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Installing Tin Ceiling Tiles In An Old Bathroom

Installing Wallpaper and Tin Ceiling Tiles in a Bathroom - Historic bathroom renovation by Teri of T. Moore Home

It’s Week Four of the One Room Challenge and we can finally see the design for this historic bathroom coming together! This week, I added wallpaper and a tin ceiling tile treatment I can’t wait to show you. Come take a look …

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Bathroom Ceiling Tin Tile Panels Shown In Historic Home

We’ve reached Week Three of the Fall 2020 One Room Challenge and I have some major updates to show you! In case you’ve missed it, you can see Week One here: Historic Bathroom Renovation: Kickin’ It Old School For The ORC

Historic Bathroom Renovation Design Plan

Week Two is here: Historic Bathroom Tile Designs

Tile Ideas for an old house

and Week Three is here: Historic Bathroom Moulding + Trim


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We’ve come a long way, baby. Here’s a view of the bathroom from the day we moved into our 1920s California Bungalow back in July 2019:

historic bathroom renovation, before and after

Since we’ve spent so much time (and money!) replacing items in the bathroom that felt untrue to the historic nature of the house, I decided we should take this bathroom the extra mile and really make it feel original. But with a twist.

wall treatments in a historic bathroom renovation

I found this wallpaper print from The Novogratz collection with Tempaper and I fell in love. It’s looking really great against the black walls and moulding I installed last week. But my bathroom ceiling idea is making this entire space really sing.

Black and white bathroom - black trim and gray wallpaper in a vintage bathroom

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black bathroom - installing wallpaper and ceiling tiles in this historic black and white bathroom

With the wallpaper complete, I moved on to the previously stark white ceilings. I wanted them to feel authentic and original to our 1920s bungalow home.

I’ve always loved the look of old tin ceilings in historic homes and restaurants. The tin tiles just add character and dimension to the ceiling that paint alone can’t compete with. This article from This Old House breaks down the history and pricing of authentic tin ceiling tiles if you’re interested in learning more.

Unfortunately, with the cost of authentic replica tin ceiling tiles ranging between $5 and $75 per tile, this this project was almost entirely out of our tiny budget. But I found an affordable alternative! To give the ceiling extra flair, I opted to install plastic ceiling panels that mimic the look of tin tiles.

Installing ceiling panels to look like historic tin ceiling tiles


I was pretty anxious about the installation of these tin ceiling lookalike panels. They’re manufactured by Global Specialty Products and sold as an easy alternative to traditional tin ceiling tiles. Made of a super lightweight plastic, they’re meant to be installed directly onto smooth drywall with construction adhesive.

I completed this project (mostly) on my own. I definitely recommend having a second person on a second ladder to assist you. These panels are 2 feet by 4 feet so I had a difficult time placing them by myself.

But I finally got them installed! Here’s how I did it:

Installing a ceiling treatment in a bathroom to look like historic tin ceiling tiles.

I started by measuring out the entire length and width of the room and marking the exact center. Then I drew lines that would allow me to place the first tiles exactly centered and level in the room.

Installing ceiling tiles

I used construction adhesive to install the first tile. The trick was to apply the adhesive to the back of the tile and then let the glue “set” for 15 minutes in order to get tacky enough to really adhere to the ceiling.

This method worked fine.. at first. I got three tiles installed and went to pick up my daughter from school. Fifteen minutes later, we arrived back home and I discovered one of the tiles had fallen and landed GLUE SIDE DOWN on our new tile floor.

That’s when I decided I’d need to double-up the adhesive to secure the panels to the ceiling while the adhesive dried. My solution? COMMAND STRIPS!

installing tin ceiling panels - glue method

In addition to the construction adhesive (I used this version of Liquid Nails), I opted to trim command strips into half sizes and used them to “catch” the panel to the wall. One strip, placed in the center of the squares, acted as an instant adhesive for the panels while the glue dried into a permanent solution.


If you wanted to install these in a rental home or as a temporary update, I imagine you could line the panels with command strips. For that application, I would use these velcro strips instead of the traditional strips.

Installing ceiling tiles around a light fixture

To install the ceiling tiles around a light fixture, I opted to mark the area where the light fixture box is installed with painter’s tape, like above.

