Subway Tile Ideas

white subway tiles in kitchen from tile stores reno

Subway tiles need no introduction. Since their debut in the subway stations of New York City half a century ago, they have made a name for themselves as an aesthetically pleasing, classic, functional, relatively inexpensive, and a rather versatile tile. 

The famed and traditional white subway tile can still be seen in almost every stylish home on Instagram, as many would argue subway tiles are the best tiles for kitchens. But recently, homeowners and designers have been putting twists on these trending tiles. While the classic subway tile is still alive and well, subway tiles have been reimagined in various sizes, colors, and even materials, making subway tiles suitable for all different types of home styles and rooms.

If you, like many others, are drawn to subway tile but are looking for a bit of a change from the look that’s everywhere, here are some fresh new ways to implement them.


One quick and easy way to change classic subway tile is to lay your subway tiles vertically rather than horizontally. Vertical subway tiles add a modern spin to the time-honored classic and can draw your eye upwards, making your space feel taller and more open. 

Black Accent

Are you looking for some contrast and a layer of drama? Look no further than black subway tiles. Black tiles are a bold and modern choice that can create depth and interest in a room by defining the space and anchoring an otherwise neutral palette.

Textured White

If you love the classic white subway tiles but still want to add a bit of creative flair, consider tile with some texture. A glossy textured tile can add visual interest and character while retaining the clean and classic look of traditional subway tile.


Metallic subway tile can lend a glamorous or industrial look to your space. These light-reflective tiles are a striking design element for any room in your house that needs some individuality.


One easy way to mix up your subway tile design is through a fun pattern like the trending herringbone pattern. The herringbone pattern adds a sense of movement, attracting visual interest in a simplistic yet distinguished way.


Stripes are a classic and never go out of style. By alternating colors with each tile strip, you can create a striped pattern with your subway tiles. Striped subway tiles are the best for bathrooms, especially in the shower, as they can widen and balance the space. These stripes can be black and white for some contrast or gray and white for a more subdued neutral look.

Black Grout

If you love the pattern of subway tile, consider accentuating it with black grout. Grout can have an incredible impact on the look of your tile project, serving as a significant design element. Adding black grout adds contrast and is also excellent for hiding dirt!


An obvious way to add some character to your subway tile project is by opting for a colored tile. A beautiful turquoise, a soft sage green, or vintage-inspired red can genuinely bring your room the punch of personality that it needs.


Large-format tiles are no longer only for commercial uses. The bigger the tile size, the more dramatic a statement you can make in the room. If you are not a massive fan of grout lines, then oversized subway tiles are great for you as the larger format of the tiles distract from grout lines while simultaneously making the room feel more spacious.

Various Shades

If you are looking for dimension, consider subway tiles in various shades of white to light gray. The subtle differences in shade will create that added dimension you are looking for while still presenting a cohesive backsplash.