Some time back we put together our guide to low cost plywood flooring. At the time we didn’t have high expectations for the post, it was really just an off-the-wall idea to show our readers a cheap and creative alternative to the more traditional flooring materials that we usually feature here at Home Flooring Pros. Well, to our surprise it has become one of our most popular articles to date and its success has inspired us to look at another unusual and striking flooring option…the penny floor!
We don’t know the origin of the first penny floor, but the The Standard Grill in New York and the Lincoln Restaurant in Washington, DC must take their fair share of responsible for inspiring most of the penny floor ideas we’ve seen.
So today we’re going to take a look at the best penny flooring posts we’ve found around the net. Among them you will get design inspiration for your penny floor and clear step by step guidance on how to create penny floors to be proud of. Incidentally the Lincoln restaurant is about to remove their penny floor, does that mean the trend is over!?
Before we get going let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of penny floors:
Pros of penny floors:
Durability: If you’re looking for durable flooring it doesn’t get more durable than this. By the time you’ve glued down and grouted your pennies you’ve already got a tough durable floor that will stand up well to high traffic. If you then seal the floor with either epoxy resin or polyurethane floor sealant the you’ve got a pretty much indestructible floor!
Creativity: As you will see below there are all kinds of great creative designs that come into play when laying your penny flooring. Shiny new pennies to drab old pennies, heads to tails, depending how you install your coins will dictate the visual look of your floor.
Individuality: How many people do you know with penny floors? They are a seriously unique talking point and if you install one the chances are you’ll be the only person you know to have one…cool!
Adaptability: As you will see from our examples below you can install penny floors anywhere. Most people choose a bathroom, toilet or kitchen/dining area, but you can install one wherever you like.
Cons of penny floors:
Cost: If plywood floors are the definition of a cheap diy flooring option then penny floors must be the definition of an expensive floor…okay not as expensive as some hardwood flooring, but lets face it…a penny floor will cost you nothing but money! As you will learn, a square foot of penny flooring will cost you about $2.78…just for the pennies.
Time: And as if the actual flooring materials aren’t expensive enough…how valuable is your own time? Regardless of how you go about making your penny floor expect it to be a long and labor intensive project. The results are very cool…but are they cool enough for your time investment?
Removal: Do not even think about this type of floor if you don’t intend to keep it in place for…pretty much forever. A penny floor is not something I would want to take up!
Best Step by Step Penny Floor Installation Instructions
One thing’s for sure, if you just have to have a penny floor then you won’t be hiring a professional flooring contractor to do it, an artist maybe, but not a contractor. So you need to learn now what’s involved in making a diy penny floor.
Let’s take a look now at some of the best posts of homeowners who’ve done the work themselves and have kindly shared their step by step guides to getting the work done.
Pretty Purple Door – For thoroughness the prize must surely go to Amy, who has put together no less than 4 great posts that lead you through the journey she took installing her penny floor. She lays out in detail all the materials you will need, how to make a penny floor template and then apply the coins to a mesh. She then goes on to explain in detail how she installed and sealed her diy penny tile flooring. And as a clever bonus you can also find other floors made of pennies on her gallery/submissions page. There are some very cool designs that are worth checking out.
A Building We Will Go – This copper penny floor shows what can be done in a shower stall and we think it not only looks great but is a perfect project if you want to start with a manageable area. The copper pennies were glued down, all heads up, grouted and then sealed with epoxy. We think the color of the pennies just goes great with the slate walls and is one of the few projects that look really natural and understated.
Our Irish Manor – Here’s another great bathroom penny floor. There’s some great info on how to put down a self-leveling compound to make sure you’re working with a flat subfloor. You will also see how this homeowner added a layer of latex primer to prepare the penny tile floor for the glass mortar he used to grout the design (note you still need to glue the pennies down!). What makes this penny floor really stand out is the superb wave design that was created using the natural patina of the copper coins.
Sunflower River – If you want to see a really special diy penny floor then take a look at what Kat and Jenny created in their Sunflower River community bathroom. Creating a beautiful pattern like this really is a labor of love and you would be wise to follow their example and get organised before you start. In this instance, pre-sorting all the pennies into piles of shiny vs non-shiny coins was an important step in their preparation.
Mandolin Mosaics – For our next penny floor we move from the bathroom to the kitchen and a much larger, more ambitious project that ended up looking great. It’s worth pointing out that in our opinion copper penny floors look best when they complement the surrounding décor. This is also an example of penny flooring where polyurethane was used to seal the floor rather than epoxy. And just so you know…this project took Amanda a year to complete!
pennyfloorproject.tumblr.com – Looking for a small site dedicated to the making of a penny floor? Here it is! Ryand and Emily definitely win the prize of the coolest couple to install a penny covered floor and interestingly chose a bedroom floor to be transformed. Not a location that would spring to mind, but again, when matched with the right surrounding décor, it works really well. Check out their photos, video and how to guide.
USA Love List – If you’ve searched online for penny flooring inspiration then you’ve probably know about Alexis McDowell’s penny floor guide. Her 7 steps to creating a penny floor and her trials and tribulations along the way are a must read. Also she goes into detail about sealing the floor with epoxy which is not an option that everybody goes for. It would be our choice, but as Alexis points out, working with epoxy is not something to be taken lightly. You definitely need to do your research. In fact you could make the argument for installing the penny floor yourself and then hiring a contractor to seal the floor with epoxy.
Aquahaus Blog – This penny project is not for a floor but for creating a penny countertop. We’ve included it here for the design ideas and helpful photos which could quite easily be applied to a floor. This kind of design is very labor intensive and would be more suitable for a smaller flooring space. We think it would look great in a toilet space.
Tips for Faster Penny Tile Floors
The Made Shop – And if you were under any illusion about the popularity of penny floors then check out this custom made copper penny tile jig. They are currently sold out, but what a great idea for speeding up the process. This template allows you to make an 18 x 16 penny floor tile nice and quickly. Made from 1/16 chipboard, this kind of jig is definitely something you could make fairly easily at home if you have the inclination and the right tools.
Real Penny Tile Projects Made Easy – And for the ultimate in hassle free tiling… take all the blood, sweat and tears out of your penny flooring project by just buying ready mage penny floor tiles! This family run company in Chicago has done all the hard graft for you. We have to admit that this is probably the best option for busy homeowners!
Glass Tile Experts – Did we mention that this wasn’t a job for professional contractors? Well, of course, everything’s possible at a price! Take a look at this penny flooring installed by the highly skilled team over at AlpenTile. Luke and Amy were contracted to install this very cool bathroom floor which once again matches its surrounding perfectly. Note that they too accelerated the process by sourcing a template tray to sheet the pennies in ready-to-install tile sheets.
So we hope this selection of projects has inspired you and highlighted the importance of preparation and commitment. When penny floors are sensitively blended with the rest of you home décor they can look fantastic.
About the Author:
Jamie Sandford is the Owner and Chief Editor of Home Flooring Pros (find out more). After 12 years’ experience in screen and stage set construction followed by a further 15 years working in the home renovation/remodeling business he now writes and curates online home improvement advice.
“Buying and installing home flooring should be a fairly straightforward process, but often it isn’t. After more than 15 years’ experience in home flooring and remodeling, I started Home Flooring Pros in 2013 to help homeowners navigate the often-over complicated process of choosing, buying and installing a home floor. The aim is to save you time and money by helping you to make better floor buying decisions.”