Our step-by-step guide to making a penny countertop, tabletop, or bar top
Are you interested in making a penny countertop, tabletop, or bar top, but not sure where to begin? You’ve come to the right place for answers!
Since epoxy projects like penny tables are so aesthetically pleasing, they make a great showcase for your home, restaurant, or business. What’s more, they’re also surprisingly easy to build—and that goes for penny bar tops and countertops, too!
How to make a penny countertop, tabletop or bar top
Now don’t be intimidated by the size of these projects, because we’re here to guide you through the entire process. You’ll learn what tools and supplies are necessary for your penny epoxy project, as well as how to prepare your project workspace. We’ll then explain what to do and how to do it.
And to those of you planning an epoxy penny project of a different sort, we think you’ll still find plenty of useful details in the guide below. So let’s get started!
Step 1: Gather the necessary tools and supplies.
Your first step is to make sure you have what you need. It’s no fun starting a project before realizing you forgot something important—we’ve all been there before!
This convenient supplies list will help you figure out what you’re missing:
- UltraClear Bar and Table Top Epoxy: This is our top of the line, award-winning table top epoxy. Featuring high impact and corrosion resistance, while providing the most crystal-clear, glasslike finish you’ll find anywhere, this waterproof epoxy resin not only protects your surface from most types of damage—it also looks good doing it.
- Pennies (a lot of them): This one is pretty self-explanatory. There are many ways to obtain bundles of pennies for your project. We recommend visiting your local bank, as most banks will allow you to make a withdrawal or cash exchange in the form of pennies, typically bundled into penny rolls.
- Regular glue (for the pennies): You’ll use glue to adhere your pennies to the substrate surface of your project. This will keep them from moving or lifting during the coating phases. We recommend choosing a small bottle that’s comfortable to hold and dispense or simply using a thin glue stick. Don’t use super glue or hot glue, as those can sometimes have adverse reactions to resin contact.
- Nitrile or butyl gloves: Safety is important to us at UltraClear, especially yours. That’s why we highly recommend wearing nitrile or butyl gloves when working with uncured epoxy resin. Safety first!
Graduated mixing containers: There are two sizes of mixing containers we offer: a one-quart container and a five-quart container. The one-quart containers are used for mixing up seal coat batches, and the five-quart containers are for mixing flood coat batches—up to a gallon at once.
Note: These containers are not reusable, so you’ll need to make sure you have enough individual containers to cover your project needs. Always use a fresh container for each batch.
- An electric drill and mixing drill bit: You may already have a good power drill, but you’ll also need a suitable mixing drill bit. These are for smoothly blending large epoxy batches for your flood coat. You can find both the mixing drill bit and a reliable electric cordless drill in our online store, so order whichever you need.
- A paintbrush with strong bristles: You’ll want a good, firm paintbrush to apply your seal coat with. We offer excellent brushes in our online store, and you can also get similar brushes from most hardware stores.
- Stir sticks: Just one pair of these reusable oval-pass hole stir sticks will be perfect for your entire project. These are used for hand mixing and blending small batches of epoxy resin for seal coating.
- A propane torch or a heat gun: Having one of these tools is essential for ensuring the glasslike finish that our epoxy is known for. This will be used to remove air bubbles from a newly poured flood coat. Although we recommend a propane torch slightly more than a heat gun, both are great at clearing out air bubbles quickly and efficiently. We offer a very reliable heat gun in our store, or you can find yourself a suitable propane torch at many hardware and home improvement stores.
- (optional) N95 masks: Poor ventilation is a common issue when constructing an epoxy project indoors. For such cases, we recommend you wear an N95 mask whenever you’re in the project area. Although the fumes from uncured epoxy resin aren’t a serious hazard, they can build up under certain conditions, causing symptoms that are best avoided, especially for anyone with a respiratory illness.
- (optional) Acrylic caulk: If your project has raised edges, this acrylic caulk will enable you to seal them and ensure no resin leaks through.
- (optional) Space heaters: Epoxy cures best in a particular temperature range of 75°F to 80°F. If your project environment doesn’t have a way to maintain that, you can use space heaters to control the temperature and keep it high enough for the curing process.
