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The Home Depot

Subway Tile Guide

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Handyman > Subway Tile Guide
Subway Tile Guide

Subway tiles can set the tone of a bathroom or kitchen with their stylish look and design. With their distinctive shape and appearance, subway tiles create a classic look that works perfectly with period decorating themes.


As you contemplate various types of tiles, educate yourself about different materials to ensure that you understand all your options for covering walls and floors.


With a complete subway tile guide, you can choose the perfect rectangular tiles to complement your interior spaces.

  1. Of course, the vertical straight set is another option with the rows of subway tiles building on each other neatly in vertical rows.

    1.Subway Tile Overview

    First introduced in New York subways in the early 1900s, these tiles were the wall covering of choice because they enabled easy maintenance of the walls. Subway tiles may be made of ceramic or glass in a variety of colors and designs. Subway tiles may be white or they could be a variety of rich and bold hues to create any look you want in your rooms.


    Subway tiles work well when you install them horizontally or vertically on a wall. Often the corners of subway tiles may have a gentle curve or they might be crisp and sharp so they resemble brickwork.


    Subway tiles are also available in various sizes in addition to the standard 3-inch by 6-inch rectangles. Although the thinner, inexpensive subway tiles may fit your budget; consider purchasing thicker 8mm tiles to provide more depth, color and strength to your subway tiles.

  2. 2.Subway Tile Sets

    You have a variety of different setting patterns when you install subway tiles. The offset joint shows off the standard brick pattern with each row of subway tiles starting at the halfway point of the tiles in the preceding row. The offset one-third is the same pattern except instead of the tiles starting at the halfway point; they start at the one-third point. Another option is the straight-set point with each row of tiles lining up precisely without offsetting. Of course, the vertical straight set is another option with the rows of subway tiles building on each other neatly in vertical rows. You might also offset vertical rows of subway tiles at the halfway point for even more interest. An even fancier option is to combine both vertical and horizontal rows of subway tile row with each row offset at the halfway point. Create a herringbone pattern by aligning vertical and horizontal tiles in a pattern over the wall.

  4. 3.Areas for Subway Tiles

    Although bathrooms are the standard installation spot for subway tiles, they also work well in the kitchen. Install subway tiles as a kitchen backsplash to give your kitchen a simple and clean look. The subway tiles will enable easy maintenance of your kitchen walls because they wipe down easily with a damp cloth.


    Thinking beyond the standard subway tile locations of the bathrooms and kitchen, if you’re feeling adventurous, you might place them in a foyer, a laundry room or even a sunroom.


    The nostalgic charm and clean lines of subway tiles lend themselves to virtually any decor and theme in a home.

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