It Originated Beneath Manhattan
As youve probably put together by now, the first subway tiles showed up below groundin New York Citys subway system. When it opened in 1904, designers Christopher Grand La Farge and George C. Heins were tasked with a tricky ask: design a surface that was easily cleaned, but would also feel familiar, safe, and friendly to city-dwellers using underground transit for the very first time. Their solutiontiles with slightly curved edges and a glossy finishmeant that the subway stations were sanitary, polished, and bright.
Predictions: Subway Tiles Will Stay In Style For The Next Five Years
Today, the subway tile is still in style, with its simple sophistication almost guaranteeing the trends longevity.
Subway tiles are classic and timeless, yet versatile, which is why they are so great. They arent going anywhere in 2021 or beyond, shares Erin Davis, lead designer at Mosaik Design & Remodeling in Portland, OR. What well continue to see is creative applications or versions of the subway tile. For example, applying them in unexpected patterns such as vertically, instead of horizontally, and stacked instead of staggered.
Top real estate agent Melanie Giglio agrees: I think subway tile will always be here. But I think its going to be a much more toned-down look. I do believe that the subway tile is such a classic look. I see it going on for a very long time definitely for at least five years.
Origin Story: The Makings Of The Subway Tile Trend
The masterminds behind NYC subway aesthetics, Christopher Grand La Farge and George C. Heins, faced with the herculean task of designing a public transportation system that was both easy to maintain and aesthetically pleasing .
In 1904, the two men debuted their answer: 3×6 glazed white ceramic tiles with a high gloss finish. Regarding hygiene a prized value in the Victorian era subway tiles were the perfect material since they are easy to clean and stain-resistant. Style-wise, subway tiles boasted the added benefit of effectively bouncing light to brighten dark tunnels destined never to see the light of day.
It took some time, but by the 1920s, subway tiles found their way into kitchens and bathrooms everywhere, precisely for the same reasons that they worked in the subways they were easy to clean, durable, and effortlessly stylish.
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It Comes In Glass And Stone Too
And if you thought subway tile could be defined by how its made, think again. The official definition is a thin, low-fired, glazed ceramic tile. But according to the Washington Post, those very first versions in the New York City subway were actually made of white glass. Nowadays, subway tile is available in a variety of materials, like glass, stone, and marble, just to name a few.
Narrow Down Your Options With Grout Color Sticks And By Walking The Tile Aisles
Start off by talking to your tiler about his/her recommendations and viewing the grout sample sticks that they typically have. The sample sticks are usually plastic replicas and not the true grout so while Ive found them to be helpful in narrowing down my options, theyre not always helpful in making final decisions since the real grout can differ a bit in appearance. Tilers see all different grout and tile combinations so they have valuable experience to add to your decision but also remember that your taste might not be exactly the same as theirs my tiler was adamant about the grout color that would work best with my fireplace tile but I went with something different and am 100% happy with my decision.
So get their input but make sure your final decision is what YOU will like best, not them. After narrowing it down to a few options, walk the aisles of stores that showcase grouted tile I walked around Lowes where they show all sorts of different tiles with different grouts to see some real life samples. Just be aware that the same grout will look quite different depending upon the color of tile surrounding it.
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X12 Subway Tile Instead Of 3×6 What Do You Think
Very simple….but that’s the way I like it….something that will hopefully stand the test of time. I figure I can always paint it if I want 12 or 15 yrs down the road. Good luck!
Oh, and please pardon any dust/smudges!! Just noticed the undercabinet lighting is NOT turned on for these pics……..
It Arose From An Obsession With Hygiene
Subway tiles arose out of a Victorian-era fixation on cleanliness. Because of their glossy, glazed finish, theyre stain-resistant, easy to clean, and reflect light. They quickly earned a reputation for being utilitarian and sanitary, and became the wall covering of choice elsewhere, from baths and kitchens to butcher shops. Nowadays, these same properties make them a practical choice for modern kitchens, baths, and more.
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Subway Tiles Fell Out Of Style Until The New Millennium
In the decades that followed, the subway tiles popularity waned. In the late 20s and 30s, homeowners replaced white subway tiles with colorful variations suiting Art Deco style . Tile trends shifted throughout the second half of the century, though the square tile shape and colored finish continually trumped the 3×6 white subway tile.
It wasnt until the early 2000s that the subway tile began popping up again in trendy metropolitan restaurants and cafes. Suddenly, the crisp design felt fresh again with its contemporary yet retro aesthetic. With this duality, the subway tile was effortlessly incorporated into farmhouse design, the lived-in country style popularized by HGTV Fixer Upper star Joanna Gaines. Riding on farmhouse designs coattails, the subway tile spread through homes across the nation like wildfire throughout the 2010s.
