Common Issues with Pebble Tile Shower Floors

Pebble tiles bring a natural appearance to the floor, including the shower floor. It may have multiple benefits, making it a favored choice for homeowners for design and functionality.
A bathroom with a glass shower stall featuring white tile walls and pebble tile flooring on the shower floors.

One of which is that it provides the required grip and traction in the shower and bathroom and enhances the safety against slipping when the tiles are wet.

However, the pebble tile shower comes with many disadvantages and problems in the shower. One such problem is their uneven surface, which might make water drainage more challenging if the slope is inadequate. So, in this article, we will go through all the problems a pebble tile shower creates in the bathroom and shower.

Some Major Pebble Tile Shower Floor Problems

Irregular Shaped Stones and Pebbles Creating Drainage Problem

While Pebble tile shower floors have many advantages, they also have some downsides as well that might be a matter of concern for homeowners. One major problem is water pooling on the surface due to the uneven textures of the pebble tile. 

The small, irregularly shaped stones or pebbles on the surface create a fraction of the areas where the water puddles. One might think “What’s the big deal of water accumulation in small parts of the shower or bathroom surface?” 

Well, the problem is that this standing water can lead to excessive mold and mildew growth, especially during summer. 

Pebble tiles have comparatively more gaps and joints between the tiles and varying heights than other types of tiles. Therefore, more grout is needed to fill these joints. 

Moreover, installers must carefully grout the tiles to create a cohesive and well-draining surface. This involves meticulous tile laying and a thorough grout application to level out any irregularities in the topography. But installers don’t. This leaves an inadequate slope in the grout lines towards the drain areas, causing drainage issues.

To ensure that the pebble shower floor is sloped properly, you can use Goof Proof Shower Quick-Pitch Standard Shower Kit. This kit helps create a pebble shower floor with a recommended minimum slope of 1/4″ per 12″ run, ensuring proper drainage and preventing water pooling.

You can also fix the existing shower surface’s slope issue by grouting over it. Bear in mind that a new grout layer can cover some pebbles or stones. 

Vulnerable to Grout Cracking

In the pebble tile shower floor, there are wide areas of grout joint. These areas of grout and sealing can crack over time or get hampered by walking movement when putting stress on the grout. 

This issue happens more in cases of inadequate grout or improper application techniques during the initial installation. More than other types of shower tiles, pebble shower tile areas are more vulnerable to the cracking and weakening of grout’s integrity.

However, other causes, such as subfloor movement and water damage, can also lead to grout cracking, which is more difficult and labor-intensive to fix. 

So before fixing the crack, identify the root cause and the dimension of the problem. If grout cracking remains within a small area of the surface, you can repair it by removing the old grout with a removal tool or utility knife. 

But you have to remain careful not to dislodge the surrounding pebble tiles and unaffected grout. After removing the affected grouts, apply a fresh batch of pebble grout into the gaps between the pebbles. Ensure the surface is sloped enough for water to drain from the bathroom.      

Challenging to Install

Pebble tile flooring in the shower can be a bit challenging and requires an experienced installer to use proper techniques and attention to detail. Installing pebble tiles can also take more time than any regular shower tiling.

The irregular shapes and sizes of pebble tiles make it tricky to create a uniform grout line, especially in areas where the tiles meet or transition into another surface, like the walls or other flooring materials. 

The uneven nature of the pebbles can lead to difficulties in maintaining a consistent grout line or appearance, particularly in a steam shower where humidity might affect the grout’s application and drying process.

Any fledgling installer can misstep, resulting in incorrect pebble tile installation. Consequently, your shower floor might experience incidents like pebbles dislodging and grout falling out later. 

Some intricate patterns in pebble tile flooring, such as herringbone, chevron, or Versailles patterns, can be more challenging to handle. That’s why allocating the job to someone with enough experience in pebble tile installation can complete a shower floor tiling project.

More Grouts for Wider Area

Pebble tile flooring normally leaves wider gaps between the pebbles. Therefore, comparatively more grout is needed to finish the tiling cohesively and make an even surface. For example, in a pebble tile floor, per square foot of regular-sized pebble tile needs two pounds of grout, whereas mosaic tile needs one pound.

The higher amount of grout usage makes the job a bit challenging for DIY installer as one need to be tricky to create an even and uniform grout line.

