Thursday, September 13, 2012

How I did it: Penny Tile Table

A while back, I wrote a short post about how I was starting a penny-tile project.  I had just glued down all the pennies, and things were peachy. 

I finally finished the project with great results, but not without a few (very annoying!) hiccups along the way. 

Here are some stats for my project:

Five thousand pennies were used for this dining table (which is about 3.5' x 7' long), which equals about $2.04 per square foot in pennies. This is valuable info that I could not find anywhere online! Sounds silly, but is very helpful when you are trying to get a bunch of pennies at Wells Fargo, and have no idea how many you need. I got $25.00 at first, but had to go back for a second round. 

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I also used this resin, which was the only option at Lowe's:

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It's Famowood's clear glaze coat.

It comes in 3 different sizes, and I got the largest, which is about $70 per gallon. Not cheap.

So, onto the table! My clients had this table built specifically for their space, so the top was raw wood. I first painted it a dark brown, and let it dry. 

After that, I glued my pennies. You want to find a really good pattern that makes sense for your square footage, because let me tell you (due to painful past experience) pennies are impossible to cut or saw once placed. I tried. 

I wanted my pennies to go all the way to the edge, but I learned the hard way that I would not be able to saw them or cut them, so I created a pattern and a placement that looked nice on the table top. After that, I glued my pennies in place with super glue. If you attempt something like this, I suggest finding a friend to help. I would say overall, it took about 6 hours or so to place all these pennies. Sounds kind of ridiculous, and I consider myself pretty proficient in any kind of crafty project (and a lot of "handy" projects), but it just takes time to place, then glue, every little penny! The good thing is that it's mindless... and would probably even be something that kids would enjoy, if you have some of those hangin' around. :)

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After I glued my pennies, it looked like this:

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pretty cool in and of itself, I'd say. 

I let this dry overnight, and the next day I was ready to pour the resin. I was pretty nervous about this part, because it was my first resin pour. Like I said, though, I am pretty good at figuring out most tools/products, so I thought that my careful attention to the directions would be enough to get me through this project easily. 

Not necessarily so. You see, resin is really testy stuff - there are lots of conditions that the product has to be under for it to work properly and several very strict rules you MUST follow:

1) temperature needs to be perfect. The warmer the temp is, the faster your resin will dry. Suggested air temp in the room that you are working in should be between 70 and 80 degrees F. If it's below 70 degrees, it's going to dry slower. 

2) resin/hardener need to also be brought to room temp if they aren't already

3) you MUST measure your two liquids very exactly (the hardener and the resin)

My first pour went fine, it dried properly as aspected, but there were some bubbles in the surface that were no bueno, so I called the company that makes the product and asked them what I should do. They said get a very high-grit sandpaper (I got 400) and sand down each individual bubble, make it all smooth on top, then re-pour. They sent me a complementary new package in the mail for my trouble. 

This is where I get the feeling that their product is very hard to use, and they are constantly sending out free new resin packages, which is probably why the stuff is so $$$ to begin with. Hah. 

So I re-did it, and it was all smooth, but this time, the product didn't dry properly, and I had some areas that were completely dry, and others that were feeling more like jelly or honey. 

It's supposed to dry after 72 hours, and it had been 3 days, so I knew it was a problem. 

I called the company again (me and Chan, who runs the service desk and is a super nice guy with all the answers got to be friends), and was told that I would have to re-pour. This time, the product was not measured evenly at the warehouse, so the two elements (hardener and resin) were not displaced evenly, and therefore the table wasn't drying properly. I'm pretty sure that it eventually would dry, but my clients were itching to use their table, and I was wanting to get it DONE, so I repoured AGAIN. Chan sent me another free product. 

ANYWAY. All this to say, I ended up pouring a total of 4 times. The third time also gave me an un-even dry. Finally on pour 4, I got a perfect pour, and a nice, smooth, beautiful finish. Not without a lot of stress (and admittedly heartache. The resin was defeating my soul.). Chan gave great directions, but pretty much every time he told me I'd have to re-pour which was distressing. Haha. At least he sends free resins. 


Now I feel like a resin expert, so if you have questions, ask away.

This is how I ended up getting the perfect pour:

You need to have 2 2-quart sized (with MEASURING LINES ON THE SIDE) containers, plus 2 other gallon-sized containers. You pour your two separate liquids (The resin and the hardener) into the measuring cups and make sure you have the EXACT amount in each one. this is VERY important. Next, you pour A into B (I can't remember which was the hardener and which was the resin, but its in the instructions) and stir for 5 minutes. The instructions say 2 minutes, but Chan told me 5 is better. Then, you pour that whole mixture into another gallon sized container and stir that one for 5 minutes too. Then you are ready. This mixture (due to the chemical reaction) will get very hot, but that means its working nicely. Try not to get scared and call the help desk if it starts smoking and melting your stirring tool you left in there. Yes that happened to me. GAH!

Then pour away. You have 20 minutes to make your pour look how you want it to look. I used a little squeegee, which worked pretty well. 

Wait patiently for 72 hours and pray, cross your fingers and hope to Jesus that your resin dries properly. :)

After it was all dry (I created a frame/lip for my table to hold the resin in by using thick painter's tape all the way around the edges of the table to keep it from running. Worked like a charm. I used two layers of tape and pressed the edges of the table down hard.), and I pulled the tape, it was a little sharp on the edges, so I sanded it down with a rough grit (probably 120) hand-held sanding block.

