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How to Paint and Distress Tin Tiles

A Custom Home Builder's Tips for Painting Tin Tiles

It can be difficult to pick a favorite tin tile among so many available patterns and colors at American Tin Ceilings. With everything from classic white to hand-painted distressed tin panels, maybe you haven't considered unfinished tiles (and painting tin tin ceiling tiles yourself!).

Unfinished tile looks great even with just a clear coat—or with skill, talent, and time, you can consider painting tin ceiling tiles to match your design. That's exactly what Sharon DeHart of customer home builder, DeHart Construction, 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 like the perfect solution to bring the two aesthetics together.

Tips for How To Paint and Distress Tin Tiles

With DeHart's skill and talent for crafts combined with her desired to add personal touches, painting tin ceiling tiles herself served as a labor of love that only added to the personal and custom nature of her home. DeHart selected unfinished tin tiles in Pattern #14, then went forward with painting these tin ceiling tiles with a simple white before distressing them. She shared with us a few tips she's learned to achieve the distressed look on tin tiles.

DIY Distress Tip #1: Consider Pre-Distressed Tin Tile from American Tin Ceilings

Did you know we already carry 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. After painting tin ceiling tiles, artisans may wipe, buff, or texture some of the paint to achieve an aged, 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.

Explore Our Collection of Distressed Artisan Colors

DIY Distress Tip #2: Choose the Right Paint Appropriate for Metal

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 tin ceiling tiles and that 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.

More Tips for Painting Tin Tile

DIY Distress Tip #3: Apply (and Wipe Away) Paint to Achieve the Look

For anyone looking to distress tin tile themselves, DeHart provides notes on the art and technique of paint. For example, apply paint heavier in some areas and lighter in others; then use mineral oil to wipe some of the paint away, especially on the raised areas of the tiles. Also, DeHart says to not worry about making mistakes—you’re going for an unintentional look anyways!

DIY Distress Tip #4: Mix Two Colors for a Distressed, But Timeless Effect

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.

Find the Right White Tin Tile For You

Why not start a DIY painting tin ceiling tiles project of your own? Check out all our patterns and colors and let your creative juices start flowing. Or if you prefer an antique look straight out of the box, find distressed tin tile styles available in stock from our master artisans—choose from 12 options ranging Artisan Silver Washed White to Artisan Copper Brushed Bronze and every finish color in between.

More White Tin Tile Project Ideas

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