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Make a floor out of REAL pennies (step by step)
Hello my friend! If you’re looking for the ultimate guide to installation of a penny floor, you’ve come to the right place.
I installed a penny floor foyer in my home in 2012-2013 and since then, hundreds of others have read this blog and created their own penny projects (masterpieces) using these instructions.
This post will give you all of the information that you need to get this done right without having to scour the internet for additional information. The methods explained in this post are tried and true — completed by myself and many, many others with success.
So, if this is a project that you’re really interested in tackling, welcome to the club. I’m sure you will find solace in knowing that you are not alone. And that you are not the first crazy person to attempt this… nor will you be the last!
For your convenience I’ve included a table of contents that you can use to reference this page. Don’t forget to bookmark the page too, so you can come back to it as you work on your penny floor or other penny project!
Table of Contents
- Why a penny floor?
- Why a penny template?
- Step 1: Create your penny floor template
- Step 2: Install the pennies onto mesh
- Step 3: Preparing your floor
- Step 4: Lay the penny tile
- Step 5: Grout the pennies
- Step 6: To clean or not to clean the pennies
- Step 7: Seal the pennies
- How does a penny floor hold up over time?
- Penny Floor FAQ
Why Install a Penny Floor?
When I first moved into my house, I found pennies everywhere! Seriously, in every little nook and cranny of my house there was a penny wedged. I found them in the cracks of the sidewalk, along ledges, in floor and sink drains… They’d even hit me in the head when I slammed a closet door.
I did some research to find out what this could possibly mean. Why are there pennies all over the house?
Some people say that finding coins or feathers in repetitive numbers is a message from the angels. Others say it’s to keep negative spirits away.
I saved the pennies as I’ve found them, always thinking I’d find a way to do something creative with them. Then, one day I stumbled upon this photo. And that’s where my penny foyer idea was born.
Why Use a Penny Floor Template?
I liked Amanda’s method, although I didn’t want to rip up my floor for weeks or even months as I installed the pennies. I needed another solution… a template of sorts.
A template and a system would allow me to create individual square foot “sheets” of pennies. And, once I completed 16 sheets of pennies I could THEN rip out the floor and install the floor.
This is where my penny floor template will help you with this project. You can make the “sheets” whenever you have free time (while watching tv) and you don’t have to live in a torn up mess of a house while you’re hunched over on your hands and knees gluing each individual penny to the floor.
see Brandon’s penny bathroom floor
“It can be done. If you’re here researching whether you should do it or not, you can and should!” – Brandon
Penny floor… or another penny project?
While I created a penny foyer out of this project, there are many, many different things you can create. I’ve seen a full kitchen floor created with just pennies. There’s even a bar in NYC that has a penny floor! How about using the pennies as a backsplash, or table or a bar top? Or on a vanity or a tub surround? The possibilities are endless!
Ready to get started and be the “latest nutcase” who decides to install a penny floor? This is how you do it.
Materials to Install a Penny Floor
First things first, there are 304 pennies in one square foot. If you plant to make a 4’x4′ foyer like mine, you’ll need 16 square feet of pennies; or 4,864 pennies; or $48.64 in pennies.
- Pennies (304/sq ft): You can collect these, ask your friends or grab rolls at the bank. I made a Facebook event and invited all my friends… I had the pennies in no time.
- Weldbond Glue: I went through about 6 bottles to do 16 sq. ft. I’d recommend Weldbond but the type of glue is up to you.
- A penny floor template: Optional but your back will thank me. If you go the template-route, you’ll also need:
- Mosaic Tile Mesh: This is the mesh backing that 1′ squares of mosaics come on when you buy them at the store.
- Scrap Cardboard: I used multiple pieces that were a little larger than 1×1′ square.
- Clear Packing Tape: So you don’t accidentally glue your mesh to your cardboard backing.
- Latex/Rubber Gloves: If you touch the pennies, the oil from your skin may discolor them.
- Cement board: This will create a level, sturdy surface to lay your tiles on. You’ll also need:
- Thin-Set Mortar: This will install the pennies onto your floor.
- Unsanded Grout: This will fill in the spaces between your pennies. I used charcoal- chocolate would also be a great option. I do not consider the grout to be an “optional” step unless you plan to use epoxy to seal your floor.
- Metal Paint Scraper: Recommended if you are using the penny floor template.
- Penny Floor Sealant / Clear Coat: There are many options for sealers; mostly epoxy and polyurethane. I used Minwax Polyurethane for Floors. I don’t have any experience with using the epoxy although several readers have used it successfully.
- Patience ?
Here are the steps to create your floor. If you aren’t using the penny floor template, skip to Step 3.
Step 1: Create your Penny Floor Template
Download the exact penny floor template from my project (printable PDF download)
- Print a few copies of the penny floor template.
- Carefully cut along the purple line on each piece of paper.
- Overlap the pieces so they line up and seam them together. You can then cut out an exact 12×12″ square.
- Lay your template paper onto a piece of scrap cardboard.
- Use the packing tape to cover all of the cardboard and the template. Basically, you’re “laminating” the front side of the cardboard so that nothing sticks to it.
- Cut your mosaic tile mesh into 1 foot squares.
Here’s a photo of my template. You can see in the middle of the picture where I pieced two 8.5×11″ printouts together. Then, I used packing tape over the whole entire piece of cardboard to keep the glue from sticking.
Quick Tip: I made two cardboard penny floor templates for myself so that I could work on more than one square foot at a time. It allowed one square of pennies to dry without me getting impatient and wanting to start a new square. Highly recommend!
Step 2: Install the Pennies onto Mesh
Hooray! Time to install these bad boys. If you are using the penny floor template, you’ll install the pennies onto the mesh backing. If you’re installing them onto the floor or another surface, you’ll be gluing them directly to it. This photo is my first batch of pennies on the mesh! So exciting!!
If you aren’t using the penny floor template, skip to Step 3.
Install pennies onto the mesh backing
- Put on your rubber gloves. You cannot handle the pennies directly from this point forward. The oil in your skin will tarnish the center of the penny where you push it down into the glue. The worst part is you won’t immediately notice the huge black dot that will appear in the middle of your penny… it will happen overnight.
- Line up the mesh on top of your new template.
- Use a dot of glue to adhere each penny to the tile one at a time. You can also pre-glue a small section to make it easier.
- Push your penny down into the glue on top of the mesh backing. Use the penny template underneath the mesh to guide you.
- After you’ve finished a full square, let it dry overnight.
- When dry, use a metal paint scraper to carefully separate the mesh from the cardboard template.
- It’s inevitable that some of the pennies will come loose. Just save them, and when you are installing the floor you can use a dab of glue or mortar to put them back in place (wear your gloves).
Now, you don’t want the glue to stick to the cardboard template when you are gluing your pennies, so I found the best way to prevent this is by covering the ENTIRE piece of cardboard with packing tape. Just tape the sh!t out of it. That way, when your glue is dry you can use a putty knife or a butter knife to carefully peel away the mesh from the penny floor template without very much effort at all.
“You are an inspiration for our own floor design and a wealth of information! Thank you for your brilliance and pathfinding ways to this design idea. Otherwise we’d still be trying to figure out how to start.” –Jay
Step 3: Preparing Your Floor (or Other Surface)
So, they say that 90% of the work is in the prep. This theme continues even after you’ve spent countless hours gluing your pennies to the mesh. The key to getting the floor to hold up over time, is the prep work.
Remove carpet, hardwood or other flooring materials
I didn’t previously have a “foyer” before beginning this project. All I had was a living room space that was carpeted with hardwood flooring underneath. Because I had to “create” a foyer, there were several steps involved before I could actually install the penny floor; removing the carpet and removing the flooring.
Because I was laying my floor in an area where there’s carpet, I had to measure out the space then cut and remove the carpet.
After measuring out my foyer space, we used a line of painters tape and a really sharp razor blade to cut out the carpet.
Next, we had to remove the hardwood flooring. We used a reciprocating saw and chiseled away at the edges. Then, we used a crowbar to peel away at the edges. Once the boards were removed, we had to pull up ALL of the nails that were left behind.
The reason we removed the hardwood is because hardwood expands and contracts. While we probably could have laid the pennies directly onto it, the shifting of the wood would probably cause the pennies to pop and buckle under pressure.
Once everything is removed, sweep and vacuum the floor completely to remove any debris.
The final step to prepare you flooring for the pennies is to install a cement backer board.
