river rock shower floor [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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03-07-2007, 10:29 PM
I have a customer that has selected a tumbled, river rock pattern for a shower floor. This pattern is a webbed square foot piece of smooth rocks that are somewhat irregular on the edges, but seem to fit together when laid out properly. Any tips on laying this stuff? Seems grouting will be a pain. And does it go under the adjoining shower wall or butt up against it?

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03-07-2007, 11:01 PM
hi pod - got a first name. :D

those irregular edges are called "puzzle cut" because they fit together like a puzzle. You have to orient them correctly for proper fit, and you need to experiment with different combinations to get the most seamless look. Done properly you will be hard pressed to find the seam when you are done.

they're really pretty easy to work with. One thing you don't have to worry about is "lippage" because I suspect there are all sorts of thicknesses so nothing is exactly the same height.

I think this is one case where you want to run the floor under the wall tile - much easier to get a straight line on the tile than the rock. you really get a nice clean look that way. Grouting was really not that bad, but you will use a LOT of grout.

check this out.


03-07-2007, 11:38 PM
Hello Po' Dunk,
You'll find also that the area around the drain doesn't quite fit with the pebble pattern. If you just cut out the stones around the drain, you'll end up with big gaps in some places and tight joints in others. I prefer to take apart a sheet and hand-piece the area around the drain for a better fit.
I also recommend using a stiff brush to clean the stones after grouting, instead of a sponge. A whisk broom or a block brush can be used to knock the grout from the tops of the stones and to smooth the areas between them. Let the grout set up firm before brushing and keep a shop-vac handy. I think it's a superior finish for the pebbles mosaics.
Best of luck,

03-08-2007, 10:45 PM
yo, Po! (is that a real name?)

one advantage us DIYers have over the pros is often time. While I'm way to slow to feed myself doing this stuff, I'm not "on the clock" either. It took me some time and lots of trial-and-error, but here's a pic of my drain. All the cuts were made with a 3-1/2" diamond blade on a RotoZip. A couple of the stones came loose and had to be set by hand. All-in-all a real PITA, but it worked out. Grout is SpectraLock, btw. I would not want to do this with a round drain. :shake:

03-23-2007, 05:03 PM
My wife & I are a few weeks away from beginning a makeover in our tiny master bath that features a smallish stand-up shower (54" x 30"). My wife has picked out some nice 12" slate tiles for the walls and she really likes the idea of using pebble tile for the floor.

I wondered if anyone has dealt with Natural Stone Outlet (naturalstoneoutlet [dot] com). The price certainly seems reasonable. We're leaning towards either the "Ocean" or "River Rock" pattern. I'd sure appreciate hearing from someone else who has used this company or their product - buying something like this sight unseen is a little daunting...

Also, how much overage do I need to factor when purchasing something like this? Given that 54" x 30" = 11.25 sq ft., would I be okay to buy 12 or is that cutting it too close?

Btw, Sandbagger, that square drain grill looks great!


03-23-2007, 05:43 PM
Double-check with your local inspector...30" may be too narrow - it was quoted here recently - I thought it was 32".

03-24-2007, 10:27 AM
Rob - the math doesn't work that way, especially for this type of 'tile' and an area this small. Since you are looking at a nominal 12x12, best bet is to round UP to the next whole foot. That would be a 5x3 - giving you 15 "tiles." That should give you plenty to work with and allow you to move the pattern around to get the best fit to walls and drain.

With the puzzle cut you don't actually get a full 12x12 on an individual sheet. You have those tabs and slots that interlock with adjacent sheets. When you get to a wall you must either cut the tabs or fill the slots. There's a lot of finessing to a floor of this nature and you want plenty of room to adjust. Plan on a lot of dry fit time before you mix any pookey.

if that stone place is the one in San Diego I think I got several samples from them. Name sounds familiar. We were close to going with them before we stumbled across something we liked in a local shop we were just cruising through. Friendly folks and easy to deal with as I recall.

and yes, I'd look close at that shower width. :twitch:

04-07-2007, 06:37 AM
That is a great looking floor. I'm doing a similar shower floor with riverbed stones with the hand laid patter matched sheets.

Question is, what size trowel do I use for the thinset? I would think a deep "v" notch would work the best for coverage. What size though? Stone are anywhere from 3/4" to 1 1/2" dia., random pattern.

Also for cutting, I have a rotozip, use a dry blade? Diamond?


John Bridge
04-07-2007, 08:54 AM
Welcome aboard, Rob. Hi Bob. :)

Bob, try standing barefoot on those tiles. Some people are not comfortable doing that. I'm one of them. The flat sawn stones work much better. :)

Rob Z
04-07-2007, 09:21 AM

Nice job on the floor! Looks great. :tup2:

04-07-2007, 09:23 AM
Too late John, already bought them :twitch: . We did try standing on them and they are very comfortable actually. When I grout I plan on bringing up the grout a bit so I don't get too any deep pockets for water to sit in. This will also add to the comfort level. But even w/o grout these stones are comfortable. That was one of our concerns when choosing these and tested them out first. Thanks for asking though :twitch:

What trowel size should I use to lay them?


