Tin Ceiling Conundrum!

hmmm… images of a big pot of stew or soup simmering on the stove with paint chips floating down into it like autumn leaves!

Photography & Editorial By: Dr. Christopher Cooper

Tin Ceiling

Our Edifice Atelier, (Oxford Campus) Living Laboratory project is coming along quite well. The kitchen has been driving me crazy, mainly because it was in the most miserable condition of all! The tin ceiling had great chunks of lead based paint dangling from it, hmm images of a big pot of stew or soup simmering on the stove with paint chips floating down into it like autumn leaves!

Tin 2
Left: Numbered Panels – Right: The wooden heat register, prior to restoration

The wooden wainscoting, trim and doors were caked on with six or seven layers of lead paint decorated in a vile 1950’s green! The walls were cracked and bulging because of the enormous amount of heat given off by the wood range, and of course painted in the same vile green.

Tin 1
The original tin ceiling comes down piece by piece.

“WARNING – Lead based paint is highly toxic and any works associated with its removal must be done in strict compliance with your local regulations.”

We got to work numbering and taking down all eighty-four (24″ x 24″ panels) of old tin ceiling tiles and rope decorative moulding. The tin was stripped of all of its paint down to bare metal (utilizing a low VOC paint stripper), reinstalled (with small Robertson head stainless steel screws), primed with alkyd primer and painted flat white. I can not believe it is the same ceiling; it looks like it was installed with new tin panels. We even restored the original wooden heat register that allowed rising heat from the wood range to heat the bedroom above.

Tin 4
The Restored Wooden Heat Register

The wooden cased dado (wainscoting), original four-panel doors and trim was completely stripped to bare wood utilizing infrared technology, primed with alkyd primer and painted a beautiful soft yellow. The walls were repaired (with plaster washers), skim coated with lime plaster, primed with alkyd primer and painted a neutral limestone color.

Tin 5

Nothing is more rewarding than taking a worn neglected (and rather dangerous) paint finish off quality material to celebrate the details that were hidden with years of paint build-up to go on to live another 145 years.

A huge amount of effort was put into this project and the only cost was a bit of plaster, some paint and elbow grease, more-or-less the cost of half-a-dozen new tin ceiling panels. The results? An absolutely beautiful space to plan a functional spacious kitchen in, but that will be another story!

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