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7 Creative Ways to Hide Ductwork

A room with a soffit to hide ductwork. The designer has taken advice from GLPS’ 7 Creative Ways to Hide Ductwork guide.

If you plan to install air conditioning in your home or business, you’re probably looking forward to being blissfully cool. But having a lovely climate-controlled environment doesn’t have to come at a cost to the aesthetics. Our experts here at GLPS have put together a guide of 7 ways to creatively hide ductwork to ensure that the unsightly ducts don’t detract from the overall ambience. We’ll talk you through the various methods available to conceal ductwork, allowing you to maintain a sleek and polished look while enjoying the benefits of proper ventilation and air conditioning.

7 Ways to Hide Ductwork

Concealing ductwork is an effective way to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your residential or commercial space. You can transform unsightly ductwork into a seamless and visually appealing interior design element by exploring various methods, such as soffits, dropped ceilings, drywall enclosures, and decorative coverings. Prioritising aesthetics creates a welcoming and inviting environment and can increase your property’s perceived value. With careful planning, attention to detail, and a touch of creativity, you can achieve a harmonious balance between functionality and visual appeal, ensuring that your ductwork no longer detracts from the overall ambience of your space.

1. Soffits to Hide Ductwork

Hiding ductwork in your home can be achieved by creating soffits. Soffits are boxes that are built from the ceiling and often are above cabinets in a kitchen or bathroom to conceal plumbing, electricals or ductwork. By building soffits around the ductwork, you can make it blend in seamlessly with the rest of your home’s decor. 

If you’re installing ductwork in a basement, playroom, family room, or entertainment room and looking for creative ways to hide your ducts, consider combining soffits with a media wall to create a functional focal point. Soffits can conceal the ductwork, while the media wall provides a designated space for your entertainment components. With careful planning, this combination can transform a practical necessity into a stylish centrepiece for the room.

To make a soffit, you’ll first need to build a frame using wooden studs and drywall in the desired shape. Once the frame is complete, you can cover the surface with drywall, plaster, or any other material that matches your home’s interior style. This method conceals the ductwork and adds depth and architectural interest to your space. 


  • Seamless integration with the existing ceiling
  • Opportunity to incorporate lighting or decorative elements
  • Versatile design options


  • Requires some construction skills or professional assistance
  • May reduce ceiling height in certain areas

2. Using Dropped Ceilings To Conceal Ductwork

Dropped ceilings, also called suspended ceilings or tray ceilings, are another creative idea to hide ductwork in your home. These systems have a grid of metal channels hanging from the main ceiling, with removable tiles or panels fitting inside the grid. By creating a space between the dropped ceiling and the main ceiling, you can easily cover the ductwork while still being able to access it for maintenance or repairs. 

Depending on the original type of ceiling, installing a dropped ceiling system is pretty straightforward and can be a do-it-yourself project if you have some basic carpentry skills. However, it’s really important to carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure the ceiling is properly supported and levelled for a professional-looking finish.

Suspended ceilings offer several advantages for commercial spaces, including easy access for maintenance, versatility in design options, and the ability to incorporate lighting or other fixtures. Additionally, many suspended ceiling systems are designed to improve acoustics and energy efficiency, making them a practical choice for offices, retail spaces, and other commercial environments


  • Easy access to ductwork for maintenance or repairs
  • Versatile design options with various tile or panel styles
  • Potential for incorporating lighting or other fixtures
  • Improved acoustics and energy efficiency


  • Lowers the entire ceiling height
  • May not be suitable for all rooms, i.e. basements or old properties, as it may make the ceiling too low
  • May require additional insulation for sound and temperature control
  • Professional installation is recommended for commercial settings

3. Decorative Coverings As A Creative Way to Hide Ductwork

If you want to get creative and put your stamp on hiding your ductwork, decorative coverings could be the way to go instead of hiding them behind soffits. This approach involves using decorative panels or mouldings to cover up the exposed ducts, turning them into a design feature instead of an eyesore. For example, ornate mouldings could add a touch of sophistication. The important part is choosing materials and styles that fit with the overall look and feel of your home’s interior design for a cohesive, pulled-together aesthetic.

Another idea is to frame out false beams around the ducts, mimicking an exposed wooden beam ceiling. This rustic design element can add warmth and character, especially in homes with a farmhouse or cottage décor. The rafters can be made from new or reclaimed wood or more cost-effective materials like laminate or PVC boards. Both methods offer more visual interest than a simple soffit while effectively disguising any unsightly ductwork. With some carpentry skills and the right materials, you can add character to the space and create a custom, built-in look tailored to your home’s style.


  • Endless design possibilities
  • Opportunity to showcase your personal style
  • Can be a cost-effective DIY project


  • May require more extensive carpentry skills or professional assistance
  • Potential for obstructing access to ductwork for maintenance

4. Build Fake Cabinets Around Ductwork

Building cabinets or fake beams around the ductwork can be an attractive option if you’re looking for an alternative to soffits for concealing ductwork in your business or living space. This approach lets you get creative with your concealment method while adding functional storage space or architectural interest to your room. For example, you could construct cabinet boxes around the ductwork with doors or open shelving. This hides the ducts and provides useful storage for books, decor items, or other belongings. The cabinets can be painted or stained to match your existing woodwork for a cohesive look.


