 5 5/8″ x 33 7/8″, you could go with a 36″ (horizontal) x 6″ (vertical) Return Air Grille. The faceplate (outside) dimensions for this would be approx. 37 3/4″ x 7 3/4″ and the thickness would be only 5/16″. The fins/opening are 1/3″ spaced set at 20 degrees and would run paralle with the 36″ (width) side. There would be screw holes already on the grill for installation. I have pricing and availability for this special order grill, and can give this to you via email or phone.

      The only other option I can think of for this particular placement/size is a custom made flat grille. This can be made to order (size) and you can also choose from a selection of painted/plated finish and designs. If you fill out the custom grille form on the following link, someone from our company will send you a price quote. Here is a link to the custom made grilles (no damper) on our site:

      http://www.installersstore.com/cgi-bin/INSstore.pl?user_action=category&category=Floor%20Registers%3BCustom%20Metal%20Grille

      I know this is a LOT of information, so please do not hesitate to contact me via phone.

  2. Donald R. Riley says:

    Thank you so much. Your information is very helpful. I am interested in the 6 x 36 size grille. Can you e-mail me the price and pictures if possible. Thanks Donald

  3. Ana says:

    I have a 50ish year old house and my heating vents are triangle shaped, I haven’t been able to find anything to replace them with, any suggestions?

    • Hello Ana,
      It sounds like you have triangular baseboard registers (with a damper) or grilles (no damper).
      We have many sizes available in this style. Measure the actual opening in your floor or wall. Visit this link to see if any of our stock triangular registers look like what you have: http://www.installerstore.com/Baseboard-Registers.html

      YOu can also give us a call at 866-258-1554. Our sales staff will def. be able to help you find what you need :)

  4. Diane says:

    I am looking for a floor register approx opening 61 3/4″ x 5 3/4″….& outside measuring 64 x 8…prefer the antique bronze/scroll look, but not sure what my options are. Could you give me some examples.

    • Hello Diane. Wow! That is a large opening for the floor! With openings that large, you most likely will not find a register (damper to control the airflow) but a return grill (no damper). You also probably won’t find anything in a scroll pattern because that pattern/design will be too difficult to duplicate in that size. There really are only 2 options that you can go with which would be a custom made floor grille and finding some type of commercial floor grille. The custom grilles tend to be more expensive, just because they are custom made to your dimensions. Here is a link to the designs and finishes you can choose from http://www.installersstore.com/cgi-bin/INSstore.pl?user_action=category&category=Floor%20Registers%3BCustom%20Metal%20Grille
      If you fill out the custom form, someone from our company will get back to you with pricing.

      As far as the other option of Commercial floor grilles, you would have to do a little research for Commercial HVAC supply companies, or contact your local HVAC specialists to see if they have any resources for you. I have checked with the manufacturers we work with, and none of them make a floor register/grille for that size of opening.
      Please do not hesitate to contact me with any other questions.

  5. Thanks for any other wonderful post. Where else may just anybody get that type of info in such an ideal manner of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am at the search for such info.

  6. I seriously love your website.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you develop this amazing site yourself?

    Please reply back as I’m planning to create my own blog and want to learn where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Cheers!

  7. Steve S. says:

    I have measure the opening where the actual register drops down into as 4×12…but the actual floor opening I need to cover to meet my tiles is around 7×13. Do you sell registers that are this size? The ones I found at HomeDepot and Lowe’s for a 4×12 opening only meaure out to be 6×14, leaving about an inch or so uncovered. Many thanks for your help!

    • Hello Steve,

      Most standard floor registers will add 1″ to 1 3/4″ of faceplate to the actual opening size (like you’ve been finding at some local stores). The largest faceplate size we have for a 4×12 floor opening would be the heavy gauge steel floor register or grille. This would have a faceplate size of 5 13/16″ x 13 13/16″, here is a link to this product on our site: http://www.installerstore.com/Metal-Louvered-Vents.html

      This is still not large enough on the 4″ width to cover the tile area of 7″. I have not seen any other floor registers out there that would have a much larger faceplate than the duct/damper size. You could purchase a 6×12 size in a floor register and remove the damper, and just use the faceplate, but the only downside to this is that you are taking away from the structural strength of the register, and it will not take a lot of foot traffic. most 6×12 floor registers will have a 7″ faceplate.

      The only other recommendation I have is to purchase a custom made drop in floor grille (it won’t have a damper to control the airflow). You can have them custom made with a larger lip/faceplate than traditional 4×12 floor registers. You can choose the design and finish you would like as well. Here is a link to the custom grille page on our site. Feel free to fill out the quote form, and someone from our company will email you a price quote. You can reply and request a floor grille for a 4×12 opening, but with the custom faceplate/outside dimensions you need. http://www.installersstore.com/cgi-bin/INSstore.pl?user_action=category&category=Floor%20Registers%3BCustom%20Metal%20Grille

      If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us via phone at 866.258.1554
      Thanks! Katie

  8. kurt says:

    I recently purchased a pellet stove. My plan was to use it to heat most of the house. I have had the toughest time trying to get answers. The pellet stove is in a great room with cathedral ceiling. It does have ceiling fan which pushes the heat down and out the door onto the 1st floor. The problem is getting heat onto the 2nd floor of the main part of the house into the kids bedrooms. They due tend to leave the doors closed for privacy, which causes the problem of heating there rooms. Someone recommended putting in wall registers up near the top of the cathedral ceiling and through the wall into each bedroom. I was trying to find out what size register to use, one room is about 10′x10′ the other is 10′x6′. Also, I was told to try and use just the register and let the air flow freely. If it doesn’t work they said to try to incorporate some sort of fan, Either way I need to know what size register, if it will need a return register and if it will work. I ‘m on a deadline so if anybody could help that would be great….. Thanks Kurt

    • Hello Kurt,

      Standard Wall Registers (duct work/hole in the wall) tend to be 12″ wide/horizontal x 6″ height/vertical or 10″ x 6″. Because of your situation, I would recommend the larger size of 12″x6″. We don’t have any type of fan that you could use, but we do have a wide selection of wall registers that would work for you. The sizes listed on the site (and above) are for the actual opening/hole in the wall. Overall faceplate dimensions should be listed in the description of the product.
      Here is a link to the wall registers on our site: http://www.installerstore.com/Wall-Vents-and-Return-Air-Grilles.html

  9. Judy Wilber says:

    This is a very informative blog! I’m looking for a decorative floor return air grill in size 30×20. Do you have anything like that?

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