Penny Backsplash

7 Materials
$350
3 Months
Medium

We bought an old home and remodeled. I had painted mahogany cabinets cream colored and antiqued them and the next project was the back splash.I wanted a copper colored back splash and when browsing through the internet, pennies came up. After researching, trying different patterns, and learning from my own mistakes, we completed our project.
penny backsplash
the walls weren't exactly flat so I cut 1/4 inch backer board (Luan) to panel sizes, obtained uncirculated pennies for the bright part of the design and sorted pennies for dark brown lines.
penny backsplash
To know how large to cut the boards, I divided the area by the number of panels I thought would be easy to manipulate. I used brown construction paper to cut to the size of the wall opening as a template, using an exacto knife to cut out the areas for outlets or switches. Then cut up the boards and spray painted them black. I could finish a board in 2 to 3 evenings after work watching TV
penny backsplash
I wanted a 'featured' design over the sink and designed a layout slightly different from the rest. I learned the hard way that you couldn't let the glue flow from beneath the penny, it would be opaque under lighting once coated with bar top epoxy. I used q-tips and elmers to glue the pennies.
penny backsplash
I poured a very thick layer of bar top epoxy over all the sheets (we did 1/2 of the kitchen at a time) and let it cure at 76 degrees for 3 days in a heated room. I actually had finished 1/2 of the kitchen when I realized the glue turned the clear opaque, we had them under the lights and could see huge splotches of creamy opaque. I had to start over.
penny backsplash
We lined up the panels where they would mount, and used Loc-tight construction adhesive to put behind the boards. I had to use shims to keep the boards above the counter until it dried enough not to slide down the wall.
penny backsplash
I was very careful to line up the designs so that it look like one line started at the same place on the next board (easier than it looked, this pattern is easy to do).
penny backsplash
I bought quarter round (only used it on the bottom of the boards and 1 inch trim boards. Both were spray painted black, then cut to size for trimming each panel, I also beveled the edges at 45 degrees to add a finishing touch, and glued the trim boards in place. I bought light switches and added some copper paint to increase the copper color.
penny backsplash
The feature over the sink turned out great, this is before trimming and adding outlet covers.
penny backsplash
The finished look was awesome.
penny backsplash
I choose a larger trim for the sink feature and added some copper highlights with paint on the roped design.
penny backsplash
The new plank flooring was a huge change over the retro green and yellow vinyl. Total number of pennies? 10,400 give or take 10 or so. $104.00 worth of pennies, and many hours in front of the TV gluing pennies! Total time, about 2 1/2 months after work and on weekends between other projects. Total cost under $400.

Resources for this project:

Luan, 1/4 board 4x8 2 sheets
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Have a question about this project?

25 questions
  • Oh wow Sandy! What a project. It looks great. How many pennies did u use?

  • Where did you get the uncirculated pennies from, and how did you calculate/know how many you’d need? Also, why uncirculated pennies? Dumb question here, but is it illegal to use circulating coins in decorating?

    • Kimberly Montgomery
      on Dec 23, 2017

      Uncirculated pennies are super shiny. They create the brightness that many people want in a backsplash. Unless something has changed, you can ask the bank for rolls of uncirculated pennies. As to the knowing how many she needed, I have no idea, but I am sure it is a fairly simple geometrical formula that was used.

    • Nan29958258
      on Dec 23, 2017

      She said about 10,400 were used.

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Dec 23, 2017

      I had no idea how many I would need. LOL I just bought more as I needed them. We actually took back 44$ worth of rejects for color. I was lucky that I found a full box of uncirculated pennies at a bank, I found I couldn't ask a bank to order them for me, and would have to stop by multiple banks to buy $10 worth and sometimes there would be a row of uncirculated ones, or I just sorted them. Another crafter said that putting them in CLR for 10 min would have accomplished the same thing! I tried peroxide and baking soda, and vinegar. Doesn't get the same results.