Hexagon And Rhomboid Shaped Tile
No exploration of shapely tile can skip hexagons and rhomboids . You’ll find them in tiny scale as well as very large scale.
Below you see a medium-sized porcelain hexagon with the look of slate. The effect with the dark counter and the light cabinets is stunning.
2-3/4 x 2-3/4 Hexagon Mosaic – Porcelain
In the image below, you see that combination of scale: very large on the floor and a 2″ multi-toned marble mosaic on the wall. The effect is classic yet contemporary.
Telaio 2 Multi Toned Mosaic – Marble
Add a little vertical stretch to a hexagon and you’ll have a rhomboid such as the porcelain mosaic you see below in this kitchen.
Rhomboid Mosaic – Porcelain
Or, what about this mixed glass and stone mosaic where the stretch is horizontal.
Mixed Glass & Stone Mosaic
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You Can Catch A Glimpse The First Subway Tilein An Abandoned Subway Station
Sleuths and design obsessives who want to catch a glimpse of the first subway tile can secure a visit to New York Citys first subway station: the City Hall stop, now abandoned. The New York Transit Museum offers toursbut New Yorkers have been known to covertly stay on the 6 train to catch a glimpse, too.
White Subway Tile With Gray Grout: My Favorite Grays
If youre looking to add white subway tile with gray grout to a kitchen, bathroom, or other space in your home, this posts for you! Im sharing my tips for testing grout colors and my favorite gray grouts!
Since sharing the results of our kitchen renovation , Ive had so many people asking about the gray grout that I used that I realized I wasnt the only one who struggled with which gray grout would work best with my kitchens white subway tile. Struggle is kind of laughable for something as silly as choosing a grout color but your grout choice can make a night and day difference in your final tile job so I wanted to make sure not to mess this choice up! I was surprised not to find hardly any real life images of white subway tile with gray grout where the grout color was given so I decided to share how I chose my grout along with some pics of my favorite gray grouts combined with white subway tile.
First off, heres a look at the gray grout I chose I went with a light gray option called Frost. This pic shows how the white subway tile and gray grout look in both shadowed spaces and in a more sunny spot close to the countertop:
I used the same grout for the Walker Zanger Villa D Oro mosaic behind my kitchen range:
Mix It Up: Make Subway Tiles Shine In Your Home
While subway tile is a safe bet for resale, homeowners with a penchant for flair may find this style too predictable for their taste. Thankfully, there are several options for those looking to jazz it up, so the tile doesnt look quite so, shall we say, pedestrian?
While we dont recommend you go crazy with colors or placement , you can play with patterns and material for a fresh take on this timeless classic:
Factor Your Home Sale Timeline Into Your Design Choices
Despite her belief that subway tile will undoubtedly remain popular for the foreseeable future, Giglio advises homeowners to consider how long they plan to live in their home when making design choices. If you plan to sell in the near future, opt for classic white, horizontally stacked subway tiles to appease the masses.
In contrast, homeowners who dont plan to sell for the next 20 to 30 years can go bold and choose tile designs sheerly based on personal taste. Chances are, youll need to update the kitchen or bathroom again to align with whats trending during the time you sell. Theres no crystal ball to tell us what buyers will want in the future, so planning that far ahead is futile.
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Use A Glue Gun To Glue Your Tiles On A Board
I snagged a plywood remnant from our renovation and used to glue my tiles onto the board. You could use a different type of adhesive including the mastic adhesive used for tile or liquid nails, but the glue gun dries instantly so you can make your sample board quickly. Just be sure to put each tile in place on your board immediately after you put the hot glue on the back before it dries!
I glued down four tiles for each sample. If you have tile spacers, you can use them to get the same distance between your tiles as youll have on your walls but theyre not worth buying just for the sample boards you can do the same thing with a ruler if you dont have a tiler to snag a few from.
Fabulous Tile Shapes To Design With
What makes tile so much fun to design with is that it’s ideal for areas such as kitchens and bathrooms, fantastic for showy spots such as a feature wall, not to mention practical because it’s not afraid of water.
And, although you can go with safe tile choices , you can also go wild with color, pattern, texture and shape. For that matter, you can even combine the safe with the wild.
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Designing With Tile Shapes
At Floor Decor Design Center, we are constantly on the lookout for interesting new products and shapes that customers can use in their homes to create stunning design statements. Possibly the best product for that is tile. You can use tile on walls and you can use it on floors – although what goes on the wall isn’t necessarily ideal for floors.
In this article, we focus on tile shapes available at Floor Decor in the Orange, Connecticut showroom.
Geometric Tile Shapes And Patterns
If you love the look of geometric shapes and patterns, you’ll love some of these tile ideas.
