Pebble stone shower floor

ocdmomFebruary 13, 2008

I love the look of natural pebble stone. I want to use it for the shower floor only. Has anyone had any problems with grout and sealing? I'm worried that I may run into problems in the long haul over mold and cleaning. My contractor will be building the shower pan.

I had also considered the solid piece shower pan for ease of cleaning,...but the natural stones look so nice. Sigh. Please help.

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Use the flat stones if you do this.

Tighter grout joints, easier to clean better for drainage flow.

The round rocks have tall stones to hurt your feet and are hard to clean. They are also more likely to trap water and dehydrating standing water often leaves mineral deposits.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 10:55PM
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We just installed a pebble stone shower floor. We used the rounded pebbles, not the flat ones because we loved the natural look. But we did have some issues getting it installed correctly. We had to fire the first installer and rip out the floor and start over. It is extremely important that floor is pitched correctly so the water drains. The first installer did not pitch the floor at all, so it was very obvious that the water would pool and not drain. He was not at all happy about installing the pebble, and told us from the start we were making a huge mistake. I think he just didn't know what he was doing. We later heard he is being sued for a poor installation he did elsewhere. Note - he was not our choice, he was a subcontractor hired by our general contractor. The GC ended up giving us back our allowance for the shower and having us choose our own tile installer.

The second installer was very positive about using the pebble, had done it before successfully and was very meticulous about the installation (we loved him!). It's been in for about a month now and we are happy. The water drains just fine. And I like the feel of the bumpy pebbles on my feet - like a mini foot massage. Occasionally I will have to move my foot if a pebble is poking me, but it is not a problem at all.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 10:41AM
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Even with the flat stones, though, you can still get a natural look to it. Matter of fact, it more resembles its namesake (river rock) as flat stone. It's not flat like tile. Think more like skipping stones.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 4:20PM
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The flat pebble I looked at were much flatter than those in Bill's picture (which are very nice by the way!)

Here's ours

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 4:39PM
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Bill, that's beautiful! Do I recall correctly your saying that you were about to do your first river rock installation a while back -- was this it? You can't see the lines at all--great work :)

How hard did you find it to caulk the change of plane, btw?

And to the OP: we have flat onyx slices on the floor--with epoxy grout, which I have come to love (even after having to freakin' color every single groutline by hand when the installer used too-light grout). I love looking at them when I shower and love seeing them on the vertical, as well, as the accent strip. They're fascinating. We don't have the foot-massage effect because they're flat, but on the other hand they drain faster, so I chose the draining over the looks. I was also afraid that it might hurt our feet as time went by and we age in place (that's the hope, anyway). DH and I are both so happy with the choice.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 5:21PM
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That was it. As for caulking, not a problem at all..... for ME!! Adam (my stepson) might have something to say about it, though!! (HeeHeeHee) :-)

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 5:45PM
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I love how your shower floors turned out. The pebble stone I mentioned is just like the river rock and like vtpoppy's but in Olive (greenish colors). I was about to change my mind and use a prefab solid piece shower surround until I saw you posts. I'm nervous about the maintenance of the river rock and leaking issues.

Questions. Can't the river rock/pebbles be grouted to a point where it's nearly level with the stone?? vtpoppy, do you have any problem with the grout being white (cleaning wise). Has anyone used the Laticrete SpectraLOCK Grout? Does epoxy grout truly last forever?? Looking ahead, will the edges where the wall tile and stone meet leak/deteriorate? Is there really draiing problems with the pebbles?

I'm only doing this once (hopefully) and I very much want to make the right choice. flyleft can you post a picture of your flat onyx. Thank you for your patience.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 7:34PM
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Can't the river rock/pebbles be grouted to a point where it's nearly level with the stone??

If you do that, then all you have is a grout floor with the tips of the stones peeking through. What you see in the two floors above is about as full as you want the joints to be.

Has anyone used the Laticrete SpectraLOCK Grout?

Maybe once or twice. :-) It's a good product. One of the best I've seen since epoxies first came on the market in the early 80's (ALSO a Laticrete first). The biggest drawback Spectralock has with respect to white grout is the same as any other epoxy-- the epoxy matrix yellowish color tends to slightly discolor white grout.

Looking ahead, will the edges where the wall tile and stone meet leak/deteriorate?

They shouldn't, whether grouted OR caulked. keep in mind, the pan membrane should be going up the wall about 10" or so off the floor, so even if that joint were to be grouted, and crack, there should still be no leakage whatsoever. Also keep in mind that grout is not waterproof-- even sealed, it's STILL not waterproof, so if were going to leak, you've got much worse problems than that joint deteriorating.

Is there really draiing problems with the pebbles?

