Pebbles provide a natural and durable surface for floors, walls and countertops that never goes out of style. The size of small pebbles make it possible to tile around curved shapes or round edges. Cut your costs significantly by collecting your own pebbles. Or create a custom look by purchasing pebbles from hobby stores, garden shops or home improvement centres. By designing your own, you can mix up the colours and sizes of the pebbles for the exact effect you desire.
Collect or select pebbles. For floors and counters, use pebbles roughly equal in thickness.
Prepare the surface you intend to tile. It should be flat and even. Repair holes. Sand painted surfaces. Remove tar, oil or grease and all dust and debris.
Apply thin set mortar to the prepared surface. Work one small section at a time, about a one-foot square area, leaving a uniform layer 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Start in one corner when working on floors or counters. Begin at the bottom and work up when working on walls.
Press the pebbles into the mortar one at a time. Space the pebbles with 1/8 to 1/4 inch distance between each other. Allow at least two days for the mortar to set fully.
Coat the surface of the pebbles with a sealer to prevent the grout from staining porous pebbles. Allow 24 hours for sealer to dry.
Apply grout over the entire surface. Choose a colour that complements the pebbles you are using. Use a sponge to wipe away the grout from the pebbles' surface, leaving behind only the grout that separates the individual pebbles. Use a toothbrush to brush excess grout from corners. Allow 24 hours for the grout to dry.
Apply sealer to the grout. Wait another 24 hours for sealer to dry.
Experts do not recommend fast-drying mortar for first-time tile installers. Thin set mortar brands come with their own set of directions, so read carefully and follow the manufacturer's specific instructions. Select a brand and type of mortar suited for your use and the surface that you are applying it to.
Pebbles will be heavy and require a sturdy surface strong enough to support them. Uneven or damaged surfaces or subflooring alone will need an underlayment to serve as a tile base. Tiling surfaces for water, such as a shower floor or a pool, require specific substrates and liners that hold up under those extreme conditions. Outdoor tile work requires expansion joints to accommodate freeze/thaw conditions.