For the past few years, pebble mosaic tiles have been littering Houzz and Pinterest with clever quotations like “spa feel in your bathroom”… They’re wildly popular and rampantly pinned. So why, in my humble opinion, should you never install pebble shower floors? Allow me to explain…
First let me say, I love the look of the pebble shower floors. And I’m not claiming that they can never, ever look good. However, I have pulled them from several homebuilder’s product offerings because of the problems that they can cause. If you’re considering a bathroom renovation and a pebble shower floor is on your wishlist, here are some things you should know before you take the pebble plunge.
When laid next to each other, pebble mosaics can look like a grid. These pebbles are considered a mosaic, which means they are essentially glued onto a mesh backing and, because they are priced by the square foot, they are cut into roughly 12″x12″ sheets. Because of the organic nature of the pebble shapes, the mosaic pieces are never exactly square and the edges of each sheet are wavy.
This makes installation very difficult, particularly on a shower floor, which is where they are most often used. The edges of the mosaic are all different shapes, so when they are laid next to each other on a shower floor, they do not fit perfectly together. This creates a larger space between the edges of the sheets than between the pebbles themselves, which makes the final installation look like a grid. In order to get a seamless installation, the mechanic would literally have to take individual pebbles off of the sheets and space them by hand. Not likely.
They use a ton of grout. One of the biggest issues that new homebuyers have with tile in general is the grout. They don’t like it, don’t want it, don’t want to clean it. I could go into the plethora of reasons that grout is absolutely necessary for a proper tile installation, but for now I will just say that it’s required. And with pebble shower floors, a TON of it is required.
When we have a pebble tile shower floor installation we use about 2.5 times the amount of grout as a typical 2″x2″ or 3″x3″ mosaic shower floor. So why is this bad? Grout is a cementious product. Cement = porous. Porous = water gets in it. As long as your shower pan (the cement part that’s under the tile) is sloped properly to the drain, this is not a huge deal. But aesthetically it’s not so cute. The grout in the areas where water goes when you shower will stay darker than areas that stay dry. It looks splotchy, and can look dirty. And no one wants to bathe in a shower that looks all funkdified.
They often hold water. The true river rock / raised pebble style does not properly drain. Because the pebbles are raised, water can easily sit between them and not make it all the way to the drain. This means wet grout (see #2) and that grody pink mildew. EW. Realizing this was a big problem, many tile manufacturers have come out with “flat” or “sliced” pebble styles, which are better, buuuuuut… see #1.
So what do you do if you just can’t live one more moment without pebble shower floors? Go with a sliced or flat style pebble for sure. Get an installer who will take the time to place pieces by hand to avoid the grid look. And choose a style with multiple colors of stones. This will help give a more cohesive look in the finished product and avoid color variations from sheet to sheet, which is common with a natural stone product.
Did I talk you out of it, or are you still a pebble people? Whatever you choose, I hope these little pebbles of wisdom (sorry, I had to) help make your decision and get the results you want!
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