    • Margaret Green
      on Dec 24, 2017

      My grandfather would soak the pennies in vinegar and then rub a pencil eraser over them. You could also try copper polish, similar to silver polish.

  • Mel10180584
    on Dec 23, 2017

    You said the design was easy to do. Will you please elaborate so I can avoid any unnecessary pitfalls?

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Dec 23, 2017

      OH, and buy a cheap torch, you will need it to run over the epoxy to heat all the bubbles so they burst. I tried using my culinary torch for creme brulee's and it wasn't hot enough.

  • Nancy vlcek
    on Dec 23, 2017

    This is beautiful!!! How did u get the pionts? ... Dinner pennies are round?

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Dec 23, 2017

      When you stack pennies inside of each other in the gap of the round pennies, the first row then makes a straight line and the top of the round penny becomes the point. If you could enlarge the picture you could see what I mean

  • JAN
    on Dec 23, 2017

    I have to ask !!!!!!! How do you clean the dust and grease out of the holes between the coins.

    • Denise
      on Dec 23, 2017

      She used bar top epoxy over the whole thing so there are no holes between the coins. She did a beautiful job!

  • Vicki Cunningham
    on Dec 23, 2017

    Wondering if the pennies could be glued directly to the sheetrock wall and then grouted and sealed?

  • Edna B Whitmore
    on Dec 23, 2017

    I have used epoxy glue previously, and with heat it does get slightly sticky....I am wondering how U plan on keeping this surface CLEAN. I thought about putting in expensive but very plain "subway tiles", but thinking about keeping ceramic tiles clean, forget it..I WILL KEEP MY PLAIN and easy to CLEAN BACKSPLASH !!

    • Edna B Whitmore
      on Dec 23, 2017

      I have a small, Pullman style kitchen and and open wall separates it from my den. Both areas are done in six-sided off white "aged" ceramic tile. The glaze does wear down somewhat, and I can always have it reglazed.. It is easy to clean, but certain other flooring is much easier to keep clean.. Because of the light color, every speck of dirt, grains of sand SHOWS. It seems I am always sweeping or sponge mopping it.. Nothing put hot water is used on ceramic tile floor to keep clean, unless it is exposed to moisture like in a bathroom or spa.

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Dec 23, 2017

      It isn't epoxy glue Edna, it is a extremely hard bar top that will scratch if you run a knife across it, fortunately I don't do that on the walls so it should stay shiny and pristine until I'm carted off in a hearse. You only take a dish cloth and soap to wipe off any food spatters. Since it is a hard surface, it doesn't even get warn enough to affect it around the stove.

  • Lin28108899
    on Dec 23, 2017

    Are you sure there isnt a law about using money in this way???

    • Jerie
      on Dec 23, 2017

      I have the same question

    • Linda
      on Dec 23, 2017

      I believe it is illegal to deface money, but legal to use it in jewelry-type projects.

    • Barbara Baldwin
      on Dec 23, 2017

      Some say yes, others say no..

    • Buster
      on Dec 23, 2017

      That's a fair question that many of us might think of. I might have composed it differently, however. Perhaps something like:

      "Thank you for sharing the details of your project. Your attention to detail is admirable! As I read your post I wondered if it was lawful to use currency in this way so I did a little looking around and found this information which I cut and pasted from a Reddit post:
      18 U.S.C. § 331 states the following:
      Whoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of the United States, or any foreign coins which are by law made current or are in actual use or circulation as money within the United States; or
      Whoever fraudulently possesses, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or brings into the United States, any such coin, knowing the same to be altered, defaced, mutilated, impaired, diminished, falsified, scaled, or lightened—
      Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
      You are fine as long as you don't use the coins fraudulently. That is, with the intent to create counterfeit coins or to profit from the base metal (e.g., pennies made before 1982 contain more than one cent of copper, so you can't melt them down and sell as scrap)."

      When someone shares their creativity and hard work be kind and refrain from the impulse to respond with a "gotcha".

