You've probably seen those pressed tin tiles gracing the ceilings of Victorian-era buildings, but they also look great in all kinds of buildings, and in all kinds of spots besides just the ceiling. Whether you leave them exposed, to add a little shine, or paint them, pressed tin tiles (or panels) might be just the thing to add a little texture — and a little classic style — to your home.
Here are a few interesting things that I learned about tin ceiling tiles through the course of making this post. All the US-based manufacturers that I could find make their pressed metal tiles from tin-coated steel. All the Australia-based manufacturers, on the other hand, make theirs from aluminum. Manufacturers in both countries can also make panels in copper, zinc, brass, and galvanized finishes (for use outside).
Many American manufacturers of tin ceiling tiles offer drop-in varieties, intended to be used with a 2' by 2' metal ceiling grid — the kind you often see in office buildings. For your home you'll probably want a nail-up variety. These tiles (or panels) come in 12"x 12", 2'x 2', and 2'x 4' varieties (or even larger if you're in Australia). They're designed to overlap each other seamlessly, giving the appearance of an uninterrupted panel. You can also buy tin moldings to trim out the edge of a ceiling.
If you prefer the shiny look of the tin, you can finish your panels with a clear, oil-based polyurethane sealer. If you prefer them painted, panels can be primed and painted with an oil based paint. (If you're installing the panels in a bathroom or other wet location, you'll want to use a rust-inhibiting primer, or choose a galvanized finish.) Some panels can be purchased pre-finished or powdercoated, but if you do decide to go that route, you'll want to be extra careful when installing them (and probably do a quick touch-up coat, to cover the fasteners). And of course, always defer to the manufacturer's recommendations when it comes to finishes.
In this photo from Home Beautiful, a pressed tin wainscot adds a little extra charm to an ordinary hallway.
In this project by Delson Sherman Architects, a bit of tin tile wrapping a wall adds historic character to the modern renovation of a Brooklyn townhouse.
In the bathroom, pressed tin panels can be a lovely alternative to tile. In this space by di Rosa Cabinetry & Furniture, black pressed tin panels make an elegant addition to a modern shower.
Pressed tin adds texture to an all-white bathroom from Legend Homes.
The striking embossed wainscot in this bathroom from Heritage Ceilings is an Art Nouveau design that's unlike any pressed metal panels I've seen before. This particular style is available from both Heritage Ceilings and Pressed Tin Panels, both based in Australia. Heritage Ceilings indicates on their site that they will ship to the US.
Here's an example of similar panels being used in a wainscot alongside a staircase, from Melbourne Pressed Metal. (Pressed tin, in case you haven't picked up on it, is a big thing in Australia.)
Pressed metal tiles make for a beautiful and unexpected 'headboard' treatment behind a bed, as seen on Homegirl London.
A whole accent wall of tin panels makes a striking statement, as seen on Queensland Homes.
Painted white ceiling tiles add a little bit of texture to a restful bedroom from One Fine Stay.
Metal panels are also a great alternative to tile on a kitchen backsplash, as seen in this Australian Farmhouse. If properly treated, they can be quite easy to clean.
I love this mix of marble and pressed metal panels, seen in a kitchen from Klopper & Davis Architects.
If a warm shine is what you crave, many manufacturers also make their panels in copper. These copper panels, which come in an 18"x 24" size, are available from Amazon. (They also come in a host of other metallic finishes, as well as white.)
This photo from Houzz is of a restaurant interior, but it's a great example of how you can use tin ceiling panels on the island in your kitchen (especially with a waterfall edge countertop).
In this photo from Houzz Australia, pressed metal panels add charm and style to a sliding door.
The tiles in this laundry room, spotted on The Home Depot Blog, look like tin but are actually made of vinyl.
Looking for sources for pressed metal tiles?