River stones have been a popular floor covering for bathrooms and dressing rooms for multiple years now. These smooth, rounded stones are frequently installed on sheets and first mortared, then grouted onto the floor. The result is a lot like any mosaic flooring, with the added advantage of the natural appearance of the stones and the way they feel underfoot.
In more recent years, loose river stones have begun to be used in and around the home in much the same way. These are the same stones found on the beaches of Indonesia. The difference is that instead of being mounted onto sheets and mortared into place, they are left loose.
Initially, these types of stones were primarily used in landscaping. More and more homeowners, however, have begun to use them on the floors of their homes. This can provide a more natural looking floor with the same beauty of the stones and the feel under the feet, along with a natural shifting that can be pleasing to the touch and to the eye.
Unfortunately, they do have some drawbacks as well, which many homeowners may not always consider.
The fact that the stones shift almost constantly when stepped on means that they’ll need frequent raking to ensure that they contain to cover the floor evenly. And without grout between the stones to help keep moisture out, water can collect beneath them, encouraging mold and the rotting of the subfloor. Therefore, a drainage system should be installed along with the rocks to help prevent this.
Like all natural stones, river rocks should be sealed to help prevent staining. Because the rocks can be shifted and turned over, this makes it more difficult to keep them well sealed and means that the rocks may be subject to stains and other issues over time.
Loose river stones can make an excellent addition to pool decks, gardens, and patios. Take care to consider the care and maintenance required before bringing them indoors.