So long as the pan is pitched properly, there shouldn't be a problem. Water should still be able to travel along the grout joints to the drain, except for the bit that goes INTO the grout, and that'll go through the mortar base until it hits the pan membrane (which should ALSO be pitched), and then it'll follow gravity to the weepholes at the base of the drain.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 9:25PM
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That is simply awesome!! How does it feel on the feet in the morning though? Is it slippery? And if you didn't use SpectraLOCK, what did you use (did you add a flex agent? any sealer recommendations). Most importantly, though, which grout and the stability/feel on the feet when standing on it. Many thanks, cause I'm doing this to my walk-in shower but on the walls and floor possibly despite expensive designers trying to sell expensive pre-fab river rock tiles that have been sectioned in half for maintenance reasons/cleaning without the same natural look and feel.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 1:02AM
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Is it possible to selectively pry out some of the "river rocks" and replace them with insets of special tile such as fish or frogs before the whole floor is grouted into place? This will be a mud room shower and I hope to encourage the young and the grubby to shower before the dirt gets tracked over the rest of the house.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 7:20AM
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I used a standard Mapei modified sanded grout. I can't say one way or the other as to the feel on the feet, but it would seem to me that it'd probably feel pretty nice with the flat stones as shown. As for traction, that I CAN speak to, and there's no problem there.

flseadog-- that's a pretty intriguing idea! Actually, I don't see why it couldn't be done while laying the floor. I did the same thing for a friend of mine. I did a small half bath for his kids to use when in their playroom. His oldest daughter and wife are big beach combers for seaglass, and the week prior, they'd found a porcelain horse's head. It looked like it'd come from a chess set. Anyway, he asked if there was any way I could incorporate it into the floor.

No reason you couldn't do the same!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 7:44AM
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flseadog, definitely--they're just mounted on mesh and sometimes they come off anyway. Just make sure that if they're on the floor, they're not a whole lot higher, or toes may get stubbed. What we're planning to do for a final vertical accent strip in another part of the bathroom is to take off some of the stones and replace them with stones we've found at the coast :)

And re pics: one of these days, I'll do it. But there are plenty of pics of a similar installation around the net--here's one:

Here is a link that might be useful: lots of installation pics

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 12:31PM
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Thanks, Bill V. and flyleft. Now I know what to do with the seaglass from Carmel and the stones from Jamaica that have been sitting in my momento box for 40 years. Every spring cleaning they managed to survive because the good memories outweighed the need to reduce the clutter. This is a perfect solution.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 8:10AM
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I'll be doing the same thing for a customer whose master bathroom I just finished, but on a different scale. The husband is very literally a world class architect who has some priceless tiles handmade by Henry Mercer at the turn of the 20th century-- the guy who founded Moravia Tileworks in Pa.. My customer originally wanted to randomly place these tiles, about 15 of them throughout the bathroom, and I talked him out of it. Like many of you scratching your head wondering who the heck Henry Mercer is, no one but maybe another architect who paid attention in his college classes, or someone who knows about the history of tile making in this country, or someone into art history would ever appreciate the value and the history behind these pieces. Additionally, they wouldn't add any value to the house, and he would've basically been throwing them away. So instead, I talked him into making a wall hanging piece, the size of a sheet of Durock (3'x5') that's going to be covered with 6x6 bottocino tumbled marble with a tumbled walnut travertine chair rail for a trim, and then these pieces sprinkled within that field. That way, he can hang it on his wall and show the pieces off, take it with him if he sells the house, and pass it down to his kids as an extremely valueable family heirloom.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 9:18AM
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In a prior life I lived in Philadelphia and have visited the Mercer Museum, his house in Doylestown, PA. The grandfather of a childhood friend of my husband had a tile business and they used to order tile from the Moravia Tileworks (a bit convoluted connection but it made visiting the Museum a must for my husband). Thanks for bringing back that memory.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 2:02PM
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We had a shower floor similar to VTPoppy's in our last place and loved it - it drained well, was non-slip and the texture underfoot was interesting. The one thing I'll do differently in our new place is use a colored grout instead of off-white. Our boneheaded building super put a sulfur-based drain declogger in the drain, and we had gallons of rust-colored water back up into the shower and permanently stain the grout a nasty, dirty orange.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 2:44PM
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Bill, you're so right to suggest that. I learned about Moravia when we lived in West Philly for a while...won't that be memorable for you to work on!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 3:25PM
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flseadog, Bill's story got me thinking--along the same lines as Bill's much higher-end story, I started taking out some of the slices and putting in the jaspers/agates last night and I got a bit stingy, actually--I don't *want* to put our best stones on the wall so we won't be able to take them if/when we leave! DD will want them, I think. So I'm putting some nice but not spectacular pieces in (I am putting in one piece of petrified wood I found--a tiny stick but the grain is so nicely delineated), and we're actually going to look for flat jaspers and agates when we go to the coast again tomorrow :)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 3:57PM
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Fly-- let me put it this way- I didn't even give him a price. When it comes down to it, so long as he compensates me for the materials, he can pay me what he likes. To me it's an honor to work with these tiles. When he first showed me the tiles, I was so taken aback by them that I was completely speechless. Can you imagine that-- ME??? Speechless!! He didn't even have to tell me where they came from. They were that distinct. I was standing there holding a couple of them, knowing I could probably buy a new truck with the value of what I was holding in my hands thinking DON'T DROP EM!! You'll see. I'm picking up the tumbled marble and the sample piece of chair rail tomorrow. Once I get the okay, I'll order the rest of the chair rail, and probably the end of the week it'll come in, and I'll work on this next weekend. Once's it's finished, I'll post it.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 5:39PM
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Wow, Bill...I happened onto the Kitchens Forum and read about the folks who have these tiles...what a trip it must be to work with them! (I didn't know James Taylor played the cello :)) So wonderful that you get to help someone like that realize his vision. Maybe if he has residential work (you know, like Mar-a-Lago :)), you will get some amazing projects out of it...

