Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
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Vinyl ceiling tiles, also known as PVC ceilings, are currently trending. They work well and match with modern and contemporary decor in both residential and commercial settings.
Some of the pros and cons of vinyl ceiling tiles to help you decide their worth are:
- Resistant to humidity
- Versatile in design
- Easy to maintain
- Simple and clean installation
- Releases traces of chemicals
- Warps in extreme temperatures
All ceiling tiles have good and bad qualities, but knowing them all in detail is what helps you choose the most suitable for your project. This article will delve deeper into the advantages and disadvantages of vinyl ceiling tiles, after which you can explore the best options available and their alternatives.
The Pros of Vinyl Ceiling Tiles
The benefits of vinyl ceiling tiles are enough to entice you to get some installed. They easily match with modern and contemporary décor, and they are now readily available at a price most people can afford. The following are the pros of vinyl ceiling tiles:
Vinyl is built to be highly durable; that’s why it’s showing up in many products each day. Vinyl ceiling tiles are no different. So how long do vinyl ceiling tiles last? They can last a decade or even more. Their robust build and protective coating make them resistant to one of the most destructive elements: moisture.
Never be worried if the vinyl tiles you receive are thin. They can last long no matter their thickness since vinyl is very flexible because of plasticizers. So, they’re not only durable, but they are also not bulky.
Compared to other ceiling materials, vinyl ceiling tiles are budget-friendly. They are cheaper than fiberglass and wood fiber ceiling tiles, among others. But what makes them cheap?
Vinyl ceiling tiles are produced in massive numbers, so the cost of production ends up being low. Even if you’re getting high-grade vinyl ceiling tiles, you’ll find them to be less expensive than other alternatives. Therefore, vinyl ceiling tiles are an excellent option for a great look at a low price.
3. Resistant to Humidity
One of the worst issues you may generally have with ceiling tiles is humidity. Some materials absorb moisture in the air so fast that the ceiling loses value rapidly. But just like vinyl flooring, vinyl ceiling tiles are more resilient.
Since vinyl ceiling tiles contain a protective sheen commonly made of polyurethane, they can’t absorb moisture from the air. So even if you live in an area with high humidity, a vinyl ceiling can serve you for ten years or more.
4. Versatile in Design
If you like having design options during your purchase, vinyl ceiling tiles might be your best bet. They come in a range of colors, shapes, and patterns that mimic all sorts of desirable graphics.
You can get plain, antique, exotic, and other designs. If installed well, they won’t look cheap at all. You can add a vinyl ceiling to your current home to raise its value. If it looks great, you’ll probably attract a higher price.
5. Easy to Maintain
If you’re one of the many people who hate high maintenance ceilings, a vinyl one will serve you well. Dust doesn’t embed into the tiles; most common detergents won’t corrode them, so when cleaning, just wipe, and that’s it. Also, since the protective sheen maintains its glossy new look, you won’t have to worry about cleaning methods that keep it looking new.
6. Simple and Clean Installation
Installing vinyl ceiling tiles is extremely easy, and many people can do it themselves. So, in case you wish to DIY —
Here’s how to install glue-up vinyl ceiling tiles:
- Flatten the existing ceiling surface.
- Plan how you’ll lay out the ceiling tiles.
- Cut the tiles properly to fit the layout.
- Clean any debris and dust.
- Apply the adhesive and install the main (full-size) tiles.
- Install the border (non-full size) tiles.
- Now install the joint strips if your tiles come with any.
- At the wall edges, install a finishing border made of wood or any other material that blends with the décor and ceiling.
That’s it! Although the last step is optional, it’s essential for finishing up the look.
If you’re installing a suspended ceiling with vinyl tiles, here’s how to do it:
- Install the new ceiling grid.
- Remove the old ceiling.
- Clean the new grid.
- Prepare the ceiling layout with the fixtures in mind.
- Set up the grid covers.
- Cut the ceiling tiles as required to fit the prepared layout.
- Install the main tiles.
- Install the border plus around-fixtures tiles.
Even if you call someone to install them for you, you’ll spend less than if they were coming to install fiberglass. There’ll be no dirt messes, so it’s fast, easy, and clean.
