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How Do I Choose the Best Decorative Ceiling Tiles?

B. Turner
B. Turner

Decorative ceiling tiles offer an easy and convenient way to liven up a basic ceiling, or to mask ceiling imperfections. These tiles are often embossed or formed into three-dimensional patterns and designs. The various design options allow buyers to choose exactly the right pattern to complement surrounding decor, or even to create a whole new look. When choosing decorative ceilings tiles, consider not only materials and finish variations, but also installation and maintenance requirements. Pricing these tiles based on your available budget can also help you choose the right units to fit your needs.

Understanding the materials available can help you narrow down your ceiling tile selection. Tin and other metals are the classic material for decorative ceiling tiles. They feature a high-end appearance, and can be painted to create intricate designs or left plain to expose the natural beauty of the metal. Vinyl tiles are designed to resemble tin, but are pre-finished and cannot be repainted. Gypsum ceiling tiles feature the most basic finish, and come in basic shades with raised patterns.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Typically, tin tiles will offer the best durability of all decorative ceiling tiles. They also are the most expensive, but this higher price combined with better durability may still result in lower costs over time. Plastic and vinyl are the low cost alternatives to tin, but these tiles may be subject to cracking or other damage if not handled with care. Gypsum is a mid-range option in terms of both price and durability.

Buyers should also consider installation requirements when choosing decorative ceiling tiles. Both metal and plastic units are typically designed to be nailed in place. These tiles sit flush with the ceiling, and cannot be used with most suspended ceiling systems. Decorative gypsum, on the other hand, must be installed within a suspended metal grid. This allows space for plumbing and ductwork, but also results in reduced ceiling height.

Plastic tiles offer the lowest maintenance requirements of all decorative ceiling tiles. They are moisture-resistant and prefinished, so they do not require painting. Tin tiles may need to be painted, and are subject to some corrosion if exposed to moisture or humidity. Gypsum tiles are highly subject to moisture and pests, but also are one of the best insulators against noise and unwanted air flow. Fire-rated gypsum tiles may also offer the best protection during a fire emergency, making them a popular choice for garages and basements.

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