Skip to Content

What is Subway Tile?

What is subway tile?

Example of a kitchen with subway tile backsplash

Kitchen with a subway tile backsplash

Subway tiles were first seen in the New York subway when it opened in 1904, hence the name. They were born from a Victorian fascination with cleanliness. They are glazed and glossy, resists stains, and easy to clean. Since they were so sanitary, they started being used in other businesses, such as butcher shops.

The traditional subway tile is made of ceramic and is 3 inches by 6 inches and stark white. The tiles were constructed in a horizontal pattern which quickly grabbed the attention of the public. The tiles quickly made their way into private residences. They are easy to clean and come in various shapes and sizes. The basic subway tile is one of the most affordable tiles you can purchase making it perfect for any home. The average cost of subway tiles runs about $2 per square foot, but it can cost you as much as $5 to $10 per square foot for more expensive subway tiles. You can also find them in larger sizes, such as 3 inches by 12 inches or 6 inches by 12 inches.

Related: Subway Ceramic Tile Designs | Kitchen Backsplash Ideas | DIY Tile Kitchen Backsplash | What is a Kitchen Backsplash | Are Tile Kitchen Countertops Out of Style | Types of Flooring Tiles

Where are subway titles used in the house?

Subway tiles offer a timeless look that never goes out of style. They are now found in many home bathrooms to give them a classy look. You can add it to a shower stall or to the bathroom walls. In addition to being affordable, they are durable and look good anywhere. They are also found in residential kitchens to give them a bold and colorful look. You can add them to the kitchen backsplash to add style. The subway tiles can be constructed in a nontraditional pattern such as interlocking or zigzag patterns. Different grout colors can be used to add a pop of color to your kitchen and bathroom. You should carefully choose the color of your grout. You want to be sure about the kind of look you want to achieve with your tile when you are selecting your grout. When you choose a stark white, not only does it give your kitchen a classic look, but the thin grout also makes it seem as though there are no tile lines.

Ceramic subway tiles have been around for decades because they are strong and can handle anything you dish out. Your grout and caulk will need to be replaced long before you will need to replace the tiles. Even the colored tiles do not fade when exposed to light and sun. You should know that the glazes on the darker tiles tend to be a little softer, so they may show more scratches. Subway tiles are not intended to be used on floors, so you will not see any floors designed with subway tiles.

Even though, subway tile is an affordable option, having a backsplash installed in your kitchen may not fit in your budget. You can install subway tile yourself. You can save yourself quite a bit of money by installing it yourself.

Examples:  10 Custom Subway Tile Design Examples

Learn more: 21 types of kitchen backsplashes