A period residential tin ceiling. Stamped metal, “tin,” ceilings were introduced in the late 19th century and were popular well into the 20th. With patterns stamped into thin sheets of steel, they were intended to mimic more expensive ornamental plasterwork and were promoted as a fireproof material.
While most tin ceilings were installed in commercial and institutional buildings, a great many houses got them as well. Often these ceilings were installed over earlier plaster ceilings that had cracked.
This example is in the dining room of the Kilby House Inn bed and breakfast in Eastport, Maine. The medallion above the electrified kerosene lamp fixture is added though such elements were included in original tin ceilings.
As long as they are protected from moisture, these ceilings can remain in good condition indefinitely. With excessive moisture, they will lose their paint and rust.
Fortunately, many patterns are still produced, so replacing damaged pieces is often possible. I recently was able to match all but one of the patterns in a building where nearly a dozen field, molding, fill, and cornice patterns were used.
Tin ceilings, including replacement sources, are covered in Chapter 16 of “Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners.”
Signed and personalized copies of the award-winning and bestselling 720-page hardcover book are available from the author in our shop, YourHistoricHouse.com/shop/.
Select preservation titles by other authors are also available in our shop!
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