How long has the subway tile been around for?

Originated by designers George C. Heins and Christopher Grant La Farge, this ubiquitous 3-by-6-inch rectangle, first seen in a New York subway station, quickly made its way into kitchens and bathrooms across the country.

It can be found in different styles and colourways, including;

  • Grey subway tile
  • Green subway tile
  •  Patterned subway tile
  •  Black subway tile
  •  Blue subway tile
  •  Pink subway tile
  •  Light grey subway tile
  •  Subway tiles bunnings
  •  Handmade subway tile
  •  Herringbone subway tile
  •  Textured subway tile
  •  Vertical subway tile
  •  Beveled subway tile
  •  Colored subway tile
  •  Glass subway tile

Pro's and Cons

Pros: Subway tile can be incredibly affordable, and there's a ton of variety in styles, colors, finishes and textures. It's also easy to customise it for details like chair rails, soap dishes and special edging and nosing.

Cons: Subway tile (ceramic) is not as strong as its cousin, porcelain tile, but what it lacks in strength, it makes up for in price.

Special considerations: Since subway tiles often have texture, you may want to consider this to add dimension to your room. The eased edge on this tile adds a little extra something to a subway tile shower, but can make it difficult to figure out how to cut end tile. Consider using a tile edge profile, like a Schluter strip, to make the transition less awkward. You could even use a peel and stick subway tile, a stacked subway tile, a long subway tile or small.

What are they made from?

The official definition is a thin, low-fired, glazed ceramic tile. But according to the Washington Post, those very first versions in the New York City subway were actually made of white glass. Nowadays, “subway tile” is available in a variety of materials, like glass, stone, and marble, just to name a few.

Subway tiles size:


What colours can you get them in?

Decorate your classic space with this beloved rectangular tile using neutral colors in white, black, blue or grey for a simply beautiful and versatile space, or choose from a range of colors that spans across the rainbow to create a truly unique space.

What grout should you use?

If you want to create a pop you could use white subway tiles black grout, a light gray grout or medium gray grout. It will also add a nice contrast against the white subway tile, but won't be as punch-worthy.

How to lay subway tiles:

1. Herringbone at 90 Degrees
2. Step Ladder
3. Classic Subway
4. Geometric Look
5. Classic at a Diagonal
6. Stacked Vertical
7. 90 Degree Classic
8. Stacked Tile
9. Stacked Vertical – Alternating
10. Classic Herringbone
11. Stacked Horizontal – Alternating
12. Herringbone at 45 degrees

What can you use subway tiles for? 

You can look at a subway tiles bathroom, or a subway tiles kitchen splashback. You can even use theem for a wet area, pool area and /or an outside seating area.

Can you use subway tiles for the floor?

No. Because subway tiles are relatively thin, they won't stand up to the wear and tear.

Do they require maintenance?

Glazed ceramic subway tiles are easy to look after. To remove grease, food splatters and soap scum from kitchen and bathroom tiles, simply apply a mild detergent and warm water solution and wipe down with a microfibre cloth. Leave to dry naturally or give a final wipe over with a clean, dry cloth.

How much do they cost?

Classic subway tiles are your least expensive option, starting at about $28 per square metre for 150mm x 75mm non-rectified gloss tiles. Add bevelled or rounded edges (rectified) and the price of the tiles goes up to around $45 per square metre, while some handmade tiles sell for $80 per square metre and more.

Best places to buy subway tiles:

The Factory Outlet

Beaumont Tiles

National Tiles

1. Addis White Gloss

Addis is a subway with a point of difference, get the look with a modern elongated size in this ceramic wall tile.

2. Bevelled Edge Gloss White Subway Wall Tile 4112

1.4 m2/Box

100.8 m2 Per Pallet

Material: Ceramic
Finish: Gloss
Edge: Non Rectified Bevelled
Size: 100x200mm
Application: Internal Wall, Bathroom, Kitchen, Laundry

3. Whoosh White Matt


Size: 75x150mm

Surface finish: Matte tiles

Colour: White