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10 Things you probably didn’t know about subway tiles

10 Things you probably didn’t know about subway tiles

Despite the fact that subway tiles have acquired tremendous popularity in recent years (we found over 200 articles in our archives that mention the term), there is still a lot to learn about it. We’ve known for a long time that subway tiles are a practical and timeless design element that can be utilized in a number of applications. However, it is uncertain as to what exactly constitutes subway tiles. And, maybe more significantly, from whence did it come about? We’ll admit that we weren’t sure what to anticipate when we arrived. As a consequence, we carried out some studies of our own. Here are some fascinating facts about the world that you may not have known before.

1. Its roots may be traced back to the streets of New York City.

It’s safe to say that you’ve already realized that the first subway tiles emerged underground, in the New York City subway system, which was constructed in 1863. Architects Christopher Grand La Farge and George C. Heins were tasked with a difficult task when the subway system first opened its doors in 1904: design a surface that was easy to clean while also feeling familiar, safe, and welcoming to city dwellers who were experiencing underground transit for the first time. The result was a surface that is still easy to clean today. In the end, their solution, which comprised of tiles with slightly curved edges and a glossy finish, made it possible for the subway stations to be sanitary, polished, and bright. Click here to learn more about subway tiles patterns in Sydney.

2. You may be able to get a glimpse of the world’s first subway tile at an abandoned subway station.

If you’re interested in viewing the world’s first subway tiles, you may do so by paying a visit to the City Hall to stop on the New York City subway system, which is no longer in operation (now decommissioned). Tours of the New York Transit Museum are offered, however, some New Yorkers have been known to sneak a look at the displays while riding the 6 train in the back of the car.

3. This was the consequence of an excessive concern with cleanliness.

A preoccupation with cleanliness in Victorian England led to the development of subway tiles in New York City’s subway system. Because of their glossy, glazed surface, they are stain-resistant, easy to clean and have a light-reflective look in addition to being stain-resistant. Because of their reputation for being both practical and sanitary, they quickly rose to become the ideal wall covering in a number of locations, ranging from bathrooms and kitchens to butcher shops and other food preparation areas. Several of these features are shared by modern kitchens, baths, and other areas, which makes them a practical choice for many people.

4. What are the conventional units of measurement? However, there is some disagreement.

In what manner does subway tile differ from other types of tiles? If you’re talking about subway tile in the context of a certain rectangular shape, it may be a bit tricky to pin down exactly what it means. However, although the classic subway tiles have a dimension of three by six inches, the definition is becoming increasingly flexible. Often seen in contemporary construction, subway tiles (tiles that are twice as long as they are wide) are tiles that are twice as long as they are wide. Furthermore, it has been found that they no longer need to be rectangular in nature.

5. It is also available in other materials such as glass and stone.

You are also incorrect if you think that the method in which subway tiles is manufactured determines the kind of tile. It is officially described as a thin, low-fired, glazed ceramic tile with a glazed surface that is made of ceramic clay and glaze. In fact, according to a story in the Washington Post, the very first prototypes of the New York City subway system were made entirely of clear glass. Nowadays, “subway tiles” is available in a broad variety of materials, including glass, stone, and marble, to name a few examples of what is accessible in terms of materials selection.

6. It is feasible to get it for less than a buck each.

The price of subway tiles varies greatly depending on where you buy it. For example, in contrast to the basic, hardware-store variants, which can be purchased for less than $1 per tile (or $8 per square foot), the handmade and artisan versions, such as those produced by Heath Ceramics, may be purchased for up to $60 per square foot. See Resources for a full list of recommended resources (at a variety of price points)

7. The quality of the grout is very essential to the final result.

After all of the work (and money) that has gone into acquiring subway tiles, it is understandable that grout is treated as an afterthought. This should not be the case, however, since the grout you choose will have a significant impact on the look and style of your subway tile installation. Because there are so many variables to consider, from dark to bright and all in between.

8. There are an unlimited amount of pattern combinations to choose from.

Subway tiles, laid out in a typical horizontal “brick” pattern, is most likely what you’re picturing when you think of subway tile. Unbeknownst to many, subway tile may be placed vertically, in a herringbone or geometric L-shaped pattern, as well as in a variety of other ways.

9. It should not be used on carpeting or hardwood floors.

The only place where subway tiles should not be utilized is in a bathroom, as stated before. The ground level is where you’ll find us. Given the thinness of subway tiles, they will not be able to resist the rigors of everyday use and abuse.

10. In terms of design, it’s the equivalent of a well-fitting pair of jeans.

Deborah Osburn, the designer of Clé Tile, told us that the tile has become a “classic,” comparable to the way jeans and a T-shirt have been fashionable in recent years. If you ask me, subway tiling is a classic, practical wardrobe necessity that goes well with almost anything in your closet. In fact, as Osburn points out, even the cheapest tile can be turned into a design statement by dressing it up or down depending on the occasion.”

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A Guide to Subway Tile Design Ideas and Tips

A Guide to Subway Tile Design Ideas and Tips

Subway tiles, which originated in the New York subway system over a century ago, remain timeless and adaptable today. These tiles have been used in residential and commercial buildings for years and have been updated to suit the style sensitivity of the current market.

Subway tiles are available in hundreds of different colors, sizes, textures, and forms today. Without a doubt, selecting among these choices may be intimidating. You no longer need to be concerned. This article will teach you all you need to know about these enduring tiles, allowing you to make an educated purchase with ease. Let us have a look.

