How to Remove Tin Ceiling Panels

tin ceiling panels
  • 2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 30
What You'll Need
Step ladder
Plastic sheets
Protective gloves
Protective goggles
Protective mask
Screwdriver set
Strapping tape
Painters tape

The use of tin ceiling panels became popular during the Victorian era. Ornate, opulent ceiling designs, previously created by European plaster artists, could be recreated inexpensively with rolled tin plate. Many homeowners dislike the material because it is older and no longer suits the décor they have chosen. There are many more reasons to remove these tin ceiling panels.

Call a local salvage company if you wish to sell the panels. They might even offer to help in the removal for a reduced price of the salvage. Alternatively, you can remove them yourself with a few tools and follow a few simple safety precautions.


Tin paneling is very sharp around the edges. Take caution that the corners of the paneling do not cut the walls or molding in the room. Always wear your protective gloves and goggles. Another precaution to consider is that tin ceiling panels may have been painted and there is a good chance lead-based paint was used at one point. Gloves and protective goggles are essential and to further protect against possible lead poisoning, do not touch your face or eat while working at it and wash your hands often.

Step 1 - Prepare the Room

Tin ceiling tiles were popular many years ago. Chances are they have been on that ceiling a long time. Great care and caution are required when removing these panels. Take everything out of the immediate area. Furniture, picture frames on the walls, drapes, and blinds should be removed. Wall to wall carpeting should be covered with heavy plastic and taped down around the edges.

Use a painter's tape to cover any moldings that may be damaged with the sharp edges of the removed tin panels. Turn off the electricity at the breaker and remove any mounted light fixtures.

Step 2 - Remove Cornices

The first step is to remove the cornice, which is the beautiful crown type molding around the end of the ceiling. Find a seam in the cornice and begin there. Cornices are usually overlapped at the joint of a straight wall; once you find the first seam, follow the cornice to the joint to see if it overlaps or underlaps the next one. You want to first pry out the overlapping end piece of molding from the joining molding. This will make the removal of the next piece easier. Use the pry bar and lift the edge of the cornice. Remove all the cornice from the ceiling.

Step 3 - Remove the Tin Ceiling Panels

Locate the seams of the tin panels. The best place to start is by removing a panel closest to a wall and work your way out from there. Tin paneling is installed by attaching it to a 1-inch by 2-inch wood ceiling anchor.

Locate the nails and pry the tile away from the wood anchor. Once the tin comes off with the first row of nails you will be able to manually pull on the panel and the nails will slip out. Assist any stubborn nails with the pry bar.