12 Different Ways to Lay Subway Tile

12 Different Ways to Lay Subway Tile 1

Subway tile, everyone’s favorite. Subway tile can be a little mundane, but when you shake it up and add a fun pattern, it can make a world of a difference in your home. So today, we’re talking subway tile and the different ways to lay it to create a unique look in your home.

Subway tile hit the scene during the early 1900s when it was put in underground train stations in New York. People were inspired and began using it in their homes, adding it to their kitchens and bathrooms. It’s so classic, yet modern looking too!

Subway tile has a clean look, and it’s also easy to clean – BONUS! Back in the day, it would only come in white, but now subway tile comes in all shades, sizes, and textures. It can sometimes even be a little overwhelming to choose your perfect subway tile. The coolest part is you don’t have to just lay it horizontally in rows. Here is some inspiration for fun ways to lay subway tile in a bathroom or kitchen.

12 different ways to lay subway tile

1. Herringbone at 90 Degrees

The classic herringbone pattern just tilted 90 degrees. It works well for a taller space, like a shower, to create a vertical and horizontal pattern rather than just one large pattern that can be overwhelming.

2. Step Ladder

Imagine this look like stepping stones in a step ladder. This one looks awesome in a surround shower pattern and makes the space feel larger and more open. It’s definitely a different layout and not one you see often, but as you can tell makes a great statement.

step ladder subway tile in shower

Photo Credit: Apartment Therapy

3. Classic Subway

Pictured here is the classic subway tile. In this design, the tile is stacked like bricks. This is how subway tile was first started and adds a timeless look to any space. And this is what our clients most opt for. Below we incorporated a warm color scheme and then complemented the subway tile with mosaic tile in the niche and pebble tile on the floor. More of this bathroom remodel HERE.

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 If our clients want to go with the traditional layout, we always urge them to go with a tile that’s a bit more fun. There are so many cool options out there. 

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4. Geometric Look

This fun look is easy to create by placing two horizontal tiles next to two vertical tiles. It creates a geometric pattern that adds boldness while still maintaining a classic feel.

5. Classic with a Twist

Shake the classic subway tile up with a little twist! All you do with this is take the traditional subway tile, stacked like bricks, and rotate it at a 45-degree angle. This twist on the classic adds a surprise to the kitchen because it’s so unique and not expected.

6. Stacked Vertical

Pretty simple one here, stack the tiles vertically on top and beside each other. Because of the vertical pattern, it can make the ceilings feel taller and works well behind your counters.

subway tile stacked vertical

Photo Credit: My Paradissi

7. 90 Degree Classic

Rotate the classic stacked subway tile 90 degrees, and you’ve got a whole new look to the classic subway tile design. This design helps enlarge the room and makes a statement in your space that’s more fun than the traditional design.

vertical tile

Photo Credit: Apartment Therapy

8. Stacked Tile

Similar to the stacked vertical, except now the tile is stacked horizontally. This look works well with a modern design and open wood shelving that creates pleasing horizontal lines throughout the kitchen.

9. Stacked Vertical Alternating

To create a new variation of the classic subway look, alternate the tiles vertically. It creates height underneath your counters and changes up the typical horizontal pattern.

10. Classic Herringbone

One of our favorites that make subway tile have a whole new look! The tiles are diagonal and create a cool pattern. It makes any wall pop and works as an accent wall. We do the herringbone pattern a lot for our homes and clients’ floor tile. It’s a classic and I don’t think will ever go out of style.

Or in this Upton Modern Chateau Kitchen, we did a herringbone backsplash. 

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11. Stacked Horizontal Alternating

Just like the stacked vertical alternating, alternate the tiles horizontally. This is more of a classic look, yet still, creates a unique pattern that looks great in a laundry room or bathroom.

12. Herringbone at 45 degrees

For this look, take #10 and rotate it 45 degrees. This is a good pattern for a smaller bath or kitchen; this one keeps your eyes moving throughout the room making it seem bigger.

herringbone tile shower

Photo Credit: This Old House

No matter the subway tile design you choose, you can’t go wrong! But shake it up and have some fun with it. Even if you incorporate the classic subway tile in the classic design, try to incorporate some other fun tiles and layouts. In this remodel below we did the shower with the classic subway tile and then had the accent wall give the pop of color and added dimension with these blue fish scale tiles. Then for the main bathroom floor in this same remodel we went with a wood-looking tile and laid it in the herringbone pattern. You can find more of this remodel HERE.

Moroccan Fish Scale Tile with White Subway Tile, bathroom design trends by construction2style


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How fun are these? Ready to get tiling? We can’t wait to try them in some of your projects!

Let us know which one is your favorite way to lay subway tile and which one you’ll be trying. And make sure to tag us @construction2style so we can share the love.


Different Ways to Lay Subway Tile


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