Subway Tile Arrangements – Different Ways to Lay Subway Tiles

21+ Subway Tile Arrangements

White cabinet gray countertop slate backsplash tile BA1045

ID# 184802 – Product BA1045 – Modern Black Slate Subway Backsplash Tile

White Cabinets with Black Backsplash and Gray Countertops

When it comes to subway backsplashes with a brick pattern, 3×6-inch tiles are the most popular option. This classic option provides the perfect balance. However, you can give a more modern look by using slimmer tile sizes. As you can see in this kitchen, the black slate subway tiles are adorned with 2×12-inch sizes. These dimensions give this backsplash a sleek modern look. Using white grout emphasizes the beautiful pattern of the tiles and makes the backsplash more appealing. For the rest, the white cabinets and gray countertops draw a classic and timeless profile.

White Quartz Countertop Black Modern Kitchen Backsplash Tile BA1081

ID# 184817 – Product BA1081 – Modern Black Long Slate Backsplash Tile

Vertically Stacked Subway Tile Arrangements

If you want to create a stylish kitchen with a sophisticated look, a black-and-white color scheme will never let you down! In this transitional kitchen, black color dominates the space through the cabinets and backsplash tile surfaces. The black shaker cabinets and black slate vertical subway tile backsplash flawlessly blend with each other and provide an elegant look with a dramatic flair. The addition of the pure white quartz countertops enlightens the black-dominated atmosphere.

Subway Tile Arrangements

When designing a kitchen, there are lots of things to consider and backsplash is one of them. A backsplash is mainly a wall covering that protects the wall space between the countertops and cabinets. However, it is much more than that. Since a backsplash is the visual focal point of the kitchens, it has a huge impact on the overall look. While many trends can come and go for backsplashes, there is one type of tile that has become the most popular choice for homeowners and interior designers: subway tile. When it comes to a subway tile backsplash, the classic brick pattern emerges first. Even though it is a versatile choice that exudes timeless elegance, there are also different layout options to give your backsplash a modern spin. In this article, we gather 21+ subway tile arrangements that will show you how different patterns influence kitchen designs!

Subway Tile Arrangements for A Variety of Design Styles

Subway tiles have been staples for kitchen backsplashes for over a century. First, they started to be used in New York metro stations and then they became one of the most popular design elements for interior design projects. Traditional subway tiles generally measure 3×6 inches and are laid in a running bond pattern which resembles a brick look. However, thanks to their simple rectangular shapes, they also can be laid in many different layouts. And the way you layout and install the subway tiles defines the final outcome. So, if you want to learn different subway tile arrangements like a classic running bond, herringbone, stacked, or basketweave, you have come to the right place!

Gray Top with Space Blue Subway Glass Backsplash Tile

ID# 184801 – Product BA6202 – Space Blue Glass Subway Mosaic Backsplash Tile

Classic Subway Tile Arrangements with Unique Color

The subtle elegance of the running bond pattern will never go out of style. But you can still make a big impact with classic tiles by choosing a vibrant color! In this transitional kitchen, the glass subway tile backsplash stands out with its space blue color. This gorgeous color gives a metallic finish to the tiles which makes a modern twist on the classic layout. The plain appeal of the white raised-panel cabinets provides a blank canvas that allows the subway tiles to stand out even more. While the gray granite countertops add a touch of opulence to the space, the stainless steel appliances complement the metallic finish of the tiles. For a final touch, the oil-rubbed bronze hardware adds a warm sense against the cool tones.

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Combining rustic California gold slate with burgundy glass, distinctive and unique aesthetic.

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Modern white gray color polished subway made out of skyline marble

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What is the best pattern for subway tile?

No matter the fact that subway tiles can be laid in several patterns, there is no definite answer to this question. The main thing to focus on when trying to find the best backsplash for your kitchen is to take into account several aspects like the desired design, space proportions, or the amount of natural light. Each subway tile pattern is unique and it determines the effect on the spaces.

The running bond aka off-set is the most popular layout option for subway tiles. This classic pattern offers a sleek and versatile appeal that can never go out of style. However, if you want to add more dimension to your space, herringbone, chevron or basketweave patterns are better options! On the contrary, the vertically or horizontally stacked patterns can make the ceiling or a room seem higher or wider which is really good for the small kitchens.

