Maintaining Antique Ceiling Tiles: Preserving Shape and Shine

An old, green, tin, decorative tile with a fleur-de-lis design.

Antique ceiling tiles add aesthetic value to a home. It’s important to properly take care of them, preserving their shape and shine. The maintenance process depends on the composition of the tiles.

Copper Ceiling Tiles

If the tiles have a coat of lacquer on them, maintenance involves little more than wiping them down with a damp cloth. To remove marks, use a mild detergent, but don't scrub too hard. Never use harsh abrasives or chemicals, as these can destroy the finish.

If the ceiling tiles are not lacquered, they will develop a patina. If you want to remove it, you can use copper tarnish remover. Lemon juice applied to the tile, sprinkled with salt, and gently rubbed in a circular motion will do the job as well.

Ceramic Ceiling Tiles

Ceramic tiles are very durable. They can be cleaned with soap and water. Rinse well to keep the tiles shiny. You can use peroxide on stains, but avoid harsh chemicals, which can damage the finish.

Grout is difficult to clean. Spray hydrogen peroxide onto a paper towel and place that over the grout. Place plastic wrap over the paper towel and let the paper towel dry out. If this does not remove the stains, it may be time to replace the grout. If the grout is breaking down, it should definitely be replaced.

Tin Ceiling Tiles

To clean these, just dust them. If they are too dirty for that, use a mild dishwasher soap mix and gently scrub. Rinse well. Never use any abrasive chemicals. Clean as needed.

Stucco or Sheet Rock Ceiling Tiles

Stucco cleans well, but you need to be gentle so as not damage it. If there are cracks, repair them before you clean. Use a bleach solution to get rid of mildew.

For grime, use a detergent solution. Start with wetting the stucco. A mist bottle works well. Once the stucco is wet, begin to scrub using a soft, natural-fiber brush. Work in one direction to avoid streaking.

Antique ceiling tiles can last as long as the rest of the house, and they add an antique elegance that would otherwise be difficult to replicate.