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  • Ashu Tyagi

9 Unique Subway Tile Patterns and Their Layout: Urban Refurbishment

Updated: Feb 14

What are subway tile patterns? Subway tiles have their history way back to the 1900’s. George C. Heins and Christopher Grant La Farge used 3 inches by 6 inches rectangular tiles in New York train stations to make the place more attractive and easy to clean.

From the 1920’s these tiles took a new form in home interiors also. Due to their added properties like strain resistance, ease of cleaning, reflected lights, etc. They have been an easy choice for the people. 

Subway Tile Patterns


Just because it looks simple, doesn't mean it can't be incredibly stylish. Here are the advantages of subway tiles, 

  1. Subway tile patterns work well in a variety of spaces like kitchens, bathrooms, laundries, and more. Their neutral coloring makes them easy to match with different color schemes. 

  2. The small, uniform tiles are simple for do-it-yourselfers to install.

  3. Easy to clean.

  4. The tiles tend to reflect light well in spaces due to their glossy nature.

  5. Subway tile is readily available and very budget-friendly.

  6. They withstand moisture, heat, and other elements well.

  7. The subway tiles are customizable. Earlier these tiles came only with white colors but now they are available in all shades. 

Things to consider before choosing:

There are certain key points to be considered before installing and purchasing subway tiles. They are,


First, make sure the area of installing the tiles

  1. Kitchen area (Backsplashes, Accent walls, Lining entire kitchen walls)

  2. Bathroom area (Shower surrounds, Bathtub surrounds, Behind sinks/vanities, As wainscoting covers the bottom half of walls, Lining entire bathroom walls)

  3. Laundry room (Backsplashes protecting walls with washers/dryers, covering full laundry room walls)

  4. Other places like Fireplace surrounds, Backsplashes in wet bars, Feature walls in dining rooms, Accent walls in bedrooms, and Pool area walls resisting moisture.

  5. Outdoor areas like Backsplashes on outdoor kitchen islands, Lining patio/porch walls, Outdoor showers, and Protective walls around hot tubs.

Size of space and tiles:

The next would be to consider the size of the place where the subway tiles are to be installed. Based on which the tiles are to be purchased. Choosing larger tiles for a small-sized room makes the room look big and spacious. 

Next would be choosing the subway tiles size. The common size of the subway tile pattern is 3” x 6”. Other available sizes are, 1” x 1”, 1” x 2”, 2”x 2”, 2” x 4”, 3” x 6”, 4" x 4", 4" x 12", 12" x 12", 12" x 24".

Based on the size the tiles purpose and price differ. The larger the tiles the more expansive. 


The most popular choice of colors used for tile patterns are, 

  1. White - The classic bright white subway works universally is easy to match, and keeps spaces feeling fresh.

  2. Light Gray - From pale gray to greige, lighter gray tones are predicted to be one of the top subway tile shades in 2024. Gray creates a soothing, relaxed vibe and pairs well with warm metals like brass.

  3. Black - For dramatic contrast, rich black subway tiles will continue trending, especially with brass hardware. Black adds sophistication but lighter surrounding elements prevent it from feeling too dark.

  4. Dark Green - Deep green hues like sage, olive, emerald, or forest remain on-trend. Green imparts a natural, earthy ambiance, great in eco-friendly designs. More colorful than white or gray.

  5. Blue - Navy, teal, sky blue - all tranquil blues complement multiple design schemes. Blue modernizes traditional tiles. Interesting substitute for ubiquitous whites in kitchens.

Grout Color:

The grout color plays a major role in the tile pattern, they can be said as the scene stealer.  

The grout color makes a great change to the chosen color. Imagine a wall with contrasting colors like dark gray with white tiles or vice versa will give big highlights. So choosing a contrasting grout color for the tiles will work well and create a dynamic look. The same color tiles and grout will create a minimalist look with the grout lines disappearing. 

