A Brief History, and the Evolution of Subway Tiles


Timeless and classic, the subway tile has affirmed itself as a winning choice in current interior spaces. From humble beginnings in the subways of early 1900s New York to contemporary kitchens, laundries and bathrooms, the evolution of the subway tile has now made it available in a variety of sizes, finishes, colours, and edge options.

An extensive array of subway tile options are available at Designer Tile Company: from standard black and white subways for creating simple yet elegant interior spaces, to colourful, textured, handmade subways for making an unforgettable statement.

The original subway tiles laid in Victoria-era New York subways were white, roughly 75x150mm in size, and featured a flat surface, extra thin grout lines and a rectified edge. These tiles were selected due to their hygienic purposes, as the flat surface and thin grout lines made for easy cleaning and graffiti removal. Today, contemporary subway tiles that replicate the original are available in a variety of classic colours and sizes at Designer Tile Company.

Matt White 75x150mm

The New York subway tile trend also spread to the Paris Métro transit system, where bevelled edge subway tiles have been utilised for over a century. In modern times, bevelled edge subway tiles are closely associated with French-inspired interiors, however they can also be used to maintain a classic look whilst simultaneously adding interest and dimension to a space with their 3D surface. Designer Tile Company offers a variety of bevelled edge subway tiles, in timeless black and white colourways, with both matt and gloss finish options.

Bevelled White Gloss 75x150mm | Bevelled Black Gloss 75x150mm
Bevelled White Gloss 75x150mm | Bevelled Black Gloss 75x150mm

In recent times, subway tiles have been remixed and re-imagined with size, colour and texture. The popularity of the classic 75x150mm has also been met by its taller sibling, the 75x300mm subway. Modern subway tiles are produced in a variety of trendy colours, ready to make a statement. Furthermore, a plain edge may be swapped for an undulated, wavy edge to add interest to the tile.

Designer Tile Company’s Cottage range offers all of the above: in particular, the undulated edge of this collection contributes to its popularity, adding charm and character to a space with its handmade appearance. The Cottage collection is available in on-trend shades of grey, blue and green, as well as classic black and white colourways. All colours are available in a high-gloss finish, and selected colours are available in a matt finish.

Cottage Jade Green 75x300mm
Cottage Ash Blue Gloss 75x300mm

Closely related to the Cottage collection is our brand new Splendours range, which is also available in a high-gloss finish, 75x300mm sizing and shades of blue, green and grey. Additionally, Splendours features an antique crackle look, making it perfect for creating and complimenting vintage and country-style interiors, or adding personality and diversity to a contemporary space.

Splendours Grey Gloss 75x300mm
Splendours Grey Gloss 75x300mm

Subway tiles never lack variety. To create a more unique space, try laying your subway tiles in a pattern. While the offset pattern is universally popular for laying subway tiles, they can also be laid vertically or diagonally. Get even more creative by laying them in stack bond, herringbone or basket-weave patterns.

Cottage White Matt 75x300mm, laid in a basket weave pattern

Cottage White Matt 75x300mm, laid in a basket weave pattern

Contact the friendly tile experts at Designer Tile Company today to learn more about our range of subway tiles for your next project, no matter how large or small your space or budget.