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Faux Tin Glue Up Ceiling Tiles Installation

Last Updated: Feb 12, 2017 11:45PM EST


M: I’d like you to meet Lisa. She’s created an attractive look in her dining room by blending modern and traditional.


L: I constantly look online and get inspiration from other people and I saw, you know, there’s a lot of silver and I even have some metal in some of my accents so I kind of wanted to bring it to the ceiling as well, tie it all together.


M: So I suggested she visit and take a look at some of the faux metal ceiling options. These tiles have the look of real metal, but are more affordable and easier to install. So, Lisa, these are the two patterns that you selected from the photos that I sent you. What do you think of these?


L: I love them. This one, I love this one. This one’s my favorite.


M: Well, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I want you to see these actually up on the ceiling, to make your final choice. I put some masking tape on the back of the tile and temporarily attached it to the ceiling. It’s always a good idea to look at it actually in position on the ceiling before you make a final choice. You see, the light, it actually, there’s a little bit more shadow up there that kind of emphasizes the detail a little bit more.


L: I love it! It looks amazing.


M: Would you like the crown molding to remain white like it is here, or to match the ceiling tile?


L: Yeah, I think it’s better if it’s white to break it up a little bit.


M: Before putting the tile up, we need to take a couple of things down, starting with the chandelier. After shutting off power at the circuit breaker, I disconnect the fixture. I also need to remove the existing crown molding. First, I cut through the ceiling then use this specially designed tool called the trim puller to pry the molding loose. The first piece of trim comes off and what do I find underneath? Another layer of crown molding, probably installed when the house was built. Later, we’ll reinstall crown molding on top of the ceiling tiles, hiding any cut edges. These ceiling tiles are made out of PVC plastic. Not only are they only quite realistic, they’re also much lighter in weight, far easier to cut and more affordable than metal tiles.


Now, the first step in just about any ceiling tile project is figuring out the layout. Nearly all ceiling tile installations call for full tiles in the field, but cut tiles around the perimeter. The idea behind a good layout is to determine the dimension of these partial tiles and to come up with a border that is as uniform as possible on all sides. You can calculate the width of the border tiles by adding together the combined length of the full tiles, subtracting that distance from the wall dimension and dividing the result by 2. Now if all that math seems a bit daunting to you, here’s a technique you might try that uses almost no math. I put some masking tape on the back of the tile and temporarily attach it to the ceiling. We’ll start by taping up as many full tiles as possible across the width of the room, then measure the remaining distance to the wall and divide that amount by 2. Well, there’s just a little bit of math. This gives us the width of the border tiles.


Next, from the wall we’ll measure out the width of the border tile at each end and mark the distance, then drive in a small nail on one mark, stretch out a chalk line and snap the line. This gives us a perfectly straight starting edge regardless of whether there are any waves or distortions in the wall itself. Now we can begin laying perimeter tiles, starting in one corner of the room. Tiles are cut by transferring measurements from the back using a straight edge to draw a cut line then cutting the tiles using a pair of heavy-duty scissors.


The tiles are glued to the ceiling using a high-tech, high-strength water-based adhesive, like this one. Nickel-sized dollops are placed in the field and a small bead is run around the outside edges. The tile is then pressed into position. For the perimeter tiles, the cut edge is placed against the wall and the factory edge is aligned with the chalk line we drew earlier. If you have one, an oscillating saw fitted with a fine blade can also be used to cut the tiles. You may find this method to be faster and easier, but scissors will do the job without a problem. With the perimeter tiles in place on two walls, we can begin putting up the field tiles. To help with alignment, this ceiling tile incorporates an overlapping edge design. The factory edge of the tile being installed, it’s placed on top of the tab or lip of the tile already in place. Although the adhesive we are using grabs quickly, at the same time it also allows for the tile to be moved sideways and adjusted for proper alignment. Once the last full tile in a run has been put into place, I measure the remaining distance of the wall on both ends of the tile, transfer those measurements, then cut the perimeter tile to fit the remaining space.


Installing full tiles in the field goes quite quickly. The adhesive has adequate set time to allow one person to work alone. However, the job will go even faster with two people: one applying adhesive, and the other placing the tiles in position. We continue laying full tiles until we’re near the center of the room. To locate the position for the electrical box cutout, I measure from the edge of the nearest full tiles to the center of the box. Mark the intersection of those dimensions, draw a circle using a compass and cut out the opening. If the ceiling has an air conditioning or heating vent, I measure from the nearest full tiles to the edges of the opening, transfer those measurements, then cut out the opening using scissors or the oscillating saw.


Faux metal decorative ceiling tiles can also be installed in drop-in ceilings. Simply remove the existing tiles, and replace them with faux metal versions. With the ceiling tiles up, it’s now time to install the crown molding. The molding we’ll be using is quite different from the one we took down. The new crown is made from high-density, lightweight polystyrene. We begin by cutting a 45 degree miter on one end. Because of its lightweight and has this unique profile, the molding can be installed with high-tech adhesive rather than nails. It’s simply set into position and pressed in place. Adhesive is also placed on any butt joints or miter joints. And the scenes are hidden with water-based caulk. Finally, I reinstall the chandelier. So, what do you think?


L: I love it, it looks so good!


M: Did it turn out the way you imagined it would?


L: It’s even better, it really is.


M: You know, the ceiling could be thought of as one of the last great, unexplored frontiers in interior decorating. There’s an impressive variety of ceiling tile colors and patterns available to enhance just about any décor. One thing is for sure: this choice for this room has certainly kicked things up a notch!

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