Now that the floor was gone, we needed to build it back up again using cement backer board. I know, it seems really counter-intuitive, right? Well, backer board is pretty easy to work with.
We mixed the mortar (for reference we used TotalFlex Universal Tile Mortar, Step 2), applied it with a trowel, and stuck the backer board into it. We then screwed all of the boards down using 8 x 1-1/4-Inch Cement Board Screws.
The next step is to use Cement Board Seam Tape to go over all of the places where the pieces of cement board meet. Use the mortar and a Spackle knife (or the flat part of the trowel) to stick the tape onto the cement board.
So, now that the surface is properly prepped, we are ready to install the penny tile sheets!
Step 4: Lay the Penny Tile
Install penny sheets onto the floor (mesh backing)
My dad and I went back and forth between using thinset mortar vs. a tile adhesive. Our biggest issue was getting the penny mesh to adhere to the floor below since most of the Weldbond glue created a seal near the bottom of the mesh that the mortar or adhesive would not be able to penetrate. It’s really just the nature of the “beast” and I would still recommend using the Weldbond if someone asked me today.
Ultimately, we decided to go with the thinset. It’s self-leveling, and it will also form a waterproof layer underneath in case water ever seeps in there somehow.
I did install 1 square section using the tile adhesive and that also worked just fine. So I think either option would work. After the product decision is made, the process is quite simple:
- lay the thinset and use a 1/4″ trowel to create ridges (just as you would lay any tile).
- Then, set the penny mesh-side down into the ridges.
- Work slowly, and try to align each piece to interlock with one another. Trim the mesh when necessary to create the best interlock you can.
- If any pennies have fallen out of your mesh, now is the time to pop those back in!
- Let dry overnight.
Piece-by-piece, the penny floor began to take shape. We worked slowly and carefully, trimming the mesh when necessary to create the best interlock we could. Obviously, it wont be perfect, so don’t beat yourself up about it.
Install pennies directly onto the floor (no mesh backing)
Before you start to install the pennies, check out the section on “preparing your floor.”
Once your surface is prepped, use the glue of your choice to secure each penny to the floor. You may need to create some guide lines to help you so you don’t make a wonky, crooked floor. It’s not too late to grab my penny floor template!
Step 5: Grout the Pennies
After the thinset sufficiently dried, I started the grouting process. I used an unsanded grout in dark grey/charcoal color. I really like the contrast that the dark grout gives to the pennies.
However, if you want a more cohesive/seamless look, they do make a reddish brown grout color that would be pretty close to the copper color of the pennies. The grout color is entirely up to you.
Do you need to grout a penny floor?
This question comes up a lot. While the grout does not really do anything to hold the pennies in place, I definitely would recommend grouting the penny floor. This is especially true if you plant to seal the floor using polyurethane. Polyurethane is meant to be applied in very thin even coats. Therefore, trying to fill the holes between the pennies with polyurethane is not a great solution. The poly may not dry between the pennies and that wouldn’t be a good thing.
If you seal your penny floor with epoxy, the epoxy will harden between the pennies in the same way a grout would. In this case it’s not necessary to grout. But, grouting is also an option if you like the look of it — the grout will not affect the epoxy.
How to grout your penny floor
Grout the pennies just as you would any other tile. Mix the unsanded powder grout with water according to the package instructions, and then apply into the seams using a grout float.
Take your time as you grout the floor. Go slowly and make sure you go at a 45-degree angle so you don’t pull the grout out from between the pennies.
Once you have enough grout into the spaces between the pennies, you’ll let it set for a few minutes (follow the instructions on your grout package). Use a sponge with very little water on it and slowly swipe the grout away. It will take several passes before it’s completely clean and you’ll be on your hands and knees rubbing it off for most of that time.
It’s not fun, but it’s very worthwhile to see the beautiful end-result… right? Make sure you completely dry the floor when you are finished grouting. Don’t let ANY water rest on the penny floor for an extended period of time. It can oxidize the pennies and cause discoloration. In other words, your beautiful pennies will turn black or look really, really yucky.
If you’re new to grouting, here’s a good video on the basics of grouting. It should really help you with the penny floor installation:
I won’t lie to you… grouting the pennies is easy, but it’s very time consuming and labor-intensive. Especially when it comes time to remove the grout. If it’s too much for you to do all at once, just mix a little bit of grout at a time, do a small section, then clean it off. Take this step in-stride!
Step 6: To Clean or Not to Clean the Pennies
Just a tip from experience, don’t try to clean your pennies after you’ve glued them. I read all these techniques for cleaning/shining up a penny and thought it would be a great way to get a consistent look.
But, the problem with shining the pennies is that the pennies are all from different years, therefore contain different amounts of copper and other metals. Because they aren’t consistent in what they are made of, they all react to the cleaning methods differently. My best advice is to be picky about which pennies you use from the start, and once they are on the mesh LEAVE THEM BE!
“The extra effort you put forth to document your efforts and knowledge, (from experience), and share it with strangers like me, is incredible and very much appreciated. Thank you very much!”–L.see the beautiful “Lincoln Room” penny floor created by L.
Don’t use these methods for cleaning
- Ketchup. I’ve always heard that ketchup works wonders to shine up a penny. Unfortunately, this didn’t work for me. It barely took the tarnish off, and made the cracks in between all red and gloppy and gross.
- Baking soda + water. Again, I tried this to get the tarnish off some of the pennies using a paste that I rubbed on using a toothbrush. It ended up scratching a lot of the pennies, and took the orangy shine off of them. Now they are more of a pinkish/dull color… so I ended up not using that batch.
- Vinegar. This didn’t work for me either. Maybe try soaking them beforehand to see if you like the effect?
If you insist on cleaning the pennies, try these instead
If you are stubborn and don’t want to listen to me, at least give these a try when attempting to clean your pennies.
Wright’s Copper Cream is the best solution I’ve found to cleaning the pennies… if you must. It will gently clean and remove tarnish without scratching the pennies.
- Wright’s Copper Cream: Although I like the idea of having old and new mixed together, if you want a super even look, or just need to clean some of the really dirty pennies, try Wright’s Copper Cream. It’s amazing!!!
- Bar Keepers Friend: From time to time, readers will send in suggestions when they find a successful cleaning agent. The one that several have recommended is Bar Keepers Friend so you may want to give that a try as well.
Protect your floor until you seal it
After cleaning the pennies up and letting it sufficiently dry, I threw a carpet over top until I figured out how to seal it. Although you can walk on it now, I’d recommend waiting until you’ve sealed it so you don’t ruin it! Happy Installing!
Step 7: Seal the Pennies
Polyurethane or Epoxy? The Saga Continues….
Sealing the floor is DEFINITELY the area where I get the absolute MOST questions. What type of sealer did you use? Why didn’t you use X? Can I seal it with Y? Lots and lots of questions.
To boil this down, I chose to use polyurethane to seal my penny floor. Others have followed my tutorial up until this point, then went with epoxy. Both are viable options. But, the process for applying each sealer is completely different.
I only have experience with polyurethane. If you have questions about epoxy I’m afraid I can’t help you. However, there is a lot of great information in the comments section of this post and you may be able to get some help there.
When sealing the floor the process will vary depending on whether you are using epoxy or polyurethane. The process will also be different if you use oil-based vs. water-based polyurethane (I used water-based). Thoroughly read the instructions for the product you choose and ask any questions you may have to the product manufacturer.
If you’re using polyurethane, the application should not differ much from how you would apply it to wood flooring. But, again, read the instructions and check with the manufacturer if you are unsure.
- Read the instructions thoroughly and follow them exactly as explained.
- Ensure that you have adequate ventilation.
- Properly mix the polyurethane before using.
- Apply the polyurethane in thin, even coats.
- Wait for each coat to dry before applying the next coat.
- Lightly sand in-between coats (when dry).
- Give the floor the proper amount of time to dry before walking on it.
Pros and Cons of Epoxy for Penny Floors
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 Epoxy Products 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.
Pros of Epoxy: Durable, Shiny (looks like glass) – could also be a con?
Cons of Epoxy: expensive, stinky, hard to work with, no margin for error
This is a photo from the contractor who sealed pennies in a bathroom with the BioClear 810 epoxy. It looks like GLASS. This will give you a good idea of what it will look like if you decide to use an epoxy.
Pros and Cons of Polyurethane for Penny Floors
After researching and weighing the pros and cons, I decided to 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).
