Decorative ceiling tiles start at about $1.00 for cheap but attractive tiles and $7.00 per square foot for higher quality products. Hand-painted tiles and those made from copper cost as much as $20 per square foot. You’ve got a bunch of really nice decorative tiles for the ceiling regardless of your budget.
Ceilings are often an afterthought when decorating your home, but the right ceiling can greatly improve the room, creating beauty and atmosphere. Using decorative ceiling tiles gives you unlimited options – just do some online browsing to discover the possibilities – and they make it easy to cover that popcorn, stained, or damaged ceiling.
How to Use Decorative Ceiling Tiles
Consider using decorative ceiling tiles to finish and beautify your interior. They are available in many materials and design styles, are relatively inexpensive, and can be easily installed as a DIY project. You can choose from lightweight Styrofoam or PVC made to look like wood or metal. If you want real metal, choose from tin plated steel, aluminum, or copper.
There are also tiles that provide acoustic properties that reduce echo and noise and tiles that help insulate the room. You can find tiles for drop or suspended ceilings or tiles that can be glued or nailed directly to the ceiling.
Decorative Ceiling Tiles - Options, Styles and Costs
Below we review many of the types of decorative ceiling tiles, where to find them, costs, and installation methods.
20" x 20"
$1.10 - $2.25
2' x 2' / 2" x 4'
Glue Down / Drop Ceiling
$2 - $5
2' x 2' / 2" x 4'
Staple/Nail to Ceiling Substrate / Drop Ceiling
Tin Plated Steel
$2.50 - $12
$4 - $15
$14 - $22
2' x 2' / 2" x 4'
$5 - $7
Styrofoam (or Styrene) Ceiling Tiles
Styrofoam ceiling tiles are made from foam that is pressed or molded to create endless patterns and styles. You can find tiles that are very ornate and mimic the patterns found on antique tin ceilings, tiles with a deeply coffered or paneled appearance, or tiles that look like beadboard. The tiles are available in white, which you can leave as-is or paint yourself with any water based paint, and in solid colors, or even finished to mimic the varied hues of wood, metal, or stone. There are also Styrofoam crown moldings available to complete the design – a compelling finishing touch.
Styrofoam tiles are sized at 20” x 20” or 19.5” x 19.5”. These tiles are very lightweight and installed directly to the ceiling with an adhesive. You can install them right over a popcorn ceiling unless you would prefer to have the popcorn ceiling removed first at a cost of $1.75 to $3.00 per square foot for most projects. If it is in poor condition and coming loose, it should be removed. Styrofoam tiles are moisture proof so they can be used anywhere in the home, including the bathroom. These tiles provide some thermal and acoustic insulation to the room and are all Class A fire rated.
Styrofoam ceiling tiles are sold by the tile and cost between $3 and $6.50 each. The tiles are 20” x 20” so they each cover 2.77 square feet, making the cost between$1.10 and $2.25 per square foot.
PCV, Plastic, or Vinyl Ceiling Tiles
PVC ceiling tiles are made by melting the plastic material and forming it into tiles. PVC tiles are lightweight, durable, and waterproof. The tiles are sold in 2’ x 2’ and 2’ x 4’ sizes and can be installed into drop ceiling grids or mounted directly to the ceiling with an adhesive. The tiles are also recyclable and Class A fire rated.
PVC decorative ceiling tiles are available in an almost endless variety of designs, colors, and finishes. You can find styles that look like tin ceilings, tiles that are deeply coffered, tiles that look like ornate plaster, or tiles in modern styles. There are tiles that mimic metals including tin, copper, and bronze, or tiles that look like wood, leather, and stone. There are single color, multi-color, and hand painted tiles in ornate and distressed finishes.
Some manufacturers like Ceilume, make highly acoustic PVC tiles with a coffered profile in solid colors and faux metal and faux wood finishes. Decorative Ceiling Tiles is a brand that offers PVC tiles in over 300 profiles and finishes, including tiles that are hand painted. Some suppliers produce tiles that have been printed on to create a mural affect. They’re fun to install and watch the full picture come to life, as each tile adds another part to the whole.
PVC ceiling tiles are easy to install, and trimming is done with shears or tin snips. PVC plastic ceiling tiles are easy to maintain and clean. Here is a video featuring installation of PCV tiles directly onto the ceiling.
Most PVC Ceiling tiles cost somewhere between $2 and $5 per square foot depending on the style and finish. Custom color, hand painted, and specialty tiles have a higher price of up to $20 per square foot.
