Everything You Need To Know Subway Tiles

Subway tiles are an easy way to add a touch of class to any space, whether it’s residential or commercial. These tiles were used in the London Underground system, hence their name, and they’ve been popping up all over the place ever since! In this guide, we’ll talk about what exactly subway tiles are, where you can use them, what kinds of finishes they come in, and more! Read on to learn everything you need to know about subway tiles.

What is Subway Tile?

The term subway tile is used to describe a type of wall or floor tile commonly found in public transportation stations. The tiles are usually white, but can be purchased in a variety of colors and styles. They are available as either glazed ceramic tiles or porcelain-enameled steel tiles. With proper care, subway tiles can last for more than a century. The traditional name for subway tile is glass-mosaic tile, but it’s also called encaustic tile, hexagon mosaic tile, or interlocking glass floor tile. What all of these types of tiles have in common is that they are usually made from concrete or ceramic and they feature flat pieces in geometric shapes. The final product features colorful designs in angular shapes that mimic natural materials like shells and stone. These days subway tiles are often used to create accent walls because they are relatively inexpensive.

History And Evolution Of Subway Tile

First appearing in New York City subway stations in 1904, a type of glazed ceramic tile called vitreous marble was used to line underground station platforms. These tiles were designed by architects George C. Heins and Christopher Grant LaFarge as a way to combat water damage from below ground street flooding due to elevated tracks and other problems caused by wet conditions. In 1925, these tiles became part of an official design for subway stations that was meant to replace earlier tiles that were made from stone or terra cotta. This marked a move towards decorative versions of glass mosaics with glass tesserae applied directly onto a thin bed of cement which forms thin glass sheets. The main difference between those original decorative-style glass mosaics with glass tesserae is their thin size – around 3/8 thick – which gave them incredible strength and helped cement become more popular than stone as an architectural material even above ground.

Where Can We Use Subway Tiles?

Subway tiles are generally used in kitchens and bathrooms. However, they’re popular for other applications, too. Office buildings often use subway tiles to give their offices a modern look, while some restaurants choose them to provide an upscale appearance. If you like contemporary décor, subway tiles may be right for you.

Pros And Cons Of Subway Tile


The tile is made of ceramic or natural stone such as marble, granite and slate. Tile floors offer extreme durability and will last for many years with proper maintenance. One of the main benefits of subway tiles is that they add architectural interest without overwhelming a room. As opposed to many tile options, they create interesting patterns but don’t steal attention from other elements in your design. This makes subway tiles perfect for smaller rooms or projects where you want subtle details. This option also tends to cost less than using more ornate tile designs, which can save homeowners money on their remodeling budget!


The only real negative with tile flooring is that it can be very cold underfoot in winter months if you have a tile floor without underfloor heating installed. Also, tile can scratch fairly easily compared to other flooring options so a little care must be taken when moving furniture around on a tile floor.

Why Are Subway Tiles So Popular?

Whether it’s a bathroom or kitchen, subway tiles are popular choices for many homeowners. What makes them so popular? Many people prefer subway tiles because they’re affordable and durable. They’re also easy to install and don’t require special equipment. Plus, there are dozens of different styles and colors, so you can easily personalize your space with a few simple changes.

What Are The Different Types Of Subway Tiles?

There are a number of subway tile types and you will need to decide which one is best for your kitchen or bathroom. The most common type of subway tile is called clay and it is created by mixing clay with water and drying it in a kiln at very high temperatures. This creates an unglazed surface that many people find desirable because it’s smooth and easily cleaned. Another option is porcelain, which often provides a more polished appearance thanks to its glazed surfaces. Porcelain tiles are created in much the same way as clays, but generally have glossier finishes thanks to their additional coating. They also tend to be more durable than their non-glazed cousins, though they come at a higher price point. Beyond these two options, there are three other main categories that you can consider before choosing new tiles: stone, glass and metal plated tiles. Each of these has slightly different characteristics that may or may not match up with your needs. In any case, it is important to take into account all factors before installing new flooring or wall tiles.

Different Finishes Of Subway Tiles

The most popular finish for subway tiles is glazed. It’s classic, clean and it works with virtually any design style. Not only that, but it’s also very easy to care for. You can easily clean it by sweeping or mopping (don’t use abrasive cleaners though). Concrete, on other hand, has a matte finish; while not glossy like other finishes, it does give your bathroom an industrial look. So if you are looking to emulate that shabby chic look, concrete is your best bet. Accent pieces are another option. They have a shiny surface but they don’t dominate an entire wall in them as their name suggests! And if none of these options work for you, there are many more finishes available. There are designer finishes like brushed brass, pewter and oil rubbed bronze; others include glazes like lime green, lemon yellow and hunter green; still others come in colors like grey marble, brown marble and black marble. The choices truly are endless when it comes to subway tile finishes.

Things You Should Consider Before Installing Subway Tiles

The biggest thing to consider before installing subway tiles is cost. Subway tiles are generally more expensive than other wall-covering options, so you’ll want to be certain that they are worth it before making your decision. If you are planning on covering a large area with subway tiles, you may find that they are actually cheaper per square foot compared to other options. Another factor that needs to be considered is ease of installation; many people choose white subway tiles because they look good but then become disappointed by how difficult they are to install. They can chip easily and require special tools for proper installation. White subway tile has seen an upswing in popularity over the last several years due to their clean lines and consistent appearance, but there are many styles available now with different finishes which allow for versatility in design. As long as you know what kind of maintenance each type requires, there really isn’t much difference between one style and another. Of course, personal preference will still come into play when choosing a style or finish. Typically, 4x4s are used in commercial settings whereas 2x2s or 1x1s are found more commonly in residential installations.

Final Words:

Subway tiles are available in different sizes, finishes and shapes. Many of them are designed with straight edges but some versions have wavy edges. A subway tile can be used on both inside and outside walls. They can be combined to create patterns or they can be used individually to cover an entire wall in your bathroom or kitchen. The most common size is 6×6 inches square but you may also find 4×4 inch square versions as well as 12×12 inch square versions for outdoor use like pool surrounds or patios.

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