Using Subway Tile - A Timeless Approach
Using Subway Tile - A Timeless Approach

Using Subway Tile - A Timeless Approach

Subway tile seems to have been around for as long as there was tile from the way it’s presented to how popular it is that it gets its own category. But in reality, it rose to popularity in the tile industry around the early 1900’s as a tile that was used in - well subway stations - of course. The brightly colored and easily maintained tile was perfect for such use. This didn’t go without notice and before long, it was available everywhere, inexpensive and a go-to construction material. And it still is today!


Defining Subway Tile


Subway tile is rectangle shaped with the most common size being 3 x 6. But there has been a very large expansion of subway tile sizes and you can find them in almost any size with popular options being 1 x 6, 2 x 6, 2x8, 3x12,, 4x12, and even 5x14 which begins bordering on medium/large format tiles.


Subway Tile - In Use


In its most basic form subway tile is commonly installed in a brick pattern. Vertically or horizontally - it doesn’t matter. This offset layout is extremely common with subway tile. Recently growing in popularity as of late is the stacked pattern where the tile is simply tiled on top of each other without any offsetting creating uniform rows and columns. (This looks absolutely stunning when the depth of the tile is offset so that they present at different heights creating an offset surface rather than a uniform flat wall).


For those who wish to take it a step further and create something truly unique - the herringbone pattern truly takes this timeless style of tile to another level providing all the personality and character one could want from an installation. Combined with the right tile with a good amount of varying color as well as texture - the herringbone layout is sure to almost always create a one of a kind experience.


Exploring Alternatives


The best way to change anything up is to start small, finding alternatives to subway tile is no exception. For someone looking to switch it up without going too different or extreme - square tiles are an excellent place to start. You can treat and install them just as you would subway tile with the only real difference being its shape - subway tiles being rectangular and square tiles of course being square. The square shape provides a slightly more pronounced presence and more defined pattern depending on the tile of your choice.


The herringbone pattern can have a unique perspective take on it as well. By simply shrinking the subway tile down to a skinny herringbone pattern with a  chip size of 0.5” x 3”. This smaller pattern size can help capitalize on any unique textures in your chosen material - of course this pattern is better suited for mesh mounted tiles that don’t have much variation from chip to chip otherwise a checkerboard pattern may emerge after installation.


Alternatives don’t necessarily mean using tile that isn’t a “subway” tile either. Of course by default one can consider most subway tile to be ceramic. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have subway tile in other materials such as glass, or even stones like marble! This opens up your options to just about anything including mix and matching different materials together to create even more unique patterns that you’ll never have to worry about seeing in someone else home or building.


Some subway tiles even come in hand formed or hand made variants that allow for each piece to be unique in its own way whether that be in imperfect or slightly irregular sizing to variances in surface texture or level.


The most important thing is to always remember the individual characteristics of a single tile are greatly complimented by the same individual characteristics of the tiles it’s installed with. This results in an installation with the combined characters of all the tiles that were used to make it giving it its own personality unlike any other.


Mosaic Tile Outlet – Your definitive source

Whatever your style or choice may be, you can count on Mosaic Tile Outlet’s massive variety of mosaic to fit any style you have in mind. Simple, neutral, traditional or modern, we’ve got you covered.


Leonardo Villalobos


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