I stand by this choice 100%. But it’s definitely a personal decision which sealant you use. There’s no “right” or “wrong” answer no matter what the internet trolls may tell you. Do what’s best for you and what will give you the look that YOU want.
Pros of Polyurethane: Easy to apply, not permanent, cost effective, water-based doesn’t stink as much and dries very quickly.
Cons of Polyurethane: Not as durable as epoxy, need to maintain, no “glass-like” look – could also be a pro, less messy, oil-based is stinky and takes longer to dry.
Sealing a Penny Floor with 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. I applied 5 coats in total.
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.
How Does a Penny Floor Hold Up Over Time?
“I am curious though, it looks like your last entry and picture of the floor was from a couple years back. Now that it’s been a few years how is it holding up? I’m sure there is your typical everyday wearing down of it but do you think it was worth it that way? Would you do it again?” – Chris
Hey Chris. The poly has held up really well. I have not refinished it although refinishing would be easy (just sand and re-apply). There are areas of wear but it works for me. None of the pennies have been damaged. I hope that helps… poly is the safest way to do it and the easiest to reapply/refinish down the road. I would certainly do it again.
PS: scroll down and you will see a gallery of my penny floor over the years. I also added a video created in January 2018 showing the details of my floor, so check that out too.
Here is a photo of the penny floor after 3 coats of polyurethane. I still had some finishing/trim work to do.
Penny Floor – 2 Years Later
This photo was taken on August 21, 2015 — approximately 2 years and 3 months after the original installation date of May 1, 2013.
I have never resealed the floor and my dog and I walk over it every day. Sure, it shows some signs of wear and dirt and is not perfect, but it certainly has held up.
Penny Floor 6 Years Later
Good luck, my friend. I hope this post and my penny floor template helps to make this process much easier for you.
Check out the following posts to see some unique Penny Projects created by readers of this blog. Seriously, definitely check these out because a lot of their completed projects are way cooler and better than my original floor 🙂
- DIY Project Ideas Using Pennies
- Bathroom and Shower Floor Tiles with Pennies
- Inspirational Penny Floor Projects by Home Owners
- Creative Garden Ideas That Look Way Too Good To Be DIYs
Penny Floor FAQ
Also be sure to take a look at the Penny Floor Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page where a lot of the most common penny floor questions are answered!
Amy is the founder of Pretty Purple Door and has been a garden designer since 2014 and graphic designer since 2005. She helps home gardeners design their own beautiful landscapes that are colorful in all four seasons, show off your personality and suit your lifestyle. Amy's work has been featured in publications like The Spruce, Family Handyman, Buzzfeed, Country Living Magazine and more. Read full bio.
Hi Amy! My penny floor in my bathroom is approximately three years old. I would like to put on a couple more layers of polyurethane. I know you said to send with 220 grit sandpaper and then apply, do I have to sand after every coat or just before the first ? Thank you Jerry
Hi Jerry I always sand in between coats of poly
Great post!, however, high quality grout is NOT an adhesive. A quality thinset should be used, if you are grouting. Just like a regular floor tile.
Yes this is all covered in step for under laying the penny tile? Not sure where it says that I would be using grout as an adhesive?
As I was looking at mesh, i found the fibatape at Home Depot. Have you heard of anyone using that versus the mesh? The pricing is a little cheaper than even buying from Mosaic Art Supply. Everything that i found did not list metal for the Weldbond, what made you use that? I was looking at Gorilla Glue vs. Weldbond. Thank you for a great article, you helped me talk my husband into doing this on our screened porch!
I tried a few different glues and consulted with some local mosaic artists. Many recommended weldbond. I did lots of tests and that’s what worked for me. I’m not a fan of gorilla glue because it tends to expand so much and get everywhere but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. I haven’t heard of anyone using Fibatape so I’m sorry I can’t help you there — I can only tell you what I’ve done from my own experience 🙂
Amy – your template (I just bought the pdf) has the pennies nearly touching or touching. I’ve seen others with wider gaps. I’m not started yet but concerned that there will not be enough grout to hold the pennies or to keep the grout stable. Even tiny standard tiles have a continuous gap so the entire tile can be surrounded by grout. Your thoughts? I see a lot of talk about no sand grout but my tile guy says sand grout is what should be used?
Hi Michael. The pennies will fit into the black lines. So anywhere there are lines on the template will be spaces for grout. The pennies won’t touch and will look exactly like they do on my own floor, as that’s why I made the template. Hope that answers your question!
For cleaning penny I use a reloaders brass tumbler with medium. works great pennies come out super shinny.
Can the penny floor be done on a patio cement slab?
How slippery is the floor when finished??
Thanks for the tip, Carolyn 🙂
Love this, I would like to recommend Tub and Tile from Melaleuca for cleaning the pennies. It does an awesome job and is non-toxic. I am going to do a project like this soon. Thanks again.
Sorry I’m not familiar with your currency maybe someone else will be more helpful.
I love this idea and feel very confident in all aspects of carrying out the project for my kitchen floor, I do however have two concerns. Once the floor is coated is it slippy? And is it susceptible to being scratched, I understand from your threads it’s hard wearing to everyday ‘traffic’, but I’m dubious that if ever my appliances need to be dragged out for any reason that they’ll leave scratches, particularly washing machines as they’re very heavy?
Hi Tracy — 1. Is it slippery: yes… in the sense that hardwood floors are slippery. The sealer I used was a polyurethane for hardwood flooring. It makes it slippery like a hardwood floor. 2. I don’t really know how to answer this question. If you drag something along the floor, like a large stove, yes, you’ll probably damage the surface of the floor… meaning the polyurethane. You would probably then have to sand the floor and reseal it. If you are this concerned about durability then I wouldn’t really recommend doing a penny floor. It’s more of a conversation starter or accent flooring. Pennies obviously aren’t made to be flooring. Maybe you could do a penny backsplash instead?
Hi I am in the UK and have just purchased 600 1/2 pennies. Has anyone used these before to do a floor? Also what area will these cover? Thanks
I have made my toilet floor with European 2cents (same color and size of American pennies). Glued and with a top of epoxy. First there was a weird reaction at the opening of the door (epoxy became blurry). Than, I put a uv top coat. But this was mat (dull). Now, the penny are almost not visible. I’m really disappointed. Before the top coat, it was shiny and really beautiful. Can I polish it? And what do you think about a shiny floor? My friend said that it is really nice at the beginning but becomes fast ugly (where we walk…).
I’m sorry I can’t help with the epoxy. however, I’ve had the floor installed for 4 years in my foyer and walk on it every day. Even my 100lb dog trampled it, and now my 40lb dog. It gets a lot of use and I’ve never had an issue with it “wearing” where we walk.
I’m just going to begin my penny floor for my bathroom, How long should I wait before we begin to walk on the floor. Thanx
Hi Lisa, You’ll have to check the instructions on the materials you use (mortar, grout, poly, etc). They are all different. Follow the instructions provided on each item 🙂
Hi there, thanks so, so much for this thread. I’ve just completed my bathroom floor, and I love it!! This is super helpful for the setting process… One thing I wondered (having laid it at different times. A few hours a day etc), it’s left the first ones laid dirtier. Eek!! I wondered please, the best cleaning products? Also, what’s the best cleaning product in general? For once the varnish has been set?
Hi Catherine! Thanks for writing! My favorite product personally for cleaning the pennies has been Wright’s Copper Cream, so that’s what I would recommend. You can rub it on lightly and buff it off so it’s a good way to clean up the pennies without making them all completely new looking. Some others have used Bar Keepers Friend, Pineapple Juice, Vinegar, Baking Sode + Water, or Ketchup with good results. Don’t forget to submit your picturesto the penny floor gallery when it’s done!
I’m doing a small table. A small nightmare, ok maybe not so small. I understand level, I understand fluid seeks level. My level and fluid level are 15 different things.
I wanted to use polyurethane, epoxy scared me, small amounts coat after coat. After coat, after coat, after coat, after coat. The decision was made to make each coat thicker. WOW looked great. Table top looked perfect. Bed time. Morning time with a fresh cup of coffee and a smile. I want to see my table.
Oh crap, oh no, oh my. That whole level thing. The Polyurethane had found it’s level, and it wasn’t my level. About a third of the table looked good, looked really good. Do I really need to say what the other two thirds looked like, well its got a nice shine, but a very thin coat of polyurethane, very thin.
