I recently inherited a house and above the cruddy drop ceilng in the kitchen is a beautiful (albeit, in need of renovation) tin, embossed ceiling. This ceiling is also present in one of the bedrooms, which is exposed and simply painted over. I realize that lead paint could be a concern, however,a friend of mine who works construction informed me that I shouldn't even consider refinishing the tin ceiling because there are abestos on it. I have never heard of such a thing, and can't find anything to support that claim, other then the fact that abestos paper was used sometimes used between the tin and the wood supports of the house as a fire retardent. Also, these tin tiles were installed here later, it was not their original location, as this house is newer then the era they were originally used. Is there any concern of abestos? If there is abestos paper beneath the tin, what concern is there when running the electrical for the lighting fixtures?
Hi,The only way to know if the tin and paint or other materials may contain lead and asbestos some place is to test. I would suggest looking for a reliable,long term testing company that will test samples for lead and asbestos. You may contact your state's health department or environmental health department for any info they have or if they license testing companies. Also, if you look in the phone book yellow pages or on-line, companies website may list what they test for. You may want to call a few to find out how to take a sample and to mail it if allowed. Sometimes they only need a small sample. Ask about costs per sample. I would suggest that samples be sent from both rooms as the paint and tin ceiling may be different in one room than the other. Note that disturbing asbestos and lead paint is an issue in that it can become air borne. For asbestos, maybe wetting the material first may help. Another site to look for info on old tin ceilings maybe the Old House Journal site or This Old House.
If you have concerns about lead or asbestos, you should leave the tiles in place and put alt least 2 coats of quality paint on the tiles. This remedy is the proper treatment for a ceiling surface that might have lead or asbestos. We trap, encase, it under the new paint. Seal it away from human contact.