John Bridge
04-07-2007, 10:31 AM
Last time I installed them I used a 1/4 by 1/4 square notch, and I didn't get on the tiles until after the grout had dried. Maybe I'm just a tenderfoot, eh? ;)

04-07-2007, 02:03 PM
Thanks John, I was concerned about coverage with a square notch but the stone are big enough I think it will work. Could I use a deeper "V" notch? Any advantages?

I thought my wife would be sensitive with these stones because she has very sensitive feet, mine not so much, but she's fine with them. We wanted something different and I guess this is it. She didn't like to look of the flat cut stones but these she loved, me too. We're putting 12x12 Tuscany Travertine on the walls with a darker black vain in it to compliment.

I was thinking of doing the entire floor first, stone and grout, let it dry a week and then start the walls right on the floor. I would cover it a pad and cardboard to protect it.

I'm putting in the Kerdi as we speak, just taking a break now, your book has been a big help! Thanks for taking the time to write it!! :clap2:

04-07-2007, 02:15 PM
Hi Bob, the deeper the notch, the higher the thinset will stand and possibly give you trouble when grouting. With pebbles, you can get by with a little steeper pitch on the shower floor. Another 1/4 inch from wall to drain will make for less standing water and it won't be any more slippery with that many grout joints.

I'm a tenderfoot too, I didn't like the way the pebbles felt and I had my socks on. The homeowners loved it. I do like the looks though. :)

04-07-2007, 02:21 PM
Bob - I used a v-notch on mine, but can't recall the depth. :shrug:

I would do the walls first, but you'll want to run the floor pebbles under the wall tiles where they meet. That way you don't have to worry so much about trimming the pebbles too straight and you'll have a nice straight corner. If you're doing a straight pattern you can use your ledgers to tile 2nd row up, set the floor, and then do the first row trimming as needed. Or you can find a spacer that works as a gage to set the first row, then floor last. That's what I did and it turned out 1/2" drywall was just right. Actually I didn't have a first row - we did a diamond and the spacer was the only way to go for us.

04-07-2007, 02:28 PM
I never cut the river rock, I just find a smaller rock when I need to. :)

04-07-2007, 03:12 PM
Take lots of time. Place some individually. Pick any odd out of level ones off the mesh and replace with individually selected replacement.
We had a bad stone pebble tile job, and it's not just painful, it's excrutiatingly painful to walk on, and down right ugly if not integrated so the seam disapears. They felt comfortable on the mesh backing placed on a level surface, but once our tile guy got pressing them into the thinset, they were up and down, more than an inch in a foot area all over the place. The inspectors said the product is not recommended for floors.
I think they are georgeous if done right, just warning ya, you need to be extra careful, and take the time to pick stones individually where required.
Best of luck, I'm sure with the right attention they would be fantastic.

04-07-2007, 05:19 PM
after I got the river rock in place I gently ran a wood float over it to check for really high rocks. Low ones really aren't an issue. after that I ran my hands over the area and picked up a few more. Ours are the flat type, though not actually cut. The texture is somewhat uneven but not uncomfortable. In fact, there is absolutely no sensation of potential slipping - it's a very stable feeling even with soap on the floor. :tup1:

04-08-2007, 06:22 AM
Thanks for the advice guys, appreciate it. I'm a stickler for detail and I realize this is probably the most fussy floor to install. Figures right! Never the easy way!

I'll try a test piece with a 1/4" square notch on a test board and see what coverage I get and how it levels out. I do have almost 3/8" per foot drop knowing that I was going to put a stone floor in of some sort.

I'll put the walls in first I guess and leave the bottom row out for the floor. Then just patch the ledger board holes.


04-09-2007, 08:03 PM
Why is it a good idea to do the walls before the floor? Is it just so you don't have to protect the floor, or is there another reason?

05-07-2009, 04:36 AM
Hi all,
thanks for many great posts here for a DIY'er taking my time to do it right.
Did you all grout all the way to wall or use caulk where plane meets wall?
I plan to do the 3 part that many others including in John's book recommend
1 wall starting above <1 tile set with level spacer lumber
2 river rock floor
3 finish wall down to river rock

05-07-2009, 05:13 PM
I grouted all the way to wall, then caulked the wall/floor corner.

Leave the last row of wall tile just short enough to slip the rock under the edge. This will leave a very clean look once you've caulked the transition.

05-07-2009, 07:22 PM
I have done several shower floors with mesh mounted river rock.If you combine the time trying to interlock it to where you wont notice seams,plus trying to keep it straight on your saw to cut it,and trying to get it decent looking around the drain,you already spent a long time.Set your wall tile to your mud and pull all the rock from the mesh and do it individually.Spread little at a time and I usually use spectralock for that installation and its not hard to grout.Just be patient and you overall look is phenomenal.No seams whatsoever.

