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LLStyle: The Top 7 Reasons for Subway Tile

Whether it’s a bathroom wall, or a kitchen backsplash, the sleek style of subway tile offers an ageless touch to take your home improvement project to the next level.

We’re going to take a look at the top 7 advantages of installing subway tile.

3 min read
Published on October 30, 2023

When it comes to wall décor, subway tile has been a style statement for over a hundred years. It’s a timeless look that pairs well with any aesthetic, and its enduring simplicity means it will never go out of style. Even a small application of subway tile can brighten the dimmest of spaces. It creates a transformative textural dynamic that lends to a balanced, welcoming ambiance. Whether it’s a bathroom wall, or a kitchen backsplash, the sleek style of subway tile offers an ageless touch to take your home improvement project to the next level.

We’re going to take a look at the top 7 advantages of installing subway tile.

Carrara subway tile on backsplash in kitchen with dark green cabinets and white countertops

This kitchen pops with Avella's Carrara Subway Tiles 4 in. x 12 in.

First a little education...

What is subway tile? 

The term ‘subway tile’ refers to 3 in. by 6 in. ceramic tiles, as invented in 1904 to be installed in New York City’s first subway station. 

Designers George C. Heins and Christopher Grant La Farge worked to design the first stations with emphasis on beauty and use. They created tiles with key characteristics. The glossy finish has a brilliance and a function, reflecting light and resisting stain. The flat surface is attractive and faster to clean. Interestingly, the curved edges not only reduce small crevasses that may trap build-up, but they can make installation faster by allowing the installer to apply tiles directly touching the adjacent tiles without the time-consuming need to space out the grout lines. These features all come together for a style that is as remarkable and functional as the city where it began.

The term has since come to mean other sizes of rectangle tiles as well, such as 2 in. x 4 in., 4 in. x 8 in., and more.

What are the benefits of subway tile?

First, while often one of the smaller investments of a home project or update, subway tile brings a stylish, lasting impact to any space. Also, it is easy to keep clean, and is cheaper than many other tile options to purchase. Subway tile can be used in kitchens, bathrooms - including shower and tub walls - and has a look that brings a stylish flair, yet with the refined simplicity to complement any décor rather than change it.

Practical advantages are numerous, including everything from how little space a box takes up at your job site, to how easily replacements can be found, to how quick installation should be for your installer compared to unique, niche tile options – these tiles create a dazzling effect with a relatively straightforward installation, even if the scope of the project is simply a two-row backsplash or accent.

subway tile installed on wall in herringbone pattern

This bathroom captures a classic Hollywood spa feel with mid-century mirror and white subway tiles installed with 90-degree herringbone pattern.

Is subway tile out of style?

No. Like the actual subway that has connected the boroughs of New York for over a century, this tile is an advancement that is here to stay. Even if installed on only one wall in the kitchen or bathroom, subway tile can transform any room. Its luster, texture, geometry, and weight result in a presence of substance and permanence you can feel. 

In fact, you’ve probably seen designs from modern, to rustic, to farmhouse that all look great with a subway backsplash. Your preference of grout color can play a big part in the stylistic effect the tiles may have. And numerous installation patterns, such as herringbone or the definitive offset brick, allow even more options to transcend your interior design.

white subway tile in kitchen with stainless steel range hood plus glass cooktop and butcher block countertop
Avella 4 in x 8 in Vivid White Subway Tile


This modern kitchen gives a bright, sleek feel with a backsplash area using 3 in. x 6 in. Vivid White Subway Tile.


white subway tile in kitchen with brass faucet and dark granite countertops
Avella 3 in x 6 in Vivid White Subway Tile