Unless you have a lot of patience, tiling a floor with pennies can be a tedious and time-consuming task, but the effort is worth it if you want a floor with a one-of-a-kind look. The work isn't particularly hard -- something even beginning do-it-yourselfers can accomplish -- it just takes attention to detail to ensure the penny rows align. As with all DIY projects, the amount of time you spend in preparation affects the outcome and overall quality of this budget-minded project.
Detach the baseboards from the wall. The baseboards cover the edges of the flooring material that you need to cover. To remove the baseboards without breaking them, locate the nails that hold them in place and set the pry bar between the baseboard and the wall at that location. Press gently to bring the baseboard out from the wall. Repeat for all the nails that hold it in place. When the baseboard protrudes from the wall along its entire length, detach it. Mark a number on it and on the wall so you remember where it goes during reinstallation.
Remove the existing flooring. You must lay the new flooring on a flat, smooth surface. Strip the floor of the existing covering and recycle it or throw it away. Use a putty knife or pry bar to lift it up at its edges, as needed for the type of flooring you have.
Smooth the surface of the floor's base. In a well-ventilated space, use the putty knife and the stripper to remove any floor adhesive present. If removing thinset, scrape the surface of the flooring with the putty knife and vacuum the material or sweep it into a dustbin and toss it out. Wear a face mask to avoid inhaling any dust or debris as you work.
Sand any rough spots on the plywood subfloor, or fix any cracks that need repairing in a concrete base. You need a flat, level surface on which to install the pennies. Verify the floor is level by setting a level on it in various locations across the room. You may need to add a floor-leveling compound if it is uneven, as per the manufacturer's instructions, as these products vary. Let it dry.
Paint the floor with a primer color. The color you choose will appear through the spaces between the pennies, even when they butt against each other, so choose a neutral color -- tan, beige or gray -- for best results.
Lay the Penny Flooring
Start in a far corner of the room where any mistakes you make during the first few runs won't be noticeable. Adhere each penny to the floor with a dab of glue. The glue used must be capable of accepting the epoxy overcoat that finishes the floor.
Set each penny in place carefully. Work in rows to ensure the floor's lines are straight. You may alter the face that shows on the penny, "heads" or "tails" up, based on your personal preferences.
Work in one direction instead of in multiple directions at the same time. By working in one direction, it's easier to avoid making alignment mistakes, and it allows for continuity in the floor's look.
Finish adhering each penny to the floor with glue. Let the glue completely dry for at least 24 hours before adding the polyurethane.
Cover the pennies with a polyurethane coat. Apply it with a paintbrush or a roller. This coat seals the pennies in place.
The Finish Coat
Verify the square footage coverage of the epoxy finish product you have before you begin, as once you start applying the epoxy, you need to complete it one step. You don't want to run out halfway through.
Mix the two-part epoxy product together according to the instructions. Use a container that you can throw away to mix the epoxy in; once any remainder sets up in the container, both it and the container will be useless. Use old plastic ice cream buckets, coffee cans or larger 5-gallon containers with handles, depending on the size of your project.
Pour the clear epoxy material onto the floor. An old paintbrush can help smooth it across the entire floor, but it won't be usable once the epoxy hardens. Epoxy has a self-leveling feature to it that even outs and becomes smooth as it hardens. Allow the epoxy coating to dry to the touch for 2 hours, but don't walk on it until it has fully cured, about 24 to 48 hours, depending on humidity and weather conditions.