Ductwork in a kitchen is necessary, but nothing takes away the fact that exposed ducts are an eyesore. Even in an industrial interior design, kitchen ductwork looks like a saddle on a sow. Bulkheads have long been the preferred method to conceal kitchen vent pipes, but there are other, more creative ways that can improve the overall look of your kitchen.
False cabinets provide you with an elegant way to hide ductwork in your kitchen. This method works well on wall and ceiling ductwork alike. Drop ceilings and false beams are other ways to conceal the vent pipes. Or you could incorporate the ductwork into the kitchen design by painting it.
Should Ductwork Be Wrapped?
Long story short, the ductwork should be wrapped. Not only have insulated ducts been the standard for decades – thus, any home inspector won’t let you get away with ductwork that isn’t wrapped – but there are several reasons why you want to insulate vent pipes even if insulation is ugly.
Prevent or Reduce Condensation
Tiny beads of water forming on your ductwork are a clear sign of condensation. Condensation happens when there is a significant temperature difference between the interior and exterior of your house or because of excessive moisture in the air.
Condensation in your ductwork can be a problem because it can create the right environment for mold and bacteria to grow. Since you don’t want any of those pesky germs near your food, insulating kitchen ductwork is the only wise choice.
Insulation on any kind of ductwork helps you increase efficiency and lower your utility bills. Take the range hood, for example. An insulated duct stops condensation in the duct vent and prevents clogging. Clear vents improve the hood’s efficiency, allowing it to get rid of the steam, fumes, and cooking smells faster; thus, consuming less energy.
The same goes for the HVAC pipes running through your kitchen. Moreover, insulation acts as a cushion that prevents the hot or cold air from the outside from altering the temperature inside your home. In other words, your heater and air conditioner will do their job faster.
Lastly, insulated ductwork can improve your comfort. Condensation on pipes can increase the humidity levels in your home, reducing comfort. Moreover, ductwork can be quite loud, but insulation can dampen the noise.
How To Cover Exposed Ductwork In The Kitchen (9 Creative Ways)
We established that ductwork – especially the insulated kind – has no aesthetic value. There are ways to conceal it, though. Check them out below.
Install False Cabinets
False cabinets are one of the most stylish ways to conceal ductwork in the kitchen. This method works on all kinds of ductwork, too.
For instance, you could install a row of false cabinets on top of your upper cabinets to conceal ceiling ductwork. Finish the cabinet design with crown molding, and nobody will ever know where those vent pipes are.
For vertical ductwork running along a wall, you can install a tower unit. Since the finish of these false cabinets can match your existing cabinetry, it would give your kitchen a sophisticated, streamlined appearance.
Install a Drop Ceiling
If you live in a home with high ceilings, a drop ceiling gives you the perfect solution for hiding ductwork and helps you reduce heating and cooling costs. A lower ceiling also improves air circulation in a room – something particularly important in the kitchen.
Hide Behind Panels and Crown Molding
Sometimes, you can’t install false cabinets and don’t have a high-enough ceiling to add a drop one. You can still hide ceiling ductwork in a stylish way, though.
Wood panels painted in the same color and finish as your cabinets ending with crown molding can hide the ductwork. At the same time, the panels add more dimension to the room, increasing the visual appeal.
Use Truss Joist I-Beams
Do you like industrial or steampunk interiors? Truss joist I-beams (TJIs) can help you add value to your ductwork and transform it into an element of design instead of hiding it.
This installation type allows you to run the ducts through the joists instead of below them. The structure conceals some of the ductwork while leaving portions exposed. The effect works wonders in an industrial décor. TJIs are more expensive than other methods but well worth the extra cost.
Use Wall Chases
Wall ducts are often harder to conceal than ceiling ones, but wall chases can help you minimize their impact on your kitchen.
All you have to do is frame the ducts with wood boards, then cover them with drywall and paint in your kitchen’s color.
Install a Tray Ceiling
Tray ceilings come as an alternative to the dropped ones in rooms with standard ceiling height. In addition to concealing ductwork, you can use tray ceilings to add original lighting and create focal points throughout the kitchen.
Use False Beams
In rustic or country homes, false beams can help you conceal ductwork while matching the rest of an exposed beam ceiling.
Paint the Ducts
If your interior is inspired by the colorful 1950s interior design, you can turn ductwork into a focal point by painting it.
Exposed ductwork wasn’t something outrageous back then, but you’ll have to conceal the insulation in some way. You can do so with wooden planks or metal sheets installed over the ducts. Paint in a vibrant shade for a gorgeous effect.
Use Soffits and Columns
Soffits and columns are perhaps the simplest and least creative way to conceal ductwork, but they still deserve mention. Whether you’re on a budget or want to keep your kitchen traditional, soffits and columns are an excellent option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Have more questions about concealing or painting ductwork? Find out the answers below.
Can you paint HVAC ductwork?
Yes, you can paint galvanized HVAC ductwork with latex paint. However, you should use metal instead of wall paint and prime the surface for a long-lasting finish.
Why is my ductwork full of water?
Your ductwork is full of water because it isn’t insulated properly. The difference in temperature between the interior and exterior of your home can cause condensation problems when insulation is insufficient. Thus, if you mostly notice water droplets on your ductwork in the summer or winter, this could be the issue.
Another reason for condensation is the high humidity level in the air. Kitchens are a particularly moist environment due to the steam produced while cooking. If you notice condensation frequently, perhaps you should get a more powerful exhaust fan or range hood.
How much does it cost to move ductwork in the basement?
Installing or replacing ductwork costs $1,187, with a typical range between $459 and $2,042. To that, you should add the cost of any construction changes and alterations you must make to run the ductwork through the basement.
Hiding ductwork in the kitchen can be done in a number of ways. Whether you decide to conceal the pipes completely or turn them into a focal point, we hope the ideas above can inspire you.
Do you have other tips or ideas? Advice or questions? Leave us a comment.