05-07-2009, 08:09 PM
Another option, if you have enough stone, is to run it up the walls about three inches and tile up from there. I haven't done it that way, but I've seen pics and it looks pretty good.

With that option, though, you would definitely do your walls first, then run the stone up to it. You don't want the weight of the wall tile pushing down on the stone.

Dan in Texas
05-07-2009, 09:50 PM
I did my shower floor with river rock TWICE. The first time I left it on the mesh and even though I had dry fit it several times it did not go well. I pulled it out and went back for more. Washed them, sealed them and pulled them off. Got rid of any that would not lie flat and sorted them roughly into big,little and med. Made a pile of really pretty stones I had to use and threw out some that were rust stained out of the box. Spread some pookie and laid the whole thing in a couple hours time. It looks and feels great. I stood a hair off the wall since I had tiled them first and it worked out great. I was not aggressive enough with the broom as the thinset dried and I spent a while cleaning out between the stones with a Dremel. Might have been overkill but I work cheap. Bottom line is this is another vote in the take them off the backer column. Dan

08-07-2009, 08:54 PM
Hi all
we are good with walls, curb, accents etc but have some possible challenges left on the shower flower- grouting!!!!

I used sheets of river rock, very happy with how they fit together and thanks SO MUCH to the professionals in this forum. I pulled some rocks off to allow good fit around corners/edge, cut some sheets around the drain and edges used versabond on my kerdi preformed shower pan to put it all down - so far looks like I will be ok with slope and fit. However, I have been gone for 2 mos on company travel etc and just getting back to finishing now!

I didn't clean between all the pebbles- can you guys tell me do I need to worry about that? ie, do I need to kind of chip or chisel out between the rocks some of which are on mesh, others individually attached, or will the spectralok do a really good job basically filling in everything 100% (whether there is a alot of versabond between pebbles or none there and just mesh)
just trying to make sure when I go to put the spectralok down that I end up with it all fairly flat ... so far the wife hasn't left me but I need to finish soon. I will try to attach some pictures.

I have Lacticrete Spectralok ready to go.....

08-07-2009, 09:05 PM
Like any grout, the Specktralok will fill all the voids you have. If you can, post a pitcher of what you have.

08-07-2009, 10:27 PM
I didn't clean between all the pebbles- can you guys tell me do I need to worry about that?depends on the color of the grout. As long as your grout is some sort of dark gray you should be fine.

08-07-2009, 10:58 PM
i didn't clean between all the rocks, will the grout work ok? as long as i make it flat around all the rocks? using latricrete hemp (GREY) with grout enhancer

Used the standard Laticrete on walls and looks good- do you guys recommend spectralok for floor since it is stronger or milder resistant? or is it both
wife said she didnt see it at lowes

thanks guys

The Kid
08-07-2009, 11:12 PM
As a rule of thumb, I try to achieve an even grout thickness throughout the field. Any variations in depth can result in un-uniform color with cement grounts. Should be ok with the spectra-lok though as far as color. I would go in there with a utility knife(be real careful not to pierce your membrane if your doing a surface applied) clean it up within reason, dampen the rock face, get all the dried morter off the faces of the rock. seal really well(i like to use an enhancer on the rock, looks much better imo) then grout away.

08-08-2009, 08:45 AM
I set the pan first, and if it's a different color grout, grout it before I set the walls on top of the pan... Sealing the stone is a good idea, the grout will clean up better that way if you have any porous stones in the pan...

08-08-2009, 11:32 AM
it helps to have a wood float i use it to beat the stone in and i also use it to really smash the sheets together to get nice tight joints i use 1/4 x1/4 and do not cut any stone just use smaller ones

08-08-2009, 01:27 PM
I am in the process of removing some grout to re-do some areas in my pebble shower floor, so here's some thoughts FWIW....

Really make sure to smoosh the grout in and under and between the stones, filling in any voids. If the pebble wasn't set all the way into the thinset, you can leave holes underneath the rounded edge. I found this out when digging out some grout, that there were hollows under the pebbles.

When you are using the bristle brush to scour out the grout after it first sets, be REALLY careful not to scour out too much. What can happen (as did to me) is that the grout is hard to tell from the thinset when it's wet, and you can take it all out and then water gets under the grout.

And be very aware when scouring out the grout to not leave areas, esp around the drain, that allow the water to puddle. (this will make more sense when you are actually doing it....) I wish I would have done this myself, 'cause I'm really picky and crafty, but my guy was just trying to get the darn thing done.

You can search under my name and there are pix of the problems I'm fixing now....

but I still love it!

