With floor and wall tiles available in a vast range of attractive shapes, sizes, textures and colours - and the fact that they're durable, easy to maintain, and very affordable -- it's no wonder they appear in many bathrooms.
From a tiler's point of view, a truly successful bathroom floor must be good-looking, hygienic, and maintenance-free. But it's not enough to simply rely on the ceramic tiles themselves to achieve these results single-handedly. Only a complete system of components is capable of that.
The basic building blocks of such a viable system include waterproofing, joints that resist mould and bacteria growth, and transition profiles.
So what is the first "building block" to ensure that tiled bathrooms will stay looking good?
With so much water and moisture always present in bathrooms there is a very real danger of it seeping through into the fabric of the building. If effective waterproofing is not fitted, the tile assembly is very likely to fail, water could leak through into the room below, and over time there'll be damage to the structure of the building.
The most effective type of waterproofing is a polyethylene membrane such as Schlüter-DITRA which also acts as an uncoupling device, separating the tiles from the substrate, allowing them to move independently, preventing the transfer of shear stresses to the surface.
Correctly installing a profile which is actually a specially engineered movement joint will seal against water penetration and protect against movement. Schlüter-DILEX-AS, pictured above, has a trapezoid perforated anchoring leg which holds the profile solidly behind the wall tiles, and a flexible joining leg is adhered with self-adhesive tape to the shower tray or bath, readily allowing for the necessary movement.
If the connection is only grouted, the movement of the bath/shower tray could crack the grout over time. Silicone is a cheaper option than profiles, but may degrade. Even though anti-bacteria and anti-fungal additives are available for silicone, there will be problems of fungal attack over time, and the joint starts to look grubby. A specially engineered profile is always going to be the best building block to seal the joint and protect against movement.