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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Making the choice between plastic and tin for your ceiling tiles can seem like a daunting task. This is especially true if you are not familiar with how the two compare.
To compare tin ceiling tiles to plastic ceiling tiles, there are a few things that you need to know about each, which are:
- The purpose of each product
- The pros
- The cons
- Additional Benefits
- The price of each product
After knowing this information, it will be easier for you to compare them, and know which would be the best fit for you.
In this article, you will learn about the benefits that each product has to offer. This will allow you to confidently choose the best option that will meet the needs for the renovation you are undertaking.
What Are the Purposes of Installing Tin or Plastic Ceiling Tiles?
There are many other purposes that are overlooked when choosing between tin or plastic ceiling tiles, aside from the obvious ones.
For instance, tin ceiling tile is wonderful if you want a stain-free product that is easy to clean. On the other hand, plastic is great if you’re looking for an option that acts as an insulator. The plastic can help keep your home warmer in the winter months, and cooler in the summer months.
The Purpose for Choosing Tin Ceiling Tiles
If you’re one of the many people who worry about fires, tin ceilings have a fire rating of one hour. This means that tin ceiling tiles have been known to withstand the heat and force of a fire for up to one hour after the fire starts.
Another reason that some people choose tin instead of plastic is because of the way it reflects light. Tin has that beautiful, lustrous shine to it. As a matter of fact, back in the 1800s, they viewed tin as a luxurious building material because of this factor.
These are both very important factors in why someone would choose tin over plastic.
The Purpose of Choosing Plastic Ceiling Tiles
If you’re looking for a material that is easy to work with when building or renovating, plastic would be a great choice! Plastic is easily cut, as well as very flexible. This helps to fit the tiles tightly together in order to form a neat finish.
Another great fact about plastic is it’s a wonderful choice for those individuals who suffer from allergies. Most plastics like PVC have a natural hypoallergenic element. They do not produce dust, and they also do not collect dust.
Plastic tiles are one of those supplies that have a lot of overlooked values.
The Pros of Using Tin Ceiling Tiles
Some of the pros of Tin ceiling tiles are:
- With good care and correct installation, the tin tiles can last an upwards of 20 plus years! This surpasses the average, which is typically 10 years before you have to replace ceiling tiles. This is because Tin does not collect mold, and it does not rot.
- Tin does not warp. It’s also a sustainable choice for you because it’s eco-friendly, and it’s also non-toxic. Most of these are powder-coated so that they do not produce air quality issues within your home.
- If you decide that Tin is your preference, be sure that the tiles are powder-coated and not painted.
- Customizable for Design
- Tin ceiling tiles were popular during the Victorian era. You can request to have your tiles created with any design you wish. This is great for interior decor enthusiasts or creative individuals who want to add some character to their ceilings.
- Great for enhancing natural light as well as artificial lighting
- What is fantastic about tin ceiling tiles, is they reflect natural light, as well as artificial. This allows the room to appear larger. Tin ceiling tiles would be a good choice for smaller rooms, and rooms that have no windows.
The Pros of Using Plastic Ceiling Tiles
Some of the pros of using plastic ceiling tiles are:
- The plastic that is used in constructing ceiling tiles is flexible. This means that instead of having to stop what you’re doing to cut; you can bend it to snap into a difficult space. Overall, it will cut down on your installation time.
- Easy to install
- Because plastic tiles are easy to cut and bend, it makes for easier installation. Not to mention, you have more choices in the adhesive you used because plastic is easily bonded to a surface.
- If you need a tile removed, you can simply scrape between the adhesive and tile. It will come up easily without breaking off, so you don’t have any big messes to clean up. Also, the fact that it’s crack resistant means you don’t have to worry about issues with weather changes.
- Easier on the pocketbook
- Plastic tiles come in cases. Each case ranges from $30 to $55 on average but varies depending on what you choose.
- Plastic has been known to be a cheaper alternative to the tin. While you don’t get the customizable tiles or the best light reflection, you do still get a great quality product. Plus, you can choose from many different colors, and designs.
The Cons of Tin Ceiling Tiles
The cons of tin ceiling tiles include:
- They can be quite expensive
- Nail-up: $6 – $7 per tile
- Snap-together: $10 per tile
- Drop-in: $6-$7
- Nail-up: $12 – $22 per tile
- Snap-together: $14 – $25 per tile
- Drop-in: $12-$22 per tile
- The prices reflect the average price. This does not include the customizable tiles or the tiles that are on sale.
- Difficult installation
- There are many different ways to install the tiles. Snap-together is the easiest to work with but if that’s not your preference the others can be a bit more difficult to install. It’s best to either hire someone to do it or have someone assist you.
- Not a lot of room for additional decor
- The coloring and design of the tin make it harder to decorate the room. It would be ideal if you’re planning to have a lot of neutral colors or blues. It adds a lot of pizzazz, which is great! But if you like to change your designs frequently, tin may not be ideal.
The Cons of Plastic Ceiling Tiles
Some of the cons of plastic ceiling tiles are:
- Not a great noise barrier
- Most people choose to install ceiling tiles to act as a noise barrier. Plastic is not a great choice if this is one of the benefits that you’re looking for. There isn’t much density to plastic in its original form so to put this into a ceiling tile takes even more of that density. That is why noise passes through easily.
- Low fire rating
- Plastic tiles have a fire rating between 15 minutes to 30 minutes. The heat from the fire will cause the plastic to warp and melt. This can be dangerous as plastic emits toxic fumes upon burning. The fire rating also gives your family less time to seek safety in the unfortunate event of a fire.
