Register extensions are the just about the sexiest thing involved with finishing your basement on your own.
They are the quintessential basement finishing task. A cross road of ingenuity, problem solving and buying a ridiculous tool. Not to mention the fact that you literally have to buy a sheet of metal. How awesome is that!
Background on Register Extensions
A.k.a ,what the hell am I talking about. I'm talking about HVAC baby. I'm talking about the metal "ducts" that bring hot and cold air to your basement and the rest of your house.
Registers is just the fancy way of saying "those metal grates that cover the hole in the floor where your heating and air conditioning come from."
When you're finishing your basement, in most cases, you will need to "extend" the length of an existing air register. Or maybe even cut a hole for a new one. Either way, you can mail me a thank you card letter later, 'cause I'm about to tell you exactly how to do it.
Sheet Metal and Bending Stuff
Holy crap it took me forever to figure out that NO ONE SELLS PRE-MADE REGISTER EXTENSIONS! You have to make them yourself. Sorry to have to ALL CAPS yell at you about that, but it was really frustrating. You'll need three things to make yours:
- A sheet of metal
- A pair of metal snips (aka scissors for sheet metal)
- A metal bending tool
The basic idea is that you have to make a rectangle out of the sheet metal.
The height of that rectangle will be the distance that you need to make up from the current register to the edge of the drywall. Typically this will be about the width of a 2 x 4 plus the width of your drywall.
Be sure you review my kick-ass diagram at the top of this post.
You'll need to add an extra 1/2 inch to the height so you can create some "tabs". This is where the bending tool comes into play. Snip the corners of your metal rectangle and then bend the edges. These will then go inside your HVAC line to hold it in place. Oh, also don't forget to add the width of the drywall to the height of your metal extension box.
Metal Bending Tool (see pic above)
Honestly, I've only used the metal bending tool this one time. Just haven't had a lot of metal to bend and I'm not sure that's ever going to change.
I'd suggesting asking to borrow one, but I'm pretty sure your friends wouldn't even know what you're talking about. If you can figure out another way to bend metal, go for it (and let me know what it is in the comments below). Metal bending tool on Amazon.
You can get the sheet metal at home depot. They really only had one thickness and one or two sizes.
I'll try to head over to the D-Po to get a picture of where they store it but I think it's near the sheet wood products (makes sense right?)
If you don't have any metal snips you'll need to buy some. Every household worth it's salt should have a set of "snips". I use mine about once a year, but when I need them they are super handy. Metal Snips on Amazon
Tips for Bleeding Less
Wear gloves - Thick leather work gloves, not those pansy cotton mittens you wear out in the snow. The sheet metal edges are razor-sharp and like an angry prisoner they will "cut you".
I was going to link to a set of gloves on Amazon but the ones I use have been passed down from my wife's Dad after like 20 years of service. I just don't know what brand they are. Anybody have a good leather glove recommendation?
Seal It - Use duct tape to seal the tabs to the HVAC mainline so none of your conditioned air sneaks into the empty drywalled space. What you see in my picture is not the best option. I used Gorilla tape, which is amazing stuff, but not the best in the long term for ducts.
Pre Frame Support - Frame in some 2 x 4's near the register so you have something to screw the register into. Don't get lazy and skip this part like I did. Or your register will get loose and fall out... like mine did.
Don't worry though, you CAN do it. In the end it will look and work perfectly and you'll be one step closer to your finished basement.
Cheers - Jason
More Razor Sharp Links:
- World's best articles on how to frame the walls of your basement
- All the tools and books you'll need for your basement, plus more.
- Redonkulous ideas for basement finishing....mmmm so good.