      Let's be kind and peaceful.

    • Judy H
      on Dec 23, 2017

      Buster, you said that beautifully and kindly. There is just no reason to be negative. This is such an awesome look she achieved with much hard work and creativity. I don't think the Department of the Treasury will make her tear it down. Thank you for your positive outlook.

    • Susan Snyder
      on Dec 23, 2017

      It’s likely that Sandy got at least the uncirculated pennies from the bank, if not all of them. And it’s likely that she was excited about her project.
      Now, I can only speak for myself, but when I’m excited about starting a new project, I tend to share my plans with people at the places where I get my supplies. In this case, one of those places was the bank. I’m gonna go out on a limb and suggest that Sandy probably spoke with the bank clerk about her plans and reason for needing 10,400 pennies.
      Under those circumstances, I’m positive the bank clerk would have told Sandy if she was breaking the law.

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Dec 23, 2017

      Actually I did go to a few and they loved the project when I showed them why I needed $20 or $10 worth at a time!

  • Barbara Baldwin
    on Dec 23, 2017

    Where does one buy the pennies? A bank? Then you sort them for color later?

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Dec 23, 2017

      yes and yes, we turned $44 worth of pennies that weren't the 'right' colors (dark brown and very new)

  • Kim Henninger
    on Dec 23, 2017

    This is just amazing! How did you know every step to take? Did you get any advice or help?

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Dec 23, 2017

      I read every blog I could find on creative ways to do pennies, I saw floors, entries, and kitchen back splashes and read them. A friend who is a fixer upper recommended using the luan for an absolutely flat beautiful surface. Plus the pennies get heavy, doing it in panels made sense. I learned the hard way not to let glue come out from under the pennies at all; finished all the boards for 1/2 the kitchen and when light hit it, it was opaque. I now have penny panels on my garage cabinets. I researched expoxy companies before selecting the one I did.

  • Elaine DiAntonio
    on Dec 23, 2017

    I'm thinking to do this around the edges of my blah square bathroom mirror. Would that need backer board?

    • Cherie
      on Dec 23, 2017

      I would definitely use cement board or backer board even on this project as when that luan gets wet, it will warp!!!

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Dec 23, 2017

      No, you can do it right on the wall but you can't pour epoxy on it. You'd have to grout it. If you use luan and do the bar top epoxy, it will never warp or get wet.

  • Theresa
    on Dec 23, 2017

    what paint and colors did you use on the cabinets?

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Dec 23, 2017

      I paid a friend whose occupation is painting to spray paint the cabinets a off white creamy color, and then used Valspar antiquing glaze, then put a coat of polyurethane over that.

  • Kyralee
    on Dec 23, 2017

    I really like your spice and oil shelf above the stove. Do you have a tutorial for that?

    • David
      on Dec 23, 2017

      That is really not the best place to store oil and spices due to the heat generated from the stove/oven. Makes them go bad/stale/rancid much faster.

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Dec 23, 2017

      It came with the house, I painted it copper (it is stainless steel)

  • How did you clean the pennies??

    • LS.16783991
      on Dec 23, 2017

      If you want to clean copper use lemon juice and salt.



    • Renee Hammond
      on Dec 23, 2017

      She said she bought uncirculated pennies for the bright part of the design and sorted pennies for dark brown lines.

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Dec 23, 2017

      Yes, I tried using vinegar and salt, and hydrogen peroxide and ended up just sorting more pennies, never got them shiny enough.

  • Emily
    on Dec 23, 2017

    You did a knock out job! Love the pattern of the over sink design and also the other but sink best. Is the pattern derived just from neglecting to clean some of the pennies? It is a fantastic look. Congratulations not only for your creativity but for your perseverance.

    • Renee Hammond
      on Dec 23, 2017

      She said she bought uncirculated pennies for the bright part of the design and sorted pennies for dark brown lines.