A Brief Overview of Subway Tile and Its Advantages

A Guide to Subway Tile Design Ideas and Tips

Subway tiles have been a fixture in New York City’s subway system since 1904, when designers George C. Heins and Christopher Grant La Farge were charged with creating safe, readily cleaned, and user-friendly surfaces. Subway tile pattern acquired a reputation for being clean and practical as a result of a Victorian-era concern with sanitation. And has rapidly gained popularity as a wall covering in a variety of different locations, ranging from kitchens to butcher shops and restrooms.

Subway tiles have a reflecting aspect that illuminates any interior space, which makes them a popular option for homeowners redecorating their homes’ interiors. Additionally, they are simple to clean and stain-resistant, making maintenance a breeze. Apart from being family-friendly, these classic tales are also cost-effective. At home centers, you may get basic choices for $1.5 per square foot. However, thicker, more expensive subway tiles may cost up to $15 per square foot.

The flexibility of subway tiles is unparalleled. These tiles are no longer limited to the urban subway system; they come in a variety of designs, combinations, colors, and sizes.

Suggestions for Choosing the Correct Subway Tile

Consider the following characteristics while selecting subway tiles for your house.


Choose a tile size that corresponds to the dimensions of the area you’re tiling.

The most common subway tiles size is 36″ tiles, which have a pleasing 1:2 ratio. They work well as backsplashes in kitchens but may seem a little crowded in bathrooms. The 412″ tiles are ideal for showers because they have a slimmer and longer 1:3 ratio, which results in fewer grout lines and a more contemporary appearance. Additionally, 416″ and 424″ variants are available.


Smooth vs. textured, glossy vs. matte, or something else entirely, the tile finish has a significant impact on the overall look.

A glossy surface enhances the brightness of your room, while a matte finish creates a more relaxed and informal atmosphere. A metallic finish seems luxurious and beautiful and maybe paired with a textured finish for a more dramatic appearance. By contrast, a crackle finish imparts an antique taste that screams old-world sophistication.


A Guide to Subway Tile Design Ideas and Tips

The basic universal form of subway tiles is flat and without embellishments. They come in a variety of colors and sizes and serve as an excellent background for other design elements. Beveled edges give refinement and elegance to a standard subway tile, as well as intrigue to an otherwise flat wall. Sculptural, uneven-edged, and framed subway tiles are all viable choices.


Subway tiles may be installed in a variety of methods, including horizontal running bond, stack bond, vertical offset bond, vertical running bond, herringbone pattern, crosshatch pattern, and diagonal offset pattern. Before making a decision, acquaint yourself with the impact that each layout has on a room.


Subway tiles come in a variety of hues, including contemporary black, blue-green, vibrant red, purple, yellow, and traditional white. Select your colors with care to get the desired impact, whether it’s to raise the atmosphere, enrich your design, or infuse it with vitality.

Subway Tiles with a Gloss or Matte Finish? Weighing Your Alternatives

The popular glossy finish is reflective and brilliant, with a classic and elegant appearance. While the shine enhances the appearance of your rooms, it may also reveal dirt, dust, fingerprints, and wet stains. Cleaning high-gloss subway tiles, on the other hand, is a snap. Visit to learn about 10 Things you probably didn’t know about subway tiles.

A matte finish may be dressed up for a more sophisticated appearance or downplayed for a more casual appearance. Combine a matte subway tile with a handmade style for an enduring and inviting look. Although matte tiles conceal water stains and dust better than glossy tiles, they may need more washing to remove grease or oil streaks.

Grout is Always Important When It Comes to Subway Tiles

Grout is critical in deciding the final appearance of your subway tiles installation. While smaller grout lines seem to be cleaner, they are less likely to conceal setting irregularities. In comparison, broader grout lines provide a more classic appearance and complement uneven or handmade tiles.

The grout color is also significant. A contrasting grout accentuates the size, shape, and pattern of the tile, resulting in a strong and dramatic appearance. While a color-matched grout disappears into the wall, all attention is focused on the tiles. On the other hand, a neutral grout color provides a modest contrast without attracting undue attention.

Patterns on Subway Tiles

The horizontal arrangement is the most common subway tiles design, and it performs an excellent job of visually expanding and opening up rooms. Because vertical layouts are rare, you can always count on them to make a design statement. A mix of vertical and horizontal patterns results in a more contemporary appearance.

If you’re a minimalist, a stacked set may be a perfect choice. However, a matte finish, textured surface, or warm tones will help keep this layout from seeming too clinical. The herringbone pattern, with its unparalleled elegance and beauty, complements both modern and classic designs and is an effortless way to create a focal point in your space.

Trendy Subway Tile Designs » Glossy Beveled

The beveled glossy subway tiles are a three-dimensional, high-style, and low-maintenance ceramic tile that may be used as a backsplash, shower surround, or wall décor in bathroom and kitchen designs. A mix of white beveled glossy tiles and white cabinetry provides a seamless transition from the countertops to the floor. The beautiful bevel edge captures and reflects light, preventing your kitchen from becoming monochrome. Additionally, you may use these tiles to denote various parts of your bathroom and to brighten the space. Alternatively, transform an empty wall area into an enticing focal point.

To create a more dramatic appearance, mix glossy beveled tiles with other modern patterns such as porcelain mosaic wall tile or arabesque tiles.