Tin Ceiling Part 3 – The Reveal

Three weekends of sore muscles and standing on ladders are over, and we are now the proud (and tired) owners of a reclaimed tin ceiling. We first showed you how we prepped the ceiling, then how we prepped the tiles, today you finally get to see the finished product.

It was a bigger project than we anticipated. Anything where you’re working on the ceiling is exponentially harder. If we were to do it again, we would rent some scaffolding, as moving ladders around was a pain. We did borrow a work light from our neighbours, which was a necessity.

Work Light & Brad Nailer, our tools for the day
Work Light & Brad Nailer, our tools for the day

This is what the ceiling looked like before.

Ceiling Before
Ceiling Before

This is what we started with on installation day.

Ceiling Sheeted Ready for Tiles
Ceiling Sheeted Ready for Tiles

When installing the tiles you need to decide where you enter the room the most. The tiles overlap, so you want to make sure the edges overlap away from where you see the ceiling from most. We enter the living room from the hallway so we started the tiles at the corner farthest from the entryway (kitty-corner to the hallway).

The tiles overlap and have little notches where they fit in together. We figured this was enough to be able to line up the tiles properly, but once you’re standing on the ladder with the tile over your head, it’s much harder. We wish we had laid out a chalk line grid, it would have made the installation quicker and preventing one crooked tile that moved when I was nailing it. (arg)

After the first tile is up, we continued along that row to the end, then started the next now. Your arms get very tired, so this process ended up taking us two weekends to get done.

First Tile Up!
First Tile Up!

When we got to the middle of the ceiling we needed to deal with the electrical box. We had planned the tiles so that the light  ended up in the middle of two tiles. We just needed to cut a half circle out of each tile around the light, and it should work perfectly. We traced the shape of the electrical box onto the tiles that needed to be cut.

Tracing for Electrical Box Cut-Out
Tracing for Electrical Box Cut-Out

Then headed out to the garage and El Granto cut the tiles with a metal cutting blade on his Dremel. (We could have used tin snips, but the curve is a bit tricky and the Dremel is waaaay easier.)

Cutting the Tile
Cutting the Tile

After the tiles were cut, we added an extension box onto our ceiling electrical box so that it would allow us room for the plywood and the tin tile. The box is easy to install (again the power is still OFF to this room!)

El Granto Intsalling Box Extension
El Granto Installing Box Extension
Box Extender Installed
Box Extender Installed

After the box was up we installed the cut tiles around it.

Cut Tiles Installed
Cut Tiles Installed

Then re-installed the light fixture.

Light Intsalled
Light Installed

We then installed the remainder of the tiles. The result is a very eclectic ceiling, but we love it. Some of the tiles are much more worn than others. We tried to make the layout look random, but still balanced. We would like to add some panel molding around the edges, but that will have to wait until we have access to a truck or van.

Without further adieu, here is the finished product.






The living room is starting to come along now. Next up, we need to trim out the tin ceiling, and swap out the light fixture for a more elaborate chandelier. A few more big projects and it will hopefully start looking more like the period building it once was.


20 2′ Square Reclaimed Tin Ceiling Tiles – Aberfoyle Antique Market
3 4×8 Sheets of 3/8″ chipboard – Rona
Round Electrical Box Extender – Home Depot
Screws – Home Depot
Brad Nails – Home Depot
Clear Coat – Canadian Tire

Tools Used:

Compressor & Brad Nailer
Work Light
Chalk Line

Difficulty Level (on a scale of 1-5):

four out of five

(Really it deserves about a 3.5 it was just a pain as you are standing on a ladder working over your head)
Total Cost: $430

Tin Ceiling Part 1

**This is Part 1, as this is a lengthy (and wordy) project, so we’ve split it up to avoid you falling asleep in your coffee **

We’ve been a bit quiet on the DIY front as of late, don’t worry, we have been working albeit slowly on project for the last three weeks. If you remember we were brainstorming inspiration for our vintage reclaimed tin ceiling tiles. After much deliberation we decided to leave the tiles as they were in all their rusted peeling paint glory.

One of the tiles in better shape
One of the tiles in better shape

Why you ask? They are over 120 years old sporting their original paint. These tiles were reclaimed from a store in London Ontario. It seemed a shame to strip or paint over all their history just to have them look like brand new tin tiles. Our Storefront had been stripped of every single original detail when we bought it, and we drool with envy when we look at other homes with original details still in place (like the houses over at Old Town Home and Victoria Elizabeth Barnes Victorian house blog) in our hearts we knew we needed to leave the tiles as is.

We were also going to put the tiles on our master bedroom ceiling, then we thought it a shame as no one but us would ever see them (we’re not the type to have guests hanging out in our bed looking up at the ceiling…) So we decided to have the tiles grace our living room ceiling where they would be there for all to see.

Ceiling looking towards our backyard
Living room ceiling looking towards our backyard
Ceiling looking towards our staircase
Living room ceiling looking towards our staircase

We have 20 tiles which means we can cover an 8×10 foot area. We decided to do a kind of panel inset in the center of the living room, centering around our lighting fixture. Now that we had it planned out (phew that was tiring!) we needed a plan of execution…

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I am a PLANNER (aka anal retentive). I always want to do something to the best of my ability, do it the easiest way, and for the least amount of money. So I research, and plan. I may not SHARE my plan with my husband, but I do always have one up in my noggin.  So for this project I contacted a tin ceiling expert, and picked his brain. What I learned was that you can put tiles up two ways; glue or nails (or both!) Glue is easiest, but does the most damage to both the tiles and the ceiling if you ever want to remove. Nails require more work, but do much less damage to the tiles, and your ceiling can always be patched. We decided to go with the nails.