08-08-2009, 09:09 PM
get a stiff brush and spray bottle with water. Get a section of the floor wet and wait a minute or two and spray again. Keep the brush wet and give the stones a good scrubbing. Thin layers of thinset will usually soften and eventually scrub off. If it's thick in spots use a plastic putty knife just to break it up and then scrub. Give it a good rinse and let it dry.

I wouldn't necessarily use Spectralock on the floor if you aren't using it on the rest of the shower. You're going to have to seal the floor anyway with the stones so you aren't gaining anything there. But the big reason may be just that it will be very spendy. :eek: Stones have a LOT of space to fill.

08-11-2009, 12:22 AM
About to purchase my pebble tile online... anyone else bought any online? i found some for $6.xx / sheet (1sqft)... the sample they sent wasnt a "showroom" sample... it was pretty comparable to what i see at local stores (anaheim tile row)

08-18-2009, 10:00 AM
I'm looking to buy some of this stuff. It is available locally for $16, but I think I can get it online for $11 per tile.

I'm very curious about how far down to clean the grout. I've read about using a stiff whisk broom or brush after the grout sets up a bit (how long?), but how far down should I go? And the issue of water pooling in grout pockets I think could be a real concern if the grout is too shallow, no?

08-18-2009, 11:06 AM
Daniel, it looks like you're using pebbles similar to the ones I used:


I don't seem to have any problem with pooling. If you have a proper, consistent slope, the grout should drain okay. There is enough space between the stones for it to drain.

My only regret was not trimming away the excess netting around the outside of each square before setting the tile. Some of them stuck up and had to be dealt with later. Grrrrrrrr.

I did use Spectralock on the floor and I am very happy with it. One full unit did the entire 55" x 30" (or so) floor with a little left over, so I blew about $90 on it. I sealed the stones twice with StoneTech Heavy Duty Sealer before grouting and never had a problem with grout haze. Yes, the floor is not truly waterproof because of the stones, but I figured all of that foot traffic would take its toll on regular grout over time. So to me, it was worth the money for the peace of mind.

As far as the proper depth of grout to remove, I found a fool-proof solution: I had da wife watch over and tell me when she liked the way it looked. :D

08-18-2009, 11:27 AM
Your pebbles do look like the ones I picked. Do you remember what they were called, or where you bought them?

What was your technique for cleaning out the grout and lowering its height? I recall a photo on here somewhere, and the pros were critical of a pebble job as having too much grout. I think it's over on the pro's hangout, the horror story installs thread maybe.

I'll have about 1/3 bigger area than you. The pebbles I saw in person had such a shiny finish, I can't imagine even needing to seal them, though I would on principle. I have only skimmed the SpectraLok thread. It's good for a shower floor? I thought someone said no? You mentioned that it's not waterproof, but you must mean it's more porous or less impervious to water than traditional grout? Or do you mean because there's so much more grout than with traditional tile? I'll have to read the rest of your thread. If you use Kerdi, does it matter if some water works its way down below the grout?

08-18-2009, 12:43 PM
I bought the pebbles at a tile store in Annapolis, MD. As I recall, they were about $12.99 a sheet. That was about 3 years ago. What I lack in speed, I make up for with inaccuracy.

I used an epoxy grout float to spread the grout and pretty much bury the pebbles. As far as removing the grout, I used the grout sponge that came with the Spectralock kit. It's the same sponge that you can buy at any big box store. You just have to be patient as it will take many passes to get the level you want. I would say most of the pebbles are proud to the surface of the grout by 1/8 of an inch or so from the top of the stone to the grout around the stone. You don't want it so flat that the floor has no dimension to it.

My stones were also shiny out of the box. I sealed them prior to grouting on some recommendations I received from the nice people here to make cleanup easier. The Spectralock also seems to enhance the shine of the stone.

As far as the waterproof issue, the Spectralock itself is very waterproof. The stones themselves are what's porous. I have another shower with it on the walls and it never looks wet after use. It has been really easy to clean and never has that dirty grout look. It looks the same as the day I installed it years ago. I really wish I could have used it on the marble walls, but then the marble could never be polished in the future because of the sand in the grout.

It's okay if some water works its way down to the Kerdi. That's how it's designed to work. All that tile and grout is just decoration, anyway.

Set the Kerdi drain a little lower than you think because the final level at the edge of the drain will be at the lower grout level, not the top of the stones around it. In hindsight, I would have set mine a tiny bit lower.

Good luck!

08-18-2009, 01:04 PM
Daniel, i bought mine for about $6.50 online :) the quality is really good., i can add some pics if you like,.

more than 20 sq ft = free shipping.,

08-18-2009, 01:15 PM
Can you list the vendor? I don't know this forum's policies on pricing and vendors. A photo to confirm would be great too.

