Tile 101

6 Classic Subway Tile Layouts

Since it was first designed for the New York City subway system in 1904, subway tile has been popular for its versatility and durability. Though this sleek and chic tile has been around for over a century, it still feels very modern. Subway tile can be incorporated into every room in the house and every design style. If you’ve decided to incorporate subway tile into your space, here are six layouts for you to consider (plus a couple bonus ideas!). Shop our wide selection of subway tile to achieve your desired style.

1. Brick Lay

A classic tile design, brick lay (sometimes referred to as running board) mimics a traditional brick stack. Characterized by the horizontal offset tiles, this design manages to be understated while still looking chic. The brick lay wall design shown here using Brick x Brick by Alison Victoria Petal, is soft and charming but subtle enough not to take the focus away from the decorative shower niche.

This bright and modern bathroom features handmade-look subway tile in stripes of matte and glossy finish.
Featuring: Brick x Brick by Alison Victoria Petal, Elia Polished by Alison Victoria and Alison Victoria Precious Metals 24 Karat Pencil.

2. Horizontal Stack

If you’re someone who wants everything neat and orderly, then consider a horizontal stack. The crisp vertical and horizontal lines create a structured grid pattern. Alternating double rows of Coco White Glossy and Coco White Matte enhance this simple design and add unassuming interest to this lovely modern bathroom.

This bright and modern bathroom features handmade-look subway tile in stripes of matte and glossy finish.
Featuring: Coco White Glossy and Coco White Matte.

3. Vertical Offset

Stand out with a vertical offset subway pattern. Long, skinny vertical stripes will create the illusion of height, perfect for a short shower space. This gorgeous shower shows how turning your tiles ninety degrees can give your space a fresh, modern look.

This pretty and chic modern bathroom features pink brick-look subway shower tile installed in a vertical offset.
Featuring: Brick x Brick by Alison Victoria Petal. Designed by Alison Victoria.

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4. Vertical Straight Stack

Tall, neat and chic, the vertical straight stack is the perfect layout for a highly organized modern design. We love how this vertical straight stack creates nice well-ordered rows that extend and accentuate this bathroom backsplash.

This bright, modern bathroom features white handmade-look subway tile backsplash.
Featuring: Coco White Glossy.

5. Herringbone

Add movement to your space with a herringbone design. The diagonal lines take the eye through your space and add width and depth. The Coco Canvas Matte tile used on this spa floor proves that this design can be as tranquil as it is energetic.

A beige handmade-look subway tile floor in herringbone pattern.
Featuring: Coco Canvas Matte.

6. Grid Stack

Can’t decide between vertical and horizontal? A grid stack is the best of both worlds. Use three to four tiles (depending on width) to create a square and install them in alternating vertical and horizontal stacks. This cool, modern shower uses the Look Avio handmade-look tile; the variation in the green-blue color and glossy finish creates a vibrant, undulating surface.

This blue shower features handmade-look subway tile in a grid-stack pattern with a marble shower niche.
Featuring: Firenze Carrara, Look Avio, Firenze Carrara Somerset and Glass Shelf.

Bonus: Combine Designs

Combining subway layouts is a great way to highlight an area in your space–like a sink or a stove backsplash–or create an accent on your wall. Here are three stunning spaces that combine two layouts for a wonderful visual effect.

Sleek black elongated subway tile kitchen backsplash installed in a brick-lay and herringbone pattern.
Featuring: Tribeca Basalt.
Grey glossy porcelain subway tiles behind a white farmhouse sink, green cabinets and a butcher block counter top.
Featuring: Coco Amber Grey Glossy.
A modern bathroom with cream-colored handmade-look subway tile wall.
Featuring: Coco Canvas Matte and Coco Canvas Glossy.

And One More Design Idea–Picket Tile!

A modern take on subway tile, picket tile is gaining popularity for its neat stacks and fine angles. This shower uses black and white picket to create an ultra-modern space that still maintains the unassuming quality of traditional subway tile. Shop our full selection of picket tile to find a design that fits your style.

This large, open shower features a black picket tile wall and a white picket tile wall.
Featuring: Lanse Matte White Picket and Lanse Matte Black Picket.

Inspired to incorporate one or more of these subway tile layouts in your reno? It’s easier than ever to make your design dreams a reality with our free design services. Or, explore even more stylish subway layouts in real spaces on our Customer Room Gallery and Instagram!

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