Subway tile

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I have been consulting on several bathrooms and kitchens this summer so this has been a frequent discussion for me….i say or the client says “would you just do subwa?y” and then i say again “i would just do subway” and we all say “i love simple subway tile” and we do and its classic but its trendy too..i mean it is a trend ..but its also classic.  I said that already.  It’s just we get into that “toile thing” of “is it so trendy its not classic and will we all be redoing subway in twenty years?” No one can be sure what will ultimately be a turnoff down the road but i know for sure a classic application of subway makes me swoon and has for a long time..same with hexagonal tiles (shown on the floor below).  I thought they were cool when i walked into my hometown bank when i was a kid (you know the black and white tiles with the border and it spelled out bank in front of the door) and i still love them…

So once we get over that question of trend and do we care, then it gets down to which tile to choose.  Most tile companies carry MANY tiles that would be considered subway or subway inspired..various sizes and color.  It can be think you are going with “simple subway tile” but if you pinterest too much or go into too many showrooms it can get confusing.

And then we get into this issue of where to stop and start…

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I mean do we go all the way up or 48″ of what?? lately (probably becuase i have little boys) i have been saying “all the way up” in bathrooms, the walls too not just shower. I do love the look of a subway “wall” where it really covers some area, even in a kitchen…i mean i woud be happy with just my backsplash done in it but a whole wall..awesome.  Why do we love it so…what does a little rectangle of tile have on us?? Whether its a “wall” or just a wainscot height or backsplash.

 Maybe it’s the you like white grout, dark grout, gray grout??

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i really like it one of three ways..dark, white or gray…and i am not sure what i would choose personally…i am anxious to hear your experience with the grout colors and use.

Anna Spiro via LGN

 and of course you can go colors other than white for your subway can go green, brown, pale green, even black

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the black is pretty striking huh??

and  i do love glossy and beveled..anyone agree?? but the matte is okay too.. Oh yes we will be talking about the Walker Zanger beveled tile and Ann Sacks, etc.

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so whether you go short or tall with it, dark or light grout, small or large size tile…whatever you prefer share it here and i am going to tell you a few insider tips and subway preferences from my design friends and other bloggers… Check back later in the week for more. 

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  1. As I have to make a decision about my kitchen backsplash soon, I for one will greatly appreciate this discussion.

  2. subway tile or no subway tile??? that has been on my mind a lot lately! we are renovating an older home and i already have my slabs of danby calcutta purchased. now i just have to find a backsplash to go with it. i love subway tile because of its simplicity. other more ornate backsplashes just seem too fancy pants for me. right now i’m between subway tile or just doing wood planks laid horizontally.

  3. Can’t get enough of subway! My husband recently tiled our mud/laundry room and it’s all the way to the ceiling…totally love it. The light just glistens off the shiny tiles. Here’s a post of him tiling it. It’s kind of deceiving though–looks like we went with gray grout but in the pics it’s actually not grouted yet. We ended up chosing white grout, but I love the gray look too.

  4. I love the classic look of subway tiles. When we started renovating our 1870s house, I knew we would use subway tile in the kitchen and (at least) one of the bathrooms. The tile went in in 2006, and it is still one of the things that I love. I would do again today! We used white tile/white grout. It’s great in the kitchen, but a little harder to keep clean in the shower. Even though I usually love some contrast, I’m not a fan of the dark grout with the white tile.

    Great post!


  5. must do this in my kitchen….NOW!! White on white is my favorite!!

  6. I love the subway tile in all of the pictures here, but I do love the look of no grout too. I am curious to hear more on this subject. Can’t wait!

  7. Subway tile is one of those things I don’t consider a trend, to me it’s a classic staple and I’ve used it a lot in my home and in clients home. I also love how some people are laying the tile out in a herringbone shape lately, gives it a new look. My experience is that as much as I love the dark grout you have to make sure when you install it or if you’re having installed that it’s done perfectly and the tile is lined up perfectly because if it’s not the dark grout will show your mistakes, when its done right it’s awesome though! Of course I’ve done white grout too and it gives a cleaner look and gives you a little room for error if you’re doing it yourself.

  8. Our house is over 100 years old. It was my grandmas house and the house my
    mom and her brothers grew up in. All the “good stuff” had been taken out
    in the 60’s! When we redid the kitchen we for sure used white subway as
    a backsplash with white grout. In the bathroom we used white subway with
    white grout in the shower. We also used a smaller white hex on the floor
    with a black border. The grout is grey. The floor gets so dirty anyway
    so grey grout is perfect. It almost looks original! The only thing missing
    is the claw foot tub which was thrown out when the “Marcia Brady” wallpaper
    went up! I think Hex and Subway are CLASSIC!!

  9. I agree with the “all the way up” concept for young kids (boys? I also have 2 and a girl. Potty training with a marble basketweave tiled floor–don’t get me started…). Anyway, our tiny little bath we added for the kids has porcelain tile in the shower all the way up to the ceiling and not only is it easier to deal with all the splashing, but it makes the room look dramatically larger. So does having the small pattern of the basketweave on the floor. This is a link to an old post and the pics aren’t great but you get the picture…

    I think it’s classic but who knows how we’re going to feel about it in a decade or so? Great inspiration images by the way!

