Turns Out There Are Multiple Ways to Do a Subway Tile Kitchen Backsplash

marble subway tile kitchen backsplash with open shelving and blue cabinets
credit: Bespoke Only

When it comes to kitchen design, subway tile is easily one of the most timeless ways to give your kitchen a classic look. Plus, it acts as a great backsplash, reducing costs while remaining functional. The price of subway tile ranges from as low as $0.15 per square foot to as high as $15 per square foot, and even though installation is generally done by a professional, that cost is usually on the lower end, too. However, if you feel up to the DIY challenge, you could always save a few pennies and do the work yourself.

And what about maintenance? Fortunately, since subway tile is typically glazed, the cleaning process is relatively simple and straightforward. If you're interested, you can read all about how to clean your subway tile in this step-by-step guide. Now, onto the fun part. Here are 10 beautiful subway tile kitchen backsplash ideas to inspire your culinary reno.

1. Go for the traditional layout.

classic white subway tile kitchen backsplash with dark cabinetry
credit: Nadine Stay

Subway tile is always a winner, especially when a more classic layout is used. Simply offset each row of tile and voilà! Danica Gadeken of Nadine Stay went this route when she opted to continue her white subway tile kitchen backsplash up to the ceiling, instead of using upper cabinets. The look helped to save money and brighten up her cook space.

2. Or, keep it straight.

A subway tile kitchen backsplash can look pretty contemporary when considered carefully. Instead of offsetting the tile, install it in a straight line or stack bond format. The end result will be a clean and graphic look, as demonstrated in this white cook space by Mandi from Making Nice in the Midwest.

3. Lay them vertically.

If you like the stack bond look but still want something a little bit different, try laying your tiles vertically, also known as the vertical stack bond. Geneva from A Pair & A Spare nailed the subway tile kitchen backsplash idea perfectly in her kitchen remodel, completing the look with green cabinets and wood countertops to boot!

4. Create a herringbone effect.

A herringbone layout is another classic option for a subway tile kitchen backsplash. Kristin Jackson from Hunted Interior opted for matte white tile with a gray charcoal grout, which plays off of the gray tones from the concrete farmhouse sink.

5. Mix and match your backsplash.

industrial kitchen with marble and navy subway tile kitchen backsplash
credit: Studio 125

Rules are made to be broken, so go ahead and mix and match your backsplash. Studio 125's airy kitchen features navy blue subway tile on one side, and a slab of marble on the other. The end result is culinary genius.

6. Play around with the layout.

creative subway tile kitchen backsplash with blue and taupe tiles
credit: Topps Tiles

As above, mixing and matching is a brilliant way to bring some extra va va voom into your subway tile kitchen backsplash. Create a visual treat with your tiling by opting for two different sets of subway tile, laying one set vertically and the other offset horizontally. Simple yet effective.

7. Think geometric.

marble subway tile kitchen backsplash with open shelving and blue cabinets
credit: Bespoke Only

If you're feeling a bit more adventurous, consider laying out your subway tile kitchen backsplash in a geometric pattern, like this white kitchen captured by Bespoke Only. This layout, also known as straight herringbone, is especially beautiful with marble tile. The dark blue cabinets, wood shelving, and crystal chandelier complement the tall backsplash beautifully.

8. Make magic with marble.

marble subway tile kitchen backsplash with open shelving and gray cabinets
credit: Studio McGee

Speaking of marble, if you're a fan of the natural stone, tile is a great way to get the luxe look on a budget. We love this kitchen makeover from Studio McGee, who matched the subway tile kitchen backsplash with gray veining to gray cabinets and white countertops.

9. Use colored grout.

If there's one trend that we can definitely get on board with when it comes to a subway tile kitchen backsplash, it's using colored grout. Office S&M chose yellow to offset the pink subway tile used in this herringbone backsplash. Paired with green cabinets featuring copper trim, the result is truly stunning.

10. Let it shine.

High gloss tile looks sublime in kitchens with loads of natural light, and this backsplash design by Veneer Designs does not disappoint. The oyster-like quality of the tile is the perfect match to the custom walnut cabinetry and open shelving, keeping it both warm and masculine.

Where to Buy Subway Tile for the Kitchen:

Looking for the perfect subway tile for your kitchen backsplash? Here are a few of our favorite brands to shop.

Fireclay Tile's renowned 3x12 tile is cut to order in California and is at home with both traditional and modern styles. The large subway tile can be arranged in half offset, ¼ offset, straight set, herringbone, and parquet tile patterns. They're available in a range of contemporary colors, too.

Heath Ceramics' Classic Field collection offers 18 shapes and sizes. Depending on context and choice of pattern, glaze, and grout, the look can range from quiet and meditative to dynamic and vibrant.

Arizona Tile is a great pitstop if you're looking for something a little different. The family-run business deals with porcelain and glass tile, but also granite, marble, limestone, travertine, slate, and onyx slabs if you're looking to mix and match!


Emma Jane Palin

Emma Jane Palin

Emma Jane Palin is a multi-award-winning blogger and freelance writer with a penchant for design and interiors.