Eight Popular Subway Tile Designs
Subway Tile; the most classic choice of all tile materials. To no one’s surprise subway tile was originally designed for subways. Simple, white and keeping spaces light and bright, over the years it has become one of the most desired and cost-effective tiles you can incorporate into your home. We have rounded up 8 of the most popular layout designs to inspire you to break free of standard patterns and create a unique look in your own bathroom or kitchen!
1. Offset Pattern – Horizontal
Starting off with the classic subway tile look, this layout is an offset pattern in a horizontal orientation. Also well known as a brick pattern. This tile layout is timeless and will give your space a vintage and classic feel.
2. Offset Pattern – Vertical
Pulling from the horizontal orientation, the tile can be rotated 90 degrees so it is installed vertically. This still gives you a traditional feel but elevates the tile with a fresh look and even helps the ceiling feel higher, making the room feel bigger.
3. Stacked Pattern – Horizontal
A simple way to modernize your subway tile is to lay it in a stacked pattern. This is where each tile lines up with the adjacent tile, creating linear columns and rows with the tiles and grout lines. This orientation can often be seen in mid-century modern and other modern-styled designs. Stack patterns work particularly well with non-traditional subway tile sizes that are longer than the typical 2:1 ratio of length to width such as 2 x 10.
4. Stacked Pattern – Vertical
Similar to the horizontal orientation above, you can lay your tile in a stacked pattern with a vertical orientation. This gives you a modern look and helps to create height visually in the space.
5. Stacked/Offset – Horizontal
A combination of the stacked and offset layouts can be merged for an even more unique look. This version below is shown in a horizontal orientation. Not only is it a combination of layouts, but it can be used in both traditional and modern settings, making it a good option for any space.
6. Stacked/Offset – Vertical
Another version of the stacked and offset combination has the tile flipped 90 degrees. This vertical layout can also be used in a traditional or modern setting as well, while also giving you a new look.
7. Herringbone Pattern
Definitely one of the most popular tile layouts, the herringbone orientation brings an extra pop to any space. This classic layout can be installed at a 45 or 90 degree angle bringing in a unique element. Whether you use it on all the walls or just as an accent, the herringbone pattern will never go out of style!
8. Basketweave Pattern
This tile pattern mimics the look of a basket-weave. It consists of 2 stacked tiles in a horizontal orientation paired with 2 stacked tiles in a vertical orientation; repeated along the wall. This is another simple design that goes a long way, creating a fresh look in your space. It works best with traditional subway tiles with a 3 inch width and 6 inch length ratio but can work with any tile with a 1:2 ratio.
If you cannot decide on a single pattern or want to push the design even further, you can combine different patterns. Like this example below, the larger accent wall is shown in the herringbone pattern and the two side walls are the classic, horizontal offset. This is another easy way to take your designs to the next level while keeping to simple and inexpensive materials.
Picking the right subway tile pattern and grout can result in a very distinct and fitting design with simple materials and significantly influence the effect of more elaborate materials.
MacKenzie Cain is associate designer at Habitar Design, one of Chicago’s leading interior design firms.