Gray Countertop Brown Cabinet Modern Long Marble Rosewood Gray Backsplash Mosaic Tile BA1080

ID# 184803 – Product BA1080 – Modern Rosewood & Gray Marble Backsplash Tile

Modern Subway Tile Arrangements for Wood Cabinets

Longer and slimmer subway tiles are an excellent option to create a modern flair in kitchens. In this modern kitchen, the marble backsplash tiles provide a sleek and elegant backdrop thanks to their long and slim shapes. The rosewood and gray veining of these modern marble tiles flawlessly complement the natural wood cabinets and gray countertops, creating a harmonious whole!

Running Bond (Off-set)

Taking its cue from conventional brickwork, running bond is the classic choice for subway tiles! Also known as an off-sett, running bond pattern is a simple layout. For this pattern, the joints are offset and centered in the middle of all adjoining tiles. This creates a staggered, brick-like appearance that offers a versatile and timeless appeal for kitchen walls. For the traditional running bond pattern, the most frequent tile size is usually 3×6 inches. This size produces a brick-like layout with a traditional staggered one, thus keeping the proportions that are visually attractive. However, you can also find different size options like 2 x 4, 4 x 8, or 6 x 12 inches. The smaller tiles have more detailed patterns for backsplashes while the larger ones are good for a smooth and seamless pattern.

Whether your preferences are to create a modern, traditional, farmhouse, rustic, or Scandinavian kitchen, a subway tile backsplash with a classic running bond pattern can be a great pair for a variety of design styles. One of the biggest advantages of a running bond pattern is its ability to elongate space. With its horizontal arrangement, it can make the room feel wider.

White Kitchen Blue Glass with Sparkle Design Subway Backsplash Tile BA8010

ID# 184804 – Product BA8010 – Blue Glass Subway Mosaic Backsplash Tile

Running Bond Subway Tile Arrangements with Blue Color

To make the backsplash the star of your design, keeping the rest simple is a great way to achieve this goal. In this beach-style kitchen, the blue glass subway tile backsplash directly draws attention, creating a visually appealing focal point. While the running bond pattern complements the classic style of the white shaker cabinets, the gorgeous blue color transitions enhance the overall look without breaking the spacious atmosphere. For the rest, the white quartz countertops create a continuous look on the cabinets and the white floating shelves enhance the impact of this accent wall.

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Modern white gray color polished subway made out of skyline marble

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Modern Subway Rosewood and Gray Marble Backsplash Tile

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Do subway tiles need spacing?

Yes, to make a flawless installation with equal grout lines, subway tiles need spacing. Whether it is glass, natural stone, ceramic, or porcelain material, tiles can expand with temperature and humidity changes. Spacing between the tiles allows this movement without causing chipping or cracking. Furthermore, spacers are used to make sure that the tiles are in the correct position and, in this way, they give a nice look to the whole place.

Gray Cabinet with Space Brown Subway Glass Backsplash Tile

ID# 184805 – Product BA6201 – Space Brown Glass Subway Mosaic Backsplash Tile

Space Brown Glass Backsplash Tiles with Gray Cabinets

Even though a running bond pattern gives a classic feel to the subway tiles, you can make a modern spin on this classic pattern by using a statement-maker color shade! In this contemporary kitchen, the glass subway tile backsplash is adorned with a space brown color that gives the space an ultra modern look. These brown tiles shine like a diamond, adding a light and airy feel to the space. The white quartz countertops complement this bright appeal while the gray cabinets provide a sleek and elegant base. The natural wood range hood and floating shelves add a rustic flair to the design and the brass hardware complements the warm sense of these wooden textures!

White Kitchen Glitter Design Backsplash Tile BA8001

ID# 184806 – Product BA8001 – Sparkled White Glass Subway Backsplash Tile

All-white Kitchen with Subway Tiles and Shaker Cabinets

When it comes to the traditional subway tile backsplash the white color is the king! The truth is that the mix of the unspoiled and fresh charm of white and the everlasting grace of a subway pattern will never let you down! The white color surrounds all the surfaces in the transitional kitchen which in turn creates a bright and spacious atmosphere. The white shaker cabinets, white subway tiles and white quartz countertops seamlessly blend with each other and create a harmonious whole. The slight marble-like textures of the tiles and countertops enhance visual interest. The brass knobs are the only elements that break the white color scheme and bring much-needed warmth.

Is subway tile always staggered?

While staggered layouts like running bond are the most popular pattern option for subway tiles, there is no such rule. You can always opt for different layout options like stacked, herringbone, basketweave or crosshatch. Each pattern is unique and has its own characteristics and effect on the total appearance. Even though staggered patterns are versatile, you can grow your creativity by investigating the other subway tile patterns.

