Subway Tile Backsplashes

Choose subway tiles for your kitchen backsplash as a way to lend a classic vibe to your space.
Subway Tile Backsplash

Subway Tile Backsplash

Wide view of kitchen with subway tiled backsplash, hood over stove, countertop, wood cabinetry, and lighting.

Wide view of kitchen with subway tiled backsplash, hood over stove, countertop, wood cabinetry, and lighting.

By: Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Classic subway tiles are rectangular in the traditional style of bricks while maintaining a modern edge. The popular subway tile design is done using white tiles with black grouting, but there is a range of options available for kitchen backsplashes.

11 Twists on Subway Tile Backsplashes

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Mirrored Metallic

Dazzling metallic subway tiles are a versatile alternative to traditional white tiles, as they can lend a glamorous or industrial style depending on the design of the kitchen. This stainless steel design from Brother vs. Brother is a stylish, easy-to-clean option that cost roughly $600 to install. 

Photo By: Ann Summa/Getty Images

Creative Layout

One of the easiest ways to mix up your kitchen’s backsplash design is by laying tile in a fun, unexpected pattern, such as this herringbone design featured in HGTV Magazine. By pairing the design with simple shelves and black-and-white art, the charming tilework remains the star of the space.  

Photo By: Stacey Brandford

All About Color

An obvious way to add a personal touch to a subway tile backsplash is by ditching basic white and opting for a favorite color instead. In this Craftsman kitchen, the vibrant green backsplash contributes a cheery accent to the Shaker-style cabinets and stainless steel appliances. 

Back to Blues

But why stick to just one color when you can give your kitchen a totally unexpected look simply by mixing variant hues of the same color? In this transitional kitchen, blue tiles with different levels of saturation are tied together by white upper cabinets and solid blue lower cabinets.

Modern Accents

A single, metallic stripe sets this kitchen backsplash apart while creating a streamlined look. Horizontal drawer pulls and a sleek range hood complete the modern design in this kitchen designed by HGTV’s Property Brothers.

Sweet Stripes

Multiple stripes in a complementary color give this sweet kitchen backsplash a one-of-a-kind look with charming appeal. By keeping the floor and upper cabinets light, the lightly colored backsplash makes a bold statement in the space. 

Sleek and Stainless Steel

Stainless steel inserts combine with white glass subway tiles for an almost futuristic vibe in this ultra-modern kitchen. Smart lighting and sleek appliances further the room’s high-tech design. 

Extended Design

Upon first glance, this subway tile backsplash may not seem extraordinary, but by continuing the tile all the way to the ceiling, the room feels larger, the walls are easy to clean, and the kitchen boasts more texture and interest.  

Bevel May Care

To liven up a basic backsplash, consider a beveled tile. "Having the tile done this way added a lot of dimension to the walls,” explains designer Tobi Farley. “It adds texture to the neutral kitchen, and the varying shades of bisque and sand complement the Roman shade perfectly. I love working with tile in new and different ways – it can really add to a design!"

The Dark Side

A dark brown backsplash keeps this kitchen from looking too stuffy or boring. It not only blends beautifully with the countertops and flooring, but the contrast with the stark white cabinetry adds a gorgeous balance that keeps the space interesting and warm. 

About Grout

In keeping with the classic white subway tile backsplash, one way to add a bit of interest is by adding contrast with a dark grout, such as the deep gray featured here. Another bonus? A darker grout is excellent for hiding dirt!

A more modern take on subway tiles is an elongated design where the tiles are three times as long as they are high. These tiles work especially well in a modern kitchen, whether they are in white or a bold color, like yellow.

If a classic installation of subway tiles is not for you, then you may want to consider designing a fun pattern that will emphasize the unique nature of your kitchen. Some backsplashes are designed to look like herringbone or parquet patterns.

One example of a kitchen style that would pair well with a subway tile backsplash made from white tiles and black grouting is a classic kitchen. White cabinetry paired with a gray and white granite countertop would look beautiful with this backsplash design.

Subway tile backsplashes can also be made interesting by changing up the color of grout. Black, tan and gray are popular alternatives to traditional white.

Guide to Creating a Stylish Kitchen

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