With just a small amount of home repair knowledge, anyone can remove a pebble shower floor.
Pebble shower floors, also known as exposed aggregate flooring, have been popular for a long time. They provide a visual aesthetic different from the tile or concrete common in modern bathrooms. And they have a textile sensation that can be pleasing, providing a sensory difference not usually found.
When moving into a new home that has a pebble shower floor, or doing a bathroom remodel, many people decide to change it. Removing exposed aggregate flooring can be time-consuming and tedious. However, it is possible without having to call in a professional. Here are some tips on how to remove a pebble shower floor.
What Is a Pebble Shower Floor?
A pebble shower floor is a way to simulate a river bed or a cobblestone street in your bathroom. Some people go to a local river and collect stones to create their floor as a do-it-yourself project. When completed, they can be appealing. However, they require a lot of upkeep, and removing them can be difficult.
Advantages of Pebble Shower Floors
There are a lot of good reasons to create exposed aggregate flooring. Here are some of the reasons many people decide to install them.
The materials to create a pebble shower floor are inexpensive. The only things needed are the stones and the grout to set them in. Since many people collect the stones from a riverbed instead of buying them at a home warehouse store, it can be one of the cheapest shower floors available.
Easy To Install
Laying all the stones in the shower can take a long time. But even though it is time-consuming, it is easy to do. People with little home install experience find pride in doing it themselves without paying a professional.
River rocks are round and smooth. Creating a floor out of them can be a great way to massage your feet while showering.
Pebble shower flooring is desirable by some because it is naturally slip-resistant. When the stones become wet, they do not get slick (see our post about how long shower floors should stay wet for more information). Taking a shower without worrying about slipping and falling is crucial, especially if elderly people are living in the home.
Disadvantages of Pebble Shower Floors
While pebble floors are desired by many, there are several disadvantages. Here are some things to consider before creating an exposed aggregate floor.
It Takes a Lot of Grout
While it can be easy for a non-professional to install a pebble stone floor, there is a lot of unavoidable space between the stones. That space must be filled with grout. That means more work and a considerable amount of maintenance.
Chance of Mold
The upkeep on a pebble stone floor is more work than something more traditional. Your floor will not be completely waterproof because of all the grout. These floors typically need to be sealed every 6 months to a year. That can be a deterrent for many. But if neglected, water can easily seep through your floor and create a mold problem that will be even more expensive.
A pebble stone floor may stand out more than traditional flooring, but it will also not last as long. The lifespan of these floors, even with regular sealing, is only about 15 years. Tile can last twice that long. If you do not seal it every year, it may begin to deteriorate significantly sooner.
How To Remove a Pebble Shower Floor
Removing a pebble shower floor will take a long time and is a lot of work. You may want to hire a professional to come in and do it for you. However, just as this type of floor can be installed by someone without home repair experience, removing it is also possible.
Wear Protective Equipment
You will be working with a chisel that could send small rock and grout fragments flying through the air. There are also some noxious chemicals involved. Therefore, goggles, masks, and gloves are necessary to complete this job. You will also want to wear a long-sleeve shirt and pants that will provide you with some maneuverability.
Clean the Area
Remove as much dirt and trash as possible from the area before you begin. That will make it less likely that any obstructions will get in the way while working. Use a stiff broom to get between all of the stones and around the edges of the shower.
Also, remove the molding from the edges of the shower before you begin. You can do that with a crowbar slid between the molding and the wall. Be sure to pull downward on the molding so you do not damage your wall.
Apply the Solvent
You can get an epoxy solvent at your local hardware store, or buy it online. That is an essential part of the process. With a chemical sprayer, coat the entire area with the solvent. Be sure to get the solvent in between all of the stones. Once everything is coated thoroughly, you will need to wait about 15 minutes.
Cover in Plastic
When you are trying to do a project like this, it is normal to want to hurry up and get it over with. However, the epoxy solvent needs 12 hours to do its job. After you have let it sit for 15 minutes, cover the entire area in black plastic. You will find that at the hardware store as well. Use something heavy, such as bricks, to weigh down the edges and keep them from coming uncovered.
Shovel it Up
Once you have let the solvent work for 12 hours, remove the plastic from the area. You should now be able to use a shovel and scrape up all the pebbles and grout. It may take a while to get it all out, but the solvent should have made it easy to break apart and pull up. There may still be some stuck to the floor, but you should be able to use a scraper to get them up.
Once you get up as much of the aggregate as possible, you may feel like there is still a lot you cannot remove. You should be able to do another round with the epoxy solvent and get it all.
Pebble Shower Floor Alternatives
While pebble shower floors are attractive, the maintenance and chance of mold can make many people hesitant to try them. However, if you want the visual and tactile advantages of a pebble floor without the work and disadvantages, there are a few alternatives.
Porcelain Pebble Floor
Many people do not want to try a pebble shower floor because it has to be sealed every 6 months to a year. If you use porcelain stones instead of real ones, you can extend the resealing to once every three or four years. That can be much more doable by many. However, the porcelain stone floor may be more expensive, especially since you cannot gather them at the river.
Penny tiles are round and are usually made of glass or ceramic. They do not look exactly like stone, but they are attractive and will provide the same tactile feeling on your feet. They lay the same way as stone but do not have to be sealed as often.
Many people that have had pebble floors in the past like to update them with mosaic tiles. They look similar to river stones, but they can be laid in patterns that add some flare to your shower floor. Like the others, they only have to be resealed every few years.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions that are often asked about removing a pebble shower floor.
How long will a pebble shower floor last?
Most pebble shower floors last about 15 years if they are properly maintained. Resealing them every 6 months to a year is key to making them last. However, they can last longer depending on how well they were installed.
Is a pebble shower floor slip-resistant?
Pebble shower floors are considered among the safest there are. A large amount of grout is used to create them, making them very slip-resistant even when wet.
Can I repair my pebble floor instead?
You can repair a pebble shower floor if the grout has started to deteriorate. However, you will spend a long time patching the problem areas. If you love the look and feel of your pebble floor and are not interested in one of the alternatives, you might as well replace it. You can rip up the floor, clean the stones, and lay them all again the way they were before.
A pebble shower floor is visually striking and feels great on your feet. However, the amount of time and money that has to go into resealing it at least once a year can be a lot for many people. Removing a pebble floor is a time-consuming and tedious process, but can be done by anyone with even the smallest amount of home repair knowledge. After tearing it out, many alternatives can be just as appealing as your pebble shower floor.