Now my question. Is it legal to burn pennies?
Hi Joe. What type of Poly did you use? I used a quick drying water-based poly and didn’t have a problem so maybe it’s the type of poly that you used? I’m not sure.
Hi, we did a penny floor in our guest bathroom in our new home and used just superglue as a friend of ours had also done. It worked great! Now the issue we have is that the poly (4 coats) is not drying all the way. Any suggestions why it’s not drying yet after 2 weeks?? We need to get the plumber in there to install a sink and toilet but don’t want them to ruin it if it’s not dry yet. We spent a lot of time on this project! The only thing we have been told is to be patient and let it dry, and it may take a month!
Can i do this as a shower floor?
I am so in love with this site omg Im just really so excited to finally find like the MASTER LIST of info on these penny floor installations. Like a lot of other commenters I’m trying to do this in my bathroom floor and the trial and error aspect of this is super stressing so I’m trying to do this thing right the FIRST time.
Some info on it is it’s a generally 5 x 5 space. Current floor is some dry ceramic tile and patches of cement where my housing development had to patch damaged or missing tile. And since I do live in NYCHA ( new york city housing ) they frown on ” apartment modifications ” (like laying sticky tile or changing lighting fixtures etc )and the only people who really are to break the rule are the ones planning on living there their WHOLE lives. Let housing send the complaint to my grave site kinda thing.
Anyway, with that in mind I’m really trying hard to find a way to make this semi-permanent-semi-temporary- totally durable. My plan was to get a cheap roll of linoleum vinyl, cut it to size minding the areas for toilet etc, take that cut roll to a separate room ( since my bathroom gets too much traffic to comfortably do the penny attachment process peacefully in there ) adhere the pennies to the vinyl ( I have a test patch curing in my room currently of a penny stuck to vinyl with gorilla glue ) let that properly dry, lay out the cut and newly pennied vinyl onto the bathroom floor, caulk around the seams like any other bathroom linoleum treatment AND THEN grout and seal ( although after seeing OP’s success with no sealer I’m wondering if I would even need it? )
I’m thinking this may be my best bet because in the hopefully unlikely event I need to remove the floor I can just chip at the side seams where I caulked and roll that sucker up, leaving the original floor virtually unchanged. My concern is- and forgive me if any of these questions sound ridiculous, I’m a newbie to all this- the vinyl and adhesion. It’s maybe a long shot but has anyone tried this before? Is there ANY kind of adhesive out there I could use that would guarantee the pennies will stay stuck to that marble?
I imagine that when it’s down and leveled on the ground and grouted there probably wouldn’t be much jostling these pennies to make them come up but I have no clue never having done something like this before.
Any advice or insight would be more than appreciated it!
Thanks for stopping by! I’m not too sure about the linoleum. I’ve never tried it so you’ll either have to do some trial and error with a small sheet or maybe someone else can offer you some advice. My other suggestion would be to do something else with pennies that you can take with you. How about using a piece of plywood and making a “penny tile rug” — or using a cheap ikea lack end or coffee table and cover it with the pennies to make a penny table? How about a bookcase and doing a whole BACKSPLASH for the bookcase and that would be a really really cool stand-out piece in your living room where you could showcase some of your books and cute nic-nacs? I’m just thinking that if you are going to put so much time into making it, why not put the time into a piece that you can take with you when you go?
I went right over my cushion floor in my foyer which was a pretty big area too.
1st – painted lenoleum with zinster 1-2-3 (this acted like a primer for the brown paint I painted floor floor in next step)
2- painted floor brown
3-stuck my pennies one by one with clear drying construction glue
4-I didn’t grout, I poured polyurethane quick drying all over the pennies and once dried, did it again. (Gives the epoxy look without the cost)
So happy with the look. Been 2 years and still looks great, just polyied the floor again to get that beautiful shine!
Hope I included everything. Good luck.
Send pictures of your penny floor to [email protected] so we can feature you 🙂
This is fantastic site! Thank you all for great ideas and tips.
Perhaps I can add one that I found on you-tube; the discoloration on pennies can be caused by touching them by bare hand (leaving residue of oil from the skin). The person suggested lying pennies using rubber gloves.
I have a question of my own…. Did anyone tried using pennies in a shower stall/walls, and if so…did the steam/water caused any problems?
Did anyone used the same products as for the floors?
I want to do it 🙂
Thank you and keep on writing please?
Hi Ela. Yes I think I do mention in one of my posts that the oil from your hands will discolor the pennies. I used gloves while putting the pennies on the penny floor template myself. I don’t think I have seen anyone actually use the pennies in the shower stall. However, I have seen some of the followers use pennies in the bathroom and on the floor near the shower. I would assume it would get quite humid in the bathroom and perhaps they would have some insight about how the floor has held up. Thanks for reading and if you try anything new I hope you’ll share pictures and advice 🙂
Hi. My husband and I are the latest pair of idiots trying to install a penny floor on our bathroom and shower floor. We knew it would take time to get all the pennies worked out, but didn’t know we’d still be at it 4 weeks later. My “vision” for the floor meant that I wanted almost entirely bright, shiny coins, all heads up. It would’ve gone a lot quicker had we simply done it randomly. Oh well . . . Because we’re also putting it in a shower, we’re first laying down a water proof barrier, then mortar, then pennies, then grout. Our biggest problem is deciding on and finding the best (and not terribly expensive), clear and glossy epoxy. After all, we decided to do the penny floor not only because of its uniqueness, but also its “cheapness.” Any one have any good suggestions? Have you used a brand from Lowe’s, Home Depot or Menards? Lowe’s sells one for about $60. They were the only store I contacted that would actually say it was good to put over pennies and in the shower. Do we have to spend a lot to get the best? Our bathroom is 65 sq. feet. It gets no sun, but we want to make sure the product won’t yellow and that it’s good to put over pennies.
Thanks everyone for your suggestions.
🙁 I’m sorry to hear that. It’s important to remember that not all polyurethane is equal. I can only vouch for the one I used personally. I have also talked to some followers that have had trouble with the polyurethane because they did not shake/mix it enough. Have you come up with a solution, or is there something I can help you with? Or were you just commenting to say that it didn’t work for you?
How did the 2-part Poly work out Nicki?
We have pre-made penny tile sheets at KVS Mint Coin Tile. Custom, mosaics, and nickel sheets available as well. Check us out at http://www.kvsmintcointile.com.
I usedon’t the polyurethane on my penny floor, in the bathroom. After my first time using it after several weeks, only hours later, the urethane began peeling from the pennies.
haha… funny comment. I’m so sorry it didn’t work for you. I’m sure you put a lot of time into it. Honestly, you have nothing to lose by trying the epoxy at this point. I’ve seen it very successfully done on bar tops. Since you are ready to burn the whole thing down, maybe now is the time to try it. If you do, please let me (and everyone else) know how you’ve done. If you check out Part 2 or the Gallery I believe there some comments there about epoxy use.
I just did my bathroom floor with pennies and it looked great. Pennies were all brand new from the bank, didn’t use any cleaner on them. Prior to sealing I wiped down with warm water and let them dry overnight. The next day I sealed the pennies with a water based polyurethane and after the second coat I noticed several of the pennies have darkened and many of them have black spots on them and the floor looks dirty. not sure if I did something wrong or not. Do you know of a way to fix this? I’m nervous about using a stripper and redoing it and risk discoloring the pennies more.
I’m starting to lay my pennies today. I stripped out the old floor and put down hardiebacker. I’m planning to use weldbond glue to hold the pennies down, but I’m thinking of not grouting them and only using poly. Think the poly will fill the holes in between? Or do you think I’m making a big mistake by not grouting? I’m also wondering if they aren’t grouted if any will pop off. Thanks. Habib
Hello anyone? I will do grout but never grouted before. I just did a test strip and the non sanded grout doesn’t quite bring the gap areas completely up to the penny level. Will the poly fill in the gaps? I have put down over 60k pennies idividually and my back is killing me.
I’m so sorry you ran into a problem. What type of Poly did you use? I honestly don’t think it was the poly… I think it may have been wiping down the pennies with warm water 🙁 Try doing that to a penny that’s not on the floor and see if you get the same result over a 2 day period without putting the poly on it. And try wiping a penny with warm water and the next day applying poly to it, and see if you get the black spots on it. That way you will know whether the water or the poly caused the problem for you or not. If you used a water based poly you will not have to apply a stripper — I do not think. I believe it is easier to remove. You will have to do a bit of research on this. But try to figure out what the cause is, and if you can reproduce the black spots on the penny. Once you can reproduce the black spot, you can try to figure out how to remove them before you start experimenting on a floor that’s already installed. That’s my best advice. Keep us posted. Maybe some of the other followers will have advice for you.
