When it comes to how creative a homeowner is going to get in the midst of a big wood flooring project, sometimes it’s a flip of the coin—or in this case, 9,600 coins.
Great Falls, Mont.-based Other Guys Wood Floors Owner Mike Hanning says he had two simultaneous reactions when the homeowner approached him with the idea for the penny border.
"I thought it was a crazy idea,” he chuckles. “But my first instinct was, 'Yeah, let's do it!'"
The homeowner wanted the 6-inch-wide penny border to be surrounded by a larger border of Brazilian cherry and encompass a field of maple sourced from a school gymnasium floor that had been reclaimed by the homeowners.
Hanning and his team began the unique 400-square-foot room (part of a 2,200-square-foot Brazilian cherry installation) by stapling the reclaimed maple over the plywood subfloor, cutting the corners with a Fein saw to fit around glued-down plastic backsplash corner pieces the homeowner had chosen. Then they installed the plywood border, which was painted black to provide a dark background and then scuffed so the pennies would stick. Next came the outermost Brazilian cherry, also stapled down.
Once all the wood flooring was in, the homeowner glued all 9,600 pennies to the plywood border, with eight pennies in each row. (In case you’re wondering, pennies come out to roughly ¾ inch wide, Hanning says).
The pennies had been rounded up from the homeowner’s close friends and family and took about two weeks for the homeowner to glue down using Elmer’s glue. They were installed randomly, not exclusively heads or tails and not all facing the same way, which Hanning and his crew decided later was probably the best way to go about it. “If you had one head out of line, it would just kill you,” he laughs.
With the pennies glued down, Hanning filled the plywood border with epoxy. It was their first foray into using epoxy, and it took the crew three pours to get enough epoxy and make it even.
“That was all a learning curve,” he says. The epoxy was 1/8 inch over the pennies, making it even with the maple and Brazilian cherry flooring. "It all held together. We weren't sure, but we did a little research … it was supposed to work, and it did,” Hanning laughs.
When the epoxy had hardened, they sanded using 36-, 60-, 80-grit on the big machine and edger, ending with 120-grit on the buffer. They coated the floor with two coats of sealer and two coats of finish.
After more than 20 years in the industry, Hanning doesn’t need a penny for his thoughts regarding whether he and his crew can tackle an unusual request.
"It was unique, and I was like, 'We can do anything,’” he says.