    • Sheryl Gregory
      on Dec 23, 2017

      She said in the beginning that she used new pennies fir the bright parts and sorted pennies for the dark lines.

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Jan 1, 2018

      My only regret over the sink was using some of the really dark black pennies, it detracted from the pattern.

  • Eml10589680
    on Dec 23, 2017

    It's beautiful, but I'm wondering how you keep it clean--like food splatter out of grooves?

    • Pam
      on Dec 23, 2017

      She said she used epoxy to seal. It is the same type epoxy used on bar tops. No grooves to clean out, just wipe with soapy water.

    • Pam
      on Dec 23, 2017

      btw...really great job. I love the creativity and hard working ethic that helped you stick with it through time ne error fixes.

    • Cindy
      on Dec 23, 2017

      It's beautiful and genius! Would love to try this as I have no backsplash and have been trying to come up with something to do for it.

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Dec 23, 2017

      thanks Cindy!

    • Susan Cardie
      on Dec 24, 2017

      I cannot add an answer but can I just say WOW love it

  • Charlynn Shanny
    on Dec 23, 2017

    Isn’t it illegal to use money other than for what it’s supposed to be used for ?

    • She said she used uncirculated pennies I believe...it looks stunning!

    • Susan O'Hara
      on Dec 24, 2017

      Pennies are still money?? Lol!

    • I have a crap load of coins sitting in a large money jar, it's just sitting there. Maybe she's using her back splash as her piggy bank, lol!

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Dec 24, 2017

      Charlynn, the short answer is NO. Theres an answer in the thread since you didn't bother to google what is illegal use of money someone else already answered perfectly. You can find it or google it

    • Dottiewilkie
      on Dec 24, 2017

      Charlynn, it’s only illegal if you alter it to pass off as a different denominatioN. Perfectly fine to make things out of it.

    • J.b. kelly
      on Dec 24, 2017

      If you want you can use you bills for wallpaper,as long as it's not a criminal activity
      Save more spend less

    • Barb in Texas
      on Dec 24, 2017

      J.b.-The table top I'm doing (mentioned above) is using about $2 in Canadian pennies, which cost $5US a roll!

    • Cathy
      on Dec 24, 2017

      Good thing, wouldn’t want the penny police to show up! Your kitchen is absolutely gorgeous!

    • Rose
      on Dec 24, 2017

      It's yours money do what you please with it.penny cops won't be chasing you down!

    • Tabatha Huber
      on Dec 24, 2017

      It is illegal to use Canadian money for anything other than currency. I don’t know about American money.

    • Shannon Helfer Sabin
      on Dec 24, 2017

      At least she found a use for pennies! You did a beautiful job!

    • Marneta L Gabriel
      on Dec 25, 2017

      Canadian pennies are no longer used as currency, it is NOT illegal. A wicked job!

  • Vicki Sybert
    on Dec 24, 2017

    Will the uncirculated pennies stay bright colored?

    • Margaret Green
      on Dec 24, 2017

      I think the epoxy will prevent the oxidation that would discolor them

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Dec 25, 2017

      Margaret is correct. If you use grout, they will continue to oxidize.

    • Elizabeth
      on Jan 4, 2018

      the bar top epoxy is a solid 'film' which protects anything, so Margaret is right--it will keep them bright and shiny (the entire point of making a pattern and using the epoxy in the first place--otherwise Sandy could have simply glued up thousands of pennies and let them all oxidize, occasionally using copper cleaner to brighten them up! :) The pattern is the thing--so she used what she did to preserve it. I love the ingenuity (and perseverance)! I quite like the look of the panels sitting on the counter prior to installation, so think it would also make a great 'hot plate'.

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Feb 14, 2018

      thanks Elizabeth!

  • Barb in Texas
    on Dec 24, 2017

    I'm trying to cover my coffee table with pennies, and can't believe how long a 2x2 foot area takes, I admire your perseverance! One problem I have is I can't find an easy way to cut them where needed, to fit them in. Did you cut any of yours? This is stunning, btw, I just love the patterns you put in!