The Cons of Vinyl Ceiling Tiles
No matter how good something is, it has its bad and even ugly parts. Vinyl ceiling tiles are known to be quite toxic in small areas, plus they are affected by extreme heat. So, when considering purchasing vinyl ceiling tiles, here are the disadvantages of vinyl ceiling tiles to keep in mind.
7. Releases Traces of Chemicals
Vinyl ceiling tiles are known to release chlorine, which in its gas state, is dangerous. Furthermore, they are known to off-gas one of their toxic building blocks, phthalates, and are therefore considered to be one of the most harmful ceiling tiles.
8. Warps in Extreme Temperatures
If you live in places like Arizona, your vinyl ceiling will likely be affected by the harsh sun, especially if the roofing has poor insulation as well.
Vinyl, like many other materials, is prone to expansion after exposure to sweltering temperatures. Therefore, ensure that your lighting isn’t your primary source of heat since that’ll mean daily subjection of the vinyl ceiling to hot temperatures.
Things to Consider When Choosing A Vinyl Ceiling Tile
Just like everything else, you need to assess some vital issues before choosing vinyl tiles. This will help you choose the best fit for your space and lifestyle. Here are factors you should consider when choosing vinyl ceiling tiles:
Before getting enticed by the fantastic designs, figure out whether you need to surface mount the ceiling tiles or if you have chosen a kind that can be suspended.
Here’s the difference:
- Surface mount ceilings: These are attached directly to the existing surface using an adhesive or even stapler.
- Suspended/drop ceilings/T-bar/Grid ceiling: These ceilings have numerous names, but they mean one thing. If you have electrical cables to hide, among other things, drop ceilings will be the perfect match for you.
Surface mount ceilings are the best if your floor-ceiling distance is small. Also, if you have no grid systems to hide, you can easily attach these ceiling tiles on the existing ceiling. They are the best for basements since they don’t use much vertical space.
Suspended ceilings, on the other hand, are the best for any home with grid system concerns. However, they work well if the vertical distance is not small — ceilings look great when they are higher up. Moreover, they are flexible in that if you want to change the ceiling look; all you have to do is take the previous tiles out and install new ones.
Don’t make the mistake of choosing the first appealing vinyl ceiling tiles you see. You should check your decor first to choose a matching style. For instance, if your room’s ambiance is generally dark, and you want to brighten it up, choosing rusty classical designs might not be the best idea. Instead, you should choose something glossy so that it can reflect light into your space.
Would you like your ceiling smooth or textured? Would you like a visible grid or a more concealed one? Do you like large tiles or small ones? Tile size matters too.
So, you may be the kind of person that likes changing space styles now and then. Since the ceiling is one of the things that add up to styling, it’s best to choose a vinyl ceiling tile that can be painted. That way, you won’t hate it a few years down the line.
Paintable vinyl ceiling tiles are created with a surface that can receive and maintain paint. However, non-paintable tiles often have a sheen that repels the paint. Manufacturers usually indicate whether their vinyl tiles are paintable or not.
Complexity of Installation
Are you thinking of hiring a professional ceiling installer, or will you DIY? If it’s the latter, then check the ease of installation of the particular vinyl tile. If it’s too hard to install yet you wish to DIY, choose another before wasting money and time.
The Best Vinyl Ceiling Tiles
If you are looking for suitable vinyl ceiling tiles for your home or business, then check out the following tiles made with different designs.
1. DuraClean Smooth White
This uDecor smooth white tile is plain but classy. It’s designed to fit all standard T-bar ceilings and is FDA approved for use in food areas. This means that the FDA won’t have issues with you putting them up in your restaurant kitchen.
- Simple but elegant
- Easy to cut for installation
- Safe for use in food areas
- Can’t support recessed lights
2. Laurel Wreath Ceiling Tile
Being one of the From Plain to Beautiful collections, Laurel Wreath is stunning. It features an Indian classical pattern and comes in antique gold, silver, brass plus plain copper, silver, and white. If you like the design, you have plenty of options to choose from.
Whether you wish to install a full vinyl ceiling in Indian design or desire to put up part of the Indian art in your space, the Laurel Wreath ceiling tile can be cut with scissors to make your decor dreams come true.
- Classical luxurious design
- Cuts well
- Versatile colors
- Traps dirt in its pattern
3. Stratford Ceilume
One of the bestselling vinyl ceiling companies, Ceilume, includes a simple but luxurious looking tile called Stratford. These tiles come in a variety of colors, including a translucent type that can be installed under lights.
