What is your first thought when you see subway tile? Do you think, “Oh! I love it!” or “Ugh, another home with subway tile!” With either way, there is a great reason these 3”x6” tiles have made their way back into mainstream design. They are extremely affordable, come in a wide range of colors and materials, and can be installed in various patterns.
First things first. Here is a little history on the subway tile that we know and love. Where does the name subway tile come from? Well, you guessed it! It was the preferred tile used for the subway system in the early 1900s. The subway tile also gained popularity for kitchens and bathrooms once it was discovered how easy they were to keep clean. These also gained popularity not only for their aesthetic and hygienic qualities, but also for their abilities to be installed in unlimited ways.
Shown: 3×6 white subway tile – 1/2 offset joint – horizontal pattern with antique white grout
Shown: 3×6 iridescent glass subway tile – herringbone pattern with white grout
Another classic layout with more visual interest. The herringbone layout is one of the most structurally sound installations that can be done with subway tile. On Ellis Island, a subway herringbone pattern was installed on the ceiling of the Great Hall. This pattern has stood the test of time. In the early 1990’s, a renovation was completed and only thirteen of the thousands of tiles needed replacement.
Shown: 4×12 matte subway tile – basket-weave pattern with light gray grout
The Basket-weave is a more updated design for subway tile. This adds a fresh touch and works great in large format areas such as a shower
Shown: 4 x 12 matte subway tile – stack joint – horizontal pattern with white grout
“The Stack” is the most modern of all subway tile installations. To bring more dimension to the clean look, you can add color or texture, like the picture below, with a beveled gloss 4”x12” subway.
The patterns for installing subway tile are endless and these are just a few. Colors, textures, glass, matte, glazed, grout variances, insets, and layouts can add some personality to any room.
Be cool or be classic! Choose any subway tile and pattern and you will never have to worry about someone saying, “That’s so 1990.”