Antique Tin Ceiling Tiles

by Digby_Adams

Here's a wonderful selection of tin ceiling tiles. Use them together to create an antique ceiling, kitchen backsplash or use them individually as pieces of art.

My husband and I live in a 19th Century farmhouse, with its original tin ceiling in the kitchen. At the time, it was state-of-the-art fire prevention. Open flames provided the energy for cooking, light and heat. If a spark landed on the tin ceiling, the homeowner didn't have to worry about a house fire. Tin ceiling tiles became popular in the late 1800s. Luckily for us, they were as pretty as they were utilitarian. Embossed tin panels quickly became popular alternatives for the more expensive ornate plaster ceilings.

Originally metal ceilings were steel ceilings. While they were attractive and provided fire protection, they also rusted out quickly. Manufacturers then began to plate steel ceiling tiles with tin to prevent this problem. Most of tin ceiling tiles were large. They measured 2 feet by 2 feet or 2 feet by 4 feet. It can be hard to find antique ceiling tiles in these sizes. They are often cut up into 12 inch by 12 inch tiles. Often they are used as artwork instead of ceiling tiles.

Antique Tin Ceiling Tile with Original Paint

Mustard Yellow was a Popular Victorian Color
Lead Paint was Used to Enhance Ceiling Tiles
Lead Paint was Used to Enhance Ceiling Tiles

The tin ceiling tile shown above is 12 inches square. It was cut from a larger piece of ceiling tile. That happens a lot now. They are worth more as wall art than tin ceiling tiles to be used for a ceiling. Often the larger ceiling tiles have so much damage that they can't be used or displayed. 

It's common to find tin ceiling tiles with bits of original paint. The distressed look for antique architectural details continues to be popular. However, people should realize that the paints used at that time contain lead. Therefore, do-it-yourself homeowners should resist the urge to remove the paint themselves. Even if just one ceiling tile is involved, they should have a professional remove the lead paint.

Single antique tin ceiling tiles are often hung on the wall or set against a wall on a table. If there are small children in the house, homeowners should keep anything with lead paint away from their curious hands. This is particularly true of antiques where the paint may easily chip. 

Square Antique Tin Ceiling Tiles

12" Square Antique Ceiling Tile

Floral and Fleur de Lis Designs were Popular
Patchwork Effect on a Single Tile
Patchwork Effect on a Single Tile

Organic architecture rooted in the American landscape was just becoming popular in the late 1800s. Architects such as Louis Sullivan turned to Mother Nature for their inspiration. Floral designs with blooms and intricate vines often were used to stamp tin ceiling panels. Today we can see a hint of their past grandeur in the tin ceiling tiles that are still on the market. 

There's no such thing as a perfect ceiling tile. They usually have a few nail hole because they were attached to ceilings. It's also pretty common for them to have dents and some rust. In fact many collectors love the metal patina that these have. 

Antique Primitive Tin Ceiling Tiles

Antique Tin Ceiling Cornices

Abstract Floral and Geometric Style
Craft a Unique Metal Backsplash
Craft a Unique Metal Backsplash

A cornice is the molding that runs along the top of the wall, right under the ceiling. Cornices used to be made of plaster. Today they are mostly made of wood. There was a time when they were made of tin. If you are looking for antique tin ceiling tiles to create a kitchen backsplash, you might want to consider a tin cornice. They come in much longer lengths and are suited to the backsplash area of a kitchen 

The tin cornice you above is pretty typical of the late 1800s. It has an abstact floral design on the top and bottom and geometric pattern in the center. It is 9 inches tall. This panel is 24 inches long. An architectural salvage company is a good place to find these. Often they'll have the entire cornice available. Sometimes you have to be patient. You call several salvage companies and let them know what you're looking for. As they find things, they'll call you. 

Antique Tin Cornice

Updated: 12/22/2014, Digby_Adams
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Only logged-in users are allowed to comment. Login
AngelaJohnson on 12/23/2014

I've seen tin ceiling tiles, both new and old. I love them and they are definitely an added barrier against fire.

Digby_Adams on 12/22/2014

I agree they are great wall art and not very expensive.

ologsinquito on 12/22/2014

These really are beautiful, as is much from the Victorian era. One of these tiles would make a lovely piece of wall art.

You might also like

Antique Kitchen Scales

Choose between these antique and vintage kitchen scales to give your kitchen ...

Antique Carved Gold Mirrors

Create and elegant and sophisticated space with an antique carved gold mirror.

Disclosure: This page generates income for authors based on affiliate relationships with our partners, including Amazon, Google and others.
Loading ...