You have to mix a lot of grout. Just slap it in there. It should be a peanut butter consistency. Fill the gaps and make sure it’s level with the surface of the floor. Once it dries it will harden up. The type of grout you are using is just to not scratch the pennies because they are delicate. However, these are all suggestions and you can use whatever you are comfortable with. It’s really your call. Here is a youtube video that may help you: How To Grout Tile: Correct Technique Makes It Easy
I literally have adof hitler and Mohawk looking pennies and grout in all sorts places besides where it needs to be
penny backsplash disaster.. scraping over $65.00 of pennies because the unsanded grout comes off like mudd leaving grout mainly on pennies? what would be better way get this crap off? also wat should I used to protect them after
Hello everyone my name is kyle and i’m doing a penny floor now. It’s the front living room we made a game room and has all my nautical stuff. I did a pattern on the floor and have had to clean the shiny pennies a couple times because they are patina fast. I’m grouting them with a dark color like black or charcoal. What cleaner coat will lock in the patina and keep floor looking great. I did a nautical star with compass which is pointing the right way to how the house sits with a border so it’s like an area rug. Please let me know i’ll be ready to clear coat this part untill i get more pennies to finish rest floor my email is [email protected]
Hi Kate! Thanks for purchasing the template – you rock! I have seen several home owners use Epoxy for wet bathroom areas. The only one I’ve used is the Minwax Poly for floors so that would be my recommendation. Do several coats.
http://www.kvsmintcointile.com carries the penny tile in pre-made sheets.
I have my pennies all glued down and it’s ready for the sealing. I have chosen polyurethane, just a couple things before I start. I’ve seen online that water based polyurethane will turn the pennies green, and you should use oil based, is this true? As I have purchased water based already (because I don’t want to evacuate my house for a week, due to the smell as the floor is in my ensuite to the master bedroom.) Also, how many coats of polyurethane would u recommend to get a good sealing? TIA
In that case, Missy, it might be wise to do a test piece first, say covering a small night table or some such, to see how it all works out.
Here’s the missing Science Class Magic for cleaning the tarnish off pennies- or rather, making it disappear…: use vinegar with some salt added.
First try it by putting some vinegar in a bread plate, sprinkle in some salt, and drop a few dark pennies.
Thee don’t actually clean the pennies to any extent, but instead changes the chemical formulation of the oxides that discolour the copper such that the oxides are now fairly clear.
A really sharp eye will notice that the end result isn’t quite a natural copper, but it’s close enough.
Great project! I am really curious if your thin set over existing tile grout lines approach worked, Brandon. I really don’t want to demo my 12 X 12 tile on concrete slab bathroom floor. Pennies are thin enough that installing on top won’t raise the level of the floor too much. Does anyone have a suggestion of any other product that could be used to smooth out existing grout lines to give a flat surface on which to lay the pennies?
Somewhere I saw the mention of Copper cleaner (bar keepers friend and the likes), would this step be done before setting the pennies or after the placing or grouting, prior to sealing?
Thinking of starting this project… The finished result is incredible! Odd question though…. do the pennies feel smooth to walk on with bare feet? I am worried about being able to feel the grooves in between each coin. Does that make sense? I will have to decipher the sealant products as I am in the UK and I think a lot of the products mentioned here may have different names.
Must you use a poly on the floor? I am putting this in the bathroom and worried about it being too slippery? Thanks! Mel
It won’t be slippery, the texture of the pennies and the spaces between them and the grout is still felt through several coats of poly.
I think if you don’t use poly the pennies will turn color. Put some pennies in a bowl of water and see what happens
Which sealant should I go with? I am just about to start my wet room floor and want to make sure that whatever sealant I use is going to hold up against the shower, etc. This blog has been so helpful in getting me started – I’ve even purchased the template.
Hey Carol, what epoxy did you end up using?
You need one of these for the wall!
Thank you for such a detailed description of your process. Your information gives me much greater confidence in tackling something like this myself. Based on the date of this post it looks like your floor was completed about 1 year ago. Can you tell me how your floor has held up over time? Any problems, regrets, changes you would make? How much traffic does your foyer get? Thanks in advance for any information you can provide.
Hi Marcus. The floor looks great. If it ever needs it I can give it a light sanding and reapply the poly. However I haven’t had to do that yet. The floor gets daily use. It’s right in my front door area. I also have a 100lb dog that constantly tramples it. No problems. Hope that helps!
just wanted to throw this out there… for cleaning the pennies… you can do handfuls at a time with this method before you lay them in your grid.. you will need a glass bowl.
a sheet of tin foil
and hot water..
lay the tin foil in the bottom of the bowl add the hot water and the washing soda ..
let any pennies you need to clean touch the tin foil no scrubbing no mess. in seconds they will be clean and shiny. just rinse and dry..
Thanks for the tip!
If you do one sheet heads up and one tails down…. they will all be heads up O.o
Does the poly or sealer scratch easily
Nicki, I am happy with the poly choice so far, but it’s only been a month. My opinion, developed from what I’d read before choosing, was that epoxy would be stronger, but harder to work with. Our penny floor is in a less-trafficked downstairs bathroom (family of four, no shoes in house), and I had heard enough from others about poly being pretty good that I decided to go that route. Also, because there is so much variation in texture and color in the pennies, grout, etc, I didn’t think that any “wear” of the poly that cropped up would really be noticeable. Plus I figure that if it does wear a little in a few years, I’ll just throw down a few more coats.
Maybe I am whistling in the dark about using poly, but… so far, so good.
Ended up with a 2 part poly. got some really good advice from a pro. hopefully doing that tomorrow. thankfully we have great neighbors that will let us use their potty 🙂 keep you posted! (fingers crossed)
Good luck! Post a photo when it’s done!!
What 2 part poly did you use, and are you happy with it?
i am doing a large dining room floor. Any reason why the pennies can not be configured tightly, touching one another?
Hi Lori. I sent you an email. Sorry you are having problems I would be happy to email you the template if the link is still not working for you.
Wondering if the poly held up. I need to seal mine but am so confused on what to use. It’s a bathroom project. I’ve been told that so many products will/won’t work. My floor isnt perfect but I worked hard on it and want it to last. It’s only about 22 sq ft but I have pets and a hubby that is rough on almost everything.
This project takes a long time, but it’s a lot of fun. I used a 10×14 template (I bought the template from this website and put two copies of it together on 8.5×11 sheets). I covered the template with clear packing tape, then for each “sheet” I used a sheet of wax paper underneath the fiberglass mosiac mesh. I Weldbonded each of those little buggers to the mesh — I had TWO pennies out of 7,100 fall off in the entire process. I trimmed the mesh very carefully to avoid the appearance of tile blocks of pennies when it was time to put them down. Demo-ing tile and thinset off of slab really stinks, so I decided to go right over the old dated tile with a very thin thinset layer and put the penny “tiles” on that. I grouted with Laticrete Spectralock (Chocolate Truffle) grout, then did 6 coats of a floor polyurethane (Pro Finisher Water-Base from Lowe’s). The pennies ain’t comin’ off! The cost per square foot of the pennies was approx $1.70 face value.. although a couple of the specialty pennies I put in there were worth about $10/each. It was really a fun project.
Hidden in the field are an 1858 Eagle, 1901 and 1903 Indian heads, 1943 stainless.. All regular Lincoln head pennies are facing the same way, but I put wheat pennies wheat-side up. I put my parents’ two 1946 pennies together, “upside down,” giving similar treatment to my in-laws (1945), and for myself, wife, son, and daughter. Queen Elizabeth makes an appearance on the one Canadian penny I snuck in there. There are a few other “Easter Eggs” that are similarly undetectable if you aren’t looking for them.
Advice — I wish I hadn’t had to do thinset under the pennies I kind of had to since I was laying this over existing ceramic tile, with it’s grout line dips — pressed for time I just thinsetted in those grout line dips for to make my almost-flat surface. If you have a true flat surface (plain cement slab) I would just glue them down. I had a few instances of the thinset poking up past the pennies, and although I got rid of most of that, I didn’t get it all… so in a couple little places you can see some thinset “above” the grout level.. but unless you were looking for it, you don’t see it.