In 2024 the choice of grout line color ideas are,

  1. Black and white

  2. Dark grout

  3. White grout

  4. Light gray or medium gray

  5. High contrast grout

  6. Jasmine grout

  7. Silver gray grout

  8. Beige grout

Classic Offset or Brick Pattern

Subway Tile Patterns - Brick Pattern

The Classic offset subway tiles pattern is easy to install which makes these tiles the practical choice for DIY enthusiasts and professionals. The classic offset pattern is also called a running bond or brick bond because of its brick-like layout. The ceramic tiles are aligned side by side across the surface.

Every row leans next to it by half of the tile width on the row underneath. This produces the staggered joint effect, hence, the vertical and horizontal joints make straight, clean lines out of the installation.

Coming to the color of the classic offset pattern. They work well with various colors but the most popularly used color is white which marks the traditional choice. The classic offset pattern tiles pattern play their role equally both in traditional and modern spaces.

In classic kitchen or bathroom, it creates a vintage and retro effect whereas in modern-styled homes it creates a sleek and simplified look. You can also read: Kitchen Bath Remodeling Contractors.

Herringbone Pattern

Herringbone Subway Tile Patterns

In the herringbone pattern, the tiles are placed in a v-shaped pattern like the bones of a herringfish. The grout lines play a critical role in the overall appearance of the tile pattern. 

The Herringbone subway tile pattern should be carefully planned to ensure a balanced appearance. Starting from the center and working outward can help maintain a uniform look, especially where the pattern meets walls or corners. The herringbone pattern can be achieved with various materials, including ceramic, porcelain, or glass subway tiles. The Creative Variations are 

  • Double Herringbone - For a unique twist, consider the double herringbone pattern, where two smaller herringbone patterns are arranged side by side.

  • Herringbone Borders - Use the herringbone pattern as a border or frame around a central design element, such as a fireplace or kitchen range.

  • Mixed Materials - Combine different materials, colors, or finishes within the herringbone pattern for added visual interest.

Vertical Stack or Straight Set Pattern

Straight set Subway Tile Patterns

The Vertical Stacked Pattern is a popular and modern way of arranging subway tiles that differs from the classic offset or brick pattern. In this layout, subway tiles are aligned one on top of the other in vertical columns, creating a clean and stylish design. These subway tile patterns are an excellent choice for small spaces.

Basketweave Pattern

The Basketweave pattern is a classical pattern with interlocking or woven appearance which is similar to the weave of a traditional basket. This type of tile pattern is commonly used in Walls and floorings. The common choice of tile sizes are 4x4, 6x6, or 12x12 inches. The grout lines in these tiles help in identifying the individual tiles and enhance the woven basket pattern. Maintenance is required in these tiles due to the complexity of the design and grout lines. 

Subway tiles pattern

Subway tile pattern ideas mean creative ways of arranging the tiles to achieve a visually appealing design. Here are several popular tile patterns to consider:

Crosshatch or Grid Pattern

Subway Tile Patterns

The crosshatch pattern is an alternative to the herringbone pattern whereby two oblique lines come across one another to form a network grid. This tile is a trendy and inspiring subway pattern tile that can create a flowing and interesting appearance in your space.

Diagonal Pattern

The procedure involves creating a brickwork design using the subway tiles by turning them 45 degrees. It brings an interesting and at the same time a bit surprising in terms of visual aspect to the small room. When these diagonal pattern tiles are used for flooring, they make the room look wider and spacious. 

“It’s become a classic, like jeans and a T-shirt,” Deborah Osburn, founder of California-based Clé Tile, told us.

Mixed Material Patterns

Mixed material tile patterns are obtained by combining subway tiles with other materials, such as glass or natural stone to create a unique design. These subway tile pattern adds texture and visual interest creating a more dynamic design.


Before choosing the subway tiles for your home be sure to have a clean diagram of the room size or space, the tile design, color, and grout lines. Make sure to choose Urban Refurbishment for all subway tiles-related queries and requirements.

We are a leading Home renovator in Minnesota with a wide range of successful Home renovations. Do you want to learn more about us? Contact us right now at Urban Refurbishment.


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