  10. I had white grout with inexpensive Daltile subway in my kitchen in our last house. In the boys’ bathroom in the new house I did marble subway with gray grout! I liked both!

  11. We are almost finished with a big remodel – I have picked out a white beveled subway for our kitchen to go with crema marfil countertops. Can’t wait for it to be installed! I agree with many of your readers comments that subway tiles are a classic.
    Thanks for another wonderful post.

  12. Confession: We redid our kitchen three years ago but have not done the backsplash because there are so many beautiful choices. I would love to have Rookwood tiles or Ann Sacks; then I went through a slight obsession with a crackle glaze. I would prefer a “bone” or “biscuit” colored crackle tile (super shiny to appease the parakeet in me) with matching grout. But I am about to throw in the towel and just get the stock stuff from Lowes. What are your thoughts on laying the tile vertically, in a herringbone, or chevron pattern? I like it for the fact that it is taking a classic element and updating it but am afraid that it ten years it would look dated. Thanks for the timeliness of this post!

  13. We’ve got a simple pale grey Ann Sacks subway tile in our kitchen and I love it. We took it to the ceiling on the window over the sink with a chunky tile border to frame the window. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.

  14. What perfect timing!!! My tile guy is coming out Monday. I’ve got plain white subway with white grout to the ceiling in the hall bath. Working on the kitchen backsplash now. I’m going with some kind of subway, but all I know is that I want a biscuit color with a gray grout. Can’t wait to hear what tips you have for us. That should help me some in my decision making. I’m like Kate. My cabinets have been in for 3 years. Just changed out my counters with granite (got talked into a solid surface by a pushy kitchen designer), now I am FINALLY doing my backsplash after picking out tiles 3 different times. hahaha.

  15. YEAH! This came at the perfect time! I have not been able to bite the bullet and pick a tile. (We’ve had some major things going on this summer outside our home) I really needed this post. I would say white grout to make it that much more classic. Plus it’s easier to change up the wall color.

  16. Janice Ratliff says

    Interesting timing! I have a client that is building a custom home. Huge kitchen area that is very open to family room. They had builder instal travertine subway. they dislike so much they are paying $3000 to have the builder rip it out. I am shocked. I thought it looked great. Client thought it was going to date the home. So bottom line, it is up to the person that is going to live in that house. They need to go see it installed somewhere before it goes in! I personally love the look and most clients are opting for the subway backsplash in kitchen. I love how it looks in a bathroom!

  17. Absolutely LOVE this post and all the comments. We did white, matte subway tile in our hall/kids bathroom back in 2007, with white, matte hex floor tiles. I still love the look and the only thing I would do differently is take the tile all the way to the ceiling. I too debated on the grout color but ultimately decided to go with white. I knew from experience that keeping the grout white would be a challenge, so we went with some special (more expensive) non-staining grout. It’s still stained 🙁 but I love it anyway. In the master bath we went with a gray/green color subway tile and gray grout. The grout looks perfect, but I have to admit, I would change the tile color if I had it to do all over again and go with marble subway tiles and gray grout.

    Can’t wait to see your posts on this later in the week!

  18. love the black.

  19. Love subway tile and have for years! I put Walker Zanger white beveled subway tile with white grout in my master shower with a black and white hex floor and I loved it. The problem was keeping the white grout clean in a shower (especially around the floor) and then replacing the subway tile when we had a leak. Who knew getting my hands on that tile while trying to sell my house would be such an issue, not to mention the price difference in a flat tile! When I redo the master bath in my new old house I will go with subway again but this time flat with a darker grout. I think it stands the test of time. I first put the tile in my house in 05 and would do it again 7 years later.

  20. I love subway tile. I think it’s classic and will never go out of style. We have white subway tile in our kitchen with white grout. We installed it in a herringbone pattern. For our bathroom we have matte hexagon tile. We always receive a lot of compliments on it and get asked if it was original to the house. the answer is no, but I love for people to think that 🙂 We used dark gray on the grout. I’d like to put white subway tile in the bathroom as well. Right now it is wainscoting.

  21. I love subway tile! We covered our kitchen walls with it…..grey grout. It instantly added charm to our kitchen and it appears our home is older than it is. 🙂 I think it is a classic that will always be embraced. The black is just incredible! Wow!

  22. SUbway tile is always a great go to for bathroom and kitchens. It just always looks good and there are so many options out there you can always find a tile color that works for you space. great post!

  23. Kassie Alexander says

    Great post, Holly! We are still working on our house remodel, but one thing I haven’t changed my mind on is the white subway tile with grey grout in the kitchen and masterbath…I wouldn’t mind doing white grout in the bathroom, but I was concerned about keeping it white!

  24. MY clients are all loving the subway tile. and in variants of colors and grout choices. i am going to do a herringbone backsplash in our home.

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