May 30, 2014 at 1:00 am

Home Touch

Ceiling is a chance to surprise in design

This copper-topped ceiling warms the kitchen. Armstrong's Metallaire Wreath Drop cop per-plated tiles are on a grid attached to the ceiling and cost up to $9.50 per square foot. (Armstrong Residential Ceilings photos)

Home design is looking up as companies manufacture products that make an impact on a room’s sixth wall: the ceiling.

From bright copper coffered to warm wooden timbers, ceilings should emulate and complement the design elements in a home, says Lori Rowley, marketing manager of Armstrong Residential Ceilings, based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “People spend so much time in a house sitting and lying down that homeowners are realizing they don’t have to stop decorating with just the walls and flooring,” she says. “A top-notch ceiling design can bring drama or help create a light mood in a room.”

Ceilings are often blank canvases that can be decoratively painted or paneled, with a unified design aesthetic that is pleasing to the eye from top to bottom.

For some, transforming an unappealing ceiling is as easy as choosing a complementary paint color to the walls, papering the ceiling with wallcovering or adding fine details, such as stenciling and crown moldings. But for other homeowners, dressing up a textured topper is a ceiling challenge.

“People want to get rid of their 1970s textured ceilings that were sprayed with particles, which resemble popcorn,” Rowley says. “You don’t have to scrape and paint a ceiling, when you can cover it with decorative tiles.”

Armstrong has patented an “Easy Up” ceiling system, which is a suspension system for ceiling tiles that uses metal tracks secured into a home’s joists. Tiles or planks are then clipped onto these metal tracks and interlocked together, which are floated right beneath the existing ceiling.

But Rowley cautions that a ceiling should be structurally sound before installing decorative tiles over it. “Ceiling tiles shouldn’t be used as a ‘Band-Aid’ for ongoing water damage or falling plaster,” she says. “You can’t cover up a ceiling that’s coming down.”

Here are some options that will decoratively put your ceiling over the top:

■Tin ceiling. Traditionally, uniform shapes of thin tin were stamped with a design and snugly meshed together. For those who want their home to emulate Craftsman- or Tudor-style houses, Armstrong has the Metallaire decorative tile collection that features white, brass, warm copper-plated or reflective chrome-plated finishes. Up to $9.50 per square foot, these tiles can be used above a bar or kitchen island to create a “wow” effect.

■Coffered ceiling. This architectural finish is found in the stone coffers of ancient Greece. Characterized most often in square sunken panels, these ceiling tiles have a modern look that adds a sense of height to a room, says Rowley. Armstrong’s decorative “mineral fiber” tiles top out at $3 per square foot and can be painted.

■Wood panel ceiling. Wooden planks are precisely cut and installed side-by-side to adorn high flat or vaulted ceilings. Creating an elegant or cozy cottage feel, Armstrong’s pre-stained wood planks have tongue-and-groove construction and cost around $3.30 per square foot.

When choosing a decorative effect for the ceiling, also take into account the style and placement of light fixtures. From recessed cans to grand chandeliers, you can illuminate the ceiling’s design by getting the light right.

Woodhaven planks create natural interest in the ceiling. Made with tongue- ...