Red Flat to Harsh and Abrasive Cleaners and Tools

While cleaning the pebble tile shower floor, it is not recommended to use any harsh and abrasive cleaner as it may damage the grout line. Pebble tile shower floors have more exposed grout lines or areas than other types of tile floors. 

Powerful cleansing agents and too much scrubbing can deteriorate the top layer of the grout, so much so that you may be required to replace the grout.

Spraying white vinegar and leaving it for 15-20 minutes is a popular method to clean the pebble-stoned shower floor. After the wait, you can rinse and gently scrub the floor to eliminate all the dirt, soap scum, and potential mold from the surface. 

Higher Maintenance

Pebble-stoned shower floor requires higher maintenance and attention than any other tile floor. Larger and wider grout areas mean more grout to keep clean of soap scum, mildew, and staining. Grout also needs to be re-sealed periodically. 

But you can’t use harsh cleansers and scrub aggressively. This means you need to clean regularly but not abrasively. Moreover, small tile pieces are more prone to becoming loose or falling out over time. That’s why the shower floor needs to be monitored for loose tiles that need re-adhering.

Less Durable than Others

A pebble tile shower floor, due to its larger grout area, is susceptible to wearing out over time. Consequently, it may require repeated sealing and regrouting. Initially, maintenance might not be demanding, but as time passes and with increased usage, you’ll need to be more vigilant in maintaining and cleaning the surface. 

The deterioration of grout can also alter the shape of pebbles and erode their edges. It’s unrealistic to expect a pebble shower floor to endure for a decade without the need for repair, regrouting, or resealing. Conversely, other tile types like porcelain and ceramic can withstand heavy shower usage and last longer. 

Slightly Discomforting to Feet

Pebble tiles on the shower floor can provide the comfort that other tiles will offer. While it doesn’t hurt the foot sole, it can be slightly discomforting.  When properly installed with proper grout and flat/sliced finish, pebble tiles can provide a comfortable and enjoyable experience in the shower.

FAQ

What are the Different Types of Pebble Tiles?

Ans: Different types of pebble tiles fit into different home layouts and designs. People’s preference and choice also matters in this case. The most common types are sliced pebble tiles, standing pebble tiles, flat pebble tiles, and basic or natural pebble tiles. 

Basic pebbles are circular in shape and uncut, whereas sliced pebble tiles are created by cutting the natural pebbles into thin slices. Standing pebbles, on the other hand, are more suitable for vertical installation such as walls and fountains.

What Types Are Suitable for Shower and Bathroom Floor?

Ans: The bathroom tiles should offer safety against slip resistance, which pebble tile, in general, can provide. Also, ease of cleaning and maintenance matters when it comes to shower and bathroom surfaces. 

Pebble tiles with a flat surface, such as flat pebble tiles or sliced pebble tiles, may be easier to clean than natural or standing pebble tiles. As flat pebble tiles or sliced pebble tiles have a smoother surface, it is less likely to trap dirt and grime. 

So, in a nutshell, we can say that flat pebbles and sliced pebble tiles have an edge over other types for shower and bathroom surfaces. 

Do You Use Sanded or Unsanded Grout for Pebble Floors?

Ans: Sanded grout is more commonly used in pebble tiles, especially pebble tile floors with larger grout joints between pebbles. The reason is sanded grout contains sand particles that help fill the larger grout joints. 

It ensures a stronger bond and reduces the risk of grout cracking or shrinking over time. However, you can use unsanded grout when the gaps between the pebbles are narrower. 

Conclusion

While a pebble shower floor is a good option for bathroom design, there are some considerations to keep in mind. The need for a significant amount of grout during installation, potential discomfort underfoot due to unevenness, and high maintenance requirements may put off some homeowners. 

However, the advantages, such as the natural and colorful feel they bring to the shower floor, resistance to scratching, and affordability, make them a viable choice for those willing to invest in regular upkeep. 

Ultimately, the decision to choose pebble tiles rests on the homeowner’s preference for a unique, good-looking, and comfortable shower floor, balanced against the commitment to ongoing maintenance.

The installation process, with its emphasis on a properly prepared subfloor, clean application of thin-set, and meticulous grouting and sealing, ensures the longevity and durability of the pebble shower floor.

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