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During the late 19th and 20th centuries, tin ceilings grew in popularity in Victorian buildings in North America. Such architectural elements (also referred to as pressed tin ceilings or stamped tin ceilings) were an affordable alternative to the expensive artistic plasterwork that had been used in European homes.
Metal ceilings could be mass produced much more cheaply and appealed to both home and business owners as they were durable, lightweight and fireproof, in addition to being attractive and readily available. Rope drop hammers and cast iron molds were used to stamp the metal sheets to permanently embed the intricate patterns into the tin which was then painted white to give the appearance of hand-carved or molded plaster.
In recent years, as more and more people have been drawn to the aesthetic of old tin ceilings, efforts to restore them have come into play. Because stripping them of lead paint is dangerous work, this is a job best left to professionals.
One affordable alternative to old tin ceilings are those made from vinyl and thermoplastic products that provide the same beautiful look at a fraction of the price. They can also easily be installed by Do-It-Yourselfers and homeowners, making them an efficient way to add an interesting architectural detail to any space with very little effort or expense.