The 1950s saw a dramatic change in ceiling tiles, as the metal tiles that had been popular before World War II fell out of fashion because of the metal needs of the war effort, and new tiles took their place. While some homeowners chose to eschew tiles altogether in favor of drywall, others embraced the then-modern look of an acoustic "drop ceiling," where tiles were installed to create a second ceiling below the original.
1950s acoustic drop ceilings affected their rooms in a variety of ways. They could hide unsightly wires and other electrical fixtures that homeowners deemed unseemly. In addition, they made rooms seem smaller due to the decreased space between floor and ceiling. Hung by wires, these ceilings insulated rooms from noise coming from above.
Because they were often installed using asbestos, both living with and removing 1950s ceiling tiles can be hazardous to your health. This is especially true with drop ceilings, which offered a measure of insulation and relied on asbestos to accomplish this effect.
Vinyl tiles were used in the 1950s, as this modern material helped block sound. The tiles were often decorative, with floral or geometric shapes that added color and interest to interior spaces. At the time of publication, companies such as Celium produce replica tiles that reproduce this style and make it accessible to modern decorators. Tiles are most commonly available in 12-inch squares, which can be combined to cover large areas.
Because of the asbestos used with many 1950s ceilings, installing vintage ceiling tiles is not recommended. However, you can use replica tiles in the 1950s style to create a drop ceiling. Today, drop ceilings in the 1950s style represent a good option for basements and other areas where you may have exposed electrical fixtures, or where you wish to muffle noise.