Metal Ceiling Tiles
Decorative metal ceiling tiles are available in aluminum, tin plated steel, steel, and copper. Metal ceiling tiles are made by stamping or embossing the metal with patterns and designs. The tiles are made in 2’ x 2’ and 2’ x 4’ sizes. Metal ceiling tiles are made to be used in standard drop ceilings or to be nailed to a plywood furring or substrate that has been attached to the ceiling. Because aluminum is lightweight, these tiles can sometimes be glued directly to the ceiling with specialty adhesive.
Metal ceiling tiles are available in patterns that replicate historic tin ceilings, paneled and coffered styles, ornate, simple, and contemporary styles. You’re sure to find several that fit your home’s decor and your personal tastes. The tiles are waterproof and very durable and can be used anywhere inside the home, as well as outside, like on a porch ceiling. They won’t rust in high-humidity areas.
American Tin Ceilings is one of the leading suppliers of tin plated tiles with 40 different patterns and over 30 finishes for hundreds of combinations. Decorative Ceiling Tiles offers tiles in aluminum, tin, and copper. The aluminum and tin tiles are available in a large selection of patterns and colors. The tiles can be finished to look like other metals including copper, bronze, chrome, stainless steel, and brass. You can also find them unfinished, lacquered, in solid and multi-color finishes and distressed looks. Solid copper tiles are available as unfinished, clear coated or aged.
Armstrong features a line of steel ceiling tiles under the Metallaire brand name in chrome, lacquered steel, brass, copper, and white. There are 12 patterns in both historic tin and contemporary designs. See more about them in our Armstrong Ceiling Tiles Review and Cost Guide.
In most cases, suppliers of metal ceiling tiles also offer border tiles, crown moldings, cornices, and trims to complement and finish the ceiling. Because metal tiles can reflect noise, some suppliers will add very small perforations, or holes, to the tile to give them acoustic properties, i.e., absorbing noise rather than reflecting it back into the room.
Here is our Best Metal Ceiling Tile Reviews and Guide.
Tin plated steel is the least expensive metal tile and costs about $2.50 per square foot unfinished, about $4 per square foot for lacquered or single color tiles, and up to $12 per square foot for custom ordered tiles with specialty or hand painted finishes.
Aluminum is sometimes chosen over tin plated steel because it weighs about half as much allowing these tiles to often be applied to the ceiling with an adhesive, without the need for a plywood substrate. But aluminum is also more expensive and will cost about $4 per square foot for unfinished tiles and over $15 per square foot for tiles that are custom colored or specialty finished.
Solid copper is quite expensive and will cost about $14 per square foot for unfinished tiles and around $22 per square foot for aged, clear coated tiles.
PRO TIP: Use a single pattern of tile to cover the ceiling or mix and match tile patterns to create a unique, custom design. There are many creative ways to use decorative ceiling tiles to personalize and add flair to your space. Lay the tiles out of the ground to get an idea of what your pattern will look like once installed. Move tiles around until you get the design you want, and then begin installing them onto the ceiling.
Wood Ceiling Tiles
Because you can find many PVC tiles that are finished to look like a variety of woods, real wood ceiling tiles are not common, but they are available. Wood tiles are generally flat and available in 2’ x 2’ or 2’ x 4’ sizes to be installed in a drop or grid ceiling. Pro Ceilings offers Birch, Cherry, Red Oak, and Maple veneered tiles in a choice of natural or in a variety of stains.
Wood veneered ceiling tiles will cost between $5 and $7 per square foot.
Ceiling Tile Installation
Decorative ceiling tiles are installed in various ways depending on the material and the size of the tiles. Styrofoam tiles are applied directly to the ceiling with an adhesive; they are not sized for drop ceilings and their grids. PVC tiles are either installed into a drop ceiling or glued to the ceiling. Metal ceiling tiles can also be used in a drop ceiling or nailed to the ceiling over a plywood furring or substrate.
Before you purchase decorative ceiling tiles check to be sure that the method of installation works with your situation.
Suppliers - Where to Buy Decorative Ceiling Tiles
Big box home improvement stores do carry a selection of decorative ceiling tiles, but you’ll find the widest selection from on-line retailers.
Following is list of some of the top retailers and brands, what they offer, and where to find them.
Retailers or Brands
What They Offer
Tin plated steel
– find their products at home improvement retailers
Metals (Copper, Aluminum, Tin Plated Steel)