Anyway, enough words... I hope I conveyed my points that I learned well enough for you guys. I certainly did a lot of resin research online during this whole process, but hopefully this will help more people like me out there that are having issues in the future. 

Feel free to ask me questions, people, because I know how frustrating it can be!

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ta-da!!

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Looks pretty cool in the space, no?

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The resin layer was almost 1/2" thick after 4 pours. Admittedly, it was a lot prettier with the 4 pours versus one. 

Here is a close-up photo of the edges:

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So smooooooooooth like glass:

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Oh! And I forgot to point out how to get rid of bubbles after you do your pour:

you manually blow them out with your mouth. yep. Tie that hair back, too (learned this the hard way as well - resin likes to stick to hair, clothes, skin, cars, tools...). Sounds kind of obvious but this is the easiest way to get rid of them! You have 20 minutes of working time after you pour, so this is when you will do this. 

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28 comments:

  1. Wow! That was an amazing read. This table is stunning! Your work is incredible.

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  2. Anacelie Verde-ClaroSeptember 13, 2012 at 7:41 AM

    Thank you for this great (and helpful) tutorial! I especially like the part about using painter's tape for the lip. The table looks amazing!!!

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  3. Its outstanding to see these home arrangement. Love the interior designs here.

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  4. That looks pretty awesome! Great job!

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  5. Looks amazing! I love how the edges turned out using the tape. Very cool.

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  6. this is one of the coolest things ive ever seen. kudos to you for your hard work, i would have given up for sure! :)

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  7. what? amazing. i wish i knew more words because i feel like im constantly commenting on stuff being amazing, but it TRULY is. i bet your clients were so excited!

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  8. So, perseverance is the key here?! I've been scared to try this project. Kuddos to you because it turned out killer!

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  9. thanks, you guys!!

    perseverance is the key, dana... i certainly wanted to give up after every failed pour attempt. it was really disheartening, and i say if you are going to do it, do something smaller first! i truly had a few sleepless nights over this darn table.

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  10. Lovely table! Incredible work. Do you know the source for the light?

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  11. Love, Love, Love your work! Look at your blog often. First time commentating, because I feel your pain. I too am an artist (do not like "decorative painter"). I have been using resin for years and it still makes me crazy! that said, 2 comments. I use a kit from Michaels art store, Envirotexlite, everything is already measured out...I have doubled kits to cover tables. BUT the most important piece of advice, a blow torch! brings out the bubbles...CO2 but without having to turn blue in the face. Surprised the tech guy did not know...hope that helps, happy painting!

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  12. The last time I poured resin I had on my engagement and wedding rings...no gloves...yeah our jeweler was all "I don't even want to know"

    I highly recommend always using gloves! Ha!

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  13. Monica- yes! i heard about the blow torch. i also read that you could use a hair dryer. blowing them out manually worked just fine for me, though.

    ashley ez- yes, i used gloves for the last 3 pours too! that stuff is GROSS. i cannot imagine it in wedding rings! yikes! how did they ever get it off?!?

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  14. I have love the pins of the copper floor, now this is fantastic Kristin!
    Love it. Love your dining room...very zen :)
    Nancy
    Powellbrowerhome.com

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  15. you put the wood around the outside LAST?

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  16. Quick question! I'm making my Dad one of these tables for Father's Day and I finally put down all of the pennies and they finally fit. Do I really need to glue them down?

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    1. Oh and I do have permanent edges on my table.

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    2. I have read that you should glue them down because they can rise in the resin, since it's a liquid. I'm not positive that that's the case, but it would not be fun for that to happen :( I imagine it's going to be annoying to take them all up and glue them, though!!

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    3. Lol yes, seriously! Thank you for your response though. I think I'm just going to put the resin down without gluing them. I will let you know what happens :)

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  17. Did you pour a coat of resin. Then wait for it to cure, then pour another coat,and so on?

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    1. yes, exactly! i read you shouldn't do the layers too thick, so i did several thin coats.

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  18. I just did a table similar to this, but our resin did not cure completely. Did you scrape it off before re-pouring, or did you pour over your un-cured resin?

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    1. yeah, that happened to me a few times, too. i think its very common. i did not scrape off, and you don't have to. just pour a new coat over your old coat, and it supposedly reactivates the chemicals in the un-cured resin to make them cure. it worked for me.

      also - the key in getting your resin to harden is to MIX WELL before you pour. really well. like two minutes or so longer than the box says. the reason it doesn't cure is because it's not mixed well enough, or the proportions are off. feel free to email me if you have issues - i have been there and understand!

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  19. I'm planning on doing a table like this later this summer, and have read a few different blogs about how to do this. I have been so nervous about the resin part, but the resin kit I bought is the same as the one you used, Kristen, and you have no idea how comforting it is to know I can "learn from others' mistakes"! THANK YOU for sharing this! I can't wait to do mine.... Armed with this information, I am so much more confident that I can actually do this!

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  20. Many times, stamped concrete can be more durable than standard concrete, especially if a Floor Hardener has been applied to the surface. The hardener not only imparts color but it also makes the surface stronger and more resistant to abrasion and water penetration.

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  21. Great job! I wanted to do something similar and found a website that sells sheets of pennies already glued to mesh. Not cheap but another one has it for almost 3 times more so I'm gonna go with this one. http://www.real-penny-tile-projects-made-easy.com/

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