What are subway / metro tiles?
Why are metro tiles so popular?
6 Subway tile design ideas
How can metro tiles be arranged?
Metro tile colours available from Victorian Plumbing

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What are subway / metro tiles?

White metro tiles seen at Fifth Ave. subway station New York, NY
White metro tiles seen at Fifth Ave. subway station New York City, NY
(Image source: The New York Times)

Subway tiles, or metro tiles as they are also known, are rectangular shaped ceramic tiles that commonly have either a beveled or nibbed edge. The name 'subway tiles' originates from this style of tile having been used on the walls of the London Underground and New York City Subway since the early 1900s.

Why are metro tiles so popular?

You've seen them in tube stations, train stations and bus depots up and down the country, you've seen them in trendy new restaurants and bars, you may have seen them in a friend's house, but what exactly makes subway style metro tiles so popular?

These little 20 cm by 10 cm tiles are everywhere right now and the main reason behind this trend is they're versatility. Metro tiles can be used anywhere in the home from kitchens and bathrooms to that space you’re not quite sure what to do with right now (every home has got one).

Metro tiles offer great value for money compared to other stone and wood options and another added bonus is that they're really easy to keep clean. A quick wipe with a clean cloth and they're as good as new.

Another fantastic feature of metro tiles is the fact that they lend themselves well to any style. Whether you’re looking to install a Victorian Plumbing traditional bathroom or you have your heart set on an ultra-modern kitchen: metro tiles can provide the perfect canvas.

The adaptability of metro tiles has seen them balloon in popularity in recent times and that popularity has never been hotter than in 2016. People are continuing to find more and more ways in which to use metro tiles around the home.

6 Subway tile design ideas

1. In small spaces

Metro tiles are very shiny and reflect plenty of natural and artificial light, making them perfect for small places in the home. Whether you have a cloakroom / en suite bathroom or maybe a small space under the stairs, metro tiles could be your answer to better illuminating your small space.

Metro tiles used to great effect with the Oxford cloakroom suite
Metro tiles used to great effect with the Oxford cloakroom suite
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2. Wood and other natural materials

Have you considered using metro tiles in a room where you are using natural products like wood? The contrast between the shiny, almost industrial, look of metro tiles against the warm tones of natural products like wood is absolutely stunning. Play around with different combinations to discover something that matches perfectly with your style.

3. Colour combinations

Don't feel limited to using just one colour of metro tile. Why not combine two or more colours? You could try having the bottom half of a wall in one colour and the top half in another. You could even alternate row by row or even tile by tile, the possibilities are endless!

4. Grout colour?

Even after you have chosen the colour of your tiles there is another choice waiting for you: which grout colour? As well as the tried and tested white grout, there are now many grout colours available that can completely transform the look of your metro tiles. Some of my favourite tile and grout colour combinations are light grey metro tiles with black grout and light green 'pistachio' metro tiles coupled with a darker green grout.

5. Splash back

One area of the home where metro tiles work really well is when they are used as splash backs. Great in the kitchen or used behind a basin in the bathroom; metro tile splashback is simple, stylish, waterproof and offers great value for money compared to more expensive options like granite or marble. Also, why not try using metro tiles as the upstand behind your cooker and extractor hob?

Metro tiles used as kitchen splashback
Metro tiles used as kitchen splashback
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6. You can't go over the top!

There are so many ways in which you can use metro tiles around the home. it's seems their versatility knows no bounds. My final tip is that you simply cannot go over the top in your use of subway tiles. Use them as much or as little as you like to create special spaces throughout your home.

How can metro tiles be arranged?

As well as the more common 'subway' style of arranging metro tiles there are actually lots of different ways in which they can be arranged. Below are examples of the different ways to tessellate subway tiles.

Stack Bond

Stack Bond metro / subway tiles pattern
Stack Bond metro / subway tiles pattern
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Simple and effective: stack bond arranged metro tiles create a beautifully uniform space.

Subway

Subway metro / subway tiles pattern
Subway metro / subway tiles pattern
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Instantly recognisable: subway arranged metro tiles are a look that never gets old.

Running Bond

Running Bond metro / subway tiles pattern
Running Bond metro / subway tiles pattern
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Running bond arranged metro tiles' centric flow means it can be used to great effect in an isolated area. For example, use the running bond arrangement behind a range or AGA cooker in the kitchen.

Basket Weave 1

Basket Weave 1 metro / subway tiles pattern
Basket Weave 1 metro / subway tiles pattern
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Playful and fun: why not try tiling the kids bedroom or play area with basket weave arranged metro tiles.

