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Unread 12-02-2022, 10:15 AM   #1
GreyWolfWpg
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Re-applying loose river rock from shower floor

Seven years ago my wife asked that we have a brand new shower installed in our new house. She wanted the pre-existing bathtub removed and a shower stall built from scratch. We hired a contractor to come in and install a Schluter system and tile the stall. My wife requested that we have river rock installed for the floor. Had I done my research into the longevity and issues of the rocks falling out I would have tried to dissuade her from that. Unfortunately the contractor didn’t get us any insight as to the problems either. This summer the river rock started popping out one by one. I realize that I’m now going to have ongoing issues with the floor and I’ve discussed this with the wife. However she doesn’t want the floor ripped out and replaced yet. My question to the experts is how is the best way of securing the stones back to the floor and re-grouting. Should I use epoxy thin set or something else to “glue” the stones back on the mesh? Should I use the same grout as before or should I use epoxy grout? Here is a photo of the floor as it stands right now.


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Unread 12-02-2022, 12:16 PM   #2
Just In Tile LLC
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If this is a temporary repair, I'd get a good modified mortar/thinset, and go back with a descent sanded grout to patch it. No sense in spending more for something that is truly a band-aid.

Most tile mortars and grouts have smaller size containers for repairs. That's the route I'd take for something like this. I don't see any permanent type repair I'd be comfortable with on something like that, it's a redo from my perspective and the only thing you are doing is cosmetically buying time before that happens. - Most guys I know won't re-do just the pan either, its a completely new shower for most contractors who want to stand behind their work.
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Unread 12-02-2022, 03:28 PM   #3
jadnashua
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Out of curiosity, what does the back of the rocks look like in thinset coverage and what does the backs of the stones look like? On some, they slice the stone so it has a flat back surface, which makes it easier to get good coverage. Especially with a rounded stone, it's critical to get good coverage. Plus, it's harder to ensure you embed the thinset into the pores of the stone and some stone are particularly dense, so there aren't that many microcrevaces for the cement to grow into which creates the bond. The mesh on the back doesn't help, either.

I'd carefully scrape out some of the mesh and thinset, then ensure I got some embedded in the back of the tile and push back into place. Then, pull it back out to check for good coverage and if good, replace, if not, readjust your technique.
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Unread 12-02-2022, 03:57 PM   #4
GreyWolfWpg
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Thank you Justin for the helpful information. I know it’s just a bandaid fix and yes I know that the whole thing will need to be redone.
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Unread 12-02-2022, 05:19 PM   #5
Just In Tile LLC
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No sweat Grant, I'll add I am assuming the waterproofing is intact . You might do the repairs so well it won't need to be done again. As long as it's not leaking and you are comfortable with how it finishes out all the power to getting a few more years outta it
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Unread 12-02-2022, 10:28 PM   #6
Kman
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I've got similar pebbles in my shower and I have all the materials sitting in my garage to completely redo the shower. Now to just find the time to do it.....

For a temp fix, I'd work some mortar in there somehow, maybe even with my finger. Don't worry so much about making a mess, you just want good coverage, and you can clean up later. Have a thin layer (maybe 1/8" or so) on the floor.

As you reset the pebbles, smear a little mortar on the backside and set it. Push it down into what you put on the floor, and if a little squeezes up the sides, it's okay. Once they're all set, carefully clean it up with a sponge.

Let it set overnight before grouting. The grout helps to hold the pebbles in place, so take care not to sponge it away too much.
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Unread 12-03-2022, 10:23 AM   #7
jerrymlr1
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If you're doing the bandaid fix, I would use some Custom Speed Set. It'll cure better than the regular thinsets in that 24 hrs. You're right tho. Complete redo down the road. I'm not a big fan of anything with mesh backed in a shower floor. And this is why.
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