08-18-2009, 01:20 PM
Frank., i will be finishing the pebble install today., i have a question regarding what you said about the kerdi grate.,

not sure what the exact names are but the remaining drain assembly has the grate + height piece (sleve) + adjustment piece (collar?)

to assemble you take the grate and snap it into the sleve., which then gets pushed into the collar., yes?

i understand that (once my pebble tiles are close enough) i need to put down thinset, place the grate+sleve+collar in place (but not push down the grate + sleve into collar yet)., apply more thinset over the collar., continue pebble tile., and then push down the grate to height required..

so my question is... whats holds it to the correct height? when u push down does it get pressed into thinset and that keeps the height in the correct place and stops it from going further down when someone steps on it?... slightly confused...

08-18-2009, 01:28 PM
Yes, the last shot of thinset keeps it from sinking any further. Since I've only done it once, I'm trying to go back in my memory banks and try to remember the exact dance steps. I think it's the thinset that gets under the edges of the square drain that keeps it from sinking any lower.

Hopefully, someone who has done it several times can give you the exact instructions. All I remember is I followed them and they worked perfectly.

james d
08-18-2009, 02:42 PM
I would say that in my experience I loosen lots of rocks and set them individually around seams and drains and walls i would also make my rocks cut into walls because they can be moved in and out a smidge I would also say these and tumbled Marble is a tile setters license to steal:D

08-18-2009, 02:51 PM
not sure about policies either., but i sent u a PM.,

I need to take pics., grr., my pic list is getting pretty big and our camera was misplaced last weekend., we found it., but we gotta go pick it up... .,

i need to leave work and stop at home for a few mins, ill bring a sheet of tile back and take a pic with our companys cam., will have it up for u in approx 4 hrs., or so,./

08-19-2009, 07:46 AM
Got the pics taken,. Had neighbour come over with his $900 cam :) waiting on him to email em over, gimme 45 mins

the pics are of the tiled laud out close in a 3x4...

didn't start yesterday., realized not enough thinset., only have abt 40 lbs of unmod lat.. Will have some delivered and carried upstairs today afternoon

q:why use 1/4 x 1/4 trowel and not a 1/4 x 3/8? I'd think ud want a bit more to grab onto curved side-bottom of tile? Or does it mess with grout cox it's too much ?

08-19-2009, 08:07 AM
Zee, here's my unscientific take on it: With a normal, flat-bottomed tile, the entire tile floats on the thinset layer. The rounded shape of the pebble causes the lowest point of it to touch or nearly touch the kerdi, thereby displacing thinset. I found I quickly went from not enough thinset to oozing too much when pressing the pebbles into place. It's much harder to cleanly remove excess thinset than it is to add a dollop more around a pebble with a small putty knife.

08-19-2009, 08:14 AM
Alright folks, you seem to be somewhat on this topic anyway.....and I've not really found any good answers anywhere else, so I thought I'd jump in here.

I have a 6'X9' shower with a mudset floor, built properly from everything I have read. On top of that we used a modified thinset that did NOT say "not suitable for shower floors".

We used what appears to be very similar pebble tile to what everyone else is talking about on this page.

Grouted with a sanded grout.

Sealed it. Grout, pebbles, and all.

Waited the prescribed drying times all the way through the process.

About a month later it started to fail. By fail, I mean that the thinset is returning to a liquid state, which allows the pebbles to shift a little, which breaks the grout, which allows them to shift a bit more, which break more grout........it is a disaster. I have about 4 tiles that basically removed themselves.

Now, I did not do the first install....it was some fly by night guy.....long gone.

So, my wife and I ripped out the parts that were bad, let it dry for a couple weeks with a fan in the shower. Then we put it back using a different thinset.....again waiting the prescribed times for drying........ It failed again.

I am sure that the problem is too much moisture on the thinset, but I can't imagine how it would not get wet at least a little....since the pebbles are smooth, and there is such an expanse of grout on this floor.

Thanks for taking the time to read this! Any thoughts?

08-19-2009, 08:16 AM
Great point!

I can already picture the yelling and cussing and thinset mess

Back 2 HD :(

08-19-2009, 08:21 AM
to be sure.,. This is not a kerdi shower floor right ?

08-19-2009, 08:31 AM
Treadnpaddle -

When you say you used a "modified thinset" exactly what product was used?

Was it premixed in a bucket, or a dry powder that you mixed with water yourself? "Real" thinset (starts as dry powder) should never "return to a liquid state" no matter how wet it becomes. "Premixed thinset" (actually mastic) can do this, and is not recommended for use on a shower floor.

08-19-2009, 08:44 AM
and., if you did use a "good quality dry" modified thinset.. when you say you waited the required time... was that 24 hrs., or 7 days?

08-19-2009, 08:45 AM
and what kind of grout are you using? are you using a high quality sanded epoxy grout?

08-19-2009, 09:12 AM
I will get the exact product info tonight. But, I am pretty sure that we used the two part powdered both times.....I will dig around and find out exactly what we used.

Seems that we waited about 4 or 5 days from setting in the thinset to grouting....Then entire process took us about a month from tear out to putting water back on it.

