Monday, December 28, 2015

The Conversation Starter {A Penny Floor Tutorial}

Your front entrance is a reflection of you.  Ours invites you to give us your thoughts...And - we might even give you a penny for them. What does yours say?

The first time I told Huz I wanted a penny floor, I was totally shut down.  So we pursued other options. An entryway floor takes a beating - so it had to be something that held up well, could take some water (hello snow boots melting all over the floor), looked good with brick, and could be laid over a cement floor.  After a lot of shopping he decided maybe this wasn't such a bad idea after all!

I did a lot of research before we started. When Huz started coming around to liking this idea, I needed to have a plan! I talked to flooring experts, construction guru's and anybody who had ever heard of a penny-embellished anything.  Some people looked at me like I had horns growing out of my head while others were intrigued.   After a lot of talking about pros and cons (we had never tiled anything before), he decided we would try the penny floor.  

Yes, yes, yes!  

This is what we came up with for a supply list:

  • PL 400 construction adhesive
  • Caulk gun
  • 1/16th" trowel
  • A LOT of Pennies 
  • Polyurethane (we used a matte finish)
  • Paint brush

We started things off with PL 400 adhesive.  Draw a couple lines of it out of the tube spaced a couple inches apart and spread it with a trowel.  We advise working in a 12"x12" space at a time. Huz drew a line on the floor a foot from the wall for a frame of reference.  You don't want the wet adhesive to dry before you set your pennies in place. You may also need a break after you get a square foot done.  Or your kneecaps may be ready to fall off.  (His words, not mine).

We laid our pennies right up next to each other - not leaving any space between them.  If you want to grout between your pennies after they are laid you can leave bigger spaces or create designs.  Here is a close-up of ours. We used a staggered pattern. We chose not to go all new, or all heads up, or anything like that.  The pattern with colors of pennies was random.  We like the mix of dirty, bright and everything in between.

Once you get started make sure you have some talented help around to take the wrappers off the pennies.  This is an important and time-consuming job.  You can't lay pennies that are still wrapped in paper.  But you CAN unwrap them while you're watching football. This is a perfectly good reason to let your kids watch TV. Free labor + no complaints. Sounds like a win to me.

Midway through our project we ran into a snafu with our pennies.  We got a $200 batch and they were all brand-new 2015 pennies.  Bright and shiny.  So I set out doing more research and figured out how to age them.  I put some in bleach.  This brings out the blue color.  I put some in vinegar - this blackened them. I also put some in salt. These didn't yield as quick of results so I'd stick with bleach or vinegar if you need to discolor pennies. This was slow-going so we also went back to the bank to get more while keeping the shiny ones until we were done. This meant we unwrapped a lot more pennies than we actually used, but the show had to go on!
Here is Huz making good use of time at one of my handmade markets - unwrapping pennies while I work my booth.  He is the muscles behind every booth setup and tear down.  I love how supportive he is.  All that and good looks too.  What a lucky girl I am!

Once you finally finish adhering all the pennies, it's time to apply the sealant. Brush this on evenly.  We did three coats to adequately fill in the gaps between the pennies.

Make sure you allow this to fully dry in between coats.  We waited about 24 hours between applications and used a fan to assist drying. A boat flotation cushion works well to kneel on.  Oh, and if you do this in the winter like we did, we highly recommend opening your windows for ventilation. It gets chilly but the sealer is really strong-smelling.

Huz insisted on laying all the pennies himself.  It ended up being about 250 square feet. My job was to keep him well supplied on homemade pies. What a deal!  I'm thrilled with how it turned out.  *swoon*

50,000 pennies: $500
Adhesive + sealer: $150
Labor (88 hours): PRICELESS

The largest cost of this project is the time investment.  Its truly a labor of love. If you have covered anything in pennies, I'd love to see it!