A Penny Saved Means a New Kitchen Countertop

6 Materials
$50
2 Days
Medium

We needed to replace the "cookbook pages" top on our kitchen island (which we made from two old nightstands). I'd been collecting penny project ideas on Pinterest and just knew this would be a perfect kitchen project.
I started collecting and polishing pennies. Lots and lots of pennies. Actually about $22 worth, and spent 12 hours total polishing each and every one.
We roughed up the surface with a sander then painted it flat black so the pennies would pop against the dark color. Then we nailed stained molding pieces to the edges leaving a bit of depth all around so the resin would pool. We used Minwax Polyshades in Maple for the wood. It has the stain and sealer all in one product.
We did NOT glue the pennies down. We did NOT put them in any kind of order or pattern. But we did shift them around alot to mix all the metallic shades of the polished coins.
We used this two part resin, which is an improvement over the old formula. It didn't smell, it set up quickly and it gave us totally awesome results. We used twice as much resin as we had used on the original project and it looks great. And yes, it is food safe. You've seen the shiny bar and tables in restaurants? This is the product they use.
We absolutely love how this came out!
Before and after. The skylight and the pennies are a winning combination, and the light brings out all the metallic colors and subtle hues. We could not be more pleased with this project.
At the end of each day the setting sun shines through my collection of blue glass and those pennies are just dazzling in the slanting light. I call this project a win win!
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Ann

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

10 questions
  • Jacquie Trundy
    on Apr 9, 2018

    I'm new at all this and have a question; Could I do this to a kitchen counter? Would the resin hold up under heat and water conditions?

    • Nancy Flemming
      on Apr 9, 2018

      Yes you can, I did it on my downstairs sink counter, used epoxy (resin) it is easy to clean. It is used on bar counters and you use to see it on cafe tables and counters years ago. I would not put hot pots directly on it, but I always use a hot pad or cutting board on my counters.

  • Best Buy Carts Parts
    on Apr 9, 2018

    Is the resin you used "food safe" ?

  • Barbrie
    on Apr 9, 2018

    Do the pennies make the island incredibly heavy?

    • Ann
      on Apr 9, 2018

      Not really. It slides very well thanks to Teflon pads on bottom corners.

    • Barbrie
      on Apr 9, 2018

      Thanks, Ann!! I've loved other penny projects I've seen, but I always worry about extra weight. (I feel the same way about tiles).

  • Rena Noele
    on Apr 9, 2018

    I didn't see whether or not you glued the pennies down to the background. If you don't, do they float up?

    • Leah M
      on Apr 9, 2018

      If you re-read the note under the 3rd picture, she says she "did NOT" glue the pennies down.

    • Ann
      on Apr 9, 2018

      Yes, what Leah M said. We did not glue them, they did not float. It was very satisfying watching the resin cover them with a clear shiny layer.

    • Rena Noele
      on Apr 10, 2018

      Thanks Leah & Ann, I missed that part. I really like the look and had used the resin with molds a long time ago.

  • Jody Chance
    on Apr 14, 2018

    Is the surface resistant to knife cuts?

    • Ann
      on Apr 14, 2018

      No, it is not. But then, neither are my regular counters. I use cutting boards (either plastic or wood) whenever I am cutting or chopping.

  • Lisa
    on Apr 14, 2018

    I noticed in the description of the “supplies needed” it didn’t mention “glass”. So there isn’t a glass overlay on the top of this? What prevents dust/dirt from getting in the crevices and in between the pennies then?


    • Michelle Bebow
      on Apr 14, 2018

      She poured clear resin over them.

    • TeriW
      on Apr 14, 2018

      If you follow her instructions, he tells you its resin

    • Becky
      on Apr 17, 2018

      Did you read the article?

    • Jeanne Martin
      on Apr 21, 2018

      Apparently she didn't. People should READ the post before asking questions!

    • Penny O'Brien
      on Apr 23, 2018

      Ladies. . . . .now be nice. No catty comments.

    • Judy Perkins
      on May 4, 2018

      If you have never used clear resin, It is a clear liquid product that completely covers the pennies filling in all the cracks and crevices. She poured it thick enough to make a completely smooth top completely covering the tops of the pennies that can be wiped clean. The pennies are completely immersed in the resin which holds them in place which is why she didn't need to glue them down first. Also this is why she needed to build the edge bordering the Island up a tiny bit higher than the top of the pennies. Then the liquid resin is poured over it all and allowed to sit until it hardens to a smooth shiny plastic like surface. Hope this helps to explain this a bit.


    • Ann Dougherty
      on May 7, 2018

      Very nice description. ☺

    • Connie
      on May 14, 2018

      Looks beautiful!

  • Cyn Brown
    on Apr 14, 2018

    Is it “legal” to do that with the pennies?

    • Jody Hurt
      on Apr 15, 2018

      You are not destroying them, you are preserving them so it should be perfectly legal!

    • Becky
      on Apr 17, 2018


      Cyn, are you kidding? I'm with you Renee Rees.

    • Cyn Brown
      on Apr 17, 2018

      Wow! Remind myself not to ask any more questions on this site. If I seemed “dense” to you, ok, but I just wanted to clarify if it was ok to do it.

    • Jeanne Martin
      on Apr 21, 2018

      It’s pennies, who cares? I can assure you the FBI/CIA or Treasury Dept. won't be knocking on your door if you do this.

    • Elvira
      on Apr 27, 2018

      Cyn - Legit question... I wondered the same... sorry but you saved me from getting some of those responses for just asking?!

    • Vicky Corey
      on May 3, 2018

      This question was asked before on a different project with pennies and it's perfectly legal. It's not a bad question!

