Finally, a Use for Pennies!


I never set out to be anti-penny, but somehow it happened, and I have gone on the record more than a few times arguing that the penny should be eliminated.

While I stand by my belief that the penny is lousy as currency, someone has finally come up with a use for pennies that has made me reconsider my extinction argument: make a floor out of them! (You can also make a wall out of them.)

The penny floor can be found at the Standard Grill at the new Standard Hotel in New York, the one straddling the High Line. The Standard tells us that it used 250 pennies per square foot, or 480,000 pennies in all.

For those of you thinking about a home renovation, that’s $2.50 per square foot in flooring materials. That stacks up pretty well to glass tile ($25.00/sq. ft.), white onyx marble ($12.50/sq. ft.), porcelain ($6.00/sq. ft.), or even prefinished walnut ($5.00/sq. ft.).

For anyone going the penny-floor route, I guess the big question would be whether to opt for all-heads, all-tails, a set pattern, or a random effect.


There is also a floor of them in the Congress Hotel in Tucson, Arizona. Very pretty, but distracting to me.

As a penny-saver (I guess, kinda like a collector) I always pick up a penny when I find it. I keep them in a jar, and I've made around $10 a year in the past 10 years doing it. Just a little work, like bending over, has earned a good amount. I also made a dress of pennies in high school. I think it is strange we would not respect every ounce of value we have created. If we donated all the pennies we leave here and there to charity we could feed a lot of people.

Dave Scocca

If the pennies are exposed (rather than encased in something), then they will wear pretty quickly... and with modern zinc-core pennies will change color once the copper coating is worn through.

The National Cathedral has a Lincoln memorial corner which includes some decorative pennies set in the floor, and the deterioration there has been pretty rapid and visible.

John Delaney

I wonder is it legal to mis-use legal currency in this manner. E.g. is sticking a penny to the floor the same as scribbling on a $1?

Also walking on the image of honest Abe seems wrong to me somehow.

John Delaney

Rich Wilson

$2.50/sf is just the cost of the pennies. What is the end cost including whatever they use for grout? What about labor? Looks harder to lay pennies and have them line up properly.

Another David

If i've said it once, I've said it a hundred times: we can't get rid of the penny unless the smallest denomination of the dollar is bumped to from 1 cent to 5 cents. Otherwise, cash debts may not be settled properly and that's kind of a problem.

Leland Witter

I use pennies for a variety of tasks where I need something of consistent thickness. One example lately is for painting some moulding before mounting to the wall. I want to be able to paint the edges without it resting on the saw horses, so I use a couple of pennies stacked and taped to the the horses to prop the moulding up just a bit. Business cards and playing cards are my other friends for shimming to consistent gap.


My favorite bar in college (The Other Place in Meadville, PA) is also covered in pennies. Everyone calls it "The Penny Bar" instead of it's actual name. Pennies cover the bar top, tables, and walls, and there are replicas of the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials made entirely out of pennies.

If you go there be sure to try Jimmy's pickled eggs - they're the best I've ever had!


A couple of years ago, I had a pretty reasonable use for them.

I race sailboats a lot. The particular boat I sail has a number of small shackles that are closed with screw pins. So when getting ready to go sailing or putting the boat away we were always finding ourselves searching for a screwdriver. Generally we were cold or tired, or just wanted to socialize, so it was a burden to walk across the parking lot and get a screwdriver from the car.

But, it just so happened that a penny would fit perfectly in the screw head, and worked well with cold, wet or tired fingers!

So for $0.50 we had pretty much an endless supply of screwdrivers right there at the boat. We just scattered them around the area and when you needed a screwdriver, you just looked down to find one.


At 256 pennies per sqft, it is just $2.56/sq ft. Probably a bit more once you pay to set them in epoxy and such though.

Noah Wilson

Out of curiosity - what material are they setting the pennies into? I know this isn't just a floor covered in little coins - that would make for an extremely treacherous bar indeed.
I'm imaging some sort of laminate or a polycarbonate or woven backing? That would increase the price a bit... but still probably be in a low-budget price range compared to glass, stone or many tiles and woods.


Sounds uncleanable to me, since the pennies will not fit together to cover the whole space. YUCK!

science minded

I have always wondered about the expression "a penny for your thoughts." I have reason to think that Honest Abe was not as honest as we have made him out to be-- but then again perhaps he would not have been elected had he been? What does that say about honesty-- well in politics (not political science), it's one thing, in science-- its another and then in real life- I think the individual needs to learn to be as real honest with one's self as one can be--


It would also be interesting to know what the marginal cost of labour for the floor installation of pennies versus the alternatives listed might be?


Im sure it has been stated before, but in australia the 1 and 2 cent peices have been phased out. If you pay in cash, they round teh bill to the nearest 5c. If you use a card, you pay the exact price.
It all evens out in the end, and nobody complains at all.

will eigo

pennies cannot go unless all sales taxes were rounded to create nickel denominated transactions when summed and factored and that is politically and fiscally unlikely soon. i.e. if all prices were clipped at 5 cents intervals things would not be fine unless the sales taxes were 0%, 5%, 10% and on. The pennies , both physical and electronics that merchants collect add up for the state treasuries.

science minded

Jonathan- so true.


What about the third way? Don't make pennies non-legal tender, just stop making new ones. Round all cash transactions to the nearest five cents, and keep all non-cash transactions accurate to the penny.


"I wonder is it legal to mis-use legal currency in this manner. E.g. is sticking a penny to the floor the same as scribbling on a $1?"

I am not a lawyer, but this penny art is probably more easily interpreted as illegal than scribbling.

Specifically, 18 USC 333 indicates alteration with "intent to render [currency] unfit to be reissued" is punishable by up to six months in prison. Hence mild scribbling is probably allowable whereas permanently affixing the currency to a floor or wall is less so (since the intent to prevent reissue is more clear in the latter case). In neither case does it seem the government is particularly likely to prosecute, though.

On the other hand, utilizing currency to advertise (per 18 USC 475) may get you a stern warning... as supposedly happened with "Where's George?" when they sold rubber stamps on their website.


The best use I've found for a penny is in my laptop (yes, IN). My graphics processor frequently overheated, so I replaced the spongy thermal pad between the GPU and heatsink with a polished copper (pre-1982) penny and some thermal compound. It's not a repair for the faint of heart, but it worked like a charm!


will eigo, you are mistaken in saying that sales tax would have to be in increments of 5% if the nickel became the smallest denomination. By this logic, current sales tax would have to be in increments of 1%, which is simply not the case. Furthermore, you seem to be assuming that every transaction is exactly $1 pre-tax.

There is a mathematical concept known as rounding, I suggest you read up on it.