Metal ceilings became fashionable in the late 1800’s as an inexpensive alternative to costly decorative plaster ceilings. They remained popular through the late 1930’s when metal became scarce due to World War ll. Today, metal ceiling tiles are enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Designers, decorators, and homeowners have rediscovered metal ceiling tiles realizing how versatile and attractive they are.
About Metal Ceiling Tiles
Metal ceiling tiles are made from steel, tin plated steel, aluminum, or copper. They can be used in standard drop ceiling grids or nailed to the ceiling over a plywood furring or substrate. Some metal tiles are made to be screwed directly into a plaster or drywall ceiling.
There is a very appealing selection of patterns, colors, and styles available for you to browse. The range is from ornate Victorian looks to modern contemporary designs. You can even find corrugated steel tiles that have been made to look rustically distressed or rusted, shiny stainless steel tiles that brighten any room, elaborate multi-color hand painted tiles and premium prices, and tiles that have been treated to provide acoustic properties.
Most often, color is applied to the tiles through powder coating – a process of baking a colored resin onto the tile to create a durable finish that won’t fade or peel. The tiles are then sealed to provide color permanence and rust resistance.
Metal ceiling tiles are available in 24” x 24” and 24” x 48” sizes and patterned tiles feature a 3”, 6”, 12”, or 24” pattern repeat. Many sellers also offer matching cornices, border or edging tiles, moldings and medallions that provide additional visual interest.
Top Brand Reviews, Costs, Where to Purchase
- American Tin Ceilings
- Decorative Ceiling Tiles
- Architectural Depot
- Tin Ceiling Express
Cost Per Tile
American Tin Ceilings
Tin Plated Steel
24" x 24"
SnapLock installation feature
Tin Plated Steel
24" x 24"
24" x 28"
24" x 24"
24" x 28"
24" x 24"
18.5" x 48.5"
24" x 24"
24" x 24"
24" x 28"
Tin Ceiling Express
24" x 24"
Whispertech acoustic treatment
American Tin Ceilings offers a large selection of 24” x 24” tin plated steel tiles in 40 profiles ranging from Victorian, to Art Deco, to traditional, and contemporary. The tiles are available in raw, which is unfinished, and 30 color choices including solids like white, cream, black, and red as well as metallic sheens nickel, copper, gold, bronze, and pewter. You can also choose tiles with hand painted finishes. These tiles are powder coated with a solid color and then hand painted in a second color creating an antiqued or distressed appearance. American Tin Ceilings also accepts custom color-match orders.
American Tin Ceilings sells both drop-in and nail down tiles and also makes tiles with their Snap Lock installation feature which allows the tiles to be screwed into a drywall, plaster, or popcorn ceiling without a substrate.
Tile prices range from $12 to $22 each for the solid colors and up to $43 each for the hand painted tiles. American Tin Ceilings receives excellent customer reviews on Amazon for appearance, value, ease of installation, and fast shipping. The few customer complaints refer to shipping taking longer than expected. American Tin Ceiling tiles can be found at Amazon and Lowes and on their website.
Decorative Ceiling Tiles
Decorative Ceiling Tiles offers tiles in tin plated steel, aluminum, solid copper, and stainless steel. There is a vast selection of styles and colors, so you’ll likely find several excellent choices for your project. Most of the tiles are 24” x 24” and can be used in standard drop ceilings or nailed to a substrate.
The tin plated steel tiles are available in solid and metallic, powder coated colors and hand painted finishes. Prices range from $11 per tile for the simpler, solid colored tiles, to $37 each for the more ornate and hand painted tiles. Some of the tin profiles are also available in a 24” x 48” size and cost $12-$75 each.
Prices for the aluminum tiles range from $11 to $29 each. The copper tiles are available in natural or aged and can be sealed on the front, or on the front and back. Prices range from $54 each for the natural unsealed tiles, which will develop a patina slowly with time, to $95 each for the aged tiles that are sealed both front and back. Aged tiles are arrive with a rich, multi-tone patina already covering the surface. There is a selection of stainless steel tiles sized at 18.5” x 48.5” and priced at $69 each and corrugated steel tiles sized at 24” x 24” with a very rustic or rusted appearance priced at $20 each.
Decorative Ceiling Tiles receives positive customer reviews for both appearance and value. You can find their tiles on their website.
Armstrong makes 12 profiles of metal ceiling tiles under the Metallaire brand. These tiles are available in traditional styles including paneled or coffered looks and authentic tin ceiling designs. The tiles are 24” x 24” and available in white, lacquered steel, chrome, copper, and brass looks. All of the tiles are sealed to protect from rust. Armstrong metal ceiling tiles can be laid into a drop ceiling or nailed to the ceiling substrate. Armstrong also makes their own suspended ceiling grid system and cornices and moldings that match their tiles. Prices range from $18 to $44 per tile.
