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5 Reasons Why Subway Tiles Are the Perfect Choice for Bathroom Walls

Getting their name from their use in New York City subways, these rectangular tiles are timeless and versatile. They come in various sizes and colors and can be used in many ways.

For example, a double basket weave pattern is a fun variation of the classic English bond style. Just be sure to think through your design carefully.


Subway, brick-style, or metro tiles are versatile for various design styles. While they’re most famous for their use in subway stations, their simple design, cost-efficiency, and ease of maintenance have made them a timeless choice that is available in any retailer worth their salt, such as Standard Tile based in New Jersey. Part of the appeal of subway tiles is the ability to use them seamlessly in a variety of rooms, between kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and mudrooms, there are so many choices with different takes on the style of tile.

The classic white glazed ceramic tiles used in NYC subway stations are the true definition of a subway tile, but there are many different sizes and colors to choose from today. Some purists will only consider a 3×6-inch rectangular tile an actual subway, but if you’re looking for something more unique, you can experiment with other shapes and sizes to create a custom look.

You can even add an element of flair to your tile application by changing the color of the grout. While using white, pencil-thin grout makes the tile lines disappear for a classic, clean finish, colored grout can draw more attention to the layout pattern and make your tile one-of-a-kind. Whether you go for a watery blue or emerald green, the rich variation from one tile to another will instantly transform your bathroom into a stunning space.

Easy to Clean

Regarding bathroom design ideas, a timeless and durable material like tile is always a good choice. But not all tiles are created equal, and some require more effort than others to keep clean. Luckily, subway tiles are easy to maintain. With regular cleaning and care, they remain stain resistant and impervious to fungi and bacteria.

The first subway tiles appeared in New York City train stations in 1904 and quickly became a mainstay for spaces where hygiene was vital. Their bright color and glossy surface made them light reflective, easy to wipe down, and stain-resistant.

Today, subway tiles are popular because they blend in many decor styles and look great in small bathroom designs. They pair well with classic Lucerne washstands, modern minimalist cabinets, and everything. And the options for cladding them are endless. They can be arranged vertically in a stack bond, crosshatch, or herringbone pattern and run up the wall or around the room. Adding different grout colors can make the tiles stand out or blend in.


Subway tile rose to popularity in the early 1900s when it was first used as a sleek, easy-to-clean surfacing solution for NYC subway tunnels. Designers Christopher Grand La Farge and George C. Heins sought to add a sense of visual beauty to the dank underground slumber of NYC transportation, so they introduced 3×6 glazed white ceramic tiles that were stain-resistant and reflected light well to brighten the space.

Today, homeowners can choose from various subway tile colors and sizes to create an updated kitchen backsplash that complements their design style. And since they’re heat-resistant and durable, you can feel confident that your backsplash will stand up to most kitchens’ frequent cooking and dining activities.

Installing the tiles properly is essential to help your new backsplash last longer. Use sanded grout, which bonds together to make a sturdy surface, for all grout lines 1/8-inch or broader, and unsanded grout for smaller grout lines. It’s also essential to use a suitable quality sealant once the installation is complete. You’ll find a range of tile sealants, including clear, at your local home improvement store.


The classic subway tile is an excellent choice for bathroom walls because it’s versatile enough to work with almost any style. It’s also one of the most durable tiling options, so it will last decades without showing signs of wear and tear.

Initially used in New York’s subway system in 1904, subway tiles grew in popularity due to their strength, glazed finish, and clean, utilitarian look. As a result, they quickly became a go-to wall covering everything from bathrooms to kitchens and butcher shops.

Subway tiles are available in various sizes and colors, so they’re sure to complement any decor. You can choose between different finishes, like matte, glossy, or textured. A smooth surface will make your space look brighter, while a beveled edge adds a touch of elegance and interest to your design.

The most popular layout pattern for subway tiles is a brick effect, but there are many other ways to incorporate them into your space. For example, you can lay them horizontally so that their short sides rest against each other, then vertically so that the end joints line up. This will create a woven grid pattern that is perfect for modern spaces.


While many homeowners think of subway tile as the backsplash material in their kitchen, this timeless, durable finish works just as well in the bathroom. When used on walls or around a tub, this classic bathroom tile adds an element of cohesion to your bathroom. It creates a visual frame for design elements like a bold vanity or commissioned artwork.

Sub subway tiles are surprisingly affordable, whether with a traditional white or a more natural stone version. They’re often less than half the cost of other popular bathroom materials, such as marble or glass.

While the 3×6 ceramic subway tiles originally used in NYC subway stations still adorn homes today, there are plenty of color, pattern, and finish choices. Whether you want to add a small accent wall of subway tile or envision a grand execution in your master bath, powder room, or laundry room, a subway tile option fits every style and budget.