Have you been thinking of installing a DIY penny floor? If you're looking to put money into a room you literally can do so by using pennies and epoxy. I'll tell and show you exactly how I did it, step by step.
I recently bought a home and have been on a DIY kick. When I was out with my relator and found “the one”, I looked at the kitchen and instantly decided a penny floor would light up the room. I'd seen a penny floor at the restaurant Lincoln in Washington, DC and other penny projects all over Pinterest, but didn't have any idea what I was getting myself into. Obviously pennies are Made in USA and all of my supplies were as well, so it was a great Made in USA DIY project. Here's a step by step explanation of the process my dad and I went through to install a copper penny floor.
7 Steps to a DIY Penny Floor
Step 1: Measure The Floor Space
I decided to do my kitchen because the floor is only 38 square feet. Although it seemed like a small space and not too big of a project, by the time we started laying about $2.78 worth of pennies per square foot the space started to feel much bigger.
Step 2: Collect Pennies
I laid the pennies very close and tight together so it ended up being 278 pennies per square foot. Therefore, I needed 10,564 pennies and some change. I started by asking friends to use me as their Coinstar and raided my nephews' piggy banks, but ended up having to visit multiple banks. Banks would offer anywhere from about $10-$40 in pennies depending on what they had available. Note: take a reusable grocery bag with you to carry the pennies out of the bank. I decided to not clean the pennies because when you're working with over 10K, as my dad reminded me multiple times, “you'll drive yourself nuts.” Plus it's very hard to get a penny super clean and shiny.
Step 3: Start Making 12″x12″ Sheets of Pennies
Purchase a 12×12 inch picture frame or, if you're handy, make one. You'll pour the pennies onto the frame and line them all up exactly how you want them. I decided to let them fall as they were and I got an organic pattern. I wish I would have mixed up the rolls of pennies from all the different banks because there are some areas that have similar colors and shines to them, but when working with that many pennies you just have to go with it. Take a piece of contact paper and apply it to the sheet. Press the contact paper firmly onto the pennies so they adhere to the paper. Get a sturdy box and start putting your 1 square foot “penny tiles” into the box.
Note: If I were to do it all over I'd skip this step. Although putting together about 29 square foot sheets of penny tiles seemed like the easiest method, my dad and I ran into complications when we went to glue the sheets to the floor. Keep reading…
Step 4: Get Ready to Start Gluing
The floor I decided to refinish had brown linoleum and was very level, so I didn't have to do anything to my floor other than clean it. If your floor isn't level or you don't like the floor color (which will slightly show through the small gaps in the penny lineup) you'll want to change it. Since it was the kitchen, we moved the oven and refrigerator out of the room. We didn't put pennies under the oven space since copper conducts heat, but we wanted to make sure we got it right along the edge. We also temporarily removed the baseboard molding so once completed the edges would look perfect. I even had people ask me if we cut pennies because of how precise it looked once we put the molding back.
Step 5: Adhering the pennies to the floor
I used Krylon Low Odor Spray Glue (Made in the USA) to adhere the pennies to the floor. However, I'd recommend using good old fashioned Elmer's Glue (also Made in the USA). This glue adheres to both plastic and metal, so it seemed like the perfect choice, but we ran into some difficulties once we started to lay the pre-made penny tiles.
We sprayed a section of the floor and waited the recommended time before moving a tile onto the glue and then we'd wait some more. However, because there wasn't enough air getting to the glue and pennies due to the contact paper when we started to pull up the contact paper the pennies started to come with it. Thus, we had to take a straight edge ruler and secure the pennies and pull the contact paper up row by row. It was a bit tedious. We had only made 29 tiles and had about 38 square feet, so after laying and gluing all the tiles down we started using Elmer's glue and placed each penny on the floor. The trick is not to use too much glue. Elmer's claims to dry clear, but it is a bit cloudy still once it dries and you can see EVERYTHING once the epoxy is laid. So don't use too much glue because you'll see the excess.
If we were to do it all over again and had timed our project differently, we would have skipped making the penny tiles with contact paper and extended the gluing step over several days. You could invite friends over, pop open a bottle of wine, turn up some music and have a gluing party. It would be the best way to secure the pennies to the floor. This step took us about 8 1/2 hours. We let the glue dry overnight and were ready to pour the epoxy the next day.
Step 6: Pouring the Epoxy
To seal the floor, you use clear epoxy. This step will make or break your project. I did A LOT of research as to which brand to use and I'm very happy I chose commercial-grade Ultra Clear Epoxy from Best Bar Top Epoxy which is Made in the USA. It is UV resistant so it is less likely to yellow over time. It is glossy and self-levels at 1/8″ which is twice as much as your standard epoxy. Go to their website for preparation information and the chart to figure out how much you'll need. I ordered 3 gallons for my 38 square foot floor. I also got the Epoxy Tool Kit which was very helpful. Step by Step instructions come with your order and it is very important to read them a few times over and follow them precisely. This step took us about one and a half hours from prep to clean up.
- The room must be at 75 degrees or more. My dad is super clever, so we used a space heater and a sheet hung over the doorway to trap in the heat. Otherwise, we would have been sweating and running up the electric bill for 3+ days. We also placed the epoxy in the room with the heater overnight so it was warm when we were ready to start mixing it.
- Follow the instructions closely to avoid air bubbles as you're stirring and mixing the epoxy. It is very easy to create air bubbles as you're mixing. Slow and steady wins
- Get a blow torch or very a hot blow dryer to remove air bubbles. You have up to 20 minutes after you pour to apply heat to remove/pull up the air bubbles. Use the full 20 minutes because bubbles will keep appearing.
- Mark your space so you know what area to pour each gallon. I had 3 gallons to pour so we marked it in thirds.
- Use new buckets and stir sticks with each gallon you mix in order to keep the two parts as equal as possible.
Step 7: Wait Until it Dries and Cures… and ENJOY!
- After 72 hours the floor will be 99% cured and ready for you to walk on. I'd avoid putting heavy objects on the floor if you can.
- Keep the room at 75 degrees while it is drying.
- I decided to do this three days before New Years and I was hosting a NYE party so I only had about 60 hours of drying time before I moved the oven and refrigerator back into the kitchen and it was fine. It survived high heels and about 25 people, but it was a risky move. I'd suggest giving it the proper time to dry and cure.
Fun Facts for Guests to Find
- I have two (1) square foot areas that are all heads up
- I have one 1943 silver penny heads up
- I have one penny that is VERY yellow which I call my “Steelers” penny
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Disclosure: USA Love List received a discount on the epoxy used in this post. Our opinions are always our own, and we aim to write fair and balanced reviews to promote only the very best of American-made.