How to Make River Rock Tile

Sarabeth Asaff

River rock tile is frequently installed on floors and walls as part of Zen style bathroom designs. The rocks are thought to provide a therapeutic massage to the feet as you step on them, while they enhance the room's decor.

Smooth river rocks can be installed as tiles set in cement.

While river rock tiles are sold on large, netted sheets for installation, you may wish to create your own. Doing so allows you to create designs in the rocks by grouping various colors of tile, and to control the tile size.

  1. Sort through the river rocks. Eliminate any with sharp corners or edges, or any stones that cannot lay flat.

  2. Use a tile saw to even out the backs of any stones that are significantly taller than the others. Hold the stone on its side, with your hand away from the tile saw, and push the back of the stone into the saw. This will bring taller stones down in height to match the others more closely.

  3. Mix dry cement with water until it resembles the consistency of runny peanut butter. Trowel a section of the floor with the runny cement, making it deep enough to embed the river stones. The stones should round out of the cement just slightly when done; if the stones are sticking up substantially, add more cement to the mixture.

  4. Push the stones into the cement, turning them so they fit together with a 1/4- to 1/2-inch gap between them. Sort for a pleasing color layout and design.

  5. Allow the cement to cure for several days, then apply a stone sealer to both the stones and the cement, using a paintbrush. Thoroughly coat the entire area and wipe away any excess after 10 minutes.