Basket Weave 2

Basket Weave 2 metro / subway tiles pattern
Basket Weave 2 metro / subway tiles pattern
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While just as playful as the other basket weave tile arrangement, this slightly different style of arranging metro tiles could be used to great effect in a creative space - think home office or crafts room!

Herringbone

Herringbone metro / subway tiles pattern
Herringbone metro / subway tiles pattern
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Perhaps the most complex metro tiling arrangement: herringbone arranged subway tiles are perfect for achieving the 'metro retro' look.

Diagonal

Diagonal metro / subway tiles pattern
Diagonal metro / subway tiles pattern
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Perfect for creating a feature of the space between base and wall units in your kitchen; diagonally arranged metro tiles are different and funky.

Vertical Stack Bond

Vertical Stack Bond metro / subway tiles pattern
Vertical Stack Bond metro / subway tiles pattern
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Why go across when you can go up? Metro tiles can also be vertically tiled in either the stack bond and subway arrangements. Vertically arranged stack bond metro tiles can be used, among many other applications, to compliment vertically placed bathroom or kitchen handles.

Vertical Subway

Vertical Subway metro / subway tiles pattern
Vertical Subway metro / subway tiles pattern
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You don't often see vertically arranged subway metro tiles and perhaps that's a reason to use this style. It's no fun being just like everybody else anyway!

Metro tile colours available from Victorian Plumbing

Victorian Plumbing has a great selection of durable glossy subway style metro tiles available in 8 different colours. Our brick shaped ceramic metro tiles measure 200 mm x 100 mm, they have a thickness of 6 mm.

Can't make up your mind whether a metro tile colour will match your bathroom or kitchen: why not order sample tiles. Victorian Plumbing gives you the chance to order a sample tile so you can get a look and feel for the colour and quality of the tiles we have available on our website. Simply click 'order sample' when you have chosen the tile colour you love.

Below are pictures and further information about Victorian Plumbing’s range of metro tiles.

White Metro Tiles

White metro tiles - Victorian Plumbing
White metro tile
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White metro tiles are the most popular colour of metro tile; perfect for either contemporary or traditional spaces, white metro tiles can provide the perfect canvas for either your bathroom or kitchen. White metro tiles are also perfect for creating the industrial look!

Light Grey Metro Tiles

Light Grey metro tiles - Victorian Plumbing
Light Grey metro tile
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Light grey metro tiles fit perfectly if you are planning a grey bathroom. Subtle and stylish: grey bathrooms are extremely popular right now. Our light grey metro tile could be just what you need to complete the look!

Black Metro Tiles

Black metro tiles - Victorian Plumbing
Black metro tile
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Apply black metro tiles to achieve a chic ultra modern look. Alternatively, black metro tiles can be used to create a monochrome backdrop to an otherwise colourful space. Black metro tiles are also a popular choice for tiling backsplash in the kitchen or behind a bathroom basin.

Red Metro Tiles

Red metro tiles - Victorian Plumbing
Red metro tile
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Add a splash of colour by integrating red metro tiles into the design plans for your home.

Cream Metro Tiles

Cream metro tiles - Victorian Plumbing
Cream metro tile
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Soft and clean: cream metro tiles can be used to great effect when complimenting other light tones around the home.

Pistachio Green Metro Tiles

Pistachio Green metro tiles - Victorian Plumbing
Pistachio Green metro tile
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Brighten up any corner of your home with our pistachio green metro tiles. Also, why not try using more than 1 tile colour in the same space to create an eclectic backdrop, there is no bounds to the amount of different looks available.

Almond Metro Tiles

Almond metro tiles - Victorian Plumbing
Almond metro tile
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Our almond metro tiles come from an even softer palette than the cream colour above; perfect for beautiful traditional spaces.

Sage Green Metro Tiles

Sage Green metro tiles - Victorian Plumbing
Sage Green metro tile
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Our sage green coloured metro tiles are ideal for highlighting lighter fixtures and fittings around the home. For example, use sage green metro tiles against light coloured kitchen doors or bathroom vanity units.

Just one more thing.

You can also buy tile adhesives and tile grout online from Victorian Plumbing.

Tile adhesives and tile grout
Tile adhesives and tile grout
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I hope you have enjoyed reading Victorian Plumbing's expert buying guide to subway style metro tiles. We love to hear from our customers about how they have created their own unique look in their own homes. Why not share your metro tile pictures with us through our simple SnapandShare customer initiative. We always respond to customer pictures and you never know, you might see your house featured in our upcoming articles or even on the Victorian Plumbing's Facebook and Twitter pages.

Edward, Victorian Plumbing

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