3 BA8005

ID# 184807 – Product BA8005 – Blue & Gray Metallic Glass Subway Backsplash Tile

Modern White Cabinets with Classic Subway Tile Arrangements

If you are using such a strong backsplash tile design, it is better to keep the rest simple! In this contemporary kitchen, the glass subway tile backsplash directly draws attention, creating a striking focal point. The gorgeous blue and gray color transitions of these tiles give a metallic effect. The plain appeal of the white cabinets and countertops balances the busy look of the tiles and avoids creating an overwhelming look. The glossy finish of the cabinets enhances the light and airy feel.

White Quartz Countertop Blue Subway Tile BA8002

ID# 184808 – Product BA8002 – Blue & Brown Glass Subway Mosaic Backsplash Tile

Two-tone Cabinets with Multicolored Subway Backsplash Tiles

The mixture of white, blue, and wood tones in this kitchen gives it the soothing feeling of a beach-inspired style! The glass subway tiles are adorned with blue and beige shades that evoke the beachside. These textures act as a mural, providing a visually appealing backdrop. While the wood cabinets provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere, the white wall cabinets and countertops enlighten the atmosphere. The black hardware slightly punctuates the cabinets and adds much-needed contrast.

Is it better to lay the tile straight or staggered?

There is no specific layout option that is considered better when it comes to subway tiles. Either straight or staggered patterns can be used to produce a beautiful backdrop for kitchens. Staggered patterns are well-known patterns for subway tiles. They are flexible and classic items that can be used with various design styles. Straight sets have more of a sleek and streamlined look that gives off the feeling of modern flair. In the installation, the straight patterns are easier to install which can be a perfect DIY project! Staggered patterns demand more preparation and cutting skills to reduce wastage and make a perfect installation. Hence, it is up to you to make the decision.

White Blue Brown Kitchen With Warm Gray Marble Subway Backsplash Tile BA2007

ID# 184809 – Product BA2007 – Modern Warm Gray Marble Subway Backsplash Tile

Modern Farmhouse Kitchen with Dark Wood Floor

Farmhouse kitchens are known for their warmth, rustic elegance, and functionality, and this kitchen has it all! Here, the white and wood cabinets set the tone of the kitchen, providing a well-balanced look. Between them, the warm gray marble subway tile backsplash creates a cohesive backdrop with a luxurious sense. The large format of the tiles gives the space a more open and airy feel. At the center, the dark gray kitchen island brings depth and dimension to the space. The addition of the white pendant lights, gold counter chairs, farmhouse sink, and chrome hardware make a harmonious final touch that enhances the overall design.

Vertical Running Bond (Off-set)

While the horizontal arrangement is the most popular approach for subway tiles, the vertical running bond pattern offers a sleek and modern aesthetic. It is the variation of a classic brick pattern where subway tiles are staggered vertically instead of horizontally. These types of subway tile arrangements are a stylish alternative to a traditional brick pattern. This design is distinguished by a modern and stylish look that usually depicts the walls or the wall to the eye upward in rooms with low ceilings.

Just like the horizontal one, a vertical running bond pattern can be obtained with several tile sizes such as 3 x 6, 4 x 8, 6 x 12, or 10 x 20 inches. Each size has a different visual impact on the overall look of a kitchen. Besides, the grout color is another factor that can also affect the overall aesthetic of a vertical running bond subway tile arrangement. You can make these vertical lines stand out by using a different color for the grout!

Blue Cabinets with Space Blue Subway Glass Backsplash Tile

ID# 184810 – Product BA6202 – Space Blue Glass Subway Mosaic Backsplash Tile

Vertical Running Bond Subway Tile Arrangements

With its contrasting color scheme and metallic accents, this contemporary kitchen gives a dramatic appeal. To start with, the glass subway tiles directly draw attention at first sight, creating a striking backdrop. The space blue color and the vertical layout of these subway tiles enhance the modern flair in the room. The ceiling-height placement also enhances the impact of the tiles. The dark gray kitchen cabinets and brass cabinet hardware perfectly complement the dramatic appeal of the tiles. The white Silestone quartz countertops and white upper cabinets bring a fresh and clean appeal against the dark shades and enlighten the atmosphere.

white cabinet black granite countertop subway marble backsplash tile

ID# 184811 – Product BA1034 – Modern Marble Subway Backsplash Tile

Transitional Kitchen with White Cabinets and Black Countertops

Black and white color scheme and a touch of marble… This transitional kitchen has everything that exudes a timeless elegance. The white shaker-style cabinets and black countertops draw a classic profile that never goes out of style. The marble subway tile backsplash flawlessly completes this timeless look. The vertical arrangement gives a new perspective on the traditional layout, thus, contributing to the background’s visual appeal!