  • Creates a seamless look with existing cabinetry 
  • Opportunity to add functional storage space or decorative shelving
  • Versatile design options with different cabinet styles, finishes, and hardware
  • Can be customised to fit the exact dimensions of the ductwork
  • Relatively easy installation compared to constructing soffits or bulkheads


  • Requires some carpentry skills or professional assistance for proper construction
  • May limit access to ductwork for maintenance or repairs
  • Potential for obstructing airflow if not designed properly with vents or grilles
  • Can be more expensive than other concealment methods like drywall enclosures
  • May reduce ceiling height or wall space in certain areas 

5. Decorative Grilles and Diffusers on Exposed Ductwork

Sometimes, fully concealing ductwork just isn’t practical or desirable, especially in commercial spaces where good airflow and ventilation are really important. In these cases, decorative grilles and diffusers can be a great way to make exposed ductwork look more attractive. Decorative grilles and diffusers come in all sorts of styles, materials, and finishes. This allows you to choose options that fit the overall design vibe of your commercial space. Whether you’re going for a sleek, modern look or something more ornate and traditional, these elements can turn functional ductwork into eye-catching design features.


  • Maintains proper airflow and ventilation
  • Wide range of design options to match interior themes
  • Can be a cost-effective solution compared to full concealment


  • Ductwork remains partially visible
  • Requires regular cleaning and maintenance for optimal appearance, so there may be extra work

6. Using Paint to Hide Ducts

Painting the ductwork itself can be a clever way to disguise it without fully concealing it behind soffits or drywall. If you have exposed ductwork that you don’t want to completely cover up, a fresh coat of paint can help it blend into the background. This is a relatively inexpensive option which you can likely do yourself.

If you paint the ductwork the same colour as the surrounding walls or ceiling, it will have a camouflaging effect, tricking the eye into not immediately noticing the ductwork. If you decide to take this option, properly prepare and prime the metal surface before painting for the best adhesion and a smooth finish, and make sure to use high-quality paint specifically for metal surfaces.


  • A cost-effective way to camouflage ductwork without major construction
  • Allows ductwork to blend seamlessly with walls or ceilings when painted the same colour
  • Opportunity to make a statement by painting ductwork in an accent colour or with decorative designs
  • Relatively easy DIY project with proper preparation
  • Can help protect ductwork from corrosion with the right paint


  • Paint may eventually chip, peel or fade over time, requiring repainting
  • Proper surface preparation (cleaning, priming, etc.) is necessary for good adhesion
  • May not completely conceal ductwork depending on its size and prominence
  • May not be a suitable option for insulated ductwork or certain duct materials 

 7. Use Artwork to Create a Gallery Wall

Creating a gallery wall is a creative way to disguise ductwork while also adding visual interest and personal style to your space. You can effectively camouflage it while transforming the area into a focal point by strategically arranging artwork, photos, or other decorative pieces around the ductwork.

Start by measuring the space around the ductwork and plan out your gallery wall arrangement. Mix and match different frame sizes, shapes, and orientations for a visually appealing display. Incorporate a variety of artwork styles, from paintings and photographs to mirrors, wall hangings, or even three-dimensional pieces. When hanging the artwork, position the larger, more eye-catching pieces directly over or around the ductwork to draw the eye away from the ducts themselves. Smaller pieces can then be used to fill in any remaining gaps, creating a cohesive and balanced overall design.

Not only does a gallery wall effectively conceal ductwork, but it also allows you to showcase your personal taste and create a unique, curated look in your home or office. With the right arrangement and mix of artwork, you can turn an eyesore into a stylish and personalised feature wall.


  • Adds visual interest and personality to the space
  • Can be a cost-effective solution compared to major construction
  • Flexible and easy to rearrange or update over time
  • Draws the eye away from the ductwork itself


  • May not fully conceal larger or more prominent ductwork
  • Requires careful planning and layout to achieve a cohesive look
  • Can make the space feel cluttered if not executed properly
  • Artwork may need to be hung slightly away from the wall, leaving a gap
  • Potential for damaging walls with multiple nail holes 
  • Limited access to ductwork for maintenance or repairs 

Finishing Touches

Once you’ve chosen your ductwork concealment method and had it installed, you can add some finishing touches to enhance the overall aesthetic appeal.

Painting or staining the concealment materials can help them blend seamlessly with your existing colour scheme or provide a contrasting pop. For example, you could paint soffits or drywall enclosures the same shade as the surrounding walls and ceilings or stain decorative wood coverings to complement your furniture and flooring.

Lighting also plays a big role in either highlighting or downplaying the concealed ductwork. Strategically placing recessed or track lighting can draw the eye away from it, while accent lighting can create interesting shadows and depth, turning the concealment into a design feature in itself.

Finally, incorporating decorative elements like mouldings, trim, or architectural details adds visual interest and ties the whole concealment method into the overall aesthetic of the space. These little finishing touches enhance the entire look and feel, creating a cohesive, polished environment in your home or commercial setting.

Explore Air Conditioning Installation with GLP

Our experienced team provides high-quality air conditioning installation for homes and businesses across Essex. Our installations are completed swiftly to minimise disruptions. Our customer-focused service and attention to detail make us a go-to choice for reliable air conditioning solutions that beat the heat. Trust us to outfit your Essex property with a high-quality climate control system tailored to your needs.

Contact GLP today to start planning your air conditioning installation in your home, office or commercial business.

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