Installing a Tin Ceiling and Cornice
- Procedure code:
- NPS Southeast Regional Office
- Ornamental Sheet Metal
- Last Modified:
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INSTALLING A TIN CEILING AND CORNICE
A. This procedure includes guidance on installing a new tin ceiling to replace one that has deteriorated.
B. Metal ceiling panels are typically 2-feet x 8-feet and are nailed to wood furring strips which are, in turn, nailed to the ceiling joists of an existing ceiling.
C. See 01100-07-S for general project guidelines to be reviewed along with this procedure. These guidelines cover the following sections:
1. Safety Precautions
2. Historic Structures Precautions
4. Quality Assurance
5. Delivery, Storage and Handling
6. Project/Site Conditions
7. Sequencing and Scheduling
8. General Protection (Surface and Surrounding)
These guidelines should be reviewed prior to performing this procedure and should be followed, when applicable, along with recommendations from the Regional Historic Preservation Officer (RHPO).
1.02 DELIVERY, STORAGE, AND HANDLING
A. Packing and Shipping: Protect tin ceiling sheets from damage at all times during handling, installation, and operation of the building.
B. Acceptance at Site:
1. New metal sheets shall be delivered on the job carefully packed. Inspect each piece immediately before installation, and do not use the pieces which have observable edge damage or face imperfections.
2. Manufacturer's delivery or job markings on the tin sheets, and adhesives for manufacturer's labels, shall be a neutral material. In no case shall such material be alkaline; any staining of the tin sheets by alkaline materials will be cause for the rejection of the piece.
C. Storage and Protection:
1. Metal sheets should be stored as to protect from edge and face damage at all times, carefully packed and should remain so from the time of delivery until set.
2. Salvaged historic material shall be carefully packed and stored under cover and in the building away from work or traffic areas. Mark salvaged material with the year of removal.
A. For Metal Ceilings and Cornices:
1. Chelsea Decorative Metal Co.
2. Kenneth Lynch & Sons
3. W.F. Norman Corporation
A. Furring strips 1x3's or 1x2's
B. 1-inch long flat head nails as required
C. 3-inch long flat head nails or 2-1/2-inch drywall screws as required
D. Wood shims as required
E. Glazing compound or latex caulk
F. Tin sheets - ceiling panels and cornice pieces (see Manufacturers above)
G. Appropriate primer and finish coat paints
H. Mineral spirits
I. Soft rags
J. Clean, potable water
A. Chalk line
B. Metal ruler
D. Sheet metal cutters
E. Hammer and/or screwgun
F. Heavy gloves and protective gear
G. Scaffolding/working platforms
A. Before proceeding with steps to install the metal ceiling, it is important to first determine the cause and extent of the problem:
1. Determine the age of the building and if a tin ceiling did exist before or if it is an appropriate ceiling substitute in terms of historical accuracy and expense.
2. If a ceiling exists, can it can be salvaged?
A. Surface Preparation:
1. Remove any residue from factor-shipped metal by cleaning the sheets thoroughly with denatured alcohol or mineral spirits. Allow to dry before priming.
2. Prime the face of the metal before installation. IT IS DIFFICULT TO PAINT OVERHEAD ONCE THE METAL IS INSTALLED.
a. Apply a high-quality oil/alkyd primer formulated for metals.
b. Apply two coats of oil-based paint.
NOTE: BE SURE TO USE THE SAME MANUFACTURER FOR THE PRIMER AND THE PAINT.
3. If the ceiling is going into a high-humidity room, back-prime the sheets before installation.
A. Furring the Ceiling:
1. Using 3-inch nails, attach 3-inch wide furring strips to the ceiling around the perimeter of the room.
NOTE: 1x2 FURRING STRIPS ARE ADEQUATE, BUT 3-INCH STRIPS ARE BETTER. REUSE HISTORIC OR EXISTING FURRING WHEN POSSIBLE.
a. Nail the strips as far from the wall as the cornice will project.
b. If necessary, add a few nailers between the joists to enable nailing the strips at the correct position.
NOTE: ONLY DRIVE THE NAILS IN HALFWAY TO ALLOW FOR LATER SHIMMING AND LEVELLING.
2. Mark the centerlines for locating the furring strips.
a. Snap a chalkline from the center of the ceiling, perpendicular to the joists.
b. Snap additional chalklines every 12 inches on center, parallel to the first line.
NOTE: THE LINES NEED TO BE PRECISELY LOCATED BECAUSE THE METAL SHEETS ARE RIGID AND CANNOT BE ADAPTED TO NON-PARALLEL NAILING STRIPS.
3. Nail up the middle furring strip. BE SURE TO DRIVE THE NAILS IN ONLY HALFWAY.
4. Nail up additional strips on every other chalkline (every 24 inches on center). BE SURE TO DRIVE THE NAILS IN ONLY HALFWAY.