- Cuts easily
- Fully recyclable
- Can’t support lights on their own
4. Genesis Antique
The White Antique and Black Antique ceiling tiles from Genesis are another beauty to marvel at. But their durability is incredible. They claim a lifespan of at least 25 years, so that should tell you enough.
- Highly durable
- Lightweight and easy to cut
- 25-year warranty
- Limited designs available
5. Wrought Iron-Faux
Holding a close resemblance to original iron, this durable vinyl ceiling tile can weather the storm in any residential or commercial space. The Wrought Iron-Faux can only be glued to the surface of your real ceiling and is hence perfect for covering up ugly stains. Even better, you can paint it with water-based paints and have a fresh look within a few hours.
- Can easily be cut by scissors
- Original tin look
- Can trap dirt around the patterns hence requiring regular cleaning.
6. Large Snowflake
Another one of From Plain to Beautiful Collection, you can’t help but marvel at the perfect picture of the medieval times on the lovely accents on this tile. The Large Snowflake is a gem for those yearning for large antique tiles that can either be installed the T-bar way or glued onto a flat surface. However, if you get these, handle them carefully since the art makes them crack easily under unbalanced pressure.
- Accentuated classical beauty
- Versatile installation
- Easy to install
- Can easily crack
- The decorations need regular cleaning
7. Majesty Patina
This ceiling tile is stunning with its classic tin look. No one will know that the Majestic Copper Patina ceiling tiles are vinyl unless you tell them. When installed, the ceiling looks like that of Irish royalty. They can be glued or suspended and can hence fit any space depending on the best installation option.
- Classical beauty
- Can be installed in various ways
- Can be painted
- Needs regular cleaning
Alternatives to Vinyl Ceiling Tiles
So, what are other tiles you might consider apart from vinyl? The following are substitutes to vinyl ceiling tiles:
Styrofoam Ceiling Tiles
Styrofoam is one of the lightest materials that make up most of the things you use today. For instance, the takeout coffee cup you commonly use is made up of this material. Also known as polystyrene ceilings, Styrofoam tiles have many similar properties to those of vinyl. They are budget-friendly, lightweight, and easy to cut.
However, in the case of a fire, Styrofoam emits large volumes of hazardous gases such as carbon monoxide and styrene. It can burn quickly, melting away in seconds. That shouldn’t scare you, though, because the best products today have been engineered to resist fires and other elements that bring out undesirable outcomes.
One of the great things about Styrofoam is that it also provides insulation to a significant degree. Therefore, if you’ve been looking for low-budget ceiling tiles that hold insulation properties, this material could be your best bet.
Styrofoam ceiling tiles can also be painted to form fire barriers. If you choose this material, You can get a fire retardant like this highly rated one from Contego International Inc.
If you like the classic look with original materials, tin tiles could be your best option. They are not new since they’ve been used since medieval times. Today, you’ll find a variety of tin tiles made to suit particular spaces and budgets.
With the embossed designs, you can paint them any color to achieve your desired look. However, you need to be prepared to clean them often and with non-abrasive products to maintain their coats.
Mineral Fiber Ceiling Tiles
While many people are now gravitating towards vinyl tiles since they’re resistant to humidity, others want to keep the mineral fiber types for soundproofing purposes.
Most mineral fiber ceiling tile fans live in the dryer parts of the country and therefore have no humidity issues. After all, they have excellent insulation properties, they’re safer than other plastic tiles, plus they look pretty decent.
Fiberglass Ceiling Tiles
With better soundproofing qualities than the mineral fiber ceiling tiles, fiberglass is slightly more expensive. So, if you’re looking for the best ceiling tiles for your studio, office, and study room, among other sound-conscious spaces, you might want to choose fiberglass ceiling tiles.
One thing that fiberglass and vinyl ceiling tiles have in common is that they are both lightweight. Although vinyl is much lighter, fiberglass carries a considerable weight that makes it easy to carry around during installations.
Vinyl ceiling tiles are one of the best low-cost tile options available today. They are long-lasting, budget-friendly, flexible in styling, and surprisingly elegant, among other pros. Although they receive health-related skepticism, they are not as bad as people think. However, if you don’t think they’re for you, other low-cost options outlined above might help you get the ceiling tiles of your dreams.
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