Camouflaged: The manufacturer's most popular vent size, 4 inches by 10 inches, costs about $90.
Camouflaged: The manufacturer's most popular vent size, 4 inches by 10 inches, costs about $90.

For vents in visible areas, remodeler April Bettinger of Nip Tuck Remodeling, in Woodinville, Wash., offers clients an alternative to metal registers: the Chameleon vent, by Isla Carmen,

Just like the name implies, the vent cover blends in with the flooring material, sitting flush with the floor.

Nip Tuck’s tile installer started offering the vent cover as an option a few years ago, and since then 75% of the company’s clients have selected it. Bettinger’s sub charges about $350 to install the vent. “It’s a nice option for areas where the vent is noticeable or will be in a traffic area,” Bettinger says.

The aluminum product comes in standard and custom vent sizes and consists of two parts: a cradle and a frame, with the cradle sitting flush in the frame. The frame is installed first, and the room’s flooring material is installed around it. The installer cuts the wood, tile, stone, concrete, cork, bamboo, or laminate flooring into pieces to fit the channels in the register and attaches the pieces using silicone caulk.

The most popular size (35% of sales) is the 4x10-inch unit, which costs about $90. Though labor takes about 20 minutes, the company tells installers to budget 1 hour due to the careful cuts needed to fit the channels in the register. Isla Carmen also offers custom registers.

Though Bettinger prefers to locate vents so that they’re not highly visible, that’s not always possible. In one master bath project, she wanted to move the vent from the floor in front of the vanity into the toe kick, but that would have required reconfiguring the floor joists, which was not in the budget. The clients opted for the Chameleon vent, an effective compromise.

—Nina Patel is a senior editor at REMODELING. Find her on Twitter at @SilverNina or @RemodelingMag.