The tile below consists of a patterned glass mosaic in subtle shades of grey.
Patterned Glass Mosaic
You can also find geometric shapes in marble as you see in the image below. What a terrific way to use a classic product in a fresh way.
Bianco Dolomite Geometric Mosaic Marble
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The Classic Dimensions Thats Up For Debate
What exactly is subway tile? Its a bit tough to defineespecially if you connote subway tile with a specific rectangular shape. While the classic subway tile measures three by six inches, the definition is expanding. Nowadays, tiles that are twice as long as they are wide are generally referred to as subway tile. And, it turns out, they arent always rectangular anymore: Subway tiles can be square, reveals Christine in Remodeling 101: White Tile Pattern Glossary.
Tiles Deliver Style To Every Room
Tile can be used for beautiful flooring, accent walls or backsplashes. The material is durable and water-resistant, making it a popular choice for laundry rooms, bathrooms, kitchens and entryways. Decide which area of your home you want to update and visit The Home Depot Canada to pick out your perfect tile. We carry various styles, sizes, colours and shapes so you can find exactly what you need to complement your home.
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Its The Design Equivalent Of A Good Pair Of Jeans
Its become a classic, like jeans and a T-shirt, Deborah Osburn, founder of California-based Clé Tile, told us. Think of subway tile as a timeless, practical wardrobe staple that goes with just about everything. You can create a design statement with even the most economical tile, and dress it up or down, Osburn says. Read more of her tips in Remodeling 101: A Guide to the Only 7 Types of Tile You Need to Know.
Every week on Remodelista, were debunking remodeling myths and unveiling a few things you might not know about design. For more in the series, see:
Experience Tile Shapes For Yourself
What’s your reaction to these bold tile shapes? Can you see using them to create your own design statement?
Let us know of any questions in the comments or contact us.
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Things Nobody Tells You About Subway Tile
For all the wild popularity of subway tile , it turns out theres still a lot to learn. Here on the Remodelista team, weve long known that subway tile is practical, timeless, and works in interiors of all types. But what exactly counts as subway tile? And, where did it come from? We have to admit, we werent sure. So we did some digging. Here are 10 things you might not know.
The Difference Between White Subway Tiles
While getting ready to shop for white subway tiles in our kitchen, I knew that all subway tiles were not created equal. There is a difference between white subway tiles, that unless you get them side by side, you wouldnt even notice.
I first picked up subway tile from a big box home improvement store. I held it up against my backsplash and thought it looked pretty good. It was white, it was rectangle. Done. That, would have been a big mistake though, and I would not have been happy in the end.
But, I remembered when we had shopped for tile for our second bathroom, how there was such a difference in color between all of the difference white subway tiles.
The best thing about subway tile is its really affordable, has great versatility, and can be used in every style from Farmhouse,to Boho to Cottage. In the right tile pattern, it can even be used in more modern/transitional decor.
Of course, subway tile is very popular, and Ive used it before in my own home. We used it in a renovation of a property we owned at one time. And of course,in our second bathroom.
This is one of my favorite renovations that Joanna Gaines used subway tile in in Fixer Upper.
And,I love the use of these longer subway tile in Vintage Revivals laundry room makeover. You really need to see the full makeover, and all of her clever and awesome touches!!
They all ranged from $2.99 a square foot to $5.99 without installation. We have about 30 square feet and that includes our 10% overage.
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Most Beautiful Kitchens With A White Subway Tile Backsplash
Filed Under: Inspiration
Bring a refreshing look to your kitchen with the super trendy white subway tile backsplash, creating a clean and attractive aesthetic to impress your guests. For those who spend a lot of time in the kitchen, the heart of the home, it is important to create a stylish look that you will love for years to come.
The achieve the white subway tile look in your kitchen, it really doesnt matter the size, though the classic white ceramic is 3×6. To step away from traditional subway tile, alternatives include beveled, glossy, matte, crackle, square, herringbone, brick, handmade, or even marble, natural stone, or glass. If you are looking for a twist on traditional, try switching up the size to a 2×6 or 2×8 or 2×4 the proportions can really change the aesthetic of your kitchen so can the grout color!
Note: Have a look below for some fabulous ideas that include resource and designer information and even a kitchen that includes a floor plan! For more kitchen inspiration, may we suggest: 30+ Beautiful and inspiring light-filled kitchens with white countertops and 24 Sensational white dream kitchens you must see.
Tell Us: Which one of these white subway tile backsplash ideas most inspired you and why in the Comments below!
1. In this light-filled kitchen, the cabinet paint color is Navajo White 947 | Benjamin Moore. The backsplash tile is a 3×6 tile Pratt & Larson C609 metallic glazed ceramic tile.