Pebble tile and river rocks have a natural affinity for bathrooms and spas.
That’s why pebble tile — also called river rocks — are being used as an alternative to field tiles for a back-to-nature effects. Whether used for flooring or shower and tub walls, the presence of small stones evokes the idea of brooks and riverbeds — places where running water can be soothing and elemental. The stones and pebbles are durable as flooring and the multiple pieces help keep them from becoming slippery when wet.
When I see walls and floors paved with pebble tile I’m always fascinated and want to run my hand over the surface. I also was surprised to see the wide range of variations in materials, colors and pebble tile surfaces — from color, to size, to type of stone, and even to blends of other materials. Like mosaics, pebble tiles are fixed to mesh backing so the overall pattern looks random and organic.
The most effective use of the river rock look — in my view — is in an all over bath [top]. While the tones are cool gray and taupe, there is a welcoming warmth to this shower. Plus the traction of a river stone floor is practical because it provides a surface with friction when wet. I also like that the stones are continued over the tub deck because I do feel it’s a bit difficult to mix them with other materials. A close look at the wall of the shower will, however, betray lines of the mesh behind the stones that keeps them in place.
My taste runs to polished effects such as the large-scale flat stone mosaic floor in an Atlanta pool house. Designed by southern decorating powerhouse Phoebe Howard, this guest bath plays off the black keynote floor color with hardware and and accessory accents. The floor is simple, but memorable.
Large scale polished rocks are used as accent pieces for a pair of built-in niches in a open modern shower which, for me, trivializes them a bit because they are so durable. Yet they do help break up the cold, flat linearity of stacked tile in this architectural bath by San Francisco architect Michael Tauber. It does seem odd to me to mix these two looks because they are so different but that’s the point: manmade vs organic.
Another contemporary tile with stones look leaves me with mixed emotions. It’s a handsome double shower and one built for a very tall person judging from the height of the hand-held shower on the left wall. Running a strip of stone down one side does create a focal point. That helps because the shower controls on the adjacent shower walls are not lined up, which is unusual. I just wish I could make up my mind whether I would like this shower better if the filed tile was used on both walls with the stone floor, or whether it would have more impact as an all river rock shower with no field tile at all. Tough call, no?
(Source: Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, Michael Tauber Architecture, domino, fairfaxvacontractor)
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I recently remodeled a bathroom with a new walk-in shower that has a river rock floor. The rocks vary in color primarily a gray-brown tone with a medium colored grout. When the floor is wet, we like the look so, we are now considering how to get that “wet look”. Can I apply a wet look sealer to the stones and grout?
Jane F says
I personally would not seal a river rock floor. The advantage is that it’s not slippery. A sealer could reduce the friction and make it slippery.
Having said that it might depend on the rock. I would check with the manufacturer and see what’s recommended for this particular material and go by that.