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Stylish exposed duct work

by Naomi Taylor last modified Jan 24, 2013 05:53 AM
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Stylish exposed duct work

Posted by Naomi Taylor at June 29. 2005

I am looking to add a central a/c system to my modern home, but because of the lack of attic or a full basement, I'll need to go with exposed ducts. Where do I find ducts that were born to be seen and not hidden? Is there a nice web site where I can see examples?


Re: Stylish exposed duct work

Posted by Jeff Kalm at June 29. 2005

I would go with round spiral duct. I don't have a web site but I have used it on many projects and it looks very nice. It can be left galvanized or finished in many different colors.

Re: Stylish exposed duct work

Posted by Gregory La Vardera at June 29. 2005

google for McGill Airflow

They have all manner of formed ducts for exposed applications, in galvanized, aluminum, and stainless if you wish.

Re: Stylish exposed duct work

Posted by psmodern at June 29. 2005

From my personal experience, galvanized ducts are a bad choice if anyone is likely to touch or mark it, because it is very difficult to remove any sort of oily mark from the surface. The installers often don't think about that because they are used to hiding the ducts, hence they leave fingerprints all over it.

Re: Stylish exposed duct work

Posted by Adam Tibbs at June 29. 2005
You might also consider going with a ductless a/c. I had these installed at my office (a 5000sf loft) and they worked great. They're very common in NYC. They aren't cheap.

Mr. Slim by Mitsubishi

Re: Stylish exposed duct work

Posted by Nicole Herold at June 29. 2005

I'd also caution you to double check the furnace blower size. We bought a home last year in May (when we didn't need heat) with great exposed ducting. In the winter we froze because no air actually came out of the ducts! They were 14 and 12 in diameter. If you have cathedral ceilings (ours go up to 26) be warned that the air will also go out the ducts and right up to the ceiling.

We ultimately and reluctantly took down our ducting ([url href=]exposed ducting[/url]) and are replacing it with radiant during our remodel. Luckily the new SCAN fireplace kept us warm from the time we removed the ducts to when things warmed up again.

Re: Stylish exposed duct work

Posted by Rick McGee at June 29. 2005

Try this link

they aren't cheap but they have some style, as ducts go.


Re: Stylish exposed duct work

Posted by KT Hernandez at July 02. 2005

My experience is that it is important to use design and mechanical caution when using exposed ducting to be sure you get it right the first time. Some tips:

1. Make sure your ducting is designed primarily by an A/C professional, not an interior designer. If your designer wants to change the ducting for artistic effect, be sure the A/C professional verifies that the change will not adversely affect function.

2. Verify that you have sufficient ceiling height to accommodate the exposed duct. Consider that anything that lowers ceiling height will have an impact on how open a room feels. They also will require periodic dusting and cobweb removal; be sure you can access the tops of the ducts to clean them without risking injury.

3. Consider whether there are better places for making bold design statements. I personally consider ducts to be bones of the house, like exposed beams or columns. Also consider that what is trendy today may be really dated when you try to sell the house; simpler designs tend to not obsolesce as much.

4. Since you say your house has no attic, I'm assuming that it has a flat roof. If you are thinking about locating the A/C units on, and ducting down through, the roof, consider what you are willing to live with...they *will* leak, and they *will* be noisy and vibrate your whole house. If you are determined to do it this way, be sure your A/C installer works with a roofer to engineer the installation in such a way that leaks are at least less likely. Ask if they can do vibration absorbing mounts to reduce noise (this also applies if the A/C unit is going to be hung on the side of the house). Also be sure that the part of the ducting going into the A/C unit is made of metal, not duct board. Varmints and mold will not hesitate to infest even the most moisture resistant duct board.

5. Plan carefully how you are going to handle air return drops, as they can be extremely expensive or even impossible to re-route later on. A poorly-located return air duct can seriously limit the future design possiblities for the space.

Voice of experience -- all of the above were done wrong when a previous owner added A/C to the '70s concrete parking garage house I own... :hm: :)

Re: STYLISH exposed duct work

Posted by jay reeves at July 02. 2005

naomi :

looks like you have plenty of good advice above. . .here's one more option: have you seen fabric ducts?

depending on the layout of your space, this could be a great product with more aesthetic interest than a spiral duct.

think of a long windsock that runs through the space hanging from little metal ties. when the AC or furnace kicks on, it fills with air, and seeps a steady stream into the room.

while the marketing for these products are usually aimed at commercial applications, as a nice modernist with a little imagination, you might see the potential of it in an open residential space. i have seen it in a few lofts, and it looks pretty sharp. i cant speak to the efficiency of the product. . .if you go to the mfgr sites they have plenty of reasons why it is great, but i might trust my local architect or hvac contractor to give a fair assessment for your heating/cooling loads.$first

or try

obviously, if your spaces are chopped up, you will need galv. ducts to deliver the air to the sock.
i suspect it cost more than a spiral. . . perhaps it is only used in a special location like the public zone of the home?

good luck.

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