River Rock Countertop

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by shannix, Mar 26, 2007.

  1. shannix

    shannix New Member

    Hi all...

    I'm going to try and do a river rock counter in my kitchen, but am unsure of what to use to make the counter a flat surface and give that underwater look to the rocks that is non toxic, and easy to use.

    I'm also doing a bathroom floor in sea glass and stones...although I don't know if it really "needs" to be that smooth, it would be nice.

    Any advise would help.

  2. epoxy, or sealant, or

    hi shannix

    i think i know what effect you are looking for. It has relief and texture.

    Sealants are of two types. One makes things look wet. The wet look. The other just seals without adding that shininess. Sealants are what they use on grout, in non-critical areas. (For true waterproofing you need a true waterproof membrane under the tiles, like when building a shower.) Sealant can go on everything, not just on grout lines. All of your "materials" are slightly porous, so sealing them is a good thing.

    Getting round or oval rocks to become flat isn't possible even for Salvador Dali. Many alternatives have been thought of. There is a tile product that can be bought that has rocks embedded in epoxy; it's expensive compared to the price of rocks, but well worth it. Locks the rocks in a clear epoxy layer that justs let you see the rocks but never touch them; the epoxy is so thick that it covers them totally and makes the finish layer.

    If you cut the rocks in two along the long axis you'll have a flat surface but lose some of the effect you are hoping to create. You could cut off (or grind off) just the top so that 60% to 90% of the top is flat and the rest is curved. Then, placing them just right so their flatness lines up level from one to the other is the big challenge on tile-setting day. More info later on this tactic if need be.

    Epoxy grout is what i would use, to highlight the shapes and to make the grout lines more hygienic. In some spots water may collect and only disappear after evaporating. Epoxy grout has better color too, compared to Portland cement grouts.

    Last edited: Mar 26, 2007
  3. shannix

    shannix New Member


    Yup sounds like you got the idea all right.

    Of course I've been thinking about it, and wondering at the practicality of leaving the rocks exposed, as it lessons the functionality of the counter space, while looking very cool.

    So having them molded into an apoxy/resin creating a flat surface would then seem like the better way to go, and still enjoying the beauty of the stones.

    Now the question for me is: is there a product that is heat resistant, scratch resistant and non toxic for food prep that would work?

    I'm thinking there has to be...but having never done this before...am at a loss.

    Thanks so much for the information.
  4. there is an expensive slab product already made; I can't remember the name off-hand. Someone will post it. It's 1/2" thick. There are several different colors and pebble types. Obviously it'll cost more than pebbles found at the beach; remember that cost is not a big concern for a small surface, when so many other things are important considerations.

    I don't recommend any "molding" of one's own stones. In some commercial spaces you can see a beautiful transparent epoxy layer on a concrete slab floor -- often seen on old concrete exposed during remodeling. This is a high-skill process, and expensive too, and it works on large areas. It has not trickled down to the DIY market for small surface areas.

    You could use your own pebbles for the backsplash, and maybe for the part of the counter that is not the kitchen's "production" area. Cutting pebbles is not necessary if you just want to flatten out the curve of the flattest side. If you do grind or smooth them down, there are many belt sanding tools that will do a good job -- a friend with patience could flatten some of them a lot by sanding down the already flattest side and smoothing the edges with more sanding. Not a big challenge.

    Last edited: Mar 26, 2007
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    New England
    I've no personal experience with pour in place epoxy like you'd need to make a counter. Commercial products can be quite durable. I'd be worried about several things: mixing things well enough, bubbles (more of a problem than you'd think), yellowing, and durability. For durability, consider scratching and heat resistance.
  6. janemc6

    janemc6 New Member

    We live near a river and would like to use small rocks 1-3" width by maximum of 1" thick from our land. I wanted to do a rustic (we live in a cabin) bathroom countertop and was thinking of using a standard gray mortar or type of concrete mix to make the countertop. We'd start with the a plywood platform, add the gray (forgot the name) board for tiling, then pour the concrete in, push the stones into the mix, then float the top to make it a fairly smooth surface.

    Doable? or would we need to go with the epoxy approach or different approach?

  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    New England
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