A range hood is necessary in every kitchen that has a cooktop, not just for alleviating those smoky mishaps but also for removing excess moisture, grease, gases and fumes. This kitchen feature plays a key role in cooking safety that deserves its dues, but most often it’s the aesthetics that drive our decision-making process in this area.
I knew before I ever started my search for a range hood that I wanted a more custom/built-in look and feel. I didn’t want shiny chrome and silver breaking the soft, clean white lines of the open shelves I envisioned for the space, so building one ourselves seemed the most logical option. This is when I jumped into research because I had no idea how to go about constructing a range hood or how to acquire the parts for it.
I began by looking at inspiration kitchens on websites and following the virtual rabbit down the hole in efforts to track down preassembled units, kits and DIY blueprints based on the ones I liked best. I have to say, I didn’t find what I was looking for, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn some useful tips along the way. Here are four guidelines for selecting a ventilation fan for your kitchen.
- Your minimum fan size should be 2 to 4 inches wider than the cook top—a commonly broken guideline in most kitchens—to allow for adequate ventilation, especially with gas appliances.
- Minimize the number of bends or turns in your ventilation ducts to maximize ventilation and reduce grease and moisture buildup.
- Situate the fan low enough to capture smoke and steam as it rises with minimal chance for spread—26 to 30 inches is standard but up to 36 inches is still acceptable. When in doubt, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Capturing smoke and steam also requires good uptake. Look for online calculators and formulas online to determine your fan’s necessary cubic feet per minute of uptake. Based on our gas range size, duct setup and room dimensions, we calculated that our setup required at least 450 cfm.
I was a bit overwhelmed by all of the technical data I came across during my research, but it became useful in narrowing down the plethora of hood-fan model choices.
Once we had the insert selected, ordered and in hand, we built a "wrap” to encase both the fan insert and the ducting. We used 2x4s to frame it, anchored it to studs on both the wall and ceiling, and covered it with birch sheeting, filling in the seams with a heavy-duty epoxy suitable for wood. Then it was just a matter of trimming, sanding and painting the whole shebang. We used some crown moulding to finish around the top, as well as to create a shelf on the front. The shelf is simply a piece of moulding topped with a 1x4 ripped to size. To fill the small holes left on the ends so that they flushed up with the sides of the hood, we tacked on wood triangles and covered them with a thin layer of epoxy for a smooth, seamless finish.
Clean lines made for easier assembly, as well as a timeless aesthetic, and I’m delighted with how well it turned out. The shelf is more decorative than functional but gives the feel of a mantel and breaks up the visual lines, drawing attention to a DIY conversation piece in the kitchen.
Tip: For large cracks, seams or holes, a wood-grade epoxy provides a smoother finish and faster dry time than standard wood putty.
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