FREE SHIPPING on all orders!

HVAC Premium Blog

The best materials for return air filter grilles & diffusers

Nobody ever said installing an HVAC system was simple! On top of energy concerns and getting the best bang for your buck, you also need to make sure the materials you choose are suitable for your interior and exterior circumstances.

Whether steel, plastic, wood, or aluminum, each material has specific advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore them:


Steel: economical and strong

Steel is the obvious choice when it comes to selecting a material for your return air filter grilles and HVAC diffuser types. It’s economical, strong, durable, and looks good. That said, if your steel grille or diffuser is in a humid place or an area that’s exposed to water and condensation — such as a bathroom, kitchen, or sauna — there’s a high probability that rust will occur. And, unfortunately, no amount of paint will be able to remedy that ugly situation.

Your best bet for areas of high humidity is either aluminum or plastic diffusers and grilles.

Related: If you’re wondering if steel is right for your return air filter grilles, we highlight the Steel Fixed Bar Return Air Grille, one of our most popular products, in this video.


Plastic: easy to maintain and safe for pets and children

Unlike steel and aluminum, plastic does not corrode when exposed to water and condensation. Moreover, newer plastic resins — such as polypropylene — can provide higher UV protection and durability, making exterior plastic return air filter grilles and diffusers ideal for all kinds of weather. In terms of cost and maintenance, plastic is the cheapest of them all and simple to clean.

Perhaps the most important advantage of using plastic is that the material is safer for both children and pets. Steel and aluminum grilles and diffusers can have sharp edges that cause injury. Not to mention, they weigh more than their plastic counterparts, so if a grille were to fall or come lose it could cause serious damage.

Have a look at our safe, durable Plastic Floor Grille to get an idea of whether the material is right for you. If aesthetics and visual appeal are a top priority, you can’t go wrong with our next two materials: wood and aluminum.


Wood: highly customizable and easy on the eye

Have hardwood floors that you’d like to accentuate? Does your home interior exude a pleasing old-world character that you’d like to maintain? Ugly vents an eyesore in an otherwise pleasant space?

Then wood grilles and diffusers are for you and your decor.

Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, they’re also highly customizable — you can stain and finish wood grilles and diffusers in any color, to match the existing decor of your interior. In terms of durability, you’ll want to ensure your wood surfaces are coated to avoid scratches and other environmental factors, such as water damage.

However, if you are budget-conscious then wood may not be the option for you. Wood is on the more expensive side and can be somewhat limiting if you’re looking for something more contemporary or chic.

This brings us to:


Aluminum: where decorative appeal and strength meet

Aluminum is a decorative, ultra-robust material that stands the test of time and looks good while doing it. Because aluminum does not corrode when it comes into contact with water, it’s also the ideal material for areas with high humidity and condensation.

Aluminum is lightweight and more durable than other materials, meaning it's easier to maintain and puts less pressure on your vents and interior structure. What’s more, it does not catch fire easily as it’s a non-magnetic metal. Our only qualm with aluminum is that the costs are higher.

In our opinion, that’s a small price to pay for longevity, visual appeal and HVAC system efficiency.


HVAC Premium — where you’re spoilt for choice with all styles, all sizes

Whatever the material, HVAC Premium has it in the style and size you require for your return air filter grilles and HVAC diffuser types. For more than 10 years, we’ve curated the widest range of high-quality HVAC products, supplying over 5,000,000 happy customers with the components they need for their HVAC systems.

If you’re looking for reliability, visual appeal, and long-standing (deserved) popularity, then you can’t go wrong with our rust-proof aluminum Cubic Core range. Browse the selection here and find your perfect size and style.


New call-to-action