4 Subway Tile Patterns

4 Subway Tile Patterns

Traditional and modern at once, subway tile covers backsplashes and floors in bathrooms and kitchens. Opting for subway tile ensures you will have a classic design that you will love for years to come.

Initially designed for – you guessed it – subway stations, this particular tile made its debut in New York’s first subway station in 1904. The 3” by 6” white tile gleamed throughout the station, giving a fresh, clean look. It didn’t take long before subway tile started appearing in homes and shops across the country. 

Since the early 1900s, subway tile has remained popular, albeit some years more than others. Now, the rectangular tiles range in both size and color. However, the reasons people today love incorporating subway tile are similar to reasons Victorians were first drawn to it. Subway tile has a hygienic design, doesn’t stain, and is easy to clean. (Plus, it looks incredible!)

Just because subway tile has been around for over a century doesn’t mean it has only one look. With endless options for color, design, and grout color, the look of the tile can match any interior decor. In addition, it can be fun to play around with the patterns the tile makes. Below are four of the most popular subway tile patterns, each of which has its own variations.


The offset tile is the most popular pattern, giving the appearance of classic brickwork. This traditional pattern, with each tile offset from the one below it, can allow you to be more daring in your tile or grout color. Variations include tiles that are offset one-third or one-half of the tile, and a pattern that runs in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal direction. 


Stacked tile is another simple pattern, with tiles stacked directly on top of each other so that the edges all line-up. Similar to the offset pattern, stacked variations include a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal layout.  


The herringbone pattern arranges the tile into an L-shaped design that resembles a fish skeleton. The zigzag shape creates more movement than stacked or offset tile patterns. Herringbone, also called chevron, can be straight or diagonal. 


Basketweave, also called crosshatch, is traditionally created with two tiles in a vertical direction followed by two tiles in a horizontal direction. This creates an illusion of a grid-like pattern, similar to a woven basket. Variations allow for customization regarding the number of tiles in each direction, as well as the angle of the tile. 

What is your favorite subway tile pattern?

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