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Pressed tin ceilings:
This article describes tin ceilings, embossed metal ceilings or ceiling panels made of tin or aluminum.
We describe the history, properties and diagnosis or repair of pressed tin or aluminum ceiling panels: where damage appears, the effects of rust, lead paint hazards, and the sources of modern replacements for tin ceilings in both nail-up panels and suspended ceiling panels of embossed metal. We also compare tin ceilings to embossed linocrusta ceiling coverings.
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Metal ceilings were typically tin and most often were installed in kitchens, during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
1885: beginning in Brooklyn tin or aluminum ceilings were popularized in North America, replacing ornate plaster work or used to cover cracked, damaged plaster ceilings. Aluminum ceiling tiles & panels were also produced at about the same time as pressed tin.
Their design was often a decorative square pattern intended to simulate ornate plaster ceilings. This was a fairly durable ceiling system and in some areas has become fashionable again. The metal is normally painted.
The metal ceiling in our photo (above left) is an antique metal ceiling installed in a New York City restaurant. You can see in the left of the photo that a wooden beam was also wrapped in decorative embossed metal.
Types of Damage to Pressed Tin Ceilings & Embossed Aluminum Panel ceilings
This pressed tin metal ceiling photograph shows a typical example of metal ceiling components that are rusting through from leaks above.
Watch out: when we observe a rusted area such as that shown in the metal ceiling panel above we expect the extent of damage to be larger than what is immediately visible.
That's because the panel is usually rusting from its upper or hidden side. In cases of a small leak that does not immediately drip through the ceiling, rust may develop for a time before it is apparent on the room side.
Pressed aluminum panel ceilings are more resistant to rust damage and perforation but can also corrode through.
Reader Question: evaluating water damage to a molded tin ceiling
Can you take a look at the photos attached and tell me in your opinion Is this lead paint peeling due to a water loss?
A water pipe broke directly above this ceiling And the water ran down onto it for over three hours. It is a pressed tin ceiling covered with a lead based paint.
Would you say the paint is peeling as opposed to cracking? Will the tin now rust without the paint covering since it has been exposed to the water?
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. J.N. 11/23/2013
Reply: comments on water damaged pressed-tin ceiling: lead paint, asbestos, electrical wiring hazards
For example, an onsite expert might find other places where water traveled and has damaged the building, and s/he might find other evidence of the history of building leaks that tell us where to look for conditions that merit further investigation or repair.
Presuming you are correct about the presence of lead based paint and by observation this is an old building which, over its life, is likely to have endured a variety of conditions of leaks, moisture or humidity, and other events that affect its condition.
That said I offer these comments interspersed with your original questions. I observe a dropped ceiling that was installed below the original pressed or molded metal ceiling; often a lower ceiling was installed to cover an original ceiling in poor condition; another reason for the lowered ceiling in some buildings was to reduce the heating load or to add insulation - though your photos of the ceiling cavity didn't show any add-on insulation there.
Is this lead paint peeling due to a water loss? A water pipe broke directly above this ceiling And the water ran down onto it for over three hours.
Would you say the paint is peeling as opposed to cracking?
Will the tin now rust without the paint covering since it has been exposed to the water?
Watch out: I also noticed in passing that there is improper and unsafe electrical wiring - splices outside of an electrical box hanging from this ceiling; I'd be alert for other amateur electrical work that needs correction.
And depending on its age, the acoustical ceiling tiles that were affixed to the drop ceiling below the original tin ceiling may contain asbestos. As a cleanup and preservation of the original ceiling would require demolition of that material you'll want to be alert for and properly handle a possible asbestos hazard.
Finally, if this ceiling space were being used as a return air plenum (not observed in your photos) you'd not want to leave this lead paint debris in place in the air path, as that would also be a likely hazard to building occupants. Keep us posted on how you proceed - what we learn may assist others.
Also see PAINT FAILURE DICTIONARY
The preceding exchange began with a discussion of water damage to a pressed tin ceiling and continues
Plastic glue-on Embossed Backsplash, Ceiling, or Wall Tiles & Panels
Several companies (listed below) produce alternative products to the traditional pressed tin or aluminum ceiling and wall panels, including products made of fiberglass or thermoplastic.
Below are images of a glue-on thermoplastic backsplash product distributed by ACP.
Pressed or Embossed Tin or Aluminum Ceiling Look-Alikes, Repairs, Replacements & Alternatives: Suspended Ceiling panels & Lincrusta Panels
Don't be fooled. Linocrusta (or Lincrusta) ceilings are also an embossed covering product but the material is leatherette or paper-based, not metal.
As we explain at LINOLEUM & SHEET FLOORING Descendents of Linoleum include Anaglypta and Lincrusta (many writers spell it "Linocrusta or linacrusta or lincrusta", an embossed patterned covering used on walls and ceilings.
Details about Anaglypta & Lincrusta ceilings are at LINCRUSTA CEILINGS & WALLS
Photo at left: Lincrusta in Byzantine pattern - Wikipedia 11/25/2013
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