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How to Paint and Distress Tin Tiles

A Custom Home Builder’s Tips for Painting Tin Tiles

It’s hard to pick a favorite among so many patterns and colors at American Tin Ceilings. With everything from classic white to hand-painted distressed tin panels, maybe you haven’t considered unfinished tile.

Unfinished tile looks great just with a clear coat, or with skill, talent, and time, you can paint it to match your design. That’s just what Sharon DeHart of DeHart Construction, a custom home builder, did. Embarking on the building of her own custom home, she felt the kitchen needed a little personal touch and decided to invest the time to paint and distress unfinished tiles.

The DeHart’s custom home combined the marble and crystal of a grand traditional home with rustic features like reclaimed wood and distressed finishes. A distressed tin tile ceiling seemed just the thing to bring the two aesthetics together.


Tips for How To Paint and Distress Tin Tiles

DeHart’s skill and talent for crafts and desire to add personal touches, meant doing the tiles herself was a labor of love that added to the personal and custom nature of her home. She selected unfinished tin tiles in Pattern #14 then painted them simple white before distressing them. She shared with us a few tips she’s learned to achieve the distressed look on tin tiles.

  • Use paint appropriate for metal
  • Apply paint heavier in some places and lighter in others
  • Use mineral oil to wipe some of the paint away, especially on the raised areas of the tiles
  • Don’t worry about making mistakes, you’re going for an unintentional look anyway

The American Tin Ceilings Distressing Process

Did you know we carry already distressed tiles? They come in a range of gorgeous colors and are crafted by hand. Our master artisans finish distressed tin panels with a three-step process. First they coat the unfinished tile with a powder coat base. This protects the metal from oxidation and increases its durability and longevity.

Next they apply color with a paint coat. Some of the paint may be wiped, buffed, or textured to achieve the distressed look. Last, they may apply a stain coat for a richer, deeper patina look. If the tiles are for the backsplash, a top coat sealer is applied.

Our artisans inspired the name of the distressed collection of colors at American Tin Ceilings: Artisan Collection. They have years of experience and produce richly colored, convincingly distressed tiles that add character and a bespoke luxury to your spaces.

See the Artisan Collection

Choosing the Right Paint

White was the color of choice for DeHart. The kitchen was white and they wanted to keep things light and bright. But finding the right paint is about far more than picking a color.

DeHart went into Sherwin Williams to ask about paint that would be suitable for painting metal tiles and would stand up to the tough conditions of the kitchen. Sherwin Williams recommended a paint for metal that wouldn’t require any primer before or sealant afterward.

Distressed, But Timeless

The distressed look introduces visual texture and at least two different colors (white and silver in this case) that often harmonize the different elements of the space together. “It feels like it could have been there for decades but doesn’t date the space--a perfect combination for our unique design,” she said.

Start a diy painted tin ceiling tiles project of your own. Check out all our patterns and colors and let your creative juices start flowing. Or, we may have the hand-distressed look you want already available in stock from our master artisans. Take a look.


Distressed Artisan Colors

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