This allowed me to install a solid piece of ceiling tin panel directly over the light box and then cut the panel around the box to allow access for fixture installation.

cutting ceiling tiles for a light fixture

By pulling the tape over the ceiling panel, I was able to determine exactly where the light fixture housing was located.

installing tin ceiling around a light fixture

This allowed me to slowly cut away the ceiling panel with a razor blade from this wallpaper installation kit I mentioned before. When I was done, I had successfully cut around the entire light fixture housing to allow access to the fixture for installation.

cutting holes for light fixtures in tin ceiling panels

This is a can light bathroom fan so it has a trim kit that will cover the rough sides of the cuts.

installing ceiling lights with a tin tile

With a traditional light fixture, your canopy should also cover the rough cuts.

installing tin ceiling tiles - these easy glue up panels give the look of historic tin without all the work. Here's how I installed them by myself.

I built the ceiling panels out from the center of the room. Opting not to make extensive cuts around the edges of the ceiling, I decided to take the full panels as far as I could and then paint the remainder of the ceiling black.

Black and White Bathroom: This classic bathroom in a historic house goes all out in monotone

The result was a continued look without having to make additional cuts to the ceiling tiles or adding additional trim or moulding.

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black white and gray bathroom in a historic house

I think it looks FABULOUS! I love the contrast of the modern wallpaper against the historic character that the tin ceiling gives the bathroom. It makes this bathroom feel more historic and authentic.

Vinyl ceiling tiles that are made to replicate the look of tin ceilings come in an array of colors and patterns. Many of the ceiling panels available are even paintable! If you’re interested in mounting historic-looking ceiling tiles in your space, here are some beautiful and affordable designs that pair well with different historic home styles:

A bathroom might not be everyone’s first choice for installing ceiling tiles – I know lots of people like to add tin ceiling tiles in a kitchen – but I like that it’s a smaller space so it doesn’t overwhelm the room.

FAQs Re: Tin Ceiling Tile Installation

It’s been a year since this project was completed in my home and since then, there have been a lot of questions about the application of the tiles. Here are the most frequently asked questions about installing ceiling tiles and my answers below;

Will metal ceiling tiles rust in a bathroom?
They can. But they shouldn’t. Tin doesn’t rust but it will oxidize. That’s similar to the process of copper patina. Either way, you don’t want your tin to begin oxidizing because that’s a symptom of a bigger issue in your bathroom.

Every bathroom needs good ventilation to keep the air circulating. If you install metal ceiling tiles and notice that they’ve begun to oxidize, this is actually a sign that you need to install a ventilation fan. Without a fan, your tin ceiling panels may rust but worse – you could be growing mold. The ceiling panels I used aren’t metal so they won’t warp or discolor over time.

I want to add a ceiling accent in my home but I don’t want to install tiles. What other bathroom ceiling ideas do you recommend?
First, I want to note that, while these ceiling panels are called tiles, they aren’t made of stone like floor or wall tiles. You don’t need mortar or grout to install metal or vinyl ceiling tiles. They’re very lightweight.

Second, if you want to add an accent on the ceiling in your home, I recommend wallpaper. It’s easy to install and some wallpapers are embossed to give the look of a ceiling tile. If tile isn’t your style, try a playful patterned wallpaper.

If you really want to have fun but don’t want the look of tiles, try galvanized metal panels on your ceiling.

What’s the difference between tin ceiling tiles and vinyl ceiling tiles?
Tin is the material ceiling tiles were made of originally. Vinyl tiles are cheaper to manufacture and that means they’re cheaper to buy. The real difference is cost.

Do the ceiling tiles make an echo in the room?
Having a true metal ceiling in a bathroom might have created an echo but because these ceiling panels are plastic, the space feels warmer and the acoustics are great!

Modern black and white bathroom in a historic bungalow home

I encourage you to hop over to the ORC blog and check in on the progress from the other participants. They’re all working hard to show you easy ways to update your homes and I know they’d love to hear from you.

I’m featuring this project as a guest participant in the Fall 2020 One Room Challenge™, a biannual event in which interior designers take some time off their workload to focus on their own homes for a change. Participants are encouraged to spend six weeks finishing a room in their houses and cheering on their peers as they do it.

To see the other participants’ projects, click here.

bungalow bathroom ideas

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Next week, I’ll be adding some fun pops of color and vintage home accents!! So remember to check back!

Until next week, stay safe and sane, loves.



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