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 12:34PM
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Don't I WISH!! I was talking with my stepson one of the last days we were working on the bathroom, and I even said to him "Wouldn't that be a kicker to have Alan bring in a guest to show off his new bathroom while we were there, and have Donald come walking in!!"

Wishful thinking!! As for future projects, It's already paying off. As a result of this project (and a couple of other high profile projects I've done in the last year) I'm waiting right now for a phone call this evening to go see a project up toward Bar Harbor-- a 200 square foot MURAL. We'll see. :-)

Going over to Alan's tomorrow morning to start prepping the "Moravia piece"!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 6:15PM
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Here is my river rock bathroom floor. My rock is sliced, so it is as flat as tile. I tried walking on the more rounded ones and it felt too harsh.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 1:25AM
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Wow, minnt, your stone "steam" is totally cool. Did you do this yourself? I love it! It reminds me of something I saw at a tile store that was similar:

I also clipped this picture from an online album, I'm not sure where (it's not mine):

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 6:50PM
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...oops, typo, I meant "stream"...

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 10:16PM
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A great look. Any thoughts on using pebble in a "cottage" style bathroom? If not, other ideas for low-maintainance floor in teen bath?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 12:52PM
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I think they'd work in a cottage context, if there were other rustic elements as well.

To be honest, I think a pan is lower maintenence than anything else: no grout to seal or scrub, ever.

But the stone would hide a lot of sins, and so long as its sealed well at the get go, re-sealed every year or so, I don't think it would be bad.

I'm thinking of using them in a sauna...

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 5:12PM
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I drew the line, but my tile guy put the tiles in. I noticed the other day that he put in some real small chips in the places where the grout would look too stark, because it was too much. He did a nice job.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 7:53PM
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Hi there...just wondering where one would purchase the flat type river rock. I live in Canada but could order it online. I imagine the shipping would be excessive. I want to do my shower pan with this great feature! Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 4:16PM
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We ordered ours from Costco. We ordered the Palmero Cream tumbled marble tile and it turned out beautifully. Super quick shipping too.

For some reason the link goes to a page with a list of items. Choose the option "tumbled marble tiles" near the bottom of the lsit.

Here is a link that might be useful: Costco tumbled marble

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 12:41AM
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Thanks for the info on Costco. I saw some nice black stones I love. Damn...I called Costco in the US and they said I can not use my Cdn credit card even though I have a US shipping addy. Costco Cdn does not have this product. Does anyone know if I attach my loose river rock to some sort of mesh if it would work? I need to know what kind of mesh to use and what type of glue. I don't want a bad chemical reaction to the products used to set. Thanks again! Michelle

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 2:31PM
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spify6241 -

Where did you use the tumbled marble? On your shower floor? I'd love to see a picture as we are considering using this material on our master shower floor.
Thanks much

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 1:57PM
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minnt - Love the river rock floor!

My DH is set on river rock for our master bath and I am lobbying for the sliced rocks like you installed instead of the rounded.

What is the name of your river rock and where did you get it?


    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 11:36AM
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We are planning to install those below, the photos on the website don't do them justice, they were far more interesting and attractive in person. Hopefully they will by in by Thanksgiving!

ps- they also happened to be about 25% less expensive than other less interesting arrangements.

Here is a link that might be useful: Favorite Pebbles

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 8:47PM
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I love the look of the pebble floors and I might take the plunge! Can anyone tell me if I can make a pebble floor on wooden floor boards, my bathroom is on the first floor?

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 5:33PM
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My white stone shower floor was grouted with grey grout, cleaned well and yet many of the white stones have turned different shades of brown. Does anyone know how to turn them back to white before we seal the floor?
Please don't tell me I have to rip up the floor and start again!!!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 9:09PM
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What do you recommend to clean pebble stone bathroom and shower floors? The grout is a natural sand color. Regular shower cleaners don't seem strong enough. Any help would be appreciated..thanks!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 1:45PM
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A link to the Mercer Museum catalog:

These are WOW!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 8:47PM
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Is there a product that will restore my original luster to my tumbled rock shower floor?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 10:25AM
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Bill V
what color grout did you use for the pebble tile?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 2:14PM
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