- (optional) Painters plastic, PVC pipe, and duct tape: You can use these three items to construct a temporary enclosure to work within. It will enable your space heaters (if you're using any) to maintain the appropriate temperatures during your curing phase. These are only necessary if you have no easier way to do so.
- (optional) An orbital sander: This is used if your project does not have raised edges. Because epoxy is self-leveling, you’ll be pouring your flood coat over your surface smoothly and evenly, allowing the epoxy to spread out on its own and eventually wrap around the edges of your substrate. Later on, after it has cured, you can use this sander to smooth it out on the sides and bottom where necessary.
Step 2: Prepare your project workspace.
Once you’ve gathered your supplies, you’ll need to prepare your workspace, both for safety and efficiency. First, decide where you want to construct the project. Perhaps you won’t have much of a choice, but if you’re able, choose a spot that gives you room to maneuver. You don’t want to be bumping into things while working.
After you’ve settled that, your first goal should be to remove as many flammable items from the area as possible. It may be unlikely you’ll have an accident, but there’s no reason not to remove the risk entirely. Place all the tools and supplies you’ll be using in a convenient location that’s easy to reach but won’t get in your way while working with your resin. Double-check your list to make sure you have everything with you.
You can protect any items and surfaces that aren’t part of your substrate by covering them with plastic sheeting. That way, if you make a small mistake while handling the resin, you won’t have a difficult mess to clean up.
Next, you’ll want to make sure your surfaces are clean, especially the substrate you’ll be applying the pennies and epoxy to. We’ve written a brief primer on preparing project surfaces here. You can also read our basic explainer on seal coating if you’re unfamiliar with the process. Don’t worry, we’ll still detail the seal coat phase in this guide.
Finally, before we begin the crafting process, make sure you put on your N95 mask if your space has poor ventilation or if you have any personal respiratory concerns. Double-check one last time to make sure you didn’t miss any potential hazards or obstacles that could lead to accidents.
Note: If your project will require a temporary enclosure for climate control, make sure you set that up and keep it clean inside.
Ok, it’s time to start!
Step 3: Begin your penny countertop/tabletop/bar top project.
Our first phase is going to be the seal coat phase. You’ll be using the glue to adhere the pennies before applying a seal coat overtop the entire substrate surface. This seal coat will prevent a lot of air bubbles from forming at a later time.
- First, glue down your pennies: Use your glue to adhere your pennies to the substrate. Though some users prefer to place them edge-to-edge in a uniform pattern, there are many ways to position them, so take your time and arrange them in whatever way you find most appealing.
Mix up a seal coat batch: Take your one-quart container and add the hardener component, then the resin component in equal 50:50 proportions. Use no more than 32 oz. combined (i.e., 16 oz. of each component). Smaller projects may not need even that much.
Use your stir sticks (not the drill, which is too powerful for small batches) to manually blend the components together. Do this for 2 to 3 minutes, and be sure to scrape the sides and bottom occasionally to prevent resin buildup.
Paint on your seal coat: Immediately after you finish mixing your seal coat batch, you’ll use your paintbrush you to paint the seal coat onto your substrate and the glued-down pennies.
The seal coat does not need to be perfectly smooth, as the flood coat that you pour over it later will smooth things out naturally for you. Just focus on covering those surfaces with a seal coat layer.
- Wait 4 to 6 hours: This will allow the seal coat to partially cure, while still being receptive to the upcoming flood coat.
Step 4: Mix and pour your flood coat.
Now that four to six hours have passed, it’s time to begin the flood coat phase.
- Measure your flood coat batch: Using your five-quart container, add your epoxy resin and hardener in equal 50:50 proportions—no more than one gallon combined. For flood coats which require more than a gallon, you’ll need to use a separate container to mix up the remaining amount needed after pouring the current batch.
Blend your flood coat batch: Use an electric drill with a mixing drill bit on medium speed to carefully blend the flood coat batch for about five minutes. You can use a stir stick halfway through to scrape the sides and attain a comprehensive blend.
Note: Don’t lift the drill bit too high while spinning, as it may draw air into the resin mix.
