Lightweight and rust-free, aluminum ceiling tiles bring the look of early Americana to those looking to add that special architectural touch to their home decor. Often called tin tiles, aluminum tiles come in many different patterns and styles, some of the most popular being those reflecting classics such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and Victorian motifs.
When these pressed-metal tiles were first introduced as interior decor during the 1890s, they were meant to emulate the much pricier plaster ceilings afforded only by the wealthy. At the time, they served as an economical alternative to the highly ornamental plasterwork found in the homes of families that could afford to hire the best artisans to create intricate and fabulous designs we still appreciate today. Some of these original patterns can be found today, if you are lucky, in new aluminum ceiling tiles.
Sizes and Finishes
Aluminum ceiling tiles come in the traditional 12 x 12 inch size, or you can get them in the period size of 24 x 24 inches, the more authentic size of tin tiles from when they were first used in the 18th century construction of houses and other buildings.
Aluminum ceiling tiles come anodized, painted, powder coated, or you can buy them overlaid in another metal such as brass or copper. Copper-overlaid aluminum ceiling tiles offer the choice of being allowed to oxidize, which means that they gradually acquire an attractive verdigris coloration over time, or you can have them treated with polyurethane, lacquer, or some other protective coating that prevents the oxidization.
You can also purchase aluminum ceiling tiles unfinished to paint or finish yourself. Applying a protective coating like polyurethane will keep the bright, shiny new look to your tiles for a good amount of time with another application necessary in two or three years.
Using a spray gun, brush, or roller, be sure that when you paint aluminum tiles, you always use painted specially formulated to adhere properly to metal or use oil-based paint. One interesting and very eye-catching method of decorating these metal tiles is to pick out the patterns (often based on molds from antique plaster pieces) by painting them in different colors with a small paintbrush and leaving the background unfinished, which makes them pop visually.
To get them up, aluminum ceiling tiles are easily nailed, stapled, or screwed to the ceiling. But before installing them, it is wise to first lay out (to scale) a pattern on paper that includes the panels, molding, filler, and any cornices, if used. For the actual installation, you will need a pair of heavy gloves, tin snips, a hammer, drill, and a chalk line to snap measurements accurately.
Interest, versatility, ease of maintenance, and their simplicity of installation all make aluminum ceiling tiles an excellent choice for people looking for something other than the typically plain, painted ceiling. Prices vary according to retailers and to materials used in their manufacture, but most start at around five dollars per two-foot-square tile. Of course, the more elaborate the design and whatever metal (if a metal such as copper or brass is selected) the tiles are overlaid with obviously affect the cost of the tiles.
Aluminum ceiling tiles can turn your ceiling into a work of art. Check them out before you opt for just another plain, white-painted ceiling.