Tin ceiling tiles were once commonplace in many homes in America. Today, you can often find them in architectural salvage yards (we did). If you can’t find any to upcycle, you can also buy them new.
Unless you are using new tiles, most likely they will have some rust or old paint on them. Sand the tiles to get them clean; it will make the surface easier to paint. Wear a dust mask while sanding away old paint. If any of the tiles need to be flattened, gently tap them with a hammer. You’ll want the tiles as flat as possible before affixing them to your headboard.
Lay out the tiles on the plywood to create a pattern. We researched some Americana quilt designs and used those as inspiration when piecing together the tile. Number the tiles on the back to help you remember the placement of the tiles.
When you have decided on the pattern, paint each tin tile. Make piles of the tiles that will be painted the same color so you can paint them in batches. Use a drop cloth, gloves and a mask to protect your floor, skin and lungs from the fumes. Spray paint the tiles in a well-ventilated area (preferably outside). Allow them to dry for a few hours.