Thanks to the simple rectangular shape of the subway tiles, they can be arranged in various patterns. And if you want to create an eye-catching backdrop, a herringbone pattern will be a great option. To generate this pattern, tiles are placed at a 45-degree angle which forms a zigzag or “W” shape that looks like a fishbone. Thus, this never-ending zagzig pattern gives a dynamic look to the surface which in turn makes the surface more interesting and more textured!

Since subway tiles come in a large plethora of colors, materials, textures, and patterns, herringbone subway tile arrangements can be used for a variety of design styles from modern to traditional. One of the biggest advantages of herringbone tiles is their ability to add visual interest to any space. Whether it is a standard or a ceiling-height backsplash, the diagonal orientation of the tiles can create a sense of movement and flow.

White Cabinet Blue Glass Herringbone Backsplash Tile BA5507

ID# 184812 – Product BA5507 – Blue Glass Herringbone Mosaic Backsplash Tile

Herringbone Subway Tile Arrangements for White Cabinets

A backsplash can easily make or break any kitchen design and this one definitely makes it! Here, the blue glass herringbone backsplash tiles stand out between the white cabinets, creating a visually appealing backdrop. While the eye-catching zigzag pattern gives a nice textural look, the gorgeous blue shades evoke the tranquil sense of the ocean. Even though this backsplash is the most striking element in this design, it perfectly complements the bright appeal of the white cabinets and countertops with its glossy finish.

White Quartz Countertop Gray Cabinet Herringbone Marble Look Mosaic Backsplash Tile BA5503

ID# 184813 – Product BA5503 – Marble Look White Glass Herringbone Mosaic Tile

Gray Shaker Cabinets with White Backsplash and Countertops

The combination of gray and white is one of the most stylish and timeless color schemes that is frequently used for kitchen design. This kitchen, for example, is the one that is transitioning and is surrounded by gray shades and bright white surfaces. The understated gray color of the shaker-style cabinets gives a sophisticated and stylish base to this room. The area between the cabinets, the white backsplash tiles and the countertop are the reasons why the bright and fresh appeal is there. The marble look glass tile backsplash adds visual interest without overpowering.

Horizontally Stacked

Also known as the stacked bond pattern, a horizontally stacked pattern is a simple yet modern arrangement for subway tiles! For this layout tiles are installed in straight rows with each tile aligned directly above or below the next one. These types of subway tile arrangements offer clean and continuous lines with a uniform appearance. The biggest advantage of this horizontal stacked bond pattern is its ability to make the space feel wider, which is especially good for narrow kitchens. The sleek appeal of a horizontally stacked pattern is a great option for those seeking a clean and modern aesthetic with subway tiles!

Blue Cabinet Blue Rustic Glass Backsplash Tile BA6204

ID# 184814 – Product BA6204 – Blue Rustic Glass & Ceramic Mosaic Backsplash Tile

Stacked Subway Tile Arrangements with Dark Colors

If you decide to go with a dramatic backsplash design, like this one, you can complement this sophistication by using matching cabinets. Here, the navy blue cabinets and stacked subway backsplash tiles create a harmonious look, adding a sense of luxury. The brown accents of the blue mosaic tiles add a rustic flair to the backdrop. The black kitchen appliances perfectly complete the elegance of the blue surfaces while their brass accents give a vintage feel. Between all these dark surfaces, the white quartz countertops stand out with their bright appeal and enlighten the atmosphere.

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ID# 184815 – Product BA1038 – Modern Long Gray Limestone Backsplash Tile

Modern Gray and White Kitchen with Metallic Accents

If you want to create a super modern look with your backsplash, opt for large format tiles and lay them through the ceiling. In this modern kitchen, for example, the gray subway tiles reach through the ceiling, creating a seamless backdrop. The horizontally stacked pattern of these modern limestone tiles makes the space wider. Also, these horizontal tiles provide a smooth transition between the white and dark gray cabinets which create a well-balanced overall look. The metallic accents such as the cabinet hardware and single floating shelf add a dose of sparkle.

White Mosaic Tiles

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Two Tones Cabinet White Brown With Modern Backsplash Tile BA4502

ID# 184816 – Product BA4502 – Modern Light Gray Porcelain Backsplash Tile

Modern Kitchen Design with Two-tone Cabinets

Modern kitchens are known for their clean and sleek lines, uncluttered surfaces, and neutral color schemes, and this kitchen has it all! The white and wood cabinets anchor the space, providing a bright atmosphere with a warm sense. Between them, the light gray porcelain tile backsplash adds a nice textural look. The white grout emphasizes the horizontal stacked pattern of the tiles making the space feel wider! The dark gray concrete-look flooring creates a contrast and brings depth to the space.

