Nov 13, 2014

Bathroom Renovation with Penny Floor!

Well it took months, but my copper penny bathroom reno is done! Now that it's complete I don't want to see another penny in my life!

Here's a quick rundown of what I did. Note that this bathroom is in a manufactured/double wide home, thus the paneled walls. *disclaimer* I am not a professional contractor, nor am I stating that the steps I followed were correct, this is simply what I did and what I used. Please visit my disclaimer page for more info.

I tore/removed everything from the bathroom except for the tub. The floor was super easy to remove since it wasn't actually glued down at all. I was going to try to salvage my sink cabinet, but the counter was literally stapled and nailed to every inch of the top of the base. I ended up cutting the cabinet out with a hand saw! I also made sure to cover the toilet hole with plastic wrap which was held on with rubber bands to prevent malodorousness.


I cleaned the walls with TSP(trisodium phosphate), let them dry and then sanded. While I was sanding I thought to myself... if I'm taking the top level off there really was no reason to clean the walls beforehand. I think I had read that I should clean with TSP before painting somewhere, but I think it was geared at projects where the walls weren't being thoroughly sanded, not sure.

Removing the batten strips was easy and I just hammered the tack nails which I couldn't remove into the wall so everything was smooth. Then I caulked with regular Alex Latex Caulk where there were large gaps between the wall panels. For the panels that were pressed almost against each other, I bypassed this step. After the caulk was thoroughly dried, I spackled with Dap All Purpose Spackle Paste. After letting that dry for a few days I had to reapply spackle to some areas that became depressed. Once that was all finished I sanded as well as I could. You see, with manufactured homes being the luxurious homes that they are of course there are never any corners cut. Hah! The wall panels didn't even lay flat against one another!! Some of the panels rose up a little bit towards the bottom. If I sanded too much to try to make them even the top paper layer would come off and it was just a mess. Therefore, I had to just settle for it being just mostly flat. ::Grrr::

After sanding, spackling and sanding some more:

Once the sanding was all complete, I gave the whole room a good vacuum. I also lightly rubbed all the surfaces down with a *slightly* damp cloth. 

Now the exciting part! The first coat of paint! I used Glidden Gripper because I read it helps prevent paint from peeling off the paneling. 

What a difference one coat makes huh? I followed the white primer with a few coats of Glidden Interior Satin, color - Olivewood. This color looks so great with the pennies... I'm not sure if there's a better color!!


You would think floors in a home would be nice and even wouldn't you? Did I mention I live in a manufactured home?? The middle of the bathroom floor came up almost a half inch from the sides. I had some leftover mortar laying around and figured that would work with such a difference. If I had to do it over again, I would go with the self leveling compound. Will the mortar endure with time? It's a spare bathroom that rarely gets used, therefore I'm thinking the lack of traffic and oodles of polyurethane will help it hold up.

After I finished leveling it the best I could, I painted the floor with Glidden Interior Semi Gloss, color - Black Mahogany. I also used this paint for the trim. It didn't have to be pretty, since it was going to be mostly covered anyway.

Pennies: When I went to the bank to pick up $50 worth of pennies, the women behind the counter looked at me like I was crazy. "Usually people drop off this amount of pennies, never pick it up!!" 

Polishing: Once I brought them home, not all the pennies were new and shiny of course. At first I de-tarnished them by dunking them in a vinegar, salt, and water combo. But, a few days later they would be dull again. Eventually, I just decided to clean them up after they went on the floor. Yes, once all of the 5,000+ pennies were on the floor I hand polished them... not all but most :-/ It's not like you can just take a sponge and go over those suckers at once either. You don't want the polish to end up in between the pennies!

Even after being glued to the floor and polished, I realized that if I didn't seal them ASAP they would loose some of their shimmer. So, in a mad dash, I spent a whole day polishing pennies and quickly afterwards put down my first layer of polyurethane. 

Gluing: At first I used Gorilla Glue to put down a few pennies as a test which ended up not working out. I probably used too much glue because once it was down for a few hours the pennies would come up a bit and foam from the sides. Either way, I didn't want to risk ruining any more floor space, so I went with good ol' Elmer's glue. Yes, while I was working there were quite a few pennies that I had to re-glue but Elmer's is cheap and it dries clear. Are there better options out there? I'm sure! 

It begins!

Spacing: I am aware of the penny molds that are available online. I really don't like the way they make a floor turn out though. After everything is done you can usually tell where the "tile" is located and it just looks off. Therefore, I placed my pennies individually. 

With the first couple hundred pennies that I used, I spaced them with the end of a paint stick and a level to keep them on a straight line. With this setup I could only do a line or two across because I used the previous line to put my paint stick against so it had to be dry. After awhile I just decided to do the spacing by eye while still employing the level to keep the lines straight. This worked out surprisingly well. I think since I had laid quite a few lines properly, the rest was cake. 

Sealing: "Painting" the pennies was one of the more enjoyable parts of this whole process because at this point things were really coming together. It does give off quite a bit of fumes though, so I had the fan running and all the doors/windows in the house open. I used: Pro Finisher Oil-based Polyurethane for floors - Clear Gloss. I finished the floor after 7 coats of Poly. Mind you, these coats were not poured on, they were painted on. 

Originally, I was going to install all the plumbing myself but once I put the sink cabinet in place none of the pipes lined up! I was on a deadline too, so I just said "heck with it, I've spent enough time on this bathroom!!" and hired a plumber.

Can you find the wheat penny?

This bathroom ended up being tons of work, but looks so awesome! Laying down the pennies was a surprisingly laborious endeavor, but everyone raves about it!

Jan. 2015 Update:

I've added a vintage pendant light fixture that goes with the bathroom perfectly, need to get a higher wattage bulb though (as you can see!!). Also, painted the vent a nice dark bronze.