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:

Pebble shower floors: prosPebble shower floors: cons
AffordableMay require specialized skills to install
Easy to installDon’t last very long
Don’t easily wear out or scratchUse lots of grout
Resistant to slippingRequire high maintenance
Comfortable to step onCan be slippery if textured poorly
Available in a wide varietyCan be uncomfortable on bare feet
Beautiful Some retain water
 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 yourself from beaches and riverbanks if you wish to save on the installation costs. 

On average, the cost of a pebble floor will be 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 shall show, installing a pebble floor doesn’t require a lot of specialized skills as 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 that, you don’t need more than a pair of hands to have yourself 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. In the case that you drop something heavy onto the pebble floor, you might only manage to damage one or two pebbles which needs 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 is 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, the spacing and many other aspects. You can choose to have a single color or several of them as you please. 

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 as they give 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. 

Mixing the right shower pan mortar, for example, 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 compared to 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 floors 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 need to do so very carefully to avoid wearing out the grout and sealer. As stated above, they’re more exposed compared to 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 being done every few weeks. Pebble shower floor cleaning should be completed with the floor being dried up.

5. Can be slippery if textured poorly

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 too thick a layer of grout and the sealer, you lose the unevenness. 

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

6. Can be uncomfortable on bare feet

While the corrugated nature of the pebble floors adds comfort and a massage feeling to 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 location where the pebbles have different sizes and shapes, you should be aware of the risk of mold. The uneven nature of the floor can lead to water retention in between the individual pebbles. This water, if left to stay in place, will easily lead to the growth of mold and mildew. 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 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 much desire. 

Pebble Shower Floor Pros and Cons

How to Install a Pebble Shower Floor

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

Pebble floors require that the underlying floor 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 door of the bathroom. 
  3. Place the pebbles on the floor starting from the edge furthest from the door of the bathroom. 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 the 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 afterwards. 
  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 as well as the spaces in between them. 
  7. Wait for 20 minutes then use a wet piece of cloth of 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 the last 24 hours, your pebble shoer 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 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. With proper installation and maintenance, however, pebble tile floors can become some of the best.

Is it hard to clean 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 were 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 tile 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 compared to the small ones.

How often reseal pebble shower floor?

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 is to be resealed every year. Observe the nature of the tiles and reseal it each time you see any loose pieces of grout on the shower floor.

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