This will be my final post about the copper penny floor I’ve created. After installing the floor, grouting it, and cleaning it, I’ve come to the final stage: sealing the floor. What product should you use to seal a penny floor? Polyurethane? Epoxy? Find out what I chose and why and weigh the pros and cons of each product you can use to seal your penny floor.
How to Seal & Protect Your Penny Floor
I’ll be honest with all of you, I’m exhausted! Installing this penny floor has been one of the most labor-intensive, time-consuming and stressful projects I’ve ever done. I hope that all of my posts have helped you along in the process, so that everything is documented and considered for those who want to embark on this endeavor.
How is the Copper Penny Floor Holding Up?
Over the past couple weeks, my floor has been holding up really well. Before it was sealed, I wasn’t walking on it very much, but my thought in waiting before sealing was to actually to test how “tough” the floor actually is; i.e. what level of sealing should be used. My initial thought was that the mortar and the grout would not be enough to hold the pennies in place, and that a very thick, durable top coat (like an epoxy) would be needed in order to keep the pennies in place. But, after doing some research and actually living with the floor, I really don’t think I need the epoxy. So, I’ve decided to coat the floor with a simple polyurethane sealant. This option is much cheaper and much easier to work with than an epoxy (good news, right!!).
Sealing Options: Epoxy vs. Polyurethane
Before I get into the process, I have a little more research to share with you about epoxies and other items you may decide to seal your floor with. I found a very old forum post (from 2009) from a tile contractor asking how to seal a bathroom penny floor for a client. You can read the forum thread here, but I’ll also go over some of the conversation because I’m fearful the thread will get deleted someday. The contractor actually purchased several of the materials referenced in the post, and from his results made an educated decision on what to use.
A few of the suggestions given to the contractor were:
- Liquid Glass epoxy resins
- Touchstone T-2000 Epoxy Setting Adhesive -Gallon
- Latapoxy SP-100
- Klear Kote Epoxy
- Bio-Clear 810 epoxy
- Polyurethane: I used the semi-gloss finish of Minwax 13025 VOC Fast Drying Polyurethane For Floor
The contractor actually ended up using Bio-Clear 810 epoxy, which is very clear, very hard when cured, and very expensive. He also top-coated with UV Plus, a 2 part coating that prevents the epoxy from yellowing in sunlight. Because of this, and his extensive research, I actually bought Bio-Clear 810. The website epoxyproducts.com, although very old and ugly, has a lot of information and explanations on how to use the epoxy. The item shipped quickly and came with printed out instructions for use as well. I do think this, or even another epoxy listed above, or another epoxy on the epoxyproducts.com website would be good options if this is the look you are going for. Do your research, and make the decision that works best for your needs.
After reading thoroughly, and weighing the pros and cons, I decided to just use a polyurethane sealant and return the Bio-Clear 810. Why? To be completely honest, the Bio-Clear scared the CRAP out of me. I’ve spent so much time, and have so much invested, I couldn’t stomach the idea that if I just screwed one simple thing up (like mixing not long enough, too much, too fast, too slow, etc.) it could ruin the whole thing. Since the floor is holding up FANTASTIC without any sealant other than the grout, I think the justifying the price of this expensive epoxy just didn’t appeal to me (you’re looking at $200+ for a small foyer area using epoxy, while a full gallon of this poly will be less than $50 and you’ll never use the whole thing).
My Sealant Choice: Polyurethane
Polyurethane is used to seal hardwood flooring, so why wouldn’t it work in this application? The answer is, it will work, and it looks great. I used Minwax 13025 VOC Fast Drying Polyurethane For Floor in a clear semi-gloss finish. I like the idea that I can do multiple layers to add strength and durability to it. Just follow the instructions on the back of the can. I used a foam brush to apply the poly, and ran a box fan afterwards to help dry it more quickly. After letting it dry for 8+ hours, I sanded very lightly with a 220 grit sandpaper. I dipped a sponge in some Mineral Spirits to wipe away any of the sanding residue. After that was dry, I’d apply another coat.
At the time the photos were taken for this post I had applied 3 thin coats of the poly. I plan to do at least 5 total, but the process for adding additional coats is very easy so I may even do more than that.
2 years later
Here’s a photo 2 years and 3 months after I originally wrote the post.
I can’t wait to see everyone’s projects! I started a gallery on the site so that you can all submit your projects. If you work ANY project using the pennies, or if any of the penny posts inspired you to do a different project, fill out the form here and I’ll post your finished project on the page.
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