Thanks to everyone who answered my questions, etc. I will do the same.
Hi! I wondering if it would be possible to skip the grouting process altogether as it seems to me if you seal it with polyerithane that it will work it ways in between the pennies.
In my opinion…I have seen/heard of people skipping the grout. If i were to do this project again (and I wont) and I was happy the way the space looked between the pennies, I would not grout. The grout is more for looks than it is for strength in holding the pennies together. I am not the purple door lady but I did just wrap up my own penny floor project. 😉
I personally wouldn’t skip the grout. Would you not grout between tile? I believe it adds more stability to the floor or surface. Also, it makes the surface look finished. However it’s a personal preference, and this is just my opinion, so you can try it any way you’d like.
Thinking about joining a penny floor support group!!! I’m at the last stage. Cleanup before sealing. I wanted to ask you, when you used the copper cleaner did it leave a residue on your grout? And… Are you experiencing any yellowing due to your choice if sealent? Thanks so much, BA
Did you use an oil based or water based poly urethane? Thanks for the info about the cleaner. I have manged to make this a Zen endeavor (master level upon completion) For anyone that, like me, used the black grout before the poly procedure, the only thing i found to get it off the pennies, was fine steel wool… And lots of wine.
Thanks for your tips. Penny tiles can make such a statement in a room. For a jaw dropping design, I invite y’all to check out our recent bathroom tour with hand, penny-tiled walls: http://www.pottymouthtours.com/potty-time-scum-earth-church-virtual-bathroom-tour/
Neneh – Creator & Tour Guide of Potty Mouth Tours
For the people that have problems with grout sticking to the pennies… Just like stone tiles – when using black grout you always have to seal the floor before grouting this will not let the black grout stick and penetrate the stone. For pennies If you are using poly then poly it BEFORE the grout, then after the grout also.
That’s good advice. I sealed after the grout with no problems but that may help make it easier to clean off the grout
Haha hang in there! I used the wrights copper cream. No residue. Wipe it up really good because once you seal it that’s what it will look like forever. No yellowing for me with the poly I used. And relax– the little imperfections are things you will appreciate over time.
Thank you for all the step by step instructions. I’m almost finished with my penny floor! My question is… Why do you lightly sand between sealing applications? Is this step necessary?
I know how that goes, lol! My floor turned out gorgeous, I plan to expand and do the hallway as well. I ended up using a different varnish, and while it’s not as shiny as I would have liked it’s held up great. Not sure of the name, I’m out of town right now, but I will post pics when I return!
What kind of poly did you use?
I followed your link for the template, paid the $2 and there is no template for me to download or print. Please advise
Sounds awesome! Post a picture to the gallery when you’re done so we can see it 🙂
Awesome! Thanks 🙂 I want to do the backsplash in my kitchen and was curious as to how long it would take to set up.
The poly I used only took about 30-60 minutes to set up between coats, and I did about 8 coats of it. It really depends on the product that you use — it should say on the container what the recommended drying time is 🙂
How long does it take for the poly to set up on the pennies?
What sealant for the pennies?? Polyurethane? Brand? Help!
Hi Christie, please check out part 4 for sealing recommendations //www.prettypurpledoor.com/projects/copper-penny-floor-installation-part-4-of-4-pennyfloor/
Hi guys, l have recently come across these penny floors and l love them, l am a tiling contractor in the uk and lm thinking of adding this to clients. l have never layed a penny floor before but l cant see it being any different from a mosaic floor.
What l would say first is preparation is key as the end results will show through from good or bad prep. lf you have timber floors you can fix 6mm hardie backer board down with a flexible adhesive then screw every 6 inches while adhesive is still wet. You cant lay on vinyl, for uneven concrete floors just use a self leveller. For ease l will be using mesh but the drywall self adhesive mesh you can get the company that makes it to make wider rolls. A trick l use in tiling with mosaics is the day before l turn sheet onto its face on a flat surface and with a scraper spread adhesive on the back. Then the next day it is like a tile;-) hope that helps a little.
There is a restaurant in Washington DC called “The Lincoln” with a penny floor
I also thought about using the glaze coat but I emailed the company and they stated it’s not uv protected and will yellow with time. FYI
I am still at the finishing stage not sure which product to use.
Can you copy a link of the polyurethane you used.
Oh, I probably did 5 or 6 coats sanding in between. If you use the poly I recommended it dries very quickly and doesn’t smell very much/long.
Can you glue pennies down on linoleum? Then grout?
Sure, I don’t see why not.
Thanks for your help!!! How many coats did you use with your polyurethane? I also heard it’s very strong smelling. Is that correct?
I can only speak from my own experience. I used Minwax 13025 VOC Fast Drying Polyurethane For Floor. It’s been installed and heavily used for over a year and I have absolutely no discoloration or any other problems with the durability. Hope that helps.
I read more into it last night. The glaze coat is defiantly a no. It can’t handle the weight of heavy traffic. I’ll be using that polyurethane this weekend. I’ll submit a photo when complete. Thanks for your help.
Hi Erin. I just posted the link yesterday in this thread? Suggestions are also available on my page about sealing the floor: //www.prettypurpledoor.com/projects/copper-penny-floor-installation-part-4-of-4-pennyfloor/
Again I wish you the best in choosing your sealer. I only have one penny floor with one product I tried so unfortunately I don’t have any other suggestions. Everything with yellow with time…. Maybe try to research a uv top coat to put over a poly or sealer product.
Good to know. I will add that to my post so others can have that info. Good luck sealing! Do a bunch of coats and lightly sand in between. It will work. My 90lb dog tramples mine every day.
I am in the process of doing penny floor, I am scared to death that my polyurethane will yellow. Have you had any problems? I will post my picture once finished.
The truth is, all polyurethane will eventually yellow… especially if it’s in the sunlight. Best option is to use a non-oil based poly… they don’t yellow as quickly/noticeably. You can always sand the poly off and reapply each year if you are that worried about yellowing. I suppose you could do some more research and try to find the best option to suit your needs — I only know from personal experience that I’ve had my floor installed over a year and it still looks very nice. I hope you post a picture here when you are done!
I was considering polyurethane for my penny hall way but i have read several negative discussions about it. People that have uses a water based polyurethane it turned the pennys blueish green colors and corroded several. I am at the sealing stage but not sure how to go. This was recommended to me but I haven’t found anyone who has used it for a floor yet.
Did an experiment once… fond that pineapple juice actually cleans pennies really well aboveother common juices. Made the penny look brand new. A plot brighter than the other test group. The acid in the juice took the oxidation right off.
My dad used to soak pennies in worcestershire sauce overnight and in the morning they came out light, bright and coppery pink. I like the au naturel look myself as I think it would hide dirt better lol
That’s a great question. You’d probably have to find some sort of clear coat for high temperatures (maybe they have something for fireplaces, etc.?) Or, my friend suggested using automotive clear coat that you would buy at Auto Zone.
I have a plan to place a penny wall behind our wood stove. It has a 3ft tall by 5ft wide brick wall behind it now. I figure I would frame a 8ft wide by 8ft high wall under two windows and pitched roof ceiling using 2 by 4 s. Then screw on cement board already covered by evenly spaced, randomly placed (heads or tails does not matter) pennies using tile grout. The screws will be covered by pennies added later. The pennies will not be sorted as I like the look of various tones of different metals. This way I would not have to take the brick down and have an impressive accent wall. Can also wire behind frame to have accent lights on top of wall highlighting the wall at night.
Does anyone know what I can seal the pennies with taking in consideration it is behind a heat source?
Hi Kevin, I used an unsanded grout view link.
You can read Part 3 to learn about getting the grout off, etc. It wasn’t hard to do (because you do it when the grout is still wet) but it’s very time consuming.
The poly has held up really well. Looks just like the pictures. Not plastic-like. There are different sheens of poly if that’s a concern (like semi-gloss, high-gloss, etc).
Hi Amy, that looks good. my question is what type of grout did you use, was it sanded? Was it hard to clean off the pennies after it had set up? you said you coated with polyurethane. Has that held up and does it look like a plastic coating (it doesn’t in the pictures). Thanks!
Hi Sarah, Here’s a closeup image you can look at. Hope that helps.
I wasn’t able to download a picture of mine.
