7 Pebble Shower Floor Pros, Cons [River Rock Problems]

The site and feeling of pebbles under your feet is a relaxing one. Add streams of water running among the pebbles, and you have a great floor for the bathroom. Besides this, pebble floors’ unevenness provides some much-needed foot massage after a long day. 

Pebble shower floors’ pros include being affordable, easy to install, resistant to slipping, comfortable, of a wide variety, and beautiful. The cons are high maintenance, special installation skills, short-lived, need lots of grout, slippery with poor installation, and uncomfortable on bare feet.

If you have plans to install a pebble floor in your bathroom, I highly recommend it having one myself. With proper installation and maintenance, you can have a beautiful bathroom to look forward to. 

Pebble Shower Floor Pros and Cons

Pebble Shower Floor Pros and Cons

The good and the bad for this type of shower floor are as follows:

AffordableComfortable stepping on
Easy to installDon’t last very long
Don’t easily wear out or scratchUse lots of grout
Resistant to slippingRequire high maintenance
It can be slippery if textured poorlyIt can be uncomfortable on bare feet
Available in a wide varietyCan be uncomfortable on bare feet
Beautiful Retain more water than tiles
 Not suited to hard water

Pebble Shower Floor Pros

The best bits about having a pebble floor include the following:

1. Affordable 

The materials needed to install a pebble tile floor are quite affordable, as you will only need the pebbles, grout, a sealer, Thinset, and a few tools to get the job done. You can even collect the stones from beaches and riverbanks if you wish to save on the installation costs. 

On average, a pebble floor will cost between $4 and $8 per square foot. The cost of stone flooring is about $7 per square foot which is comparably costlier than pebble flooring. 

2. Easy to install

As the procedure below shows, installing a pebble floor doesn’t require a lot of specialized skills compared to other floors, such as teak shower floors. A large part of the installation process entails placing the pebbles next to each other on the floor. Besides, you don’t need more than a pair of hands to have a beautiful bathroom floor made of pebbles.

3. Don’t easily wear or scratch

Whether you’re going for pebble tiles or actual pebbles, you don’t need to worry about their surfaces wearing or scratching since they’re basically rocks in the bathroom. If you drop something heavy onto the pebble floor, you might only manage to damage one or two pebbles that need very little repair. 

4. Resistant to slipping

With bathroom falls on slippery floors being common and these falls causing major injuries, having a bathroom floor that naturally prevents falls is a major advantage.
Pebble floors are a series of stones in different shapes and sizes firmly in the ground. In between the stones are grout and a sealer, both of which increase the traction under your feet. 

As such, you won’t slip easily on pebble floors. Wearing rubber footwear such as flip-flops and Crocs further reduces the chances of falls on pebble floors. 

5. Comfortable to step on

If you get yourself slightly larger and more rounded pebbles, you will enjoy a free foot massage every time you step into the bathroom. You will enjoy this effect more with slightly thinner bathroom footwear too. 

6. Are of a wide variety

With pebbles, you have a wide array of choices in terms of size, color, the patterns you lay the pebbles, spacing, and many other aspects. You can choose to have a single color or several of them. 

Some common pebble tiles include the Bali Pebble tiles, which can be further divided into Orion, Redwood, Tahiti, Forrest, Jubilee, Yellow Jelly, and many others. As for the pebbles, you have an endless list to pick from, and you can mix and match them as you see fit. 

All these choices don’t have any significant differences in terms of the cost of materials and the time taken to create these floors. 

7. They’re beautiful

Pebbles are undeniably beautiful whether they’re on the riverbank or the floor of your bathroom. You also get to choose how they look. 

These aspects make pebble floors some of the best in the bathroom, giving a high value for money. 

Pebble Shower Floor Cons

On the downside, pebble shower floors have the following issues:

1. May require specialized skills to install and maintain

Before installing this type of floor, you need to have a professional plumber assess the quality of the floor below the bathroom first. This is to prevent any leakages that may come from the pebble tile floors since they’re rarely waterproof. 

For example, mixing the right shower pan mortar can be quite complex.

2. Don’t last very long

Pebble shower floors require frequent maintenance to keep the grout and sealer in good condition. Given the uneven nature of the floor, it easily loses the grout and sealer during cleaning and normal usage scenarios. This is because the grout and sealer are more exposed than other bathroom floors. 

3. Use lots of grout

Compared to tiles and other flooring options for the bathroom, you use lots of grout when installing pebble floors. Given that grout is used to fill the space between two tiles, you will need more of it to fill the space between hundreds of small pebbles. 

On average, you need 2.5 times more grout to install a pebble floor than a mosaic shower floor of a similar size. 

You can, however, partly solve this issue by using larger pebbles. 

4. Require high maintenance

When cleaning the pebble tile floors, you must do so carefully to avoid wearing out the grout and sealer. As stated above, they’re more exposed than other types of floors, such as tiles, and will need routine repairs to remain in good shape. 

These frequent repairs can considerably increase the maintenance costs for the floor. As such, pebble shower floor cleaning should be done carefully with regrouting and resealing every few weeks. Dry up the floor each time you clean it.

5. Can be slippery if poorly-textured

Pebble shower floors are at their best if they’re a bit rough, with the pebbles having small spaces between them. If you pack them too closely or add a layer of grout and sealer too thick, you lose the unevenness. 