5. Determine the locations where the 8-long sheets will connect, perpendicular to the strips already installed.
6. Nail furring strips at these 8-foot intervals to secure the edges of the sheets where they overlap.
NOTE: WHEN USING 2- INCH FURRING, THESE STRIPS WILL BE APPROXIMATELY 22 INCHES LONG.
7. Nail furring strips on the intermediate chalklines. These should be approximately 12 inches on center.
8. Check the level of the furring strips to see that they are in the same plane. Shim strips as needed to level the ceiling.
a. Use a good straightedge to align the strips.
b. Move around the room holding the straightedge against the strips. Use the claw of the hammer to pull high strips down into the same plane as the lower strips.
9. When all the strips are in line and in the same plane, drive all nails home. Use care to avoid damaging metal ceiling components.
C. Installing the Metal: The sheets are usually 2 feet wide by 8 feet long.
NOTE: USE EXTREME CAUTION AND WEAR HEAVY GLOVES WHEN HANDLING METAL SHEETS AS THEIR EDGES ARE RAZOR-SHARP. GRIP THE EDGES OF THE SHEETS BETWEEN THE FINGERS AND THE THUMB. NEVER LET THE SHEETS SLIDE ACROSS THE PALM.
1. Cut the metal panels with tinsnips as required.
2. Beginning at the furthest corner from the entrance to the room, secure the metal panels to the furring strips using 1-inch, flat-head nails.
NOTE: THE FIRST SHEETS INSTALLED ARE USUALLY THE STRAIGHTEST, SO IT IS BEST TO START IN THE AREA THAT WILL BE THE MOST VISIBLE.
a. Have an assistant hold each sheet flat using a piece of furring.
b. Nail the ends of the each metal panel into the short furring strips described in 3.03 A. 5. above. This provides a secure nailing surface so that the ends of the panels will lay flat.
c. Drive the nail to one side of the decorative button (bead).
d. Nail the long edges of the metal panels to the furring strips. Again drive the nails to one side of the bead.
e. To line up the next sheet, overlap the beads with the previous sheet (the way a ball and socket fit). Nail directly through the beads on the overlapping sheet.
NOTE: ANY SHEETS THAT NEED CUTTING MUST HAVE THE CUT EDGE TO THE WALL, SO IT WILL BE CONCEALED BY THE COVE MOLDING.
D. Installing the Cornice: Generally the cornice is installed after the ceiling is in place.
1. To ensure solid nailing, measure the cornice before furring for the new metal ceiling.
a. Measure the depth of the cornice (down from the new ceiling) at several points on the wall.
b. Snap a chalkline at these marks.
NOTE: MAKE SURE THE CORNICE RUNS STRAIGHT ALONG THE WALL. DEVIATIONS ARE MORE NOTICEABLE AT THE WALL EDGE THAN AT THE CEILING.
2. Locate and mark all of the studs in the wall for attaching furring strips.
3. Nail furring strips to the wall for attaching the cornice. Try to attach the strips so that the joints occur at the studs. This ensures a tighter connection. If this is not feasible with each joint, however, use a small sheet-metal screw to attach the two pieces.
NOTE: WHEN A SMALLER CORNICE IS USED, IT CAN BE NAILED DIRECTLY TO THE WALL, OMITTING THE FURRING STRIPS.
4. Beginning at an inside (coped) corner and working toward the outside (mitered) corners, drive nails through the cornice's decorative buttons or bumps
and into the furring strips.
NOTE: BE SURE TO DRIVE THE NAILS IN ONLY HALFWAY UNTIL THE ENTIRE CORNICE IS IN PLACE. IF THE NAILS CAN BE EASILY REMOVED, MINOR ADJUSTMENTS CAN BE MADE WITHOUT DAMAGING THE CORNICE.
a. Install the metal cornice so that it overlaps the edge of the last metal ceiling panel abutting the wall.
b. Nail the cornice to the furring strips at the ceiling and the wall with nails spaced about every 12 inches.
5. Fit the inside and outside corners.
NOTE: THIS IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF INSTALLING A METAL CORNICE.
a. Make a template by cutting and fitting scrap pieces of cornice by hand using tinsnips. Make one template for a coped joint (inside corners) and one for a mitered joint (outside corners). Position the scrap piece on the chalkline when fitting and cutting to ensure an accurate joint.
b. Once a template of each type has been made, make subsequent ones by using the template as a guide and tracing the pattern onto the cornice with a marker.
NOTE: SOME MANUFACTURERS OFFER PREFABRICATED PIECES FOR BOTH INSIDE AND OUTSIDE CORNERS WHICH CAN SAVE TIME AND MONEY.
6. Before fitting the corner pieces, make a series of cuts along the edges (approximately 1/8-inch deep every 1/8-inch). These cuts make is easier to bend the metal when the joint is tapped closed.
7. After the metal cornice is installed, seal any open joints by holding a wide chisel or the back of a 3-inch nail head against the joint and striking the point gently with a hammer.
8. Fill any remaining open joints with glazing compound or latex caulk.