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.


To "Another David" and "will eigo"--I lived on a US Air Force base in England in the 70's. On-base stores charged in US currency. it was too expensive to ship all those pennies over, so the smallest currency we used was nickels. Prices could still be in hundredths of a dollar--you just rounded to the nearest nickel when you paid, as Jonathan says they do in Australia. Sometimes you pay a few cents more, some times less.

It worked great.

J. Daniel Smith

I lived in the Netherlands near the end of the Guilder, which at the time was worth about 50¢. The Dutch still computed all transactions to the nearest "penny", but actual cash transactions were rounded to the nearest 0.05 NLG (i.e., "nickel"). With the widespread use of debit cards these days, many people wouldn't even notice the difference.

My prediction (OK, hope) is that once the special Lincoln cents are done, we'll get rid of the penny.

One of the reasons cited for the continued popularity of the cent has to do with Lincoln. Maybe we could keep Abe in ou coinage by moving his visage to the $1 coin.


in NZ we recently phased out 5c pieces also. everything is rounded to the nearest 10c, but most people use eftpos for everything in which case you pay the actual price right out of your bank account. (I know this sounds crazy to most americans but every store has eftpos).

Even more crazy to you americans is that we recently replaced ALL our coins, with smaller lighter (cheaper) versions of the same coins. 10c, 20c and 50c pieces are now less than half the weight they used to be and it only took about 6 months to replace everything. I believe every piece is slightly magnetic too so it is possible to tell the denomination electronically, rather than by weight. Lately they have been talking about replacing the 5 dollar note with a coin (like they did back in the nineties replacing the $1 bill with $1 and $2 coins).

I know NZ is small, but it really wouldn't be that difficult to replace the money in America too.


Eric M. Jones

#11 — catdancer--

It is pretty easy to smash a round penny into a hexagon so that they will tile correctly.

For those of you who are coin-morphers, don't miss the electromagnetic coin shrinker at:


Oh, and for those that use coins as screwdrivers, they make these swell metal disks that have an edge that varies, so you can have one "coin" for several sizes of notch.

Personally, I say get a real screwdriver.

Phil H

Not only is Jonathan correct when he says that Australia has phased out 1- and 2-cent coins; the government is now considering phasing out 5-cent coins, too. However, in this regard we're just catching up with New Zealand, which phased out 5-cent coins years ago.

Greg Ferguson

I would recommend first coating the floor with a good epoxy (I can recommend the one we use for garage floors), then pressing the pennies into place. Let hardenovernight, then follow with two coats of polyurethane. You can maybe do the two coats in a single day, but more likely the first coat would take a while to dry, as it will partially self-level out. Figure on three days to do this. If I get a chance, I'll do it on a concrete tile or two, and tell you how it goes.


@J. Daniel Smith

But where would that put poor George Washington?


@ will

Even if sales taxes were rounded to 5%, 10%, etc, you'd still see problems for items that were, say, $1.50. All you would need to do is round every purchase to the nearest nickel. We do something similar with gas-when was the last time you pulled out a mil coin to cover the $.009?

Andrew Zarka

My restaurant stopped using pennies in February, we actually round down in the the customer's favor. In the five months we've been doing it the vast majority of customers agree that the penny's day has come and gone. And, just to prove that we still love Abe we give 5% off every Tuesday for anyone who pays in all 5 dollar bills.


Someone should use trillion-Zimbabwe-dollar-bills as wallpaper.


There was a British lord centuries ago who covered an entire room in coins. The king of the day asked him nicely not to step on him and he resurfaced the floor using coins on their side.

Jim Orgill

I made a round 18" table top of pennies 4 years ago. Glued each penny to top with polyurethane glue then 3 coats of water-based varnish.
Couldn't use zinc- base pennies for the rounded corners because they split. Had to use pre-1982 coins.

Jim Orgill

J. Daniel Smith

@Zergrinch (#28): Lincoln (or perhaps the entire penny design, somewhat modified) would move to the $1 COIN when the penny is discontinued; GW would remain on the $1 NOTE.

If the penny is popular because of Lincoln, this move should help (dramatically) increase the use of the $1 coin, perhaps allowing us to someday get rid of the $1 note with much less fanfare.

Note that Lincoln actually will be on the $1 coin in 2010 as part of the presidential coin series which will end sometime after 2016.


Any use of pennies is better than their intended purpose- the mathematical remainder to balance the books for purchases and clutter my bureau. I would be happy to have a dollar as the smallest denomination. And why is gasoline priced to a tenth of a penny? Who started that? Why do all gas stations do it? Somebody's getting rich on those tenths of a penny, right? Otherwise they wouldn't do it. There's a lot tenth of a penny price fixing going on.


Another great use of pennies are the information visualizations put together by "10000pennies" on youtube. Check out the Obama budget cut visualization.


I do not understand you anti-penny crusaders. The solution is very simple. If you dont like pennies DONT PICK THEM UP. you get change in pennies? leave them on the counter! you are perfectly capable of rounding transactions up to a nickel yourself and then walking away sans pennies in pocket. It doesnt take an act of congress to make ppl stop using pennies. If I get pennies I immediately drop them on the sidewalk as soon as I walk out the door, and I dont think about pennies at all or feel it necessary to blog about pennies.
Problem solved!

kathy krivit

A washer costs a nickel for a three pack at the big box stores. One needn't be an econimics expert nor to figure in tax to understand how useful a copper penny is as a replacement.

Haven't dare to try the newer zinc cored ones on this pet use quite yet.