    • Ann Dougherty
      on May 7, 2018

      Every tourist attraction area that I have visited in the U.S. Has had one or more penny pressing machines, that flatten a penny, and imprint it with a design. I looked this up, and according to 18 USC Section 331, it is illegal to mutilate coins in an attempt to use them fraudulently. It doesn't pertain to any coin that is taken out of circulation. I

      Hope this helps!

    • Brenda strickland
      on May 11, 2018

      I am sorry it became like you ask a horrible question. It sure could have been answered with kindness.

    • Diane Keller
      on May 14, 2018

      I thought I thought the subject was the table. The little boxes that we write in are for asking questions about the topic. They are not to insult those asking for clarification. That's a form of bullying.

    • Dawn French
      on May 14, 2018

      Ppl do it to their floors also.. Thats is way to big of a project for me.lol this woukd be easier. If you are unsure go to the bank or police and ask if it makes you feel better. :-) :-)

  • Eric
    on Apr 16, 2018

    Illegal to deface or damage USC? WHAT WOULD YOUR DEFENCE BE!

    l really wold like to know, before I do it?

    • Ann
      on Apr 16, 2018

      It is illegal to deface currency to commit fraud. Online research also points out taking the money out of circulation is not allowed. My defense would be that the pennies are not changed or defaced and could be returned to circulation by dismantling the project. Honestly, the pennies I used were stashed in a dozen different bowls, urns, bags and drawers and had not been in circulation for months and years. Do some research and decide. I think there are "penny" tile sheets available now that just look like the real thing.


    • Cat Cash
      on Apr 17, 2018

      I'm thinking that pennies in the top are probably less in dollar amount than many of us have stashed in jar and banks, and have been there for years on end. I have numerous jars filled with pennies and I don't cash them in, why? I have no idea, I just save them. Maybe when I pass away my kids will be hauling in hundreds of pounds of pennies to the bank. But I really think no one is gonna turn in someone who has pennies in a counter top, any more than they are gonna turn in someone who has pennies in a jar.

    • Jeanne Martin
      on Apr 21, 2018

      It’s pennies, who cares? I can assure you the FBI/CIA or Treasury Dept. won't be knocking on your door if you do this. I heard recently that pennie's are going to be taken out of circulation in the very near future anyways.

    • Diena Cameron
      on Apr 25, 2018

      I think it's the person doing the projects's, business. Besides I think the FBI has better things to do with their time and bigger crooks to catch then someone making a gorgeous countertop out of pennies AND they're preserving them !

    • Mearline Lucy
      on Apr 27, 2018

      Omg!! I see them in wishing wells, Chinese fountains.... folks Be Nice! !

    • Vicky Corey
      on May 3, 2018

      Eric, the last person I saw, who did a project with pennies, was told by the bank, it is legal. It's pennies she saved. When I worked at the bank we had people who actually bought pennies with cash for projects. It's ok!!

    • Patricia
      on Jun 1, 2018

      Eric. You worry too much!!!

    • Cristine Schwartzberg
      on Jan 11, 2019

      The U.S. Mint who makes the coins is part of the U.S. Treasury. They have a FAQ on this topic. https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/faqs/coins/pages/edu_faq_coins_portraits.aspx


      Coins used to make items are classified either as not current or as mutilated. Coins that are chipped, fused, and not machine-countable are considered mutilated. The Mint redeems mutilated coins at the value of their metal content. Mutilated coins are only redeemable through the United States Mint. Uncurrent coins are worn, but machine-countable, and their genuineness and denomination are still recognizable. Uncurrent coins are replaced with new coins of the same denomination by the Federal Reserve Banks, then forwarded to the Mint. All uncurrent or mutilated coins received by the Mint are melted, and the metal is shipped to a fabricator to be recycled in the manufacture of coinage strips.

  • Sue Smith
    on May 18, 2018

    What else could you use instead of pennies?

    • IG
      on May 18, 2018

      Sue, you could try beer bottle or soda bottle tops, or even if you can find a collection of old reproduction cigarette cards. I have seen some nice floral ones online.


    • Ann
      on May 18, 2018

      Originally we used pages from an old cookbook with the same resin over the top. IG mentions bottle caps. I've seen this done with photographs, autumn leaves, dried ferns, sea shells and postage stamps. A google image search for envirotex lite projects brings up loads of ideas.

    • Shay Clark
      on Jun 1, 2018

      I did a bean countertop using redbeans, white beans and pinto beans. I started at one corner and did 3 rows of each bean into a wave pattern. I paid close attention to where it met at my wall to continue the flow of the wave. I glued the beans down bc I didn't trust them not to move. Pennies weigh more than beans. Everyone who saw the countertop was in awe of it. I moved so I don't have a picture. I happened to go back to the house about 15 years later and it is still beautiful.

    • Doreen
      on May 11, 2020

      Loved this. I know you used it on an island but would it be tough enough to put on whole countertop in kitchen?

  • Barb C
    on Jan 4, 2019

    I am presently gathering pennies for coffee table top. Am sloshing pennies around in salt and vinegar to shine them. Works almost instantly. But does not make really dark old pennies useable. Does the brasso work better?

Join the conversation

3 of 28 comments
  • Mar28578742
    on May 17, 2018

    So creative and pretty! Than you for sharing!

  • Ros33354521
    on May 20, 2018

    I LOVE THIS IDEA SO COOL N UNIQUE, I wish I had talent to do easy back splash n fun all of the projects r awesome this takes the cake too bad my kitchen so tiny I have no where put n island

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