Too much sealer makes them slippery since you’ll be walking on a layer of sealer that can get slippery when wet. 

6. Can be uncomfortable on bare feet

While the corrugated nature of the pebble floors adds comfort and massages the feet, it’s best enjoyed with some form of footwear. Otherwise, the pebbles might hurt your feet. Pebble tiles can have sharp edges making them even more uncomfortable. 

7. Some retain water, especially river rock

If you’re going to use pebbles from the river or other locations where the pebbles have different sizes and shapes, you should be aware of the risk of mold and mildew. The uneven nature of the floor can lead to water retention in between the individual pebbles. If left to stay in place, this water will easily lead to mold and mildew growth. If you note a musty smell in your pebble shower, that’s mold. 

River rock retains moisture much longer than other types of pebbles when used in pebble shower floors and should thus be given more time to dry and be sealed better to protect it.

This problem can be solved by always cleaning and drying the floors after each use, using flat or sliced pebbles, having a steeper gradient, and keeping the bathroom aired. This helps to clean and prevent mold on the bathroom sealant on the pebbles.

8. Not suited to hard water 

If you live in an area with hard water, you will need to be strict with your cleaning and maintenance routines to preserve the look of your pebble floor in the bathroom. This is because hard water forms a thin chalky film on the surface of pebbles if not cleaned off. 

This is the reason why you need to clean and dry the pebble floor after every shower. 

These pebble tile shower floor problems are still manageable and shouldn’t dissuade you from getting that beautiful shower floor you so desire. 

Pebble Shower Floor Pros and Cons

How to Install a Pebble Shower Floor

You should first have your bathroom floor inspected to ensure a pebble floor is suitable for your case. If the plumber finds any issues that need to be fixed, you should do so before commencing the installation process. 

Pebble floors require the underlying floor to be thick enough, waterproof and have a steeper gradient than other floor types for the best results. 

With these aspects considered, follow these steps:

  1. First, prepare the floor by cleaning it. You can also make small dents on it to provide a good foundation for the pebble floor. 
  2. Apply a layer of thinset 1/8 inches thick on the floor. Use a trowel and start from the edge furthest from the bathroom door. 
  3. Place the pebbles on the floor starting from the edge furthest from the bathroom door. Make sure they interlock with one another. 
  4. Fill in the spaces left by the pebbles with smaller pebbles and more thinset to provide the desired profile. Leave the floor for 24 hours to allow the thinset to dry up. 
  5. Apply a coat of sealer on the floor to cover all the parts equally, then wait for it to dry. This means the sealer has to cover the pebbles as well as the thinset in between the pebbles. The purpose of the first coat of the sealer is to prevent the pebbles from absorbing the color of the grout, which is to be applied afterward. 
  6. After the sealer is dry, mix grout with water to a slightly thick mixture. Apply the grout evenly on the floor to cover the pebbles and the spaces between them. 
  7. Wait for 20 minutes, then use a wet piece of cloth or sponge to clean off the excess grout from the floor. Each time you wipe the floor, clean the piece of cloth to avoid reapplying the grout cleaned off to the floor. Wait for another 24 hours for the grout to dry. 
  8. After 24 hours, apply another coat of the sealer, then give it a further 24 hours to dry. 

After 24 hours, your pebble shower floor will be ready to use. Maintain a good cleaning and maintenance routine to keep it in good shape. 

This video shows this process with further details:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is pebble tile good for the shower floor?

Pebble tiles aren’t good for shower floors. Unlike normal pebbles, pebble tiles are difficult to install as they don’t interlock completely, given their uneven shapes. They’re thus quite difficult to install and maintain. However, pebble tile floors can become some of the best with proper installation and maintenance.

Is it hard to clean a pebble shower floor?

Mix 1 part white vinegar with 16 parts water, then spray the mix onto your pebble tile floor. Brush the floor with a nylon-bristle scrub brush in circular motions, then rinse with warm water. It’s quite easy to clean pebble shower floors, especially when they are installed correctly with the grout and sealer applied properly. 

Do pebble shower floors need sealing?

Clean the pebble tile floor, then wait for it to dry up before applying a sealer on the grout. Wait for 24 hours before using the shower. You need to seal your pebble shower floors before and after applying grout to them. This keeps the floors from leaking and holds the pebbles in place. 

Does pebble tile hurt your feet?

When installed properly, pebble tiles won’t hurt your feet as the tiles will have the same profile with very small variations. This actually makes them comfortable on the feet. It also depends on the size of the pebbles used, with larger pebbles having a higher chance of hurting your feet than small ones.

How often do you reseal pebble shower floors?

You should reseal pebble shower floors between 6 months to a year. New tile work should be resealed every 6 months, while old tile work should be resealed yearly. Observe the nature of the tiles and reseal them each time you see any loose pieces of grout on the shower floor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is pebble stone good for a shower floor?

Porcelain pebble shower stone is a durable shower floor that lasts generations. Other types of pebble stone floors might not last as long.

What is the best material to use for shower floors?

Porcelain tile is the best material for shower floors since it’s durable, resistant to mold, and easy to clean and maintain.

How do you clean a pebble stone shower floor?

Spray the pebble stone floor with vinegar, then, after 10 minutes, scrub and rinse.

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