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Penny floor makes sense—and saves cents, too

April 19, 2013
Alissa Klenk - Reporter , Dysart Reporter

To James and Kristina Roberts, the idea of using pennies as flooring in their bathroom was economical and just made cents. The couple recently purchased the home at 201 Clark Street, which is known as the old Dysart nursing home, and are slowly working at remodeling the home as they are able to afford it.

The Dysart couple got the idea to cover their floor in pennies after seeing a Chicago couple featured on the Today Show for covering their entire bedroom floor in pennies. James and Kristina made up their minds and started pinching pennies, embarking on the task that became a much bigger job than they had bargained for.

The project involved tearing up the original tile floor all the way down to the floor joists. A new floor was laid, the floor was painted and sealed, pennies were laid out to form a design, glued in place with clear glue, and then the floor was sealed with three coats of clear urethane. The entire penny process took about 60 hours.

Article Photos

James and Kristina Roberts pose with their truly unique floor, made entirely of traditional one-cent U.S. pennies, at their home in Dysart.

"Your mind goes a lot of different places when you sit organizing pennies for hours," said Kristina. The process was tedious, time consuming, and tiring.

"You go through all kinds of emotions and kick yourself wondering why you decided to do this," said James, "It was a lot of pain, but fun."

"Kristina told me while we were doing this, 'In God we trust'- just leave it to Him. It turned out to be the most awesome thing that I've ever tried," said James.

Original calculations estimated that the project would require 8,763 pennies to cover the bathroom floor. However, their original estimate was off and it actually required 10,520 pennies.

"I was praying that people would donate their pennies to us to make it a lot less expensive for us but that didn't happen. We were hoping all of our friends would help us with pennies, but evidently not. We bought the entire floor," said James.

When La Porte City Bakery, etc. heard about the project, the business donated twenty-five cents to the project. Besides that, nobody else gave their two cents. But in the end, when new flooring can cost you a pretty penny, you can't beat the cost of $105 for a new floor. According to James, the price is feasible but the hours of labor involved are not.

The couple put considerable time into designing a sun into the penny floor, with the diamond-shaped rays featuring different penny designs including: Lincoln's log cabin, Lincoln in front of the Capitol Building, Lincoln sitting a log, and the shield. The rest of the sun features pennies with the shield design facing up. All of the other pennies on the floor are heads up. The floor is stunning, shiny, and unique.

In the process of searching for pennies, they came across 29 wheat pennies; the oldest one being from 1920. They had originally planned to put an Iowa quarter at the center of the sun, but could not find an Iowa quarter anywhere.

This project is just one of many that James has planned for the old house. The goal is to bring the house back up to code while also preserving some of the old features. For example, they plan on keeping the old nursing home bells and push button light switches.

"The house stood vacant for a long time. Nobody wanted to give it a chance. I really like the house. The only thing I don't like about it is the price tag with all of the things I have to do to it. It's a lot of work. I didn't know the money pit that we were getting into but I knew it was going to take money to fix it," said James.

After serving as the Dysart nursing home, the home was renovated into four apartments. The Roberts have taken an upstairs kitchen of one of these apartments and remodeled it into a game room for the children and replaced some flooring. They have plans to replace the siding on the house with prairie wheat yellow siding and blue trim, which the Roberts are hoping will make the home more beautiful for the people of Dysart driving by.

While the family saves up for their next big project, they are walking on floors paved in copper and saving pennies until they can make their next dream come true.



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