River Rock Craft Ideas

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Smooth, graceful river rocks are incredibly versatile, with soft colors ranging from deep grays and browns to pale cream tones, and a wide variety of sizes and shapes. Invite them into your home and garden with these fun craft ideas.

River Rock Crafts Around the House

The colors and textures of river rocks blend well with almost any décor, and look attractive covering a wide variety of household items. For many projects, all you'll need to buy is hot glue, grout and of course river rocks. If you don’t want the hassle of working with individual stones on larger crafts or projects, pick up river rock “tiles” from your local home improvement store. These tiles feature river rocks glued together in traditional tile sized patches.

This easy method works for a number of larger river rock crafts:

  1. Sand down the surface you want to cover, if possible.
  2. Hot glue your river rocks to the surface in an attractive pattern, with the rocks close together.
  3. Fill in the small spaces between the rocks with grout.
  4. Clean away any grout that gets on the tops of the stones.
  5. Wait 24 hours for your project to dry and then clean the stones again.
  6. For an extra measure of protection, you may want to give your project a coat of clear sealant.

Here are just some of the projects you can try with the above method, or simply a hot glue gun:

  • Rock covered box: Transform your jewelry box or any wooden box into an almost magical looking container.
  • Vase: Display your flowers in a vase that looks like a natural rock formation.
  • Headboard: Make a dramatic design statement with a unique, rock covered headboard.
  • Bowl: Use your rustic, rock-covered bowl to hold fresh fruit, pinecones or wrapped candies.
  • Framed mirror or picture frame: Bring light to your room or display favorite photos in these eye-catching frames.
  • Coasters: Your guests might actually want to use these interesting and attractive coasters instead of leaving drink rings on your coffee table. Cut four inch wide circles out of craft foam and attach the rocks for a quick, cheap solution to pricey boutique coasters. Create an 8 inch or wider circle out of craft foam then cover with stones for a matching pot holder that will look as great on the table as it does on the kitchen counter.

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You may also want to try some of these other home craft ideas:

  • Placemat: Simply glue rocks, one row at a time to an existing placemat, rectangle of craft foam or corkboard.
  • Pet rock: Paint features on a large river rock and glue on eyes and hair, if desired.
  • Necklace: Wire wrap a pretty river rock and suspend it from a leather or plastic cord.

River Rocks in the Bathroom

Create a spa-like environment with river rock walls, floors, showers and countertops:

How To Install River Rock Walls

Cover part of a bathroom wall, or an entire wall with this easy method. You can also use this method for other household rock wall projects including a kitchen backsplash or a fireplace mantle.

  1. With a sanding buffer and medium-grain sanding ring, sand the wall you'd like to cover.
  2. Carefully vacuum the wall to get rid of any dust or debris.
  3. Apply an even, 3-inch thick layer of grout over the entire wall, using a trowel.
  4. Push river rocks about halfway into the grout in your desired pattern. Spread any dislodged grout around to fill in around the rocks evenly.
  5. Clean the rocks with a cloth or towel, and let the wall dry for 24 hours.
  6. Apply a coat of clear sealant to protect your rock wall from moisture, and let it dry for an additional 12 hours.

How To Install River Rock Floors

  1. Sand and vacuum the area as you would for a wall project.
  2. Apply grout in an even, 1-inch thick layer.
  3. Select flat, smooth rocks of about the same depth (you'll have to step on them!) and press them about halfway into the grout, with only about 1/8 inch between them.
  4. Add another ½ inch layer of grout and then clean off the tops of the rocks using a washcloth. Smooth the grout in between the rocks with your fingers.
  5. Allow about 24 hours for your floor to dry.
  6. Coat the floor with clear floor sealant and allow an additional 12 hours drying time.

How To Install River Rock Showers and Tub Surrounds

  1. Mix thinset (a tile mortar) and apply with a trowel to shower walls in two-foot by two-foot sections.
  2. Rather than use individual rocks, work with pre-made river rock mesh backed tile sheets. Press these firmly into the thinset and make sure to line tiles up so that the mesh locks together. If need be, you can trim sheets with scissors to fit them around fixtures. Work one small two by two section at a time, and then apply thinset to the next area of your shower.
  3. Allow 24 for thinset to dry; then apply a stone sealant and grout between the stones. Work from the top of the shower down, and then across the floor at a 45-degree angle.
  4. After 20 minutes, wipe excess grout from stones.

Outdoor River Rock Craft Ideas

River rocks are equally at home outdoors. These easy projects enhance the look of any yard:

  • Mosaic stepping-stones: Use stepping stone molds and press river rocks partway into the plaster of Paris. If you'd like, add some colorful faux jewels and/or beach glass.
  • Patio tabletop: Use the hot glue and grout method described for indoor projects to create a mosaic stone tabletop.
  • Lawn border: Dig a shallow trench between your lawn and sidewalk, and fill with pretty river rocks.
  • Fire pit: Cover your existing fire pit with large river rocks.

River rock crafts lend a unique, relaxing style to any part of your home. Luckily they're plentiful and easy to find because once you get started, you'll probably want to do lots more projects with these soothing stones.

Last Updated: June 3, 2012
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About Roberta Pescow Roberta Pescow holds a bachelor's degree in communications from City University of New York, Queens College and is a freelance writer and editor in the NJ area. The author of "A Life In The Service" and "A Monster's Tears," she enjoys writing informative articles, personal essays, fiction and music.  Roberta is a proud mother of two. Her other interests include fitness, photography, sculpture and meditation. She is a voracious reader and holds a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Roberta enjoys decorating her hectic, but happy home and garden in original and affordable ways.  

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