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How to Do Your Own Low-Cost Natural Stone Floor

Updated on August 17, 2010
Various styles of Natural Stone (pebbled) flooring
Various styles of Natural Stone (pebbled) flooring

Lay Your Own Natural Stone Flooring - For Almost Nothing!!

Finding the perfect flooring to enhance the natural features of a rustic home, or outdoor space, is not always an easy task and by no means is it cheap. Forget buying expensive floor tiles, laminate, carpet or wood. Try using natural river or beach stones for your floor.

Laying a natural stone floor is easier than you may think, and the results are truly impressive. But most important of all, you have created yourself a low-cost, practical, natural floor.


What do I need to lay my own Natural Stone Floor?

  • River Pebbles
  • Sand
  • Cement
  • Grout (professional and waterproof grade)
  • PVA/latex liquid

What tools do I need to do my own Natural Stone Floor?

  • Rubber grout float
  • Sponge
  • Stone liquid sealer
  • A level
  • 3 x 3' straight-edges
  • Bolts, screws, wall plugs
  • Cement mixer or equipment to hand mix the mortar mix

Method

(1) Collect your river stones or beach pebbles.

It's best to collect more than you need in case some are unsuitable when you come to use them. You can always use the surplus for other projects in the future.

How many stones do I need?

Measure out a square meter with a tape on the beach where you are collecting the stones and arrange some collected stones within this square. I like the stones to be touching but the spacing and resulting grout width is up to you. Bear in mind that the finished grout lines will vary in thickness due to the random shape of the stones. The number of stones in this square meter will give you a rough idea of how many stones you are going to need. Multiply this amount by the number of square meters of your floor and then add some extras just to be on the safe side.

Which are the best stones to pick?

When choosing stones it´s best to look for ones with a flat face. This may not be possible depending on the type of stone and where you´re collecting it from, but it makes the job easier and the result more pleasing to the eye.

(2) The Base

Make sure that you have a good, sound base upon which to lay the stone floor.  Ideally, you will be laying the pebble floor on top of a flat concrete base that has had sufficient time to cure to take the additional weight of the stone floor finish.

Prep the base. I usually use a watered down PVA/latex solution to prime or prepare the concrete so that the new floor will bond to it better. Check the manufacturer´s label for the solution concentration as this varies depending on the product. Paint it on with a brush or roller.

(3) Set up level datums

There are different ways of doing this. An easy, adjustable way is to drill holes into the concrete floor, put in a plastic wall plug and fix a screw in to the level that you want the finished floor to be, minus the thickness of the straight-edge. Drill a square matrix of holes 2' 10'' apart from each other over the area of your floor. Repeat the plug and screw fixing procedure, making sure the top of the screws are all level with each other. Be fussy as it makes the next steps easier.

Alternatively, you could lay a border of rustic tyles/bricks to finished floor level to act as your datum, then fill in the remaining space in-between with the river stones. It´s your floor so it´s up to you how you proceed!

(4) Wash the river stones to remove dirt and dust.

(5) Lay the mortar bed and set the level datums

Mix the sand and cement in a 4:1 ratio with water to the consistency of a stiffish porridge, but not too wet. You want the stones to move a little in the mortar but not excessively as they will sink in too much. You will see what consistency works best for you when you have tried steps (6) – (9).

(6) Bucket mortar onto the concrete slab to cover one of your 2' 10" 'squares', with a screw in each corner. Be careful not to cover the screw heads. You may need to add or take away mortar depending on the thickness of the stones.

(7) Place one straight-edge on top of two screws/bolts and then the other straight-edge on top of the two other screws/bolts so that the straight-edges are parallel to each other. The top of the straight-edges will be your finished floor level.

(8) Laying the stones

Place stones in the mortar, flat-face up, so that they are slightly above the finished floor level. Continue placing stones until the square is full. As I mentioned above, the spacing is up to you. I place the stones so that they are touching and this still gives a fairly wide grout line in places. Due to the random shape of the stones the grout line will vary, unless you manage to collect very uniform stones.

(9) Hold the level or third straight edge with a hand at each end. With a tapping motion, use the straight-edge to bring the stones to the level of the two parallel straight-edges. The bottom of the straight-edge in your hands should be touching the surface of the two parallel straight-edges and the surfaces of all the stones.

(10) Clean off the stones

Use a soft brush and water to carefully clean any of the stones that get dirty or they will be stained. Make sure that the level of the mortar is low enough so that you can add the grout to the correct thickness. Check the grout manufacturer's guidelines for the required thickness. Remove any excess mortar carefully so you do not disturb the stones or the level.

(11) Repeat steps (6) – (10) for the rest of the floor. Leave floor to rest for a few days.

(12) Seal the stones according to manufacturer’s guideline, after checking that they are clean and dust free. This is to prevent them staining when applying the grout.

(13) Grouting

Mix the grout according to manufacturer’s guidelines. Use a rubber grout trowel to apply grout into the joints between the stones. Clean off the residual grout with a sponge and leave it to cure for a couple of days.

If you prefer to save money at this stage, rather than using the waterproof pre-mixed grout, it is possible to use a standard 4:1 sand and cement mix for outdoor or general flooring.

(14) Clean off any residual dust. Re-seal the entire floor with liquid stone seal. Your beautiful natural stone floor is complete. Sit back and enjoy.

When you have mastered this technique you can try being more creative using patterns and combinations of other floor materials to create a more varied floor finish.

The Finished Effect
The Finished Effect

Comments

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    • profile image

      BMG Stone 

      3 years ago

      The pebble stone on fiber mesh, easily to install it

    • profile image

      Anne Ehringhaus 

      3 years ago

      Does the pebble floor also work with a plywood base instead of a concrete floor? I would like to lay a pebble floor in our entryway. If it does work with plywood, is there anything that I would have to do differently?

      Thanks in advance.

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Excellent ideas! I did something like this for my bathroom sink! It turned out super-cool! ;D Voted up & awesome!

    • incomeguru profile image

      Oyewole Folarin 

      7 years ago from Lagos

      This a great innovation. Shared and voted up|

    • Twins Mum profile imageAUTHOR

      Twins Mum 

      7 years ago

      Natural stone does have an amazing finish and better still it's as cheap as you are willing to make it.

    • profile image

      Takuchi stone 

      8 years ago

      Natural Stone has always been an important part of buildings and structures. Their natural charm and magnificence is always capture eye balls and still they are a brilliant way of decorating our house. Their demand in market has never seen bad days. Demand of Natural tile has increased further more because of the introduction of several competent tile manufacturing companies. With the participation of so many companies in the competition has made it easier to find variety in tiles.

    • Twins Mum profile imageAUTHOR

      Twins Mum 

      8 years ago

      Ronald Hart - thanks for agreeing! Yes, it looks great in showers as the markings in the stones become emphasized with the water. A cheap and effective finish. My partner would agree that having the right tools from the beginning and being careful in levelling makes all the difference. Thanks for passing by.

    • profile image

      Ronald Hart 

      8 years ago

      Putting in stone flooring and tile is very simple. It is important to make sure that you have right tools for job. This will help when doing it yourself. I love putting stone flooring both in indoor and outdoor showers. Very informative hub!

    • Twins Mum profile imageAUTHOR

      Twins Mum 

      8 years ago

      Sweetsusieg - Thanks for your comments. We have used this technique and it really does look amazing when complete. It's perfect for bathrooms, so good luck!

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 

      8 years ago from Michigan

      This sounds awesome!! I need to re-do my bathroom floor and have been looking for something different, I may give this a whirl! Nice Hub and good directions! Thanks!

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