How to Do a Penny Backsplash

A penny backsplash can be a fun and creative way to add personality and visual interest to your kitchen. By using actual pennies, you can achieve a unique metallic look that brings warmth and shine to the space. While installing a penny backsplash requires some effort, the finished product is well worth it. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to do a penny backsplash in your home.

Selecting Pennies for Your Backsplash

The first step is to acquire enough pennies to cover the space you want to accentuate. When choosing pennies, keep the following in mind:

Date and Condition

  • Opt for pennies minted before 1982, as these are 100% copper. Newer pennies contain zinc and won’t achieve the same finished look.
  • Pennies in worn condition work best to create visual variety.
  • Avoid pennies with significant damage, corrosion, or those bonded to other coins.

Quantity Needed

  • Measure the area you want to cover and use a penny backsplash calculator to determine how many you need. Allow for 10-20% extra.
  • Most projects require 200-500 pennies per square foot. Buying in bulk from banks or coin dealers saves time.
  • Mixing in occasional dimes, nickels, or foreign coins adds more character.

Preparing the Surface

Proper prep work ensures your penny tiles adhere correctly and last. Take these steps:

Clean Thoroughly

  • If installing over existing tile, scrub to remove all grease, soap residue, and grime so the adhesive bonds tightly.

Remove Existing Backsplash

  • Take down old backsplash tile or paneling if present. Scrape off all adhesive residue.

Fill Holes and Imperfections

  • Use spackle or joint compound to fill any holes, cracks, or uneven spots for a smooth surface. Allow filler to dry completely.

Prime the Surface

  • Apply painter’s tape around the edges to protect the walls.
  • Coat the area with primer to create a uniform base layer for the adhesive. Allow primer to dry fully.

Planning the Layout

The layout of your pennies will impact the overall visual effect. Consider these tips:

Draw a Grid

  • Map out the tile layout using a chalk line to mark evenly spaced rows and columns. This creates a uniform grid.

Decide on Pattern and Orientation

  • Horizontal rows or a brickwork pattern are common. Play with different orientations.
  • Mixing up which way the pennies face adds interest. Rotate some upside down or sideways.

Allow for Cut Pennies

  • Pennies around the edges will likely need cutting to fit. Include extra uncut pennies to swap in when needed.

Accent With Other Coins

  • Work in occasional dimes, nickels, or foreign coins to punctuate the design. Cluster like coins together.

Installing the Penny Tiles

Now comes the fun part – applying the adhesive and mounting the pennies! Follow these steps:

Choose the Adhesive

  • Opt for a construction-grade silicone or latex adhesive with long tack time. Avoid super glue or epoxy.
  • Make sure the product is approved for indoor use and can bond copper to your wall type.

Apply in Sections

  • Work in small sections so the adhesive doesn’t dry before pennies are applied. Tape off each section before starting.

Spread the Adhesive

  • Use a notched trowel to evenly apply a thick layer of adhesive on the sectioned-off area.

Press and Adhere the Pennies

  • Place pennies shiny-side down in the marked grid pattern. Gently press down firmly so they adhere properly, squeezing out excess adhesive.
  • Slide pennies into position as needed. Wipe away any adhesive that gets on coin surfaces.
  • Let each section fully cure before moving to the next area. Avoid bumping or touching tiles until fully bonded.

Clean and Seal

  • Once all pennies are mounted, clean residue from the coin faces with glass cleaner.
  • Apply a sealant like polyurethane over the finished backsplash. Allow to fully cure before use.

Tips for Achieving a Professional Look

With attention to detail, your DIY penny backsplash can have the wow-factor of high-end custom tile. Consider these pointers:

Ensure Proper Adhesion

All pennies should lay completely flush. Re-adhere any loose tiles to prevent future problems.

Minimize Visible Adhesive

Carefully wipe away any excess adhesive squeezed out from behind pennies for a clean finish.

Alternate Shiny and Tarnished Coins

Mixing pennies in different conditions creates visual interest. Group like coins together.

Use Various Date Ranges

Incorporate pennies minted over many decades to vary color tones and patinas.

Edge With Decorative Molding

Finish with copper trim, beadboard, or other coordinating strips for a polished frame.

Maintaining Your Penny Backsplash

A copper penny backsplash adds vintage flair, but also requires some upkeep. Here are tips for keeping it looking its best:

Seal and Protect

  • Reapply sealant yearly to shield from moisture damage and prevent tarnish.

Clean with Mild Products

  • Use gentle cleaners like lemon juice mixed with baking soda. Avoid harsh chemicals.

Remove Tarnish

  • Use tarnish removers made for copper. You can also scrub gently with vinegar.

Handle Gently

  • Take care not to knock coins loose or scratch surfaces when cleaning the area.

Monitor for Issues

  • Watch for moisture damage, mildew, warped pennies, and loose adhesion. Address promptly.

FAQs About Penny Backsplashes

What wall materials can you install a penny backsplash on?

Pennies can be applied to drywall, plywood, cement board, plaster, and existing tile or laminate surfaces after proper prep. Avoid direct application to brick or stone.

Do pennies on a backsplash cause health concerns?

Modern pennies contain trace zinc but likely pose little risk, especially when sealed. Older solid copper pennies are safer. Improper prep or sealing could allow moisture issues over time in some cases.

Can you make a penny backsplash yourself?

Yes! With some planning, time, and effort, penny backsplashes can absolutely be DIY-friendly budget projects. No special skills are required.

Do you have to seal a penny backsplash?

Sealing is highly recommended to prevent oxidation and maintain the copper finish. Polyurethane or another indoor-safe sealant should be applied.

How do you attach pennies to make a backsplash?

Pennies should be securely adhered with a strong construction adhesive suitable for bonding copper. Product choice depends on your wall type and condition.

How much does it cost to install a penny backsplash?

DIY materials may cost $100-$500 depending on size. Hiring a pro typically starts around $1000 or more depending on labor costs and project scope.

Achieving the Penny Tile Look Without Pennies

While genuine pennies create a one-of-a-kind backsplash, there are also ways to mimic the aesthetic if you’re looking for a lower maintenance or more affordable option. Consider these penny-like alternatives:

Penny Round Tiles

Ceramic and porcelain tiles come in penny-shaped versions to recreate the look with more durability.metal, copper, and bronze options add shine.

Faux Metal Tiles

Faux metal tiles made from metallized films or laminates provide the look without the cleaning needs. Great for lower budgets.

Metal Tile Sheets

Sheets of tin, stainless steel, or copper tiles can be cut into circular shapes. Easier to install than actual pennies.

Patterned Tile

Tiles with dots, circles, or sunburst designs give a similar visual vibe. Use metallics for added impact.

While not exactly the same, these substitutes can capture the spirit of a penny backsplash for less.

Bringing the Beauty of a Penny Backsplash to Your Home

Installing a custom penny backsplash in your kitchen or other space provides eye-catching personality. While it requires careful planning and execution, the shimmering handcrafted look offers vintage character you can’t find anywhere else. With the right materials, preparation, and technique, you can create a true coppertone masterpiece!

Hopefully this guide provides all the details needed to DIY your own penny tile backsplash successfully from start to finish. Let your imagination run wild as you assemble artistic designs full of visual intrigue. Get ready to impress family and friends with your amazing new metal mosaic feature wall. Just be prepared for all the oohs, ahhs, and lots of compliments coming your way!