Mad For Ceramic Subway Tile? 3 Types To Consider For Your Walls.

Black and white 3x6 ceramic subway tile

I'm mad for ceramic subway tile! In fact, I can't imagine a more fun, versatile yet also classic tile to use for your walls - especially given how it's been re-imagined as you can see in what I share with you below.

What is Subway Tile?

Traditional subway tile is a 3x6 ceramic glazed tile. It was introduced in the early 1900s with the New York City subway system. As This Old House explains in All About Ceramic Subway Tile,

It might just be the hardest-working wall covering in America. From the moment that ceramic subway tiles made their debut in New York City's subterranean train stations in the early 1900s, they captured the public's imagination and quickly moved into the bathrooms and kitchens of prewar houses for both practical and aesthetic reasons. Easy to clean, stain resistant, and light reflective, the 3-by-6-inch glazed white rectangles epitomized what those rooms could and should be: sanitary.

Subway-Tile-white 3x6 Solid white 3x6 ceramic subway tile installed in a running bond or classic brick joint pattern

Subway tile today, however, isn't limited to 3x6:

Manufacturers often use the term now to describe any rectangular tile with a length twice its height, from 4-by-8-inch planks to 1-by-2 mosaics, and even some tiles (such as contemporary 2-by-8 strips) that don't share the original's proportions at all.

Another characteristic of traditional ceramic subway tile is that it is laid in a classic brick joint or "running bond" pattern where,

Bricks are butted end to end with joints that fall in the middle of the brick on the next row. One of the sturdiest and easiest patterns to install, running bond only requires minimal cutting at each end and will easily follow a gentle curve.

Types of Subway Tiles at Tile Outlets of America

At Tile Outlets, you can find a terrific range of subway tile in 3x6 format - which includes ceramic, glass, travertine, marble and more - as well as 4x10 ceramic subway tile, flat or with beveled edge, and 3x12 double fired ceramic subway tile.

In this article, I'll focus on ceramic subway tile and more specifically:

  • Ceramic subway tile
  • Beveled ceramic subway tile
  • Double fired ceramic subway tile

Ceramic Subway Tile

As I mention above, ceramic subway tiles are the classic type of subway tile and they have been used for centuries on the walls. They are generally 3x6 inches in format, but the sizes are stretching a bit bigger with now 4x10 and 3x12 to name a few formats. Ceramic subway tiles come in many different colors but generally  you will see this tile featured as a white or black.

The design pictured above represents white and black 3x6 ceramic subway tile with a featured listello band in between the two colors installed in a classic brick joint or running bond pattern.

Beveled Ceramic Subway Tile

A wonderful variation on ceramic subway tile is the beveled edge design which gives the look a raised dimension.  It is still clean and classic, but rich in look.  The beveled tiles come in 3x6 and 4x10 formats - see White Ice Bright in 3x6 and White Ice Bright beveled in the 4x10 format.

These tiles are generally installed in a classic brick joint pattern, but don’t let that stop you from installing them like soldiers - horizontally or vertically.


Ceramic Subway-Tile-beveled-edge


Double Fired Ceramic Subway Tile

Double fired ceramic subway tile is really exciting as you see in the image below of the Acquarella subway tile series which is designed to look like it is handmade. In a double fired process, the tiles are fired and then glazed and then fired again. This gives the tiles the appearance of looking old fashioned.  (This is how subway tiles used to be made.)

These tiles are available in a 3x12 and a 3x6 format.  The tiles are designed to be used with multiple colors so you can create a blended color palette.


Acquarella-subway-tile double fired ceramic 3x12 Acquarella double fired ceramic subway tile in the Grey family


When you visit the Fort Myers store, be sure to see our display below which uses two tones of the Acquarella series along with a polished stone mosaic as an accent piece.   These double fired subway tiles are 3x12 in format and installed in a brick joint pattern.


Subway-tile-Fort-Myers-2-tone (600x321) 3x12 Acquarella double fired subway tiles installed in a brick joint pattern with a polished stone mosaic as an accent piece


Installing Ceramic Subway Tile

So there are no rules in subway tile installations.  You can mix colors and types to create the design you want.

In the Tampa Inspiration Area, we installed double fired ceramic subway tiles with glass bamboo textured subway tiles to create the double dimension backsplash you see below. The three different color palettes complement the cabinets and the countertop.


Subway-Tile-Tampa-color-texture (600x549) In the Tampa Inspiration Area, we installed double fired ceramic subway tiles with glass bamboo textured subway tiles to create the double dimension backsplash.


What's your reaction to ceramic subway tiles? Are you as mad for them as I am? How do you see using them in your home?