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Subway Tile

Simple yet chic, subway tile is a design staple for a reason. From solid black or white ceramic to natural stone, marble or glass, 设计的可能性是无限的. Kitchen and bathroom backsplashes are a few of our favorite places and ways to feature subway tiles throughout the home. Consider selecting subway tiles in an unexpected color to create more visual interest.

Dog washing station with white subway tile and grey concrete-look floor tile.

Simple yet chic, subway tile is a design staple for a reason. From solid black or white ceramic to natural stone, marble or glass, 设计的可能性是无限的. Kitchen and bathroom backsplashes are a few of our favorite places and ways to feature subway tiles throughout the home. Consider selecting subway tiles in an unexpected color to create more visual interest.

Dog washing station with white subway tile and grey concrete-look floor tile.

The Timeless Look of Subway Tiles


Known for its frequent use throughout the New York City subway system, the term “subway tile” is traditionally used to describe rectangular tiles that are twice as wide as they are tall (such as the standard 3x6-inch size). As this type of tile gained in popularity, use of the term expanded to include additional sizes and height-to-width ratios.  


Subway tile may have come to prominence during the early 1900s, as NYC’s subway system was being constructed, but it remains one of the world’s most popular tile choices more than 100 years later. 


One of the best features of subway tiles is how the classic shape is constantly being used in new, innovative ways. Your space will benefit from any version of this beloved rectangular tile.   

Here are just a few of the ways to make the most of this versatile category: 


Compare Materials

Over the years, as the popularity of subway tile has expanded, so has the range of materials to choose from. Today, the category also includes a wide selection of porcelain, marble, limestone and glass tiles.

This three-piece bathroom includes a white vanity, white toilet and white tub. The three interior shower walls feature cool grey marble subway tile that extends from the tub all the way up to the ceiling.

Featured Tile Meram Blanc Carrara

A transitional living room features dark wood floors and walls painted in a deep blue-green. This contrasts with the lighter brick-look subway tile used on the fireplace surround and hearth extension.

Featured Tile Firehouse Thin-Brick

Sink with hand soap and small plant. White wall sconces and mirror on a green tile wall

Featured Tile Glass Khaki Green 

Explore Multiple Sizes

If you asked someone to picture subway tiles, their first thoughts would probably be of a classic 3x6-inch rectangle. But that same shape is available in sizes as small as 1x2 inches, and as large as 4x12 inches. We also offer new, exaggerated sizes (like 2x20 inches) so you can play with proportion and scale

This space is a unique tiled dog washing station done in classic black and white tones but with unique shapes of black tile. Travertine chevron pattern floor adds clean lines and sharp angles this complements the shower pan and recessed niche of a different pattern but same tone coupled with a lighter charcoal/grey element to the design. Marble caps are used on partition walls and classic white subway tile in with black grout complete the look.

Featured Tile Imperial Bianco Gloss

Neutral beige kitchen backsplash featuring sculptural 3x10-inch matte porcelain subway tile with raised angles and facets. The geometric surface lines create elegant texture and dimension that adds personality and movement to this otherwise minimalist space.

Featured Tile Madam Matte Portland

A bathroom wall is covered from floor to ceiling in antique white brushed marble subway tile with gray speckling and tan veining. The tile is arranged in a horizontal off-set pattern from the floor to about halfway up the wall, where a matching trim piece of carved marble extends for the width of the wall, emulating the look of a wooden chair rail. Above this line, the tile is arranged in a vertical off-set pattern, creating contrasting perpendicular lines where the upper and lower halves of the wall meet.

Create New Looks with Layouts


One of the most impressive things about subway tiles is how, by simply changing the way they are oriented, you can make a memorable style impression that makes a go-to shape feel new again.  

The most common application for subway tiles is the classic brick-style arrangement. One easy way to experiment with new layout options is to instead align the edges of tiles in each row to create vertically “stacked” columns of tiles. Or you can rotate the traditional staggered layout 90 degrees for a waterfall effect. The Tile Shop even developed extra-long subway tiles in direct response to customer demand for creating dramatic herringbone layouts.  


Floor featuring 3x12-inch porcelain subway tile arranged in a herringbone pattern. Arranging the light gray, brick-look tiles in this pattern creates a sense of movement that extends across the entire floor.

Featured Tile Jerica Ceniza

Here's how to do color blocking when you really love neutrals. In this space, a wall is covered in alternating rows of white and cream ceramic subway tile that are arranged in a vertical straight-stack pattern to create the effect of alternating bands of color in varying thicknesses.

Featured Tile Splendours White & Cream

Mix and Match

Because subway tiles are such popular shape, you have more colors, textures and finishes to choose from than with any other type of tile, and there’s no need to limit yourself to just one. 


You could create a gradient effect with rows of tile in complementary colors or go bold with color blocking choose a different tile for every wall. Or keep everything in the same color family, but start mixing metallic, matte and glossy finishes to turn any project into a testament to the power of texture and shine. Whatever you want to try, you can be confident that when it comes to the color of your subway tiles, if you can imagine it, you can pretty much do it. 

A backsplash combines three varieties of 3x6-inch, glossy mint green Imperial ceramic subway tile (flat, beveled and framed) in a vertical straight-stack pattern.

Featured Tile Assorted Imperial Mint

Featured Tile Assorted Brick x Brick by Alison Victoria

Featured Tile Hackney Jade & Anthracite

Consider Your Space


Because of all the possible applications and materials to choose from, it may help to narrow things down by considering the space you are working on. For instance, do you want to use subway tiles in your kitchen? A white subway tile backsplash provides a clean backdrop that complements everyday activities and brightens surroundings.  

And if you plan to use subway tiles in a bathroom, that’s even more surface area to cover; subway tile can be used everywhere from the shower walls and floor to the room’s walls and floor, as well as wall niches, the sink surround, and more. You’ll want to consider how the planes of all of those various surfaces combine within your space. 


Our Experts Can Help

We know there’s a lot to consider when selecting subway tile. When you visit one of our showrooms, our friendly sales associates can help you consider all the design possibilities with subway tile and create the space you’ve been dreaming of. 

Ask The Experts

  • Subway tile is a small or medium-sized, rectangular-shaped tile known for its versatility, popularity and ease of coordinating with any space or style.

  • Subway tile received its name from the New York City subway system, where these rectangular tiles were developed and used to coat walls. The thin grout lines and flat surface made these tiles ideal for easy cleaning and simple maintenance inside well-traveled, high-traffic space.

  • Subway tiles are not one-size-fits-all. Some materials are more durable than others. We suggest thoroughly reading recommended installations and placements in the product description for each tile.

  • The choice is yours! Coordinating grout colors create a nice, neutral pairing, but this will not highlight subway tiles, whether herringbone or a brick-lay pattern. Whereas contrasting grout colors are eye-catching and highlight your subway tiles and patterns of choice.

  • Subway tiles feature a simple 1:2 height-to-length ratio. Previously, a standard subway tile measured 3" x 6". However, subway tiles can now be considered any smaller-format rectangular-shaped tile.

  • Subway tile is installed like any other tile. There are different installation methods depending on which pattern or layout you choose. For more detailed installation information, check out our resources to learn how to install tile. For more pattern information, check out our tile patterns inspiration.

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