Vertically Stacked

It is the variation of a horizontally stacked pattern where subway tiles are stacked vertically instead of horizontally. For this pattern, tiles are aligned one on top of the other in straight vertical columns. These columns offer clean and uninterrupted lines that can visually elongate walls. These types of subway tile arrangements are particularly effective for kitchens with low ceilings or narrow walls. The vertical placement of the tiles creates an illusion of a higher ceiling. While 3×6 inch size is a classic choice, you can create more modern and streamlined looks by using longer tile sizes.

Modern Beige Backsplash Tile with Light Cabinets

ID# 184818 – Product BA4501 – Modern Long Beige Porcelain Backsplash Tile

Transitional Kitchen with White Cabinets and Countertops

If you want to emphasize the shape and pattern of your backsplash tiles, choosing a different grout color will help you achieve your goal. In this transitional kitchen, for example, the light beige subway tiles are adorned with darker beige grout lines. Even though these grout lines don’t create a striking contrast, they still emphasize the long and slim shape of the vertical tiles. The vertically stacked pattern of the tiles makes a modern twist against the classic style of the white shaker cabinets. For the rest, the brass cabinet hardware, stainless steel stove, and paneled range hood perfectly complete the traditional look of the cabinets.

What size subway tile is timeless?

Even though subway tiles come in a wide variety of size options, there is one size that will never go out of style: 3 x 6 inches. These types of subway are versatile and timeless, as they can complement a variety of design styles, from traditional to modern. The 3:6 ratio offers a balanced look. Whether you want to create a subtle backdrop or a statement-maker backsplash, a 3 x 6 inches subway tile backsplash will never let you down!

White Countertop Blue Rustic Glass Backsplash Tile BA6204

ID# 184819 – Product BA6204 – Blue Rustic Glass & Ceramic Mosaic Backsplash Tile

Blue Vertical Subway Tile Arrangements with Floating Shelves

Here is another bold and dramatic kitchen design! This contemporary kitchen makes a strong design statement with its dark color scheme. The combination of the blue cabinets and blue mosaic tile backsplash creates a harmonious look with a dramatic flair. The rough textures of this glass and ceramic mosaic tile backsplash add a rustic sense to the backdrop. The wood floating shelves perfectly complete this rusticness.


Chevron is the other great layout option for subway tiles which creates a more dynamic and sophisticated appeal! It looks like a herringbone pattern but for a chevron pattern, tile pieces come with the short ends cut at a 45-degree angle that creates a striking V shape. Each tile meets the next at a point, creating a continuous zigzag pattern. While the herringbone pattern creates a more fluid zigzag pattern with ‘W’ shapes, the chevron offers sharper and angular ‘V’ shapes. Chevron subway tile arrangements are striking and visually appealing options for a variety of design styles.

Contemporary Kitchen Blue Cabinets White Marble Backsplash Tile

ID# 184819 – Product BA631613 – Modern Gray Marble Chevron Mosaic Backsplash Tile

White and Blue Kitchen Cabinets with Chevron Subway Tile Arrangements

When the luxurious elegance of the marble stone meets an eye-catching chevron pattern, the result is just perfect. In this contemporary kitchen, the marble chevron backsplash tiles create a subtle backdrop with a nice textural look. Using a matching grout color provides a subtle appeal to the marble tiles. The white wall cabinets and the navy blue cabinets of the Caesarstone quartz countertops light up the atmosphere while the navy blue cabinets give a pop of color that adds depth to the space. The wood floating shelf merges with the coastal feelings thus, creating a warm atmosphere!

Blue Mosaic Tiles

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Blue textured glass mixed herringbone mosaic tile

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Blue & gray hexagon glass & marble mix mosaic tile.

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Black Cabinet Countertop White Chevron Marble Look Glass Mosaic Tile

ID# 184821 – Product BA5506 – Marble Look White Glass Chevron Mosaic Tile

Black and White Kitchen Design with Brass Accents

A black and white color scheme is always a good and failsafe option for kitchens and this one executes it very well! Here, the black cabinets anchor the space, creating a sophisticated foundation. The addition of the white backsplash tiles and countertops enlightens the atmosphere. The marble look textures of the white chevron mosaic tile backsplash add a touch of opulence which is complemented by the brass cabinet hardware.

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