Can sheets of old tin ceiling be put back up?

schoolhouse_gwFebruary 26, 2009

My schoolhouse had molded tin ceiling on the original plaster, 14' ceiling. The ceiling had been lowered in the 1940's when the building was "housified". Over what is the kitchen area now I got the stupid idea to tear the tin off the original plaster ceiling and put it on the new lower ceiling. Shoot me now, I deserve it. This was many years ago, and I never carried the project through. It has haunted me all these years, the tearing off of the tin panels that is. I still have the beautiful tin panels but of course they are a bit battered from being torn from their moorings. Bent, some edges curled , some cuts. I'm hanging my head in shame.

My question? Is it possible to straighten old tin ceiling panels without pounding the molded designs on them flat? To redeem myself I would love to restore them to their proper place even though no one will see them at present time (there is access to the area above the new ceilings). But when I'm gone, future owners may appreciate it.

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Having worked with some new tin cornice mouldings, I'd say not likely. However, you can reproduce the look with new tin panels/tiles. Those I used were made on 120 year old presses using the same patterns as in the 19th Century.

Here is a link that might be useful: American Tin ceilings

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 10:00PM
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Having installed a large tin ceiling and cornice (1600 sq ft)I would say that you could probably make a decent job of it. Tin is very thin and malleable. If there are bends, they will flatten out when it's nailed back up. Creases are another matter. They will need to be flattened with hammers and dollys. The edges will be the easiest to deal with, as they get worked anyway as you install. A wood block run along the seam should mostly flatten the beaded edge. In your case, it's probably advisable to install over plywood so you can add extra nails wherever they are needed.
More worrisome is the surface condition of the old material. If the old paint doesn't come off in sheets, it will certainly begin to come off in small chips. But you can clean them up now while they are in a prone state.
I hope you removed more than you need, because there is certain to be some loss during the re-install.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 8:54AM
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I guess some people are more tolerant of "imperfections" than others. I've had constant objections by buyers that they can see the seams in the cornices, which come in four ft. lengths; some pieces have to be even shorter depending on the wall.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 1:42PM
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Just for clarity, you are not removing the existing lower ceiling. You just want to try to put the tiles back on the original ceiling, but they will be completely covered still by the new ceiling.

If that is the plan, why bother? To me, walling the tin back up might make for a nice surprise for a future restorer, but more likely than not, nobody would know they are there. If you are concerned about future owners, just put the tiles to the side and save them. If you want, you could write a little letter explaining the dropped ceiling how they fit into the original structure. That way, a future owner could decide if they wanted to reuse the tiles on the lower ceiling like you had originally planned of if they would like to raise the ceiling back up and place them in their original position.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 2:32PM
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Thanks for the replies. The tin ceiling is in long panels, not tiles. There is also a tin border with the egg and dart design around the original ceiling - very pretty.

No, will not be removing the lowered ceilings not in my lifetime anyway. Would be putting the tin panels back up on the old high plaster ceiling, and I think there were about six or seven altogether that I removed. Well, I think maybe bi111's idea is the best at this time. The note is a very good idea. All but two panels are still laying up there in the crawlspace - I'll gather up the others out in the garage and lay them up there, too or place a note on them as well. When they are found, the person or persons will say, "Now what in the heck made someone take that tin off!"

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 3:58PM
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Marvin Forssander-Baird

This makes me think of the basement of the 1901 house that I just bought. For some reason, there are tin tiles on the ceiling, not all of which match, but they do all go very well together. I have decided to CAREFULLY remove them and install them on my kitchen ceiling.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 11:22PM
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