TOM: Alright, now we’ve got Terri in Mississippi who’s got a 1920s house and is looking to modernize the bath with river rock. How can we help with the project?
River Rock Bathroom Tile | Modernize Your Bathroom with River Rock Tiles
TERRI: Well, I wanted to know if it was feasible, what do you use to hold it down and do you grout it. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Hmm. I’ve used river rock on an exterior application. I did it in sort of a covered walkway up to a house in Florida. It’s beautiful. Is your bath sort of like an open shower? Does it have a spa-like feeling or are we talking about a half-bath off a kitchen?
TERRI: No, it’s a full bath but it’s a very, very old house and we’re having the problem of not being able to use ceramic tile or travertine or anything because it’s so unlevel and we’ve tried to level it and the house is still sinking, evidently.
TOM: Oh, so it’s still moving.
TERRI: Yes, it’s still moving after all of these years.
TOM: Most old houses have uneven floors and the solution to that is the same solution they’ve been using for probably close to 100 years and that’s the mud floor where you pour a thin layer of concrete about an inch thick. It’s actually called …
LESLIE: To even out the space.
TOM: That’s right and it’s a mud floor or a mortar floor and that’s reinforced with woven wire mesh which helps it absorb a little bit of the movement in the house. And that makes it perfectly flat. That’s why sometimes bathrooms have a little bit of a higher saddle when you walk up to them.
LESLIE: That’s why my kitchen is two inches higher than the rest of the house. (chuckles)
TERRI: (overlapping voices) Right.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, in an older house. So that’s an opportunity for you if you want to do that. Of course river rock is an option as well and it’s kind of cool but, you know, it has certain areas where it fits well and other areas where it doesn’t.
LESLIE: Now Tom, when you’re doing a mud floor as your base for tile …
LESLIE: … do you use that as your mastic or do you let that set and then put a tile adhesive on top of that?
TOM: No, you let that set and dry, completely dry, and then you use a thinset adhesive on top of that and that adheres it to the mud floor. But I’m telling you, it’s a lifetime floor when you do it right. I mean it’s gorgeous.
LESLIE: And Terri, the river rock, I mean it’s beautiful. You can purchase it from a variety of vendors. I’ve seen it at home centers. I’ve seen it online. I think when I got it I bought it online; because this was a few years back before it was kind of, you know, a mainstay and a trend.
TERRI: Well, I’m going to do it. Everyone thought I was crazy …
LESLIE: It’s gorgeous.
TERRI: … but I moved to this small town a few years ago and – because I liked the land – and I found this old house and I’ve been working on it for years but I think that would be beautiful.
TOM: Well, go with your gut, Terri. You will definitely be the talk of the town.
TERRI: (laughs) I already am. (all chuckle)
TOM: I believe it. Terri, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.