Kitchen vent pipes are necessary for any kitchen but that doesn’t mean you have to like them. Luckily, tucking them away out of sight is often easier than you’d think.
The easiest way to hide a kitchen vent pipe is to build a soffit or column over the offending pipe. If that’s not possible, other tactics like paint, false cabinets, bulkheads, and actual cabinets can work wonders. However, what you choose should depend on skill, budget, and your kitchen.
Kitchen vent pipes are necessary to keep your kitchen clean, steam free, and to direct grease and aromas out of your home. But, what do you do about the pipe? In most homes, kitchen vent pipes are unsightly at best. That’s especially true if you have a classic, expanding aluminum pipe vent. They’re ugly and, left uncovered, actually attract dirt and grease in the folds where they’re hard to clean. Most kitchen design also features a prominent stove – meaning your ugly vent pipes will draw the eye as soon as you step int the kitchen. While everyone has them and no one expects you to stop venting your kitchen, there are plenty of ways to hide or camouflage your vent pipes. They’ll be less visible and less likely to detract from your beautiful kitchen.
Using a Range Hood Cover to Hide Vent Pipes
Range hoods, also known as extractor hoods or vent hoods, are an easy and relatively aesthetic way to cover your vent pipes. Here, you normally want to find a vent hood that comes with matching pipes – and then cover the internal vent pipe with an external cover up to the wall. Most range hood manufacturers will sell “decorative pipes” to match the range hood, in colors like black, white, and stainless steel.
These are a great choice if you want to cover your vent pipes with a minimum of DIY work. However, you have to have space to install it. Your ceiling also has to be study enough to support the decorative vent pipes. Most are lightweight aluminum. However, you’ll install decorative pipes by attaching a hood to the ceiling and literally hanging it. Most of the weight hangs on those hooks and the points where the vent pipe attaches to the range hood and the wall or ceiling.
At the same time, range hood covers can be expensive. If you choose a relatively common model at Ikea, you can expect to pay as much as $200 for a simple range hood. Plus an additional $40 for an adjustable length, decorative pipe (18-35 inches). So, this isn’t the cheapest way to go.
However, it is simple, looks professional, and almost anyone can install it with minimal labor or tools.
How to Hide Duct Work
Duct work is ugly in any kitchen. But, whether it’s just your vent pipes or also your dryer ventilation, hot water pipes, etc., it’s also easy to hide.
Related video: (link here)
Most kitchen vent pipes run from the kitchen range or ventilator to the wall or ceiling. In most kitchens, the pipe runs through the soffit. The soffit is the space between the wall mounted cabinets and the ceiling. However, In other cases, the ventilator pipe simply runs along a wall – directing the ventilation to a wall-vent.
In either case, you can choose to build a structure known as a bulkhead. This is a wood, plasterboard, or gypsum case built over the vent pipe – with the purpose of covering the ventilation. However, there are pros and cons, and these don’t fit in every space.
For example, bulkheads are, well, bulky. You’ll lose some illusion of space and your kitchen may look smaller. In addition, if your cabinets are already fairly flush against the ceiling, you may not have space to install a bulkhead. In addition, many people find bulkheads to be old fashioned. For example, they were very frequently installed as a standard in homes up until the 1990s. This means that many homes built between 1950 and 1990 had or have bulkheads in them. Yours might have one had a bulkhead, which someone removed.
However, bulkheads are relatively easy to build, can be more cost-effective than buying decorative ductwork, and can look like part of the kitchen. To build one, you simply choose a material matching the wall in your home or which matches the trim in the kitchen. Then, you build a box that covers the full length of the vent pipe and install it over the vent pipe in your kitchen. In most cases, this means building a wall-to-wall box that attaches to the range. You likely want it to look like a large bit of molding, which may also mean finding decorative trim for the front.
- Bulkheads should be as slim as possible to fully cover the vent pipes. However, you also have to allow sufficient airflow around pipes
- You should always use the same material as the kitchen to finish the bulkhead. E.g., sheetrock, wood paneling, etc.
- Try to match the trim on the bulkhead to the trim in the rest of the kitchen or to the cabinets
Building or Installing a Column
Columns function very similarly to bulkheads but are vertical rather than horizontal. Here, you can build a frame and install an upright column, or you can use decorative screens, pipes, or even bamboo to cover your ducts.
The important thing is that the cover works in your kitchen and that it doesn’t pose a fire risk. In addition, if you’re also covering hot water pipes from a heater or boiler, you’ll have to ensure there’s sufficient space between the pipes and the
Worst case scenario, you can simply paint over your kitchen vent pipes. However, if you choose this route, it’s important to choose the paint with care. Vent pipes get warm and normal paint will often flake off. Choose a pain that is specifically formulated for ventilation and hot water pipes.
You’ll also want to ensure that your vent pipes are completely clean before painting. In addition, you can not and should not paint over extendable piping. If you have soft ducts, install a cover first. Here, a square cover is always easier to hide and blends in better with most kitchens than a round one.
Once you do, painting your kitchen will do a lot to subtly camouflage your vent pipes. It’s also a great idea to repaint your whole kitchen at the same time – because newer paint will always stand out – even if you use the same color.
Whether you have a soffit duct, a ceiling duct, or one that runs up the wall from your stove, embedded furniture can be a great way to hide your vent pipes. For example, you can build or install furniture around the vent pipe, so that it’s in the furniture rather than on it.
However, this does necessitate two things. The first is that your vent pipe is not flush against the ceiling and back wall. This gets in the way of building proper support for most cabinets. However, you can still put in a false-front cabinet that is “just a front”.
Install Cabinets – Non-Soffit cabinets run flush to the ceiling, allowing you to fully cover ducts. However, you will have to drill holes for and make space for the ducts inside the cabinet. For many homeowners, this is a beautiful and easy way to hide your vent pipes. Unfortunately, it does mean replacing your existing cabinets – which can be expensive. These are especially great for hiding vents that start inside cabinets anyway, such as your microwave vent.
Install False Cabinets – False cabinets are usually “false fronts’ to existing cabinets. In most cases, you can buy them from the original cabinet manufacturer. However, if you have an older home and older cabinets, it’s unlikely they will be available. In this case, you’re normally better off building something yourself. Here, you probably want to try to match the ceiling and wall rather than the cabinets – unless your cabinets are painted wood or another easy-to-match style.
Racks – Racks, rods, and other hanging shelves can be a great way to cover up vent pipes – although they will never do a perfect job. Instead, they move objects in front of pipe – creating a barrier, disguising the pipe, and allowing you to use the space. For example, a spice rack can be a great alternative to a column to cover vertical pipes. Installing rods for hanging kitchen implements can easily disguise or help horizontal pipes to blend in.
If you want to learn how to hide a kitchen vent pipe, it normally depends on your kitchen, your decoration style, and technical skill. Installing bulkheads is the easiest way to completely hide vent pipes. But, many people are just as happy with decorative pipes and vents.