We used a standard sanded grout from the ol' HD........Can get the exact on that tonight as well.

08-19-2009, 09:17 AM
We used a standard sanded grout from the ol' HD........Can get the exact on that tonight as well.

well i dont know much,. but if your pebble floor + grout are not sealed properly ud end up with a mess?

spectralock pro = epoxy grout = doesnt require sealing = waterproof... the pebble wld be the only porus thing.. and with some good seal, may do a good job of sealing with minimal water going thru., but ur waterproof sloped membrane below wld be taking care of the little water...

08-19-2009, 09:17 AM
Welcome, Brint. :)

You'll do a whole lot better to start a thread for your own project. Less confusion on this one, less chance you're questions will be overlooked.

We got plenty room. :)

08-19-2009, 09:23 AM
Thanks CX. I will get the product specific info and repost tomorrow morning in a fresh thread. I just got excited to see lots of folks that have experience with the pebble tiles......

Zxed - Is the spectralock difficult to work with? Also, how much different does it look than regular grout? I have an adjoining floor that I REALLY don't want to tear out.......

08-19-2009, 09:32 AM
My first box of spectralock pro + first pebble tiles + Laticrete 317 are waiting for me to come home and install them (just need more Laticrete 317)..

in other words ill find out in a few days

they have a bunch of colors... someone with more spectraloc exp will hopefully reply to your thread :)

08-19-2009, 09:55 AM
Hey Zxed, still waiting those photos! I checked out your vendor on the $6.50 red pebble. Believe it or not, I found another vendor for $4.25! I am confused and hog-tied now because I can't tell whether the original pebble I found at $11 is the same as these two. I am fairly certain the two cheaper products are the same. However, the original pebble I saw seems to have a lighter, more orange/less red color. It's hard to tell, what with internet coloring and the lighting used for the product photos. Were it all the same, I'd obviously go for the $4.25 price! This is why I'd like to see install photos, so I can judge the color and make a decision. I may try to bail on an Ebay bid.

08-19-2009, 10:19 AM
calling up neighbor to get the pics,

share the link?

and does it include shipping? i think the manu. for the ones i bought is

five elements...

08-19-2009, 10:24 AM

08-19-2009, 11:39 AM

See your PM. I guess it's all in the shipping cost.:noid:

08-19-2009, 11:41 AM
Wow, great looking shiny black pebbles! I dunno why I assumed yours were reddish like mine. Still, your vendor had red ones too.

If only I could get paid for putting all these great products in my own home...

08-19-2009, 12:02 PM
actually without the super flash + full lights on., in the shower area or dimmer light it looks dark slate grey/black :) and id say 98% flawless

08-20-2009, 08:39 PM
when and how do u remove the access thinset thats between the rocks? its not high enough for me to wipe it out... so id need to scrub or use something to pry/swab it out?

Originally posted by The Kid

I would go in there with a utility knife(be real careful not to pierce your membrane if your doing a surface applied) clean it up within reason, dampen the rock face, get all the dried morter off the faces of the rock.

do u wait till its completely dry? (24 hrs)

08-21-2009, 10:50 PM
:) btw... dont use too much water when scrubbing the extra thinset of the tiles... i ended up loosening a few of them and they came off., so tomorrow il going to get a thinner dremel bit and use that to grind it in-between pebbles... ... and then re-adhere the loose pebbles...

08-23-2009, 04:43 PM
so follwing the spectraloc pro directions word-to-word is not a good idea :) i figured out what i was doing wrong in the initial cleanup,

and oh, i ran out halfway., had to run out and buysome more.,

they shd provide modified directrions for pebbe install :)

11-21-2009, 03:16 PM
Are there any specific tips for using Spectra Lok Pro with a pebble tile floor?

I've read the Spectra Lok threads and they all seem to deal with standard grout lines in tile. Obviously the pebbles have variable spaces ranging up to 3/4" in some places. I have about 30sf. How would I calculate coverage?

I would like to use Spectra Lok but I am worried about properly getting it worked into all the voids between stones and then getting the excess cleaned up.


11-21-2009, 03:32 PM
1. for a 4x4 you wld probably need a min of 1 full unit
2. a float = waste of grout and time.
3. buy some good gloves., and use your hands (palm or side.) to push it in., work fast to get it all in
4. once majority is in, you can then play touchup filling in voids and looking for perfection... your goal is to try to have grout + pebble at same hight/level
5, once that is done you can follow directions for cleanup step 1... you wont need to do it more than once., don't put too much water... your goal is to have a wet spng that will allow you to smooth out grout., not soak it..., you will need more than 5 spnges :)

11-21-2009, 05:04 PM
I have a 4'x4' floor, minus about 1sq ft for a seat. I bought a bag of Permacolor, 25lb'er. I remember the comment about using alot of grout. I have no idea whether I'll get all the way thru this pebble grout with this single bag. Are there any good ways to estimate grout use for pebbles? Obviously I have my other thread, but I think this is relevant in this thread.

