Historic or period homes are always interesting to work on. Often, we encounter details that provide character and function, but these details can be a challenge to replace or restore. Heating registers are one of the features of historic homes, that over time, have lost their appeal and importance in the home building process. However, the durability and aesthetic value of older, molded and cast heating registers really add personality to a room. Getting those registers back into “showroom” condition takes a little doing. If you need an additional register, there are a number of sources online. Re-finished originals will be the most expensive and hard to find, but there are a number of reproduction registers and grates available. Try these websites out if you’re looking to match or add to the existing registers in your home:
Another option is to refinish the ones you have. This can be dangerous, since most painted grates were probably originally finished with lead-based paint. If your grates are a finished metal surface, you can probably do them a lot of good with a simple soft wire brush, some elbow grease and a good wadding polish like Nevr Dull. The effort will be worth it.