I did a kitchen island in pennies. My last name is Fields. So in the Middle, I laid an F out with new pennies. The are bright and have a different design on them. I did put a few wheat pennies and canadian pennies scattered through out. I mainly have most of the rows at random, but there are a few rows that are all heads, or all tails, or heads – tails – heads – tails. Covered it with polyurethane. It looks great.
I am thinking of trying the back splash. That would so look good. Good luck… and yes it does take time. I used super glue on my pennies.
That sounds really great! You can e-mail me the photo at [email protected] if you want me to post it. I’d love to see it. I think I need to fix that form 🙂
I was wondering if you have a picture of the end product close up. I’d love to do a back splash with charcoal or dark brown grout filled.
I am getting ready to do this and I have decided to do all my pennys down except the birth years of all my children and grandchildren. Let them hunt for their penny!
Hi Colleen! I’m from PA too! I think outside would be a challenge. I have seen penny gazing balls for the garden that turn green and weathered with the rain, snow etc so my guess is that it would get that look to it. I also think it would get quite slippery outside. Maybe someone else has tried it that can give you some better advice though.
Can you do this on an outside sidewalk in Pennsylvania? Being the temperatures vary. Has anyone done this and is it slippy?
I am doing a penny back splash in my kitchen. I am still glueing pennies to the tile mesh stage. I am not sure how to finish off an edge of the pennies near my sink. I have a pass thru window. My upper cabinets don’t go all the way to the window opening. I wasn’t planning on doing the pennies all the way up the wall. How do I finish the edge near the wood work? The pennies will be staggered going up next to the trim.
You’ll probably have to cut some pennies (just as you have to cut tile sometimes). I would recommend using tin/metal snips and seeing if that works for you.
I really adore this floor! The tips and pointers and photographs you leave really give a great insight to the project, and I feel like I’m right there learning with you. Some day I’m going to attempt this project, and I’ll definitely use your instructions as my guide.
Please feel free to visit the website I participate in, it’s just getting started!
Wow, it looks amazing! Great job! Thanks for sharing.
Sure, there are lots of other projects you can do with pennies. How about a backsplash for your kitchen or bathroom? Or if you have an island or peninsula you can decorate that with the pennies? Tabletop, gazing ball for your garden, dresser?
Hi Celeste, personally I wouldn’t really recommend going over the hardwoods. Hardwood, by nature, expands and contracts and can shift with the temperature. Gluing the pennies on top may potentially cause buckling. It’s really up to you but i would hate to see you do all that work only for it to be ruined. As far as transitioning, they do sell wood moldings or those metal transition strips that you could use to level it out.
You could look up the subfloor recommendations for ceramic tile. It is typically 1 1/4 inches of subfloor to support the weight and keep the subfloor from flexing and cracking the finished grout. If you have a 3/4 inch plywood subfloor, then you could add a 1/2 inch of cement board. But if subfloor has been added through the years you may not need anything. If you’re on a cement slab you shouldn’t need any additional subfloor either.
Celeste, Just a note for you. My dad is a professional hard-wood floor installer of about 20 years, so I can tell you about going from one floor height to another. I think you can buy (but my dad makes his own), what is called a reducer. It is basically a long piece of flooring that is angled so that when you look at one end of it, it is a wedge shape. This bridges between a higher and lower floor. Also, it can be stained to match your existing floor. I have one or two in our remodeled house from the late 40s. The only problem with the reducer is that it matches SO well that older people may not notice it and if they hit it just right it throws their balance. No, no one has ever fell, except my two kids when they were babies. Hope this helps.
love it! thanks for all the info. cant wait to get started.
This is awesome!! Great job!!
Mary – did you end up using the Varathane? I bought the same stuff but now am concerned now that I am seeing the same “not recommended for metal” that you saw. If you didn’t use that, what did you use?
We did our fireplace – it turned out great!! Check it out here:
Definitely appreciate the response. No way I’m going through the hassle of removing those hardwoods (been there done that in the kitchen) so I guess they’ll just be refinished correctly 🙁 Maybe I’ll do the kickboards of the staircase going to upstairs…..hmmmm
I would LOVE to do the penny floor in my front foyer. Currently it is hardwood flooring (1929) that was refinished pretty badly so have never been in love with it. Can I install the penny floor directly to the poly’ed wood floor? Also, where the wood floor goes into another room – has anyone found a good way of transitioning from the penny covered floor to a different height flooring?
Thanks Amy. We’ve used other sub floor applications in the past but certainly never used pennies so I’d like to insure that the effort involved produces the best result. You’re awesome. Thanks again!
Hi Jackie, I used the cement board as a surface to stick the pennies onto. It also was to build the floor up a bit so it lined up with the carpet. You can probably glue the mesh onto other surfaces as well but standard procedure for tiling anything involves putting a layer of cement board down first for adhesion. Good luck and I can’t wait to see your projects!
What did you use the cement board for? Was it just for a working surface or did you use this as a sub layer before applying the meshed pennies? Love this idea and can’t wait to think of a million ways to enjoy this application! Thanks for the clarification.
Hello, we are installing a penny floor in our small half-bath. The pennies laid (I glued them directly to the floor), and the grout is in, just giving it a few days to cure before I seal it. My question to you is, how has the polyurethane held up for you? I bought Rustoleum’s Varathane crystal clear finish, but when I got it home I realized it said it wasn’t recommended for use on metal. Just wondering how your sealant has held up, and how long ago you did this? I’m absolutely LOVING the floor – although it has been a pain in the (back, lol) to lay all those pennies 🙂 Thank you!
Hello, don’t know how this comment escaped me (sorry). I installed my floor about a year and a half ago and the poly is holding up great so far. I may sand it and reseal it again eventually but honestly I have no problems. How did yours come out? I have a gallery you can submit photos to!
Grouting complete! What grit level of sandpaper did you use between coats of Poly? And how many coats did you do?
Hi Heather. Sanding between coats of poly makes sure that if you had any ‘drips’ that you recreate a smooth surface. The sandpaper also gives the next layer of poly something to stick to. Hope that helps.
I actually called Rustoleum, And they said do NOT use it because it will eventually start to flake off. I used Pro Finisher water based polyurethane for floors, which says it can be used on metal. We have five kids and two large dogs and do far it’s held up great! My only regret is that my husband bought the semi – gloss and applied it before i realized it wasn’t high gloss. I would have preferred high gloss. It won’t let me attach a picture here, but this is the website http://www.rustoleum.com/en/product-catalog/consumer-brands/pro-finisher/water-base-polyurethane
I waited about 24 hours longer than the grout label said, simply because after laying all those pennies I didn’t want to mess anything up 🙂
I actually did not sand between coats, the poly I used said to use a 120-150 screen or a maroon buffing pad; I used a buffing pad. Total was eight coats, no buffing on the last two coats.
Thank you for the poly tip. I will be returning the Varathane and purchasing the Pro Finisher. I am grouting today and was thinking of waiting 24 hours before poly. Do you think that’s enough time? Glad to hear that yours has withstood the punishment that an active family doles out! We only have two kids and a cat. 🙂
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, Iâ€™d apply another coat. I think I did 5 or 6 total coats.
I have the really old copper findings on my kitchen cabinets and I used lemon juice and salt to clean them.
I use coca cola to clean pennies, thanks for the great ideas to ‘re use pennies
I can’t say I would recommend it getting THAT wet. Copper oxidizes when it gets wet and turns green and yucky. Put a regular penny in your shower for a bit and see what happens to it. Even with a coating over it, I don’t think it’s a good choice for anywhere that will continuously be wet. Maybe you can try just a copper colored backpslash like this one to achieve the look you are going for. There are lots of awesome backsplash tiles available that will still give you the look you are going for without the risk. Hope that helps.
Can you use in your shower? This would be a great touch to the decorating style I am trying to do in my bathroom but i don’t know if you can put in your shower area.
Anytime! We all need a kick in the butt sometimes, haha. I actually just had a comment (right above yours) about the e6000 to be used as a grout. Maybe you can give Wendy some advice 🙂
I had started a penny floor but on plain cheap 12×12 tiles. I got excited and wanted to see what it would look like, so I put 4 of them together and grouted and applied a coat of epoxy. It looked GREAT but was very heavy. I knew that I couldn’t use those when I finally put a full floor down, so I have been using it in front of my sink. It adds a little extra cushion and looks great. I need to get back to work on the rest of the tiles tho. I used E6000 for gluing pennies to tile and have had no trouble. Thanks for the boot in the butt to get back to work! 🙂
I’m sorry, I don’t have any feedback on products other than the ones I’ve used. Sounds like a good idea though 🙂
I really don’t want to use grout as it is not the look I am going for. I have read where people have used e6000 to apply then sealed with an epoxy. Do you have any experience with this option?
