A path Paved with Copper?

by Rochelle Greayer

in Hotel and Spa Gardens, How To, Nuts + Bolts

I recently saw that the Standard Grill in the Standard Hotel in New York installed a floor paved with pennies. Ever the designer, I quickly calculated that cost per square foot for this (raw) material. A quick calculation comes in at a quite affordable $2.50/ sq. ft.

paving flooring made from pennies standard hotel standard grill NYC

My first thought was how interesting this might be in a garden. Of course there are so many different things to consider in garden design vs. interior design. Like how something might age or weather. How lovely would it be to have a path paved in copper? Or so I thought.

pennies penny floor standard grill standard hotel New york city

Images from Apartment Therapy

Did you know that pennies really aren’t copper any more? I think I knew this on some level but when thinking about outdoor paving, it really is quite an important consideration. You see, prior to 1983, all US pennies were 95% copper…so when they aged, they turned green. After 1983, they are now about 97% zinc. Zinc really doesn’t age and will stay looking the same (except perhaps dirty). I am not sure how hard it is to find copper pennies anymore, but wouldn’t this be a lovely accent in garden hardscaping? Maybe Copper pennies could be used to draw pictures in a zinc penny scheme that will become more visible with time?

green pennies

image from Thefuntimes guide.

Over at Apartment Therapy a Tova handily shared how she created a penny tiled floor in her bathroom:

First, I created a 12″ x 16″ template of a repeating “dot” pattern in illustrator sized to match the size of pennies, I glued the template a piece of cardboard and laminated the whole thing (with clear packing tape)
Then I bought some polyester netting and laid it on top of the template and started glueing. I used magna-tac glue because it dried quickly and the pennies didn’t pop off because if it’s rubbery texture. after the glue dried, I cut off the excess netting.
Then, I just sat in front of the TV for hours and hours watching Law & Order and CSI and glueing pennies. I was on maternity leave and my daughter slept a lot and I was feeling too lazy to be “productive” so I got a lot done.
When I had enough to cover the floor I bought traditional tiling materials at Home Depot and just laid the floor like they do on HGTV. (I watched a lot of that too) It was my first time tiling and it went pretty smooth. I bought a metal snipper and cut the pennies to go around the walls and toilet and sink pedestal. (that may be illegal. don’t tell on me) Then I grouted and sealed it with a grout & tile sealer.

What do you think? A good idea, or totally tacky during a recession? I love it, but want to hear what you think.

how it grows August 25, 2009 at 12:13 pm

That’s a nice looking floor. If outside, I wonder if the little bit of copper in the pennies would adversely affect nearby plant growth.

rochelle August 25, 2009 at 9:25 pm

hmm—that is worth considering….but aren’t there other copper things (gutters for example) that generally run off into beds (assumingly w/o issue for the plants)

Linda February 8, 2010 at 4:37 pm

My uncle owns a sheet metal company which does a lot of specialized copper work. Most copper guttering is tin-lined, for the very same reason “how it grows” cited. Copper is toxic to most plants, even small planters made of copper (beautiful!), must be lined with some other material. Hope this helps!

ken August 13, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Did you set the sections in a thin set? and how did you seal the top afterwards?

Becky @ Ballistic Gypsy September 30, 2011 at 2:36 pm

This is very interesting. I am considering doing this in my daughters room. Also wondering what was used to seal the top? Grout?

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