How to Make an Affordable Photography Backdrop Using Ceiling Tiles

Written by Milan Jara on 26th Jul 2011

How to Make an Affordable Photography Backdrop Using Ceiling Tiles

Photography backdrops are an essential part of the art of taking pictures, but they can put a dent in any budget if expensive materials are used. However, photographers that want to keep a lid on expenses can do so by using Faux Tin Ceiling Tiles to create stylish and trendy backdrops for any size studio. In this video, Dave Shirley will present the different techniques to create an affordable backdrop using Faux Tin Ceiling Tiles.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  1. 16 Antique Silver Faux Tin Ceiling Tiles (four from each model)
    • Dimension: 24 x 24
    • Models: 201, 204,206 and 210
    • Liquid Nails Adhesive (approximately 5 tubes)
  2. Applicator Gun
  3. Screwdriver
  4. Glue (if the Liquid Nail is finished after applying the 5th tube)
  5. Packing Tape (Clear)
  6. 24 x 8 insulated panels (Foam Board)
  7. Sponge for cleaning purposes

Suggested Material Stores

Home Depot
Decorative Ceiling Tiles LLC (

Preliminary Steps

  • Look at the wall size you want to cover and buy enough tiles to over the desired area. In the video, Dave Shirley worked in a 20 x 25 studio.
  • Gather all working materials in one place before you start working

Installation Process

Step 1: Put the 24 x 8 foam boards flat on the floor and use the clear packing tape to hold them together in the middle to form an 8 x 8 foam board panel. If you find it difficult to get around the boards, try putting a barrier at one end and tape from the other end to the middle. After this, you can turn the boards around and tape from the other end to the middle.

Flip the foam boards over and tape the back to guarantee sturdiness.

Step 2: Use a scissors to cut the top of the Liquid Nail and then insert and remove a screwdriver in the opening to widen and facilitate the flow of the Liquid Nail.

Step 3: Put the Liquid Nail in the applicator gun and lock it. You will notice a handle on the gun. When ready, press this handle imitating a close-open fist motion. This will create enough force to push the Liquid Nail as you apply it to each tile.

Step 4: Put the tiles on the foam board panel and arrange them according to your preference. There is no need to remove the plastic on the board, since the Liquid Nail will “eat” away the plastic and this side is not visible. You may interchange patterns in each row or create a unique design. Let your imagination run wild, but keep your arrangement simple enough to not crowd your photography shot or wall.

Step 5: Once you have decided which layout you prefer, then it is time to apply the Liquid Nail to the back of each ceiling tile. Simply flip the tile over on the underside and use the Liquid Nail around the corners and in the middle. Once you have done this, then you can put the front facing upwards and press gently on the tile to hold it firmly in place. Repeat the same process until you have finished the layout you planned.

Step 6: Lift the backdrop from the floor and lean it against the wall you intend to cover. You may also tie it if you prefer.

Extra Tips:

Tip 1: You will have approximately 45 minutes to move the ceiling tiles around after you put the Liquid Nail on the underside.

Tip 2: One tube of Liquid Nail will be enough for at least 3 24 x 24 ceiling tiles, so you will need approximately five tubes to complete 16 24 x 24 ceiling tiles.

Tip 3: You will need to unlock the applicator gun to remove the Liquid Nail if it is finished. Simply insert a new tube to re-start the application process.

If you have a large studio and do not want to use a foam board, then you can use the Liquid Nail to hold the ceiling tiles on the wall. This alternative is best if you are looking for a permanent backdrop and do not have any near future plans to paint the wall or remove the ceiling tiles.

However, if you want a temporary effect, then it is best to use the foam board since you can remove it from one place to the next to suit your professional preference.

Main Advantages

Light Weight: The faux tin ceiling tiles mentioned in this project are easy to move from one place to the next. As such, you do not need any special equipment to move the tiles or the completed photography backdrop from one place to the next.

Affordable: This is the perfect project for any photographer that wants to keep a lid on expenses. The faux tin ceiling tiles are cheap and durable, which means you will get great value for your money over a long period of time. The other materials and tools are also cheap.

Perfect for DIYers: If you have been thinking about remodeling your studio yourself, then the easy steps outlined above will not hamper your daily routine or cause any excessive burden during installation.

Versatile: You can combine as many tiles as your want depending on the size of your studio. You can also play with your own creativity and change and shift patterns to have a unique layout. You may use different tile texture and colors on each foam board to have a more daring effect!

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