    • Mcc29598066
      on Dec 24, 2017

      You can get them from Harbor Freight (where I got mine for about $3 many years ago) or from Amazon or probably many other places. Take a look at this link for an example of what Amazon currently has (also these look to be higher quality than my Harbor Freight ones):

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Dec 25, 2017

      I used the large tin snips you can see on the table in the photo where it shows the panels half completed. They provided great torque to cut through the pennies.

    • Dpbeee2
      on Jan 1, 2018

      Wow and wow and wow!! Now that is truly a labor of love. Beautiful and unique. Thank you so much for sharing this. I plan a penny project but on a much smaller scale to begin with. Thanks for inspiration.

    • Dpbeee2
      on Jan 1, 2018

      Amazing creativity!

    • Sandra Allen
      on Jan 29, 2018

      Look for tutorials on penny ides and you will find tons of ideas on making trays, tables, lamps and so much more. This is amazing!!!

  • Miranda Flood
    on Dec 25, 2017

    Do you have a video or link on how you completed your cream cabinets with antiquing? They look absolutely amazing too. Great work. If you've shared how you did your cabinets and what colors, supplies you used, Etc please post the link. Thank you!

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Dec 25, 2017

      I'll post it today Miranda!

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Dec 25, 2017

      It's posted Miranda, took a while!

    • Miranda Flood
      on Dec 26, 2017

      Oh thank you Sandy. Your cabinets look absolutely amazing too, and since I'm such a novice and don't have confidence in my own abilities, I would really really appreciate a step by step instruction on how you did your cabinets, exactly what paint and color you used, brand, your technique, top coats or wax and colors, etc. Yours look absolutely amazing. My kitchen is so blah and since changing the black granite counters and island is not in the budget, I'd like to at least update the cabinets. Thanks so much Sandy.

    • Miranda Flood
      on Dec 26, 2017

      Oh thank you Sandy. I was just replying one your new message came through that you already posted it. I will try to find your video now. Thank you so much!

    • Miranda Flood
      on Dec 26, 2017

      Hi again Sandy. Would you please put the link to your cabinet video here? I can't locate it now. Thank you so much

  • Barb C
    on Jan 21, 2018

    Awesome job. How did you keep epoxy contained on the boards till it dried? It is poured on, right? I've never used it.

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Jan 22, 2018

      Yes, poured on, spread with a brush, it pours off the edges, have to have plastic under it, I used old shower curtains

  • Glenda Harding
    on Feb 3, 2018

    Could you possibly add pennies with tile and grout them on like tile?

  • Dff11150295
    on Feb 7, 2018

    Did you have to cut any of the pennies? And would a polyurethane product also work as a sealer?

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Feb 12, 2018

      Yes, I used the tin snips (large ones) to cut the pennies; those had highter torque to cut the pennies. Some of the pennies are easier to cut than others. I'm not sure about the polyurethane products. I don't remember reading about anyone using that to coat them with after.

    • It should work I say put a couple on a board and try it before doing whole kitchen

    • Jenna Perone
      on Aug 12, 2018

      Bar top epoxy is equivalent to 70 coats of polyurethane

  • Kathy Carpenter
    on May 5, 2018

    I've stained my kitchen cabinets black onix but now it's too dark I'm want them light color so do I have to sand all that off first before painting I want them to look destreesed like yours do can you help plus my walls are orange color countertops are brown beige mingled colors help please

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on May 7, 2018

      Kathy, I googled lightening kitchen cabinets and there's a ton of information on line. I've never done that so I can't be of much help.

  • Do you have a pattern stencil you could put up of in front of your sink?

    • Sandy O'Konek
      on Jun 17, 2018

      Hi Tracie, I didn't have one, I saw a photo on line of a floor, printed it and added in the crosses to the design. I played with it till it looked right. :)

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