Sounds like a really cool idea. I’m not exactly sure how you would do it, but I don’t think that glue would be enough to hold the pennies on (especially because you’ll be opening and shutting it often).
Grout is pretty good for holding things in place. I would practice first and definitely keep us posted 🙂
I ordered my mesh from mosaicartsupply.com, and have gathered lots of pennies. I did a fb fundraiser and so far have gotten a lowes gift card from my mom. I cant seem to find out what is under my carpet when I finish my squares, any idea? also I am a little nervous about grouting my pennies, it looks hard, should I buy a bag similar to a cake frosting bag to grout with or maybe a paint brush? I am starting with my hallway first, but will also be doing my living room. any other suggestions on other materials I need? I noticed you said putty knife and trowel, but what would I use to put down my thinset mortar and why do I need to make ridges? this is my first diy project and the videos ive seen aren’t much help…..
Hi Syreeta. The only way to find out what’s under your carpet is to pull back the carpet. Start in the corner of the room, behind a door or somewhere that you wont see and try to peel it back a bit. You’ll have to pull up the first layer (which is the carpet) and the second layer (which is the carpet pad) to actually see the floor surface.
To put the thinset down, you need to use a trowel. The trowel has the ridges built into it so that they will form. This forms pockets which will (1) level out your tiles and (2) make sure they adhere very strongly to the floor.
To put the grout in you really need to do it properly. You have to smush and push the grout in between. It’s not difficult, but it’s very time consuming and labor intensive. I think grout is too thick to use a piping bag.
To be honest, you probably need more advice than I can give you if you’ve never done a tiling project before. Check out your local Home Depot or Lowes — sometimes they run classes that will cover the basics of tiling. You should practice on something else before you start tearing up your floors. Maybe practice by using a sheet or two of pennies to cover an end table from Ikea… or something small like that. Otherwise you’re going to end up with a huge mess if it doesn’t come out right.
Here’s a good video about grouting.
Oh my.. I did a bathroom floor last summer 14,000 pennies. Did a kitchen floor 33,000 this summer.
I suggest glue them straight to the floor…No mesh.That does away with that square tile look. I used Weldbond glue. Then elmers just to see if it was strong enough… it is and was more than half the price.
I did have a couple pop up while grouting. I cleaned the area and used superglue on them. I too had a problem with not being able to clean the grout off fast enough and was stuck with too much left on the pennies. I cleaned them with a wire brush after the grout dried for a day. That cleaned the black grout but left the color of the pennies.I made designs with the different colored pennies.
I used the Polyurethane 2 coats.One coat wait 2 days and then add another…Wait one week before walking on it and then you are still careful not to twist for another week…After that it seems good to go.
That’s great. Thanks for the tips. I’m sure everyone would love to see pictures (you can submit them here). I think most people wouldn’t be able to live with a half ripped up floor, so using the mesh allows you to work at your own pace. However, I do agree that gluing them down would work well and eliminate any of the edges you might see. Send pictures 🙂
What do you think of applying pennies to a front door? My husband and I really want to do this? It is a solid wood door. Should we lightly sand, glue them on, then polyurethane it?
I’ve just finished making tiles that are 1’x3′ in length for a bathroom that is 8’x14′, I tried various methods for cleaning my pennies and found that CLR works the best. I rinse the pennies twice with water after using the product on the pennies. Just a caution, do not accidentally leave your pennies soaking in the CLR overnight, it causes the pennies to turn black.
Hi Heather, It is set at 8.5 x 11″ because that’s the size of paper. You wouldn’t be able to print a 12 x 12″ template on a regular printer, so in the copy I explained how I spliced two printouts together to make a 12 x 12″ one. I did clean my pennies using Wright’s Copper Cream. It worked really well. Good luck 🙂
Hi I put down a penny floor using mesh I grouted in small areas . the grouting was pulling up pennies & everytime I would start a new area pennies were popping off the floor its taken me for ever…. having to lay the grout on heavy to get the pennies to stay…but now am still scrubbing the grout off the top of the pennies . any ideas how to remove extra grout off the top of pennies .. I put down over 20,000 pennies & so far only steel will is helping 🙁
Hi Cheryl! You are very ambitious… And yes my floor was full of blood sweat and tears too, trust me. I didn’t have that problem with the grout, although I did make sure that I wiped it clean right away… I didn’t leave it on there very long at all. I’m wondering if a tool like that little gizmo they give you to open paint cans would help you to scrape the grout off? Or a screwdriver that you can carve at the dried grout with carefully? Another option might be to try paint thinner or something like that? One of my followers used “barkeepers friend” to clean the pennies so that may help. I would definitely test it out on some spares first so you don’t ruin the whole floor experimenting. Good luck and let me know how it works out.
Yes that is my email address, my phone number followed by my provider….. lol I was wondering what the actual size of your template was, it doesn’t seem square like 12 X 12. I have decided to lay a penny floor starting with the smallest flooring area I have, the front entrance into my townhouse. I have very quickly been given approximately 14,474 Pennies or 81 lbs….. That should do all or most of the enterance way, depending how it looks is whether or not I will carry over into the next room the kitchen. I am in Canada and we just stopped circulating pennies, so one small area might be all I am able to achieve. Did you clean your pennies?
Thanks for all your help and inspiration Heather
I am going to a coffee table in pennies thank you for your tips
Sorry I am not sure about this. Make sure whatever you use is heat resistant- including the adhesive grout and poly.
I have 6 x 18 inch wood grain look tile throughout my house. We recently converted the garage into a second family room and I have been looking for something that would compliment the tile but not be another tile. The copper penny idea would be perfect in this room. I purchased my mesh from the craft supply store online and have just brought home my first box of pennies from the bank. I’m printing my templates in 11×17 sheets and setting the project up on a card table to keep it easy enough to sit and glue pennies as I watch television at night. I figure if I have to put everything away each night this project isn’t going to get done as quickly. The room is large…20 x 20…but I think it will be be beautiful. I’ll post some pics as we go along.
I’m starting my collection of pennies for approx. 678sqft. Around 206,112 of them. My added twist is that they are all going to be 95% copper. 1982 and older. Since we are in the great state of Texas, we are going to get enough 1943 steel pennies (circulated) and do a Texas Star in the kitchen. So far I’m yielding about 20% on the copper to zinc penny ratio while I sort. I have a good relationship with the bank in exchanging pennies I don’t want and buying them by the box at a time. Thanks for the instructional post. Will use it for reference when I start. I will do a mockup of the Texas Star and trace it out on the concrete before we start.
That sounds soooooo neat! Please send pictures when you are done so I can post them! When you are ready you can visit this page: //www.prettypurpledoor.com/category/projects/pennyfloor/ I am writing posts as I create mine with tips, tricks, and materials. Thanks for stopping by!
I would like to do a fireplace surround.
But wouldn’t about the affecting application. Any thoughts
Hi David, there’s no reason why you can’t have the pennies touching. Personal preference.
Amy – your “how to guide” has been really helpful, thank you for sharing your process. I’ve just started to glue pennies to the mesh and have found that some of them are falling off 24 hours after they have been dried. I feel like i’m using enough glue (any more and the glue would bubble up around the sides of the pennies -did you encounter this issue too? I’m thinking about using a paint brush and brushing a second coat of Weldbond on the mesh side after the pennies have been individually glued/dried. Any thought/ideas would be welcome!
Hi Alicia! Other than a couple pennies falling off here or there, I haven’t really had that problem. I kept them on the “template” for at least 24 hours before trying to move them… and when I did that I used a paint scraper to sort of loosen the sheet from the backing. I think a metal spatula would probably work too. I installed the floor last weekend (post coming soon), and when I did that I just filled in the pennies that had fallen off right as I was installing it. I hope that answers your question… let me know if it doesn’t and I’ll try to help you more. I know it’s really time consuming and finicky but it really will look amazing when you’re done!
so how do you clean a penny floor?
You grout the pennies just like you would any tile floor then coat it with polyurethane. So you can clean it just like you would any other tile… Mr. Clean, mop and glow, swiffer, etc!
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