Visit our premium ceramic tile collection showroom in China. Schedule a tour +86 13380250614


What Is The Size Of The Subway Tile

Among all the varieties of tiles, the Subway tile is one of which you can’t resist its adorable beauty. Of course, you would have heard of or come across Subway in the application, and when you did, you admired it, but little did you realize the beauty you just admired is the Subway tile. You may wonder: what made it subway?

We want to help your understanding of what it is and keep you in the know. In this article review, we’ve included a little historical perspective, the general characteristics of traditional subway tile, creative subway tile installation patterns and adaptations, some ideas on how to use subway tile in your home, and essentially, the various sizes of subway tile.

We also introduced A Guide To Choose The Right Tile Size in detail in our previous article. We hope it will be helpful to you.


What Is Subway Tile?

The term “Subway tile” typically points to rectangular tiles (usually 3 x 6 inches) lying horizontally with a 50% offset. Made of ceramic tile, subway tile is known for both its durability and its timeless style.

Why Do They Call It Subway Tile?

You might be wondering, why are subway tiles called subway tiles. The answer. They were first used in a new substation When designers were tasked with designing a surface that was both low-maintenance and bright for the first subway station in 1904, subway tile was born.

The white and glossy design of the first subway tiles formed a highly reflective surface that helped create a safe, sanitary feeling for passengers who may have had concerns about traveling underground.

Is Subway Tile Still Popular?

After its inception in 1904, Subway Tile went on to appear in other transportation hubs around the world. Its sanitary appearance and health benefits meant that it was soon being used anywhere hygiene was a concern, including the kitchen and bathroom. Today, subway tile’s popularity not only continues to grow but even gains universal acceptance.

But we may ask: Is subway tile a fad? While the incredible popularity of this tile design may make you wonder if it’s just another short-lived trend, its longevity is a major clue that this isn’t the case. Over 100 years old, subway tile remains a favorite for home and business owners alike.

What makes subway tile so popular?

We have to chalk it up to the inherent timelessness of the subway tile design. Using plain white rectangle tiles and a simple tile layout, subway tile has managed to create a design that’s equally impactful and easy to achieve.


Think about the placement of the subway tile. Are you planning on installing paving tile for a kitchen backsplash or using it to cover a bathroom floor? Larger tiles, such as paving tiles, are often used for floors or walls, while smaller tiles are best for decorating spaces like backsplashes.

Grout Lines

Whether you’re using white, gray, or black grout, the grout lines can impact the overall look of your space. Large tiles typically have less visible grout lines and small tiles have more grout lines, which could clutter your design. This makes small subway tiles better for showers or backsplashes.

Size of Your Space

Consider the size of the room you’ll be tiling. Larger tiles can make a small room appear more spacious, so a larger subway tile size can be a great option for small bathrooms.

What is the standard subway tile size? 

What are the dimensions of subway tile? Subway tile is traditionally 3 x 6 inches and this is the most popular size of subway tile.

After you’ve considered what subway tile size would work best for your space, the list below will show you the most common subway tile sizes you can choose from.

1″ x 1″: If you want tiny subway tiles that differ from the traditional rectangle tiles, then the 1″ x 1″ square tile option is perfect for you. These small subway tiles are attached to a mesh sheet to make installation easy. Because the tiles are so small, they’re an excellent option for more decorative areas, such as a shower wall or kitchen backsplash.

1″ x 2″: 

The 1” x 2” subway tiles offer the same benefits as the 1″ x 1″ tiles, but they are just slightly longer. We recommend using the 1″ x 2″ subway tile sizes for your kitchen backsplash, shower wall, or shower floor.

2″ x 2″: 

The 2″ x 2″ subway tile sizes are similar to the 1″ x 1″ option. These even squares are a size larger, which makes them the perfect option if you want a backsplash with slightly a bolder effect.

2″ x 4″: 

The 2″ x 4″ subway tiles are thinner and more rectangular than other subway tile options. They give a subtle patterned look, while also adding style and flair to your room. The thinness of the tiles makes your walls look bigger and more expansive, which is great for small bathrooms.

3″ x 6″: 

As the most popular subway tile size, 3″ x 6″ subway tiles are a versatile choice. This size fits beautifully in any kitchen or bathroom design. With plenty of different patterns and colors to choose from, you’ll be able to create a backsplash that fits any aesthetic

4″ x 4″: 

The 4″ x 4″ subway tile size is another standard size that’s popular for a kitchen backsplash or as a unique pattern for your shower walls. It’s a great option if you want to better showcase a tile’s pattern or to create an eye-catching honeycomb design

4″ x 12″: The 4″ x 12″ subway tiles are unique in shape. They are short in height but have a longer width to create a uniquely patterned design. You can use the various patterns and designs available with 4″ x 12″ subway tiles to achieve any style. Our favorite is a clean and classic modern look with bright white tiles

12″ x 12″: 

If you prefer a traditional, symmetrical subway tile look for your bathroom walls or kitchen backsplash, you will love the 12″ x 12″ subway tile size. This subway tile size not only makes a dramatic statement on your kitchen or bathroom walls but also creates a clean look since the larger tiles have fewer grout lines.

12″ x 24″: 

The 12″ x 24″ rectangular subway tile size is also quick to install, thanks to its larger makeup. The 12″ x 24″ subway tiles have the traditional rectangle shape that subway tile is known for, and the larger format makes a bold statement on your wall. This particular size works wonderfully on bathroom walls since the tiles are longer than they are tall, and the length will cover the entire area effectively.

Subway Tile Installation and Maintenance

How to install subway tile: Do your research on what goes into subway tile installation for your intended application and specific needs, such as how to install a subway tile backsplash or how to install subway tile in a shower.

Consider researching the details, such as how to install subway tile backsplash corners or how to tile a shower niche with subway tile. If you do not have the skills or tools necessary to do the job, you can do yourself better by hiring a qualified installer who will guarantee the quality of your installation.


How to lay subway tile

For the traditional subway tile design, lay tiles with a 50% offset. The middle of each tile should line up with the edges of the two tiles above and beneath it. Because subway tile typically has 1-to-2 dimensions, you can use the short side of a tile to determine the middle point of the long side.

Before installing your tile, we suggest you do a dry layout to determine where your cuts will be needed.

How to cut subway tile

You may need to cut some of your subway tiles to make your installation fit around outlets and the dimensions of your space. Some cuts can be made with a score and snap method using a snap cutter and others may require a wet saw.

Certain materials, such as porcelain and glass tiles, may require a wet saw. If you do not have these tools or the skills to use them safely, we recommend hiring a qualified tile installer.

How long does it take to install subway tile? 

Subway tile installation largely depends on the size of the application to be tiled, the complexity of the layout, and the experience of the tile installer. However, most traditional subway tile applications are relatively quick to install, especially for small areas such as backsplash.

Can you install subway tile over drywall? 

It is okay to install subway tile over drywall . High-moisture areas (such as shower walls) benefit from cement board backers to improve long-term durability.

Painting of subway tile? 

Except in the case of small-scale projects, it is not recommended to paint ceramic tiles. Painting your subway tile may inhibit its ability to resist stains and scratches, and the design may not hold up over time. A better option is to choose subway tiles in the color or pattern that you desire.

Cleaning subway tile 

Subway tile can be cleaned just like any other ceramic tile: merely by moping and wiping with dampened clothes. 

We at George Ceramics also have a lot of knowledge about ceramics. If you are interested, you can follow us.

Related Reading:How Do I Maintain My Tile

Share to: