Faux Ceiling Tin

If only I could find authentic antique tin pulled out of a 1800’s hotel and stored in a barn for the last several decades, rusting. But alas, those are hard to come by, and when you do, their prices are astronomical. Decades of patina is a budget breaker. Reproduction tin (not even painted) costs into the several hundreds to a couple thousand depending on the size of tin and square footage. Then there is the faux stuff made of thin plastic, heavy resin, and even lightweight Styrofoam.

Why We Decided On Styrofoam Ceiling Tiles

I purchased these ‘tin’ sheets on Amazon, at the time I bought these a package of 8 cost $22 + shipping, and they are just under 20″ square. When similar size antique tin cost over a $100 per piece, uh yeah, that’s an easy decision to make when you’re not rolling in the dough.

DIY Ceiling Tin

Okay, so they do look a bit, well, cheap. But that’s because you’re just seeing the Styrofoam, and not the vision in my head. Every single example I saw online of people installing these, they painted them one solid color, flat or metallic. Just not the look we want. So how does one take basic old white Styrofoam and make it look like it’s been stored in that barn for decades? Paint my friends, paint.

How To Create Rusty, Cracked Patina With Paint

I started by looking at examples online of real rusted tin tiles. Took note of how their paint had cracked and chipped, where, how, and why they rusted in certain areas. Okay, so I needed the original ‘tin’ to show through the cracked paint, then I needed the paint, and it needed to be cracked. To achieve this, I purchased this set at my local Michael’s Craft Store….

Painting With Chalk Paint

Not true chalk paint, but an acrylic hybrid as acrylic is safe for Styrofoam. The first layer of paint to go down is the ‘Silver Grey’ color as that was going to be my ‘tin’ metal showing through….

Once dry, I brushed on the ‘Crackle Medium’. Some tiles I covered the entire tin, while others I only brushed it on in key areas so that the tins wouldn’t all look the same. After the crackle medium was completely dry, I then painted over it with the white paint. Within moments, the tiles took on the cracked and chipped look….

So, you might be asking ‘where’s the rust’? There are various colors to rust, but from all the rusty barn roofs I have painted on canvas to offer in our shop, I know the shade that I personally like best. It takes these three colors, a tangerine orange, rich true brown, and fire engine red….

Unfortunately my grey paint leaked all over these in the shopping bag, so I can’t tell you the exact color names by ‘Folk Art’. I also picked up a package of cheap-as-all-get-out paint brushes because I was not about to use my nice art brushes for this. Before I could rust out my tiles, they need to have large areas of damaged paint, so I got the ‘Silver Gray’ chalk paint out once again and dabbed it on….

Remember I said I looked online at real examples of rusted tin tiles? Anywhere there is a raised relief on the surface, those areas were more likely to get rubbed and scuffed, and hence rust. That was also true for the edges, for when real metal tiles are removed, most times the edges get damaged and hence will also rust more easily. Anyway, back to concocting my rust….

I mixed it all up until I got the right shade that I was after, then started to apply it to the dabbed areas of grey paint and along some of the cracked white paint. For areas that I wanted it to look like water damage, I simply applied the rust paint, re-dipped my brush in water and sort of watered down the paint, dragging and smearing it out away from the rusty edges. It ended up looking like this….

My rusty, chipped, antique tin tiles! I absolutely love how they turned out, so much so I couldn’t wait to take a photo before they were all installed….

To adhere them to the ceiling I used a Liquid Nails that is safe for Styrofoam – beware, regular Liquid Nails will melt the tiles! The above photo also shows my ceiling light dilemma. We took down the ‘boob’ light that was there but we were having a hard time finding something we liked, until I scored this vintage shade….

Vintage Milk Glass Shade

The laundry room makeover is almost complete, we just a have a couple of more small items on our to-do list so stay tuned! 🙂