11-21-2009, 05:18 PM
i would stick with an epoxy grout like spectraloc...

i dont think permacolor is an epoxy based grout and is probably cementous and thus porus, which could be sealed with a sealer i guess... but thats just more work.,

for a 4x4, 1 full unit of spectraloc will be enough as long as you use your hands to level it down and remove the buildup on stone surface, i think 1/2 my pebbles are covered with the spectraloc but it still looks fine., the spectraloc epoxy is hard as rock...

11-21-2009, 09:48 PM

I would REALLY like to know how you set your drain. I get most of it, but the part that is confusing to me is how the grate itself is kept from pressing further down. It snaps into the height adjusting ring. That ring is a press fit into the lateral ring, put it could accidentally be pressed down further, if not supported. The lateral ring sets in mortar in the depression outside the throat of the drain. Now, in anyone's floors, there is no tile, or pebble, under the grate's edges, yet it is above the lateral ring. Something must support it, to keep it from pressing in further. Sooooo...do we pack under the grate with mortar? Or with grout?

Man, I hate feeling dense on this, but there it is...

11-21-2009, 10:11 PM
it didnt make a lot of sense to me until i actually got 2 the part of doing it :)

i started with just laying out my pebble sheets.... dry fit... placed the drain where it needed to go., collar at max height., then i dry fot the other side and once it look good,. i pushed down on the drain to adjust height., to figure out how this is supposed to work., so there it was... all dry fit (no thinset yet)., and yes., as yous tated if this was it., and someone pushed down on the drain the height would get messed up.,

i picked up my dryfit pieces., grabed the thinset and started creating my ridges... i did 14inchx14inch at a time so that i hade enough coverage for a pebble sheet., i dropped in first corner sheet., pushed down a bit., put thinset for 2nd., pushed down...

3rd sheet was cut at one side for the drain., my cutout was the square drains dimension., so this sheet went over part of the collar.. i put in a decent amount of thinset., put in the (drain) collar attached 2 drain at maximum height., i troweled as if there was no drain or collar., put in the 3rd sheet., press down a bit...

the drain is "still" at maximum height..

i went on. putting in 4th sheet and then the last 1/2 sheet., (my showers 4.5 x 5.5 i think)

once my pebbles were in., i had 1 full row at 4.5 of pebble sheets and a drain that is still up at max height... if you think about it you cant pull teh collar out anymore coz
1. its got thinset over it
2. its got tiles over the thinset.

so from you q... things are good till here...

what i did next was put down more thinset near collar., quite a bit more.. then i started pushed it down... the thinset started building up., and once i got resistance it started oozing out from the only part it could.. near the pebbles... i kept pushing until it was almost level to the pebbles.. i actualy made it "lower" than the pebbles., but not by that much..

i cleaned up the oozed out thinset so that my grout would have enough room., and waited for it to dry..

so you have enough "thinset" under the grate... once its dry you wont be able to really push down on it coz it cannot ooze out... its kinda.. stuck there..

if you use an epoxy grout things will only improve as that stuff is hrad as rock.. so when you put that between your pebbles and the drain., you will end up with a solid floor...

so in summary... the grate cannot be pushed down further because it is., infact supported by the thinset that you shove there before you start pushing it down... :)

Jeremy Hillary Boob, PhD
11-21-2009, 11:00 PM
Are there any specific tips for using Spectra Lok Pro with a pebble tile floor?

I've read the Spectra Lok threads and they all seem to deal with standard grout lines in tile. Obviously the pebbles have variable spaces ranging up to 3/4" in some places. I have about 30sf. How would I calculate coverage?

I would like to use Spectra Lok but I am worried about properly getting it worked into all the voids between stones and then getting the excess cleaned up.


I've posted a couple of things on my massive pebble tile project (bathroom floor, 1 entire wall, and part of another wall---over 100 ft^2 in all). I used Spectralock and I'm glad I did.

The variable-sized gaps were no problem. To estimate coverage, I got one of the mini units from Lowe's and put that down on the floor. That gave me a very accurate reference for the number of "Pro" units (each 4x the size of a mini) that I ended up using.

I've got a few posts in this thread:

I've also got a boring video of me grouting with Spectralock. I don't know if it's of any use, but just in case, here it is (large 60MB file):

Let me know if you have any specific questions.

11-22-2009, 09:52 AM

I have already used a couple minis on some glass trim tile in my shower, and I wasn't bored with your video. I just nodded knowingly as I watched it. Actually, I'm about half through it. I chuckled a little hearing your grunt your way through the application. Zxed and I used the finger method, independent of one another, because it sort of evolved naturally out of frustration. You can hold smaller amounts, but less drops to the floor (some still does) and you can place it quite precisely. Plus, as a bonus, I found that I was much faster working it in by hand. My flimsy spectralock gloves did tear too, just as you said. Still, their thin construction helped me feel more accurately.

