Installing Copper Ceilings

An aged-copper background.

The Egyptians used copper for a variety of decorative purposes as far back as 6000 B.C. They started out with jewelry, but it wasn’t long before they started hammering out the metal into sheets to adorn their walls and ceilings. It’s from their inspiration that we get today’s copper ceiling tiles. Available in a diverse range of styles and sizes, they offer a beautiful and creative alternative to a simple painted or textured ceiling.

Copper Ceiling Installation Costs

Like most materials, the more elaborate the copper tile, the higher the price will be. Typical copper ceiling tiles start off around $20 per 2′×2′ tile. Homeowners should expect highly detailed tiles to be priced as much as double that amount. Broken down into square-footage costs, the average job ranges $10–15 per square foot.

For an even cheaper option, you can use PVC ceiling tiles that are made to mimic the look of copper. A discerning eye can tell the difference between the two, but such an eye is rare, and you’ll have a brilliant, expensive-looking ceiling for a fraction of the cost.

Ideal Locations for Copper Ceilings

Copper ceilings are typically found in kitchens and bathrooms, but they make excellent choices for a number of other applications. They can add richness and depth to virtually any room, including dens, game rooms, enclosed breezeways, and dining rooms.

Methods of Installing Copper Ceiling Tiles

Just as there are many variations of copper ceiling tiles, there are also different methods for installing them. Typically, the PVC faux-copper tiles come with pre-glued backing for easy peel-and-stick applications. This is possible because PVC tiles are lightweight and won’t fall away from the ceiling once glued in place.

Other types of “real copper” tiles are designed to be screwed into furring strips or used in conjunction with a suspension grid. The metal tiles are significantly heavier than PVC tiles and therefore require a more stable installation method to prevent gravity from pulling them free from the ceiling.

What Kinds of Nails Should I Use?

Most ceiling-tile installers use 18-guage, T-brad nails to fix the copper tiles to the furring strips on the ceiling, although decorative upholstery nails do add a nice finishing touch. Other types of nails commonly used for installing copper tiles are dome head and cone head finishing nails.

Tips From the Pros

There’s a reason why many homeowners choose professionals to do their ceiling-tile installation. The pros know all the tricks to get the best look possible! But, here are a few tips you can put into action to help you get the results you’re looking for without the added cost of hiring a professional.

Choose lighter colored copper or tin ceiling tiles for low-hanging ceilings. The lighter color will help make the ceiling look higher than it really is. Save bold colors for the bathroom or smaller-sized rooms where they can make a more dramatic impact.

Use filler trim to make up the distance between the last row of whole tile and the wall to prevent cutting tiles and having an inconsistent-looking finish. Remember to account for the crown molding’s projection from the wall when sizing your tiles. If you want to avoid the bulkier look of crown molding, choose a lower profile molding like shoe molding.

If you’re using a suspended ceiling system, take one of your tiles to your local hardware store and find a paint match so you can paint the grids for a consistent look. Choose sealed copper tiles to prevent patina build-up and minimize cleaning. Never use cleaning products that contain acetone on lacquered tiles. Copper is a soft metal, so be careful when handling and installing your tiles to prevent scratching. This also applies when cleaning it.