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Tin Ceiling and Cornice Installation Guide

Tin Ceiling Installation Guide

  1. Clean the metal sheets with denatured alcohol and wipe them dry before installation (steel only). The prepainted white, chrome, copper plated, brass plated and stainless steel all have a PVC film that should be removed before or during installation. Heavy leather gloves should be worn when handling and installing metal. The edges are very sharp.
  2. To begin: Nail furring strips to the ceiling around the perimeter of the room 1-1/2" from the walls, using resin-coated nails. Locate the center of the ceiling and bisect it by snapping a chalk line at right angles to the ceiling beams. This insures that the ceiling panels will be nailed into the beams. Working out from this line, snap chalk lines at 24" intervals. Place the edge of a furring strip along each line and nail it to the ceiling. Repeat the process, nailing new furring strips at 12" intervals. Level the ceiling, raising low areas by inserting shims between the furring strips and the ceiling or install 3/8" plywood.
  3. Install Plywood: As an alternative, you can install 3/8" plywood or comparable material across the entire ceiling. Tin ceiling panels are held in place with special cone head finish nails, which have to be driven into wood; drywall or plaster will not do.
  4. Find the ceiling's center: Tin panels are installed starting from the center and working out. To find center, stretch a chalk line between opposite corners of the ceiling and snap a line on the plywood or furring strips. Do the same with the other corners. The lines cross at the center of the ceiling. Now snap a line through this center point parallel with the room's longest wall. This is the baseline for the length of the room. Finish by snapping another line through the center point that is 90 degrees to the first baseline.
  5. Plan the layout: The ideal layout should be "balanced" so that the panels that meet one wall are the same size as the panels touching the opposite wall. To find where the center piece will land, work out how many panels will fit along the baselines. Be sure to account for the overlap, typically 3/8". Then adjust the center panel's position to create the desirable balance along the ceiling perimeter.
  6. Orient the edges: Because the panels overlap, most will have exposed edges. Installing the panels so the edges face away from a room's main doorway will make them less noticeable.
  7. Close the seams: Tighten up any open seams by tapping against the overlapping edge with a hammer and soft pine block (above).
  8. Coat the metal with any color oil based paint: Unfinished steel will rust if it is not protected from humidity. For best results use clear gloss enamel or aluminum paint by Rustoleum.

The sheets have small dimples along the edges called beads. You line up the sheets by overlapping these beads (like a ball and socket). Nail the sheets on the bead every 6". The exception to this is when you are joining sheets; use a flat head nail to one side of the bead to allow the overlapping sheet to be nailed on the bead. Nail down the center length of the sheet every 12" before nailing the edges.

Any cutting required can be done with metal shears. (Tin snips)

Cornice Installation Guide

  1. Nail the cornice into the furring strips around the perimeter of the ceiling. The cornice is nailed every 6" into the ceiling and into the studs at the bottom of the cornice.
  2. To join the cornices at the corners, miter or cope them like wood.
  3. To get a tight fit, snip the edge of one side with a series of cuts 1/8" deep every 1/8". This edge is then bent in or out depending on whether it is for an outside corner or an inside one.
  4. Caulk the edges of the cornice, seams, and miters with the head of a nail in the same manner as the ceiling.
  5. The metal must be painted with any oil-based paint. Unfinished steel will rust and is not protected against humidity. If you want to retain the original, silvery tin color, use clear gloss enamel or aluminum colored paint by Rustoleum. That's all there is to it. Enjoy your new ceiling. And call us if you have any questions.

Any cutting can be done with metal shears. (Tin snips)


  • STEEL panels are very SHARP. Heavy Duty work gloves must be worn at all times when handling the panels.
  • STEEL panels come UNFINISHED, and need to be treated with an OIL-BASED paint. For best results use a semi-gloss or high-gloss paint to prevent rusting or tarnishing. To leave STEEL panels in natural state, use clear gloss enamel by Rustoleum.
  • PRE-PAINTED WHITE, BRASS PLATED, COPPER PLATED, CHROME and STAINLESS STEEL panels come with a PVC covering to prevent scratching & a lacquer to prevent rusting, no painting or finishing necessary.
  • 2 x 2 panels should be installed using backerboard or hold down clips.