- Immediately pour your flood coat batch: After mixing, you’ll need to start pouring right away, as the epoxy will have already begun the curing process. Just smoothly pour the epoxy from the container onto your penny project substrate. It will self-level on its own, so your focus should be on making sure you don’t miss any spots. Don’t overfill the area, just cover it and let the epoxy self-level naturally to a ⅛ of an inch layer thickness.
- Remove any air bubbles that have formed: After pouring your flood coat layer, you’ll have 15 minutes to remove any air bubbles that have formed by using a propane torch or heat gun. Though they both handle similarly for this purpose, we’ll provide steps for each.
- Caution: Do not apply heat after 15 minutes have passed, as the epoxy will be in a partially cured state that is more susceptible to heat damage.
- Using a heat gun to remove air bubbles: Hold the heat gun a few inches away from the epoxy surface and smoothly move back and forth over the entire area. Don’t linger for more than a second over any spot; simply maintain consistent movement until you’ve passed over the entire epoxy surface.
- Using a propane torch to remove air bubbles: Hold the propane torch a few inches away from the epoxy surface, moving smoothly back and forth over the entire area. Don’t linger for more than a second, and be absolutely sure not to let the flame touch the epoxy surface, as it will likely cause heat damage. Maintain consistent movement until you’ve passed over the entire epoxy surface.
- Checking for any remaining air bubbles: After completing a single, comprehensive pass, you should lower yourself to eye level and examine the surface of your epoxy for any leftover air bubbles. Viewing from this angle will make them easier to see, as light is deflected differently by their distinctive shapes. Just use your torch or heat gun to clear out these residual bubbles. When you’re satisfied that no bubbles remain, move onto the next step.
- (optional) Add additional flood coat layers as needed: At this point, your project should be ready for the final curing phase; however, if for some reason your pennies aren’t fully submerged, or if you simply want a thicker epoxy finish, you may need a second flood coat layer. To do this, simply wait 4 hours after removing any air bubbles, then repeat Step 4 entirely.
Note: Our UltraClear Bar and Table Top Epoxy self-levels at ⅛ of an inch; it should not be poured in layers thicker than that, as doing so will introduce significantly more air bubbles and may lead to an uneven surface.
Step 5: Allow your epoxy to cure.
And now for the final and easiest step. Make sure your environment is maintaining that ideal temperature range of 75°F to 80°F, then simply allow the epoxy to cure for 72 hours, undisturbed. Once this 72 hour period has lapsed, your project will be complete. Congratulations!
Note: Although the epoxy is entirely usable at this point, our UltraClear Bar and Table Top Epoxy will continue to harden even further in the following weeks, eventually reaching its award-winning level of hardness.
Additional resources for epoxy projects:
While the information on this page fully details the construction of an epoxy penny project, we also have an official blog where we regularly post in-depth articles covering specific steps in the epoxy process, as well as more advanced techniques and a variety of other topics. We’ve included a few links below that may interest you.
- Epoxy resin tips: Preventing and removing air bubbles - An article on air bubble prevention and removal.
- Epoxy for beginners: The three types of epoxy coating - An article on the three most common types of epoxy coating.
- Spotlight: Epoxy penny bar tops, table tops, and countertops - An article discussing epoxy penny projects which also highlights project photos submitted by some of our customers.
- Check out our tutorial video on How to Make a Penny Bar Top or Table - and start creating!
Reminder: You can get most epoxy project supplies from our online store.
At UltraClear, we really appreciate seeing the amazing things people make with our award-winning epoxy. That’s why we do everything we can to supply the best epoxy resin at a reasonable price—You won’t find a more consistent, reliable brand at this level of quality.
If you’re searching for epoxy to construct your own project, whether it’s a penny countertop or tabletop as detailed in this guide, or any other of the limitless possibilities epoxy can be used for, consider our UltraClear Bar and Table Top Epoxy line.
Every customer gets guaranteed access to our high-tier, responsive customer support. We’ll be ready to provide project planning assistance, answers to your questions, and help in sorting out any issues you may encounter.
If you have any questions or concerns you’d like addressed before ordering, please reach out to us via phone or email here; you can also talk with us using online text chat by clicking the help button at the bottom right of your screen.