Most Frequently Asked Questions
1. What’s with the funny name?
Our name is Beaux-Arts Classic Products. The name Beaux-Arts is a type of architecture, the US Capital Building is a Beaux-Arts style building; so are most state capital buildings, as well as train stations. The name comes from the first school of fine arts in the world, established in Paris, France in 1648 during the reign of King Louis XIV. It was then called the Academie des Beaux-Arts or “Academy of Beautiful Arts” in French. The school taught, painting, sculpture, architecture, decorative arts, and musical composition. Decorative arts were defined as functional works of art; which is what we make, items that serve a function, such as heating and air conditioning grilles that are also works of art. Hence our name.
2. Why don’t we make our products from cast iron?
First of all iron is a terrible casting material that is normally cast in temporary molds made from pressed sand. The finished product has a very grainy surface, air bubbles, plus lots of flash where the two parts of the sand mold fit together. Most cast iron sand casting require lots of additional machining and finishing to remove the grain and flash. The top image is our Craftsman Style Arts and Crafts Grille cast in iron. Beneath is a resin casting.
Superior casting metals such as bronze and brass are normally cast in the lost wax method, which is so expensive these days it is now called investment casting. The lost wax method starts with a wax model or “plug” which is dipped repeatedly into a vat of plaster until thoroughly coated. Then it is heated until all the wax flows out of the one piece plaster mold. Then the bronze or brass is poured into the heated mold. To remove the bronze casting from the one piece plaster mold, a hammer is used to break away all the plaster. So, each plaster mold makes only one casting. which is why it is so expensive. The castings also require lots of finishing and buffing before they can be sold. no wonder it is called investment casting, which is now almost exclusively used for bronze statues.
3. Why do you make your products from cheap plastic?
First of all “plastic” is a nickname for elastomers, which comes from a Greek word meaning “can be shaped or molded”. Secondly the elastomer we use is a pure Urethane Resin and it isn’t cheap! We pay over $50 per gallon. The reason we use plastic is because it gives us the end results we are looking for. The two part Urethane we use gives us a perfect smooth casting every time, no grain, no air bubbles, no flash. Plus it is the greatest outdoor material, since it will not rust, rot, corrode or grow mold. It is also impervious to water and UV rays. It is also strong, but not brittle. We actually make our products stronger by “tempering” the resin lik glass is tempered. Regular glass is fragile and can break easily, but at a certain thickness tempered glass is strong enough to be walked on. Tempered glass is heat resistant and can be used on over doors. Since we make grilles with 70% open area, the larger sizes can’t be walked on, especially since our 3-dimensional designs have some very delicate filigrees, they are nevertheless strong. They are also heat resistant to 200 degrees and can be used on radiator cabinets. Urethane resin is the right product for HVAC grilles because a by-product of air conditioning is moisture, which causes rust and mold growth. Plus our resin castings do not vibrate, so our grilles don’t make the irritating high pitched sounds that the white louvered return grilles do. So given the fact that we make functional works of art, Urethane Resin is the perfect material.
Closeup of our French style Louis XIV 3-dimensional decorative grille.
4. Why are your Finishes limited to dark colors?
Prior to the late 1950’s most grilles were considered hardware; such as stair railing, lighting fixtures, door and cabinet hardware (knobs and hinges), plus plumbing fixtures. Back then Hardware was usually cast in brass, bronze, black iron, pewter, nickel or copper same as it is today. The big difference was the introduction of the white louvered grille which was stamped from 24 gauge sheet metal.
Since they weren’t cast like grilles in the past, the big HVAC companies decided to just paint them white to match the molding. Since we are not fans of the White Louvered Grilles, we decided to match popular hardware finishes instead. We currently offer 12 different finishes, Bright Gold, Burnished Gold, Umber Gold, Antique Brass, Aged Copper, Antique Cherry, Chinese Red, Dark Bronze, Rubbed Bronze, Black, Pewter and Nickel. First we should say that not all these finishes are dark, Bright Gold, Burnished Gold and Nickel are light finishes. Most of the big HVAC companies only offer their stamped metal louvered grilles in one finish, White, which is odd since the big return grilles collect dust which shows more on white than any other finish.
5. How come you put height first and length second on your grille measurement?
We do understand that engineers always put length first, width (or depth) second, then height third, which worked for centuries until the internet insisted on listing all products by their length. For us that displayed all our grilles by length first, showing the 30×4, 30×6, 30×8, 30×10, 30×12, 30×14, 30×16, 30×20 and 30×34 together rather than showing all the grilles by height first; 4×8, 4×10, 4×12, 4×14, 4×16 etcetera. So for internet display purposes we switched the order to height, length and depth, so that clients can look at 6″ tall supply grilles together and 14″ tall return grilles together. For the products we sell it just seemed a better way to display the grilles, by pictures that looked similar in height but longer in length.
6. Why are your part numbers (6×12) smaller than the actual grille size (8×14)?
Long before Beaux-Arts Classic Products started manufacturing, the large white louvered vent cover companies assigned part numbers to their grilles by the duct size they were designed to cover. Since the made “Builders grade products” 90% of their business was for new construction. During the construction process the duct work is installed before the drywall. At some point someone has to walk through the building and measure the duct sizes to determine which grille is required to fit that duct. So as far as grilles are concerned the part number identifies the hole or duct that it is designed to cover. So a 6×12 duct size is covered by a 6×12 grille that happens to be larger (8×14) so that it can be screwed into the wall. This is particularly confusing to homeowners who want to upgrade their builders grade grilles to something more attractive, since the white louvered grille is already installed over the duct. In their situation they measure the existing grille’s outside measurements, 8×14 and order a grille with that part number, since they cannot see the duct size behind. This is a common problem with ordering grilles for the homeowner who wishes to upgrade.