- An average lifespan of 10 years
- 10 years is the average lifespan of simple, plastic tile. If your budget allows for it, you can choose to upgrade to a PVC type of tile. The PVC is more durable and will last a long time, up to 17 years or more. All of this, of course, depends on the level of care you give your ceiling over the years.
Additional Benefits of Tin Ceiling Tiles and Plastic Ceiling Tiles
Other than the pros, and purposes of each ceiling tile, many more additional benefits tend to be overlooked. Although, it’s easy to do that because you typically make a choice that encompasses your needs and wants. If you discover a product is ideal, why spend the time researching the additional benefits?
Interesting Benefits of Tin Ceiling Tiles
Aside from the obvious perks, here are a few more you may find interesting:
- The value of your home increases
- Because they are durable and last longer than other ceiling tiles the value of your home will go up. This is especially true if the colors complement your ceiling, creating a full theme.
- You can paint them if you wish
- If you do not wish to match your design to the tile, you can paint the tile to match your design. Although, you want to make sure that the paint sticks well to tin and metal.
- Easy maintenance
- The only type of maintenance you need to do on your tin ceiling tiles is dust. Remember to do this on the days you dust your house to ensure they last longer.
- You can use them for other things such as:
Interesting Benefits of Plastic Ceiling Tiles
It may surprise you that the plastic ceiling also has additional perks! Here are a few:
- They are 100% recyclable
- If you are an environmentalist this is a great choice to fit into your lifestyle.
- Can be installed over old ceramic tiles
- You wouldn’t have to worry about removing old ceramic before installation. This is easily done with a peel and stick adhesive, or a ceramic type of glue. Be sure to sand the top layer of the ceramic though to ensure gloss finishes have been removed.
- If you gloss them, they will hold their shine for a long time
- Gloss loves plastic! Since plastic has a smooth surface, it allows for a better bond surface for the gloss.
- These can be used for other things as well, such as:
- Background for your cubby shelves
- You can place the tiles on the back of your cubby shelves to add some design to your storage space
- Backsplash for your kitchen or bathroom
- Add some artsy waves for decoration with some plastic tiles. You could throw some color in there as well to make it even more interesting!
- Wall art
- There are a variety of designs to choose from. You could cut them accordingly, and glue them onto a board for a nice piece to hang in your home.
- Background for your cubby shelves
What is the Price Difference Between Tin Ceiling Tiles and Plastic Ceiling Tiles?
The price differs significantly between the two products. Of course, each of these has different qualities, therefore, the price can sway either way. For instance, faux tin is cheaper than authentic tin. But faux tin is a bit more difficult to work with because of its tendencies to have a poor structure.
Tin is typically more expensive than plastic This is because between the two, it is a higher quality product overall and it is more valuable than plastic.
Although plastic can be pricey too depending on the quality. PVC is four times as much as regular plastic ceiling tile.
The pricing depends on your preferences in material, and the quality of the material that you want.
Different Installation Methods for Tin and Plastic Ceiling Tiles
There are several different installation methods for tin tiles. Be sure to check the description to ensure that it is friendly to your preferred installation method.
The different options for installation are:
- This consists of nailing each tile individually. The edge will have a ¼ inch overlap in which you will screw the overlaps. This is best suited for someone who loves precision but who is also comfortable with taking the extra time to complete the project.
- For plastic in particular it can be a bit difficult. Plastic likes to chip off and create some unwanted jutted pieces around the nail. If this happens, simply take a piece of sandpaper and sand it down to smooth it out.
- Snap-In Tiles
- The thing about snap-in tiles is that even though they snap into place they still need to be nailed. The only difference is that you don’t need a plyboard underlay because you won’t be using as many nails.
- The potential downfall of snap-in tiles is when you screw on one side, the other may pop up. This method takes a lot of patience but when done correctly, can cut your project time down by about 30%.
- Drop-in tiles
- The drop-in only works for those individuals who have suspended ceiling systems. Think of a school, where you can push the tiles up off of the frame. This is a suspended ceiling system.
- Drop-in tiles work by inserting the tile through the opening, and setting it in place on top of the frame it goes in.
- This is not recommended for tine ceiling tiles as the tin tends to be heavier than plastic. This increases the risk of a tile falling and potentially hurting someone. Although, this would be a great option if you were to create a backsplash or a headboard from your tin tiles.
- For plastic, this would be a great option as plastic bonds easily to all types of different materials. It would be a good idea to purchase a quick-drying adhesive for any ceiling work.
- Peel and stick
- Again, not an option for tin.
- This is great for any project you need to get done quickly. Although, it cuts the time that it will last in half. Peel and stick adhesive isn’t great. You could add some adhesive on top of it to make it work if you need to.
Tin or Plastic Ceiling Tiles Depends on Your Personal Preferences and Needs
Understanding the pros and cons of each, as well as their purpose, will help you to decide. Just as price comparison and installation methods may be a significant factor. Just be sure to take your time in analyzing each one and comparing it to your ideal outcome.
The only thing that you can do is take the time to see how they both compare and then make the decision that’s right for you. This will help you to make an informed decision which is important when taking on projects like this.
There is no one size fits all decision when it comes down to the choice between tin ceiling tiles and plastic ceiling tiles. Both of the items have different advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, it all depends on what your preferences are in relation to how they each meet your needs.
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