Tin ceilings were very popular in the mid-1800s and early 1900s. These mass-produced ceilings, stamped with decorative patterns, were lightweight, hardy, and fire-resistant. They offered an inexpensive alterative to the elaborate plasterwork and woodwork popular during the victorian era.
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You can recapture the victorian charm of a tin ceiling today. Manufacturers produce metal ceilings in tin, aluminum, and copper, as well as hand-painted or powder-coated finishes. In the old days, tin ceilings were usually painted to create the look of plaster, but many people today leave metal ceilings unpainted.
Tiles can be nailed up to a plywood base or dropped in to a suspended ceiling. There are do-it-yourself systems out there, but be careful of those sharp metal tile edges! For a less expensive option, consider pvc tiles with the look of tin. These can be glued onto a flat ceiling or dropped into a grid system.
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For more on ceilings, consider:
10 Great Looks in Tin Ceiling Tiles
How To: Paint a Ceiling
The Walls and Ceilings - A Crash Course