Now we needed something to nail to…You cant just nail into your drywall, its just not strong enough. You need some wood for the nails to bite into.  Next up, we needed to decide if we were going to strap the ceiling or sheet it (run strips of wood in a grid to nail to, or just cover the area of the ceiling in plywood.) Both will work, its just whichever you prefer. We decided to go with the sheeting, as then we could nail anywhere we wanted without a problem. Another decision done!!

We sourced some 3/8″ chipboard from HD as our sheeting material. We got three 4×8 sheets of chipboard, and got one of them cut down into 2×4′ pieces at the hardware store (still waiting on that table saw Santa). We decided to do a 2×8 piece of wood in the middle of the ceiling around the light, then a full 4×8 sheet on either side. We also cut the 2×8 in half so that it would be easier to cut and put up around the light fixture.

Speaking of the light fixture. We traced a spare electrical box onto the ends of the 2×4 sheets and cut it out with a jig saw. This would make it so that we could easily fit around the light fixture (which we would deal with later.)

boxtraced (2)boxtraced (1)boxholecut

Now came the fun part…putting up the sheeting. Here’s what you need:

  • Two ladders
  • Drill & screws
  • Swear Words
  • Stud Finder
  • Chalk Line
  • Divorce Papers
  • Borrowed work lights from the neighbours (have I mentioned how awesome our neighbours are?! I need to bake them some cookies)
  • Tears

Mark your studs on your ceiling using masking tape. Mark them OUTSIDE the area you’re sheeting. If the ceiling joists in your 100 year old home magically change direction, you are not crazy, cause apparently that can happen, and defy all logic…

Now turn off the power and take down the ceiling light. Swear at wife for having insisted on re-installing repainted light fixture before it was completely dry. (Who would have thought that it would stick together?) oops

Put up the first pieces of sheeting, and make sure they’re straight (or straight-ish if you live in a crooked-ass-house.) Screw into the studs using at least 2″ wood screws

First Piece Getting Screwed into Studs
First Piece Getting Screwed into Studs
Second Piece Installed (my husband has long ass girly hair, but he drives a motorcycle and lives in a hipster neighbourhood so its all good)
Second Piece Installed. Yes my husband has long ass girly hair, but he drives a motorcycle and lives in a hipster neighbourhood so its sexy and not at all white trash

For the next sheets, both you and your spouse will need to simultaneously stand on ladders, holding a 4×8 sheet of plywood over your heads and screw it into your 10 foot tall ceiling making sure its straight and perfect. Name calling and/or tears are optional. If you eff it up, you MUST take it down and fix it. (that totally didnt happen to us… wait yes it did… shh)

Once you have a couple screws in place around the edges, you can then chalk line between your screws to give yourself a guide where the studs are for easily screwing in more screws to make sure its super oober dooperly attached to the ceiling.

Weird angle showing the chalk lines marking the studs

After you are finished, drink several beers and try to forget the urge to kill your spouse.

Ceiling Sheeting Installed (by now its dark, and you have no light in your room, and you give up and eat chicken wings and drink liquor)
Ceiling Sheeting Installed (by now its dark, and you have no light in your room, and you give up and eat chicken wings and drink liquor)
This better be correct, cause I am never sheeting a ceiling ever again...
This better be correct, cause I am never sheeting a ceiling ever again…

If you’ve managed to make it through this entire post, I’m proud of you, perhaps a gold star is in order. Now come back next week while I bore you with more words, but actually put some tin tiles up (I know how dare I call this post Tin Ceiling Part 1 and there is in fact NO TIN CEILING.) I’m a jerk.

Tin Tile Inspiration

Three years ago, before we owned the house, heck before we were even really house hunting, we were at the Aberfoyle Antique Market with my parents when I spotted some antique tin ceiling tiles, and fell in LOVE. They were reclaimed from an old storefront in London Ontario. My parents bought me 20 of the 2×2′ tiles for Christmas that year, and I have been waiting to put them up somewhere in the Storefront since we moved in.

One of the Tin Tiles
One of the Tin Tiles
The Tiles
The Tiles

The tiles have their original white paint still on them, and are in varying states of disrepair. Some are almost perfectly painted, while others are missing half their paint, or are rusted.

We could do all sorts of cool stuff with the tiles.  The ideas are so endless that I in fact could not decide on one… No really. Its been 2 years and these tiles are still sitting in my basement. Its not that I dont want to use them, I just cant make my mind up.

Do they get painted, stripped, left as is?

Do we put them on a ceiling, or use them as a wall covering, or as a backsplash in the kitchen?

Do I procure matching cove moldings and filler panels to do a ceiling the proper way?

See, its a bit overwhelming right? I don’t want to screw it up. So here is some of my inspiration.

Source: decorpad.com via Kristen on Pinterest

Source: mobfin.com via Kristen on Pinterest

Source: houzz.com via Kristen on Pinterest

Source: hgtv.ca via Kristen on Pinterest

Source: google.com via Kristen on Pinterest


What would you do with the tiles?!