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Repurposed Vintage Tin Ceiling Wall Decor

From the very beginning, we have had a knack for finding architectural salvage (like vintage tin ceiling tile) and decorating our home with it. You could say that Robb Restyle “the shop” was established as result of how we decorated our home with these recycled pieces. Friends and family would visit and ask us to make a similar version for their house.

One of the first projects we ever made was a unique wall hanging with some old tin ceiling tile that Corey had found. He painted over the rusty design and framed it with some leftover trim. He made two of them and we hung them in our upstairs family room. I had to scour the archives for this old photo… pardon the amateur styling and photography. Ha! I’ve sharpened my skills since then!
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One of our favorite materials to work has always been vintage tin ceiling tiles. It’s why we did this to our kitchen. In the beginning we loved adding the decorative trim frames and would age them with some antiquing glaze to give it a little dimension. Fast forward about 7 years and we now prefer the tile unframed and unpainted with the natural patina showing through.

Here’s a more recent version we sold in our Etsy shop.

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The original colors are amazing. I love imagining what majestic old building or stately ceiling this tile originated from. We wrapped this section of tile around a wood frame and sealed in the natural patina/chippy paint colors with a little polyurethane.

Here are a few more examples:

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Nowadays we sell most of our vintage tin tile creations – mostly because I’m out of wall space. However, I managed to add two more to our bedroom last year when we updated our decor.

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DIY Repurposed Vintage Tin Ceiling Project Details

Here’s what you need if you want to replicate this project for your own home.

A pair of tin snipsMost of the patterns are square, so it’s easy to trim and fit them to a simple wood frame behind the tin. (Corey does all of the cutting…and he has several pairs of tin snips in his tool arsenal like this one and these because we do this a lot. But, he says that a simple pair of straight tin snips are all you really need.) Oh, and don’t forget a pair of work gloves. You want to protect those pretty digits from the sharp metal.

Hammer and nails. Small nails work best, but don’t sweat it because most of the vintage pieces we find are full of nail holes already so you can work with them or around them. We believe the more rustic, the better! The hammer will also help you bend the metal around your frame edges.

Polyurethane. This just helps seal in all the chippy and rusty goodness so it doesn’t end up on your floor.

Some Tin or Metal Tile. We usually find it in 2×4 foot sheets. Most of the patterns are in 1 or 2 foot increments and you can trim it to whatever size you desire. We have had good luck finding pieces at architectural salvage shops and flea markets… or even old buildings that are being torn down! It never hurts to ask around in your community. It’s so sad to find out that no one rescued this beautiful detail from a building before it was destroyed.

However, if you can’t find old ceiling tile, new tin made for ceilings and backsplashes (as seen here) works well too! You can paint and/or distress it however you like. There are all kinds of patterns to choose from.

Here is an example from our shop. We layered a new tin/metal tile with several coats of different paint colors. Sanded off some of the layers and then finished it with a dark wax.

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Some scrap wood. Corey likes to build a simple frame out of reclaimed wood and then wrap the tin around the sides. Depending on the thickness of your wood, you’ll want your frame to be slightly smaller than your piece of metal so you have enough to wrap around the edges too.

Here are a few pics of the backs:

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If you have good luck finding some really cool vintage tin ceiling tiles, here are a few other ways we’ve repurposed this material into chic home decor. Some of these projects work with smaller pieces so you can use your leftover or scraps too!

You can find the full tutorial on how to make this flower in our DIY License Plate Flower post. I love hanging these outside too!

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We love anything made for ‘Murica. And this United States cut out is one of my favorites. We just made a paper template to trace and cut it with the tin snips.

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Find these smaller versions for sale in the shop right now!

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These little trees made with reclaimed wood would super popular at our holiday market this year.

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This project is really old, but if you don’t want to mess with building a wood frame, reclaiming an old frame works too. This is an old window frame that we fit with a piece of tin tile and added some handles to make it a practical-but-pretty tray.

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I hope this post inspires you to recreate your own unique home decor with this beautiful architectural treasure! Or, just stop by my shop and have one delivered right to your door!

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Do you like to repurpose architectural pieces? What are your favorite materials to work with? I’d love to hear from you!

Cheers to DIY repurpose projects!

Kristy Robb

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  1. 1

    What type of paint do you use on these tin tiles? I have 2 very large ones trimmed in wood. Would like to use as headboard. What would I seal it with. Pillows would be up against lower part of tiles? Don’t want paint to chip.

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