I currently have PermaColor grout for the pebble stones on the shower floor, but I'm really wringing my hands now about the Spectralock. I did like the way it set up nice and hard, and the color looks great plus not having to seal it is also great. The cost and the short pot life were why I didn't choose it for this larger area.

The whole tiling process is complicated enough that you're always going to find an audience for videos. I applaud your effort!

11-22-2009, 10:44 AM

Thanks for the great info. I'm definitely gonna go with the Spectra Lok. A couple more questions though:

Any recommendations on caulk brands for the change-of-plane where the walls meet the floor?

Does anyone recommend spending $20 on the mini size to practice with? Or just go for it? I'll have a half dozen pebble tiles left over to waste on a trial run.


11-22-2009, 01:46 PM

I'd have to vote for "no" on the trial run, especially if you've grouted before. It's just not that big of a deal. You cut open and mix two liquids, then add the sand, maybe observe some wait times, then go for it. I mean, other than two vs. one liquid with standard grout, it goes just about the same. Just be aware that it starts to stiffen sooner. Packaging says 80 minutes, and I may have squeezed 90 out of my mini. Actually, you may be able to get even more time, but it is stiffer and stiffer. At that point, pushing it with your fingers is easier. No worries, really.

The caulk recommendations are all over the place. Good luck with that. 100% silicone in the shower though, if you ask me.

12-03-2009, 11:26 AM

I tried to watch your movie but there was only audio. This was after Quick Time asked me to update the player.

Before I get started this weekend:

My area is large enough that I will need multiple batches. Is there any thing special I need to do to blend one batch into the other? I don't want to mix up too large of a batch at once.

Also what technique do you use when you have to walk (or crawl) over a grouted area to start the clean up process? This floor is over 30sf and I can't reach all the way into it from the entry.


12-03-2009, 11:52 AM

If you are working continually, and starting where you just finished, your new batches should blend in nicely with your old batches. Spectralock gets firmer and firmer while it's curing, but it's very cohesive. New will bond to old at least as well as it bonds to the surrounding dissimilar tile materials. I would be sure that where you stop doesn't have voids behind it, or pockets around it such that the new batch fills in right up against the previous.

If you're working on the floor, you can work in a continual direction from the furthest point to the nearest. The grout is going to want to stick more to itself and within the confines of the lines than anything else as it starts to dry. My would most likely be fine if you wanted to loosely place plastic sheeting if you had to walk on any of it.

I think the Spectralock No Fear thread has some entries about people dividing the large Pro contents into smaller batches, but I cannot advise -- I used minis. The minis at Lowes were just about the right size for my work pace. I never priced the Pros either, so I don't know how they compare to the minis ounce for ounce.

Jeremy's video is informative, but the process is simple. You see him mix the batch, talk about how he's going to spread it on the walls, then he starts spreading. Later, you see him mix in the vinegar for cleaning and he cleans. It's all about what you expect for a grouting job. Grouting is messy, but it isn't complicated.

12-14-2009, 09:38 AM

Thanks for all the help. Using the posts in the "No Fear" thread about keeping Spectra Lock in the freezer and a suggestion from one of the Laticrete tech guys, I kept my batch in an ice bath while I worked. I got a really long working time out of it (over 2 hrs) that way. BTW 30sf of river rock used 3 full units and I had about a quart left over for touch up. I bought the commercial size (4 units) so the price was about a wash but at least I can get a refund on the part C.

I'll post some photos as soon as I get the hardware installed.


07-01-2010, 12:55 PM
I put down Spectra Lok Pro on my pebble floor, only did 3' of the floor since I used a mini bucket. Going to finish the rest later. But I don't like the level of the grout, it seems too much of the pebbles are buried. I wish I had scrubbed out more of the grout when smoothing it out with sponges. Now that the grout has hardened up, is there any way to re-soften it so I can lower the grout level a little, revealing more of the beautiful stones?

Perhaps some type of chemical that I could spray on the grout that would re-soften it? But also not damage the pebbles.

bonus question - What's the best way to clean the pebbles at this point, after grout has dried. Most of them feel sandy. The pebbles were pre-sealed before grouting with StoneTech sealer. Used several coats.

Houston Remodeler
07-01-2010, 02:31 PM

If the spectralock has been down for more than 2 hours, I doubt there is anything to soften it, but you can call the fne folks at technical support at Laticrete to give you very specific information. 1.800.243.4788 x235.

07-16-2010, 10:36 AM
Thanks Paul. I called the latricrete tech support # you posted and they said it's really not a good idea to resoften the grout. It is possible using methyl-chloride (sp?), acetone or a heat gun but it can get messy and it is really a last resort and not suggested.

So I'll just live with it as is! I'm just a perfectionist and wanted it perfect.