Subway Tiles – A Versatile Choice for Any Interior Design Style

VWB Blog 10 months ago 29

Subway tiles—affordable, durable and easy to clean–made their debut in NYC subway stations and have become a popular choice for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and mudrooms. These classic 3 x 6″ ceramic tiles work well with nearly any interior design style, including traditional, modern or contemporary.

Straight-stacked subway tile is a clean, simple look that a dark grout can accentuate.


Subway tiles have always been a classic design element. Whether you’re looking for an accent wall in your powder room or an entire backsplash in your kitchen, this timeless design is an excellent choice that will stand the test of time. Today, homeowners have more options than ever regarding color, finish and laying style. While traditional white subway tiles are popular, homeowners can also explore a rainbow of ceramic and glass hues and natural stones such as marble, limestone, travertine and slate.

The rectangular shape of subway tile allows you to create various layouts for an eye-catching effect. You can stack them horizontally for a traditional look or vertically for a unique aesthetic. You can even offset the rows so they don’t line up, which evokes the look of brickwork and adds visual interest.

Another way to change up your subway tile is by arranging them in a herringbone pattern. This layout is reminiscent of conventional brickwork and can make a bathroom or kitchen feel more spacious. Consider a basket weave or cobblestone pattern if you prefer a more subtle arrangement. Both styles involve alternating rows of straight and curved tiles to create an interlocking pattern.


The enduring style of subway tiles can be used in modern spaces to create a unique, wholly your-own look. Manufacturers continually bring new life and innovation to this traditional tile, offering sleek and sophisticated options.

The classic horizontal arrangement of subway tiles can still be found in many homes and is a timeless choice for kitchens and bathrooms. However, you can also experiment with different layout patterns to give your walls a fresh and contemporary feel.

A great option is the double basket-weave layout, which resembles the weave of a woven basket. This pattern is more subtle than herringbone and can be easily combined with other tile styles. It’s an ideal choice for a more modern look that adds a hint of complexity to a simple design.

Another modern way to lay subway tiles is to stack them vertically. This can be a good alternative to herringbone and works well in small spaces where pattern repetition may become too busy. It’s also a good choice for low ceilings, making the room taller and more spacious.


Subway tiles are more than a century old, and, despite the many design trends that have come and gone over the years, this simple tile continues to be a staple for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and mudrooms. This is thanks to the versatility of their layout patterns and the fact that they can be paired with various grout colors.

While many people only know of the traditional white 3″ x 6″ subway tiles arranged in an offset running bond pattern, they are arranged in several ways. These different laying styles offer a chance to create a unique look that can add a touch of flair or a bold statement to any space.

One of the most popular laying patterns for subway tiles is herringbone. This beautiful pattern can be a great way to add visual interest to your space. However, it’s important to remember that this arrangement will only work if the tiles are properly cut so they have equal length and width. If not, the herringbone pattern can lean as the lines drift due to unequal sizing.

Another way to create a herringbone-inspired look is the step ladder arrangement. This variation of herringbone works well in spaces with a lower ceiling since it can make the room feel taller. This arrangement involves creating ‘L’ shapes with the tiles and lining up their end joints to create a woven grid pattern.


Subway tiles, first used to tile the walls of NYC subway stations in the early 1900s, have since moved from the underground to homes and bathrooms. The same properties that made them a practical choice for public spaces, such as their glazed surface that resists stains and reflects light, make them a popular option for modern kitchens and baths.

While white subway tile is still a top choice for homeowners, this versatile tile can be paired with almost any color to create a space that truly belongs to you. You can even choose from a wide range of textures and finishes, from honed to polished and even crackle. Glazed ceramic is still the most common option, but subway tiles are also available in porcelain, glass and various natural stone, including marble, travertine and slate.

Traditionally, subway tiles are laid in a “brick lay” pattern to achieve a classic, timeless look. However, you can also use vertically stacked subway tiles, or a herringbone layout, to add a more contemporary touch to your kitchen or bathroom.

If you’re looking for a more rustic take on the traditional subway tile, consider choosing one of our clay-based products, including deep-glazed cracks, to provide a rugged aesthetic. This style would pair well with natural elements, such as wooden countertops.

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