Those who have used Armstrong metal ceiling tiles give them high marks for quality and appearance, though some feel they’re more expensive than others – but our price chart shows this isn’t necessarily the case. Sure, they’re not cheap, but few metal tiles are. Armstrong Metallaire ceiling tiles are available at Lowes and from local home improvement retailers.
Architectural Depot makes metal ceiling tiles using original sand casted dies dating back to 1896. These dies re-create the original patterns and give the tiles an authentic look. The tiles are available in about 50 profiles in both 24” x 24” and 24” x 48” sizes and can be installed into a standard drop ceiling grid or nailed to the ceiling substrate. Tile profiles range from very ornate, to paneled or coffered styles, to more simple designs, so you’ll have options to fit your decorating scheme and the room’s architecture.
All tiles are available in unfinished steel, lacquered steel, white, or metallic paint including chrome, brass, and copper. The white tiles can also be painted. Prices for the 24” x 24” tiles range from $12 each for the unfinished tiles to $35 each for the copper and brass finished tiles. Prices for the 24” x 48” tiles range from $23 to $69 each.
Architectural Depot receives good reviews and ratings for appearance, quality, service and ease of installation.
Tin Ceiling Xpress
Tin Ceiling Xpress manufactures 24” x 24” metal ceiling tiles in over 45 profiles including Victorian, Art Deco, coffered, and classic styles. They offer 25 powder coated solid colors and over 30 powder coated custom hand painted options. Colors include whites, blacks, brown, gray, red, green, copper, copper patina, bronze, antique brass, and midnight gold. They also offer unfinished and clear lacquered tiles. Any of these tiles can be made with their unique Whispertech treatment and lined with padding to provide acoustical abilities.
These tiles can be installed in a drop ceiling grid or nailed to the ceiling substrate. Tin Ceiling Xpress also offers matching cornices, moldings, and filler or border tiles. Prices are about $7 each for unfinished tiles, $13 each for solid colors, and $40 each for hand painted tiles. The cost to add Whispertech is $7.50 per tile with an additional $12.50 for padding.
The Tin Ceiling Express website features many testimonials with customers mentioning that these are high quality metal ceiling tiles that arrive well packaged. The company gets high grades for excellent customer service, easy handling and installation.
Metal ceiling tiles are being used today in creative ways to add interest to homes. Use them to create an accent wall or as wainscoting, on kitchen backsplashes, headboards, or mirror and picture frames. Use them to line a book shelf or open cabinet. They can even be used outside on porches or fences.
Pros of Metal Ceiling Tiles
- Large selection of styles and colors
- Extremely durable
- Resistant to fire, moisture, mold, and mildew
- Hides popcorn and unsightly ceilings without having to remove/repair them first
- Relatively easy to install
- Very low maintenance
Cons of Metal Ceiling Tiles
- Some natural metals, like copper and hand-painted tiles, are expensive
- Can make the room noisy, echoey if not painted or treated to mute sound
- Tile edges, especially cut tiles, are sharp
There are two methods of installing metal ceiling tiles. One is to drop them into a standard ceiling grid. The second method is to attach them to the ceiling. In most cases, you will first need to install plywood furring strips or a plywood substrate to the ceiling because nails will not hold the metal tiles in drywall or plaster. Once the plywood or furring strips are installed, the tiles can be nailed or screwed to the wood. This video details this installation method.
Dusting with a soft cloth or vacuuming with a brush attachment is the only regular maintenance required for metal ceiling tiles.
Can I glue metal tiles directly to the ceiling?
Gluing metal tiles to the ceiling is not recommended due to the weight of the metal tile. Construction glue might hold some tiles, but using fasteners is preferred.
Can I cut metal tiles?
Yes, you can cut the tiles using tin snips or shears made for cutting metal. Pro Tip: Measure your ceiling’s width and length, and plan your ceiling so that cut tiles of the same width and length are installed at the edges. For example, consider a room that is 15’ wide and you’re using 24” (2’) tiles. Seven tiles would cover 14’, leaving 1’ left. Instead of starting at one edge with a full tile, and having half a tile to finish the ceiling, consider planning the layout so that you have 6” of tile at either edge and seven full tiles in the middle. You can cut a single tile, using part to start the ceiling and part to end it.
Can I paint metal ceiling tiles?
Yes, you can paint unfinished tiles or repaint prefinished tiles, but prime them first for better paint adhesion.
How deep is the relief pattern on metal ceiling tiles?
Depending on the pattern you choose, the depth of the relief can be anywhere from 1/8” to 3”.
Can I use metal tiles on the ceiling of my porch?
Yes, you can use these tiles outside. They are able to withstand below-freezing and very hot temperatures.