Cool Kitchen Backsplashes with Subway Tiles

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Backsplashes play a practical role in the kitchen, but there is nothing to say that they cannot be a style feature as well. If you are bored of your boring white backsplash, we have some easy style ideas for you to make a really cool backsplash, using the ever versatile tile – the subway tile.

We have also provided you with some top tips for tiling with subway tiles from experienced tiler Gareth Edgar.

White Subway Tile Backsplash Look

White Kitchen Backsplash

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Traditionally, when you think of kitchen backsplashes, you think of a small area behind the cooker, or behind the sink. All too often, it can get forgotten about, and is just an empty space between the wall and the cupboard.

2018 really is the year for backsplashes though, and we are expecting to see huge changes. What we do expect to see over this year though is that more and more people are actually losing closed cabinets, and instead opting for open shelves, or even windows. With this new open are, why not create ceiling high backsplashes – it is a great way of giving your kitchen fresh and modern look. Subway tiles are the perfect option, as they are so versatile, and can work in spaces of all sizes.

Having a larger backsplash though will create a great focal point, as well as making the most of the space. The tiles will also create a break from cabinets, which will give the impression of a larger area – a particularly great tip if your kitchen is on the smaller side. Not only that, but it will create a stunning backdrop that you can look at every day.

Gareth's top tip for creating a classic brick pattern:

"For a classic brick pattern a half bond is the preferred method. For this, you'll need to measure half the tile and ensure the rows which are next but one match up. Tile from the centre of the wall to eliminate the risk of having to use small pieces of tile at the edge of the backsplash."

Use Larger Subway Tiles

A traditional subway tile is normally 3x6 inches. The great thing about these tiles is that they will always be on trend – they are an absolute staple tile, and one in which you can create many different looks and patterns from.

If you are looking for a way of modernising a classic style, that you know will stay on trend, or simply craving something different, homeowners are starting to use a larger subway tile more and more. The standard large format of a classic subway tile tends to be 4x8 inches, although some manufacturers are even making 4x12 inches.

Larger tiles will create the illusion of more space, so if space is tight or an issue in your kitchen, this trend could work really well for you. The great thing is as well, you can incorporate other trends as well just using your larger format tile. For example, if you liked the idea of floor to ceiling backsplashes, there is no reason that you cannot do this, just with larger tiles. Bear in mind also, that bigger tiles are also easier to clean and require less maintenance.

Mirror Subway Tiles

Subway Backsplash

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Mirrored subway tiles have really picked up in popularity this year alone, and they are not showing signs of going anywhere soon.

They create a really striking appearance in the room, that will reflect any natural light that comes into the kitchen. Again, this is only emphasised when it is extended to the ceiling. This look is not for the feint hearted. It is an incredibly dramatic look, but when done well, it looks very striking and effective.

By day, a mirrored backsplash will highlight any natural light that is reflected off of the tiles, and at light, position your lights so that they also reflect from them. Under cabinet lighting can really emphasise this, or alternatively, if you have chosen to extend the backsplash to the ceiling, spotlights will also create the same effect.

Metallic Subway Tiles

If mirrored tiles are too much too soon, opt for a softer, metallic finish to your subway tiles. These are readily available in a number of different colours and have only increased in popularity as this year has gone on.

The look of metal is almost industrial, and will give your kitchen, an understated, but strong feel. Again, this can be enhanced by extending your backsplash across an entire wall, or extending it to the ceiling.

Picking metallic tiles also opens you up to a number of different materials as well. Stainless steel subway tiles are also incredibly popular this year, and have been for a while, and these are also available in a subway tile cut.

Just like the other ideas, you can combine a number of different trends, which allows you to really make your kitchen your own. Think about size of tiles, and positioning of them as well. Different tile patterns will create different effects (we will mention a particular pattern later), and you can work out what the best combination will be for your kitchen, taking into consideration existing styles and the overall size of your kitchen.

Herringbone Tile Pattern

Subway Backsplash

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When you choose subway tiles it is good to know that you have a variety of options with regards to the ways in which they can be arranged on a wall as part of a kitchen backsplash design. In addition to a traditional running bond brick layout, there are plenty of other patterns available.

One of the most popular alternatives to a classic brick format is a herringbone pattern. This pattern creates a standout feature on walls. You can use the same coloured tiles or alternatively use a combination of two different colours for a trendy contrast.

The angle at which the herringbone pattern is displayed across the wall is also entirely up to you. You could choose a traditional herringbone pattern or one which is arranged diagonally across the wall. The herringbone pattern certainly provides you with plenty of scope when it comes to creating a kitchen backsplash design.

Gareth's top tip for tiling a herringbone pattern:

"The herringbone is quite a versatile pattern. You can choose a herringbone in which the tiles are laid in an L shape from the worktop up or alternatively one which forms a V shape in a similar way to a chevron. The V shape herringbone is slightly more difficult as it requires a greater variety of cuts to account for the gaps in between the V at the bottom and top of the backsplash."

Chevron Tile Pattern

Here we discuss one of the more popular tile patterns that we have seen emerge over the past couple of years. The chevron pattern is incredibly easy to do with subway tiles and can really create a great appearance within your room.

If you wanted white tiles, but wanted to modernise your kitchen slightly, this is a great way of doing so. It creates a feature wall, without distracting from your room too much and still remaining subtle. If course, there is no reason that you could not include other trends. You could still install them up to the ceiling, or continue them across the length of the wall, but they are not so in your face.

However; if you wanted to make them bold you can do. It is simply a way of laying the tiles, so there is absolutely no reason that all other trends cannot be followed in conjunction with this.

If you have absolutely no idea where to start, but would like to include this tile pattern in your kitchen, try a classic monochrome style, which works with any existing style. If you’re feeling a bit bolder, go for a striking colour to create an eye catching design.

Black Subway Tiles For The Kitchen

Subway Backsplash

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We will never tire of black and grey trends. Not only have they been huge this year so far, but years before, and they do not look like they are going anywhere soon. They are such classic colours and really will add a warm and sophisticated feel to your kitchen.

Subway tiles will keep this style modern, but you can change up the finish, whether you prefer a matte or gloss tile; material; or pattern to personalise this and make it a bit more adventurous.

A lot of people are incredibly nervous to add elements of black and grey into their home, particularly if you have a small space due to fears that it could make it feel even more closed in. This is so far from the truth though, and actually, using black and grey tiles in the right way can actually create the illusion of a bigger space; particularly if you are using it for a small area, such as a kitchen backsplash.

Bright Colours Backsplash Patterns

Subway Backsplash

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Bright feature walls have long been on trend, and this year it has been no different. Kitchen backsplashes are a really great time to experiment with colour. You are not dealing with a large area, so you haven’t got the same worry that you might when you are considering creating a feature wall.

Use this opportunity to go bold though; reds, pinks and blues are all great colours to use, and can often be added into existing themes and trends in the kitchen.

If you want to make it more subtle, go for a matt, or textured finish on the tile that you choose. Textured subway tiles add a lot of depth to your home, but will stop the light from reflecting directly off of it, which will soften the finish.

Use this time to get really creative though, and consider your tile pattern, colour and texture.

Gareth's top tip for tiling with subway tiles of multiple colours:

"It really comes down to what the customer is looking for. It is easy to arrange a uniformed pattern with two colours but with three or more it becomes a lot trickier. A more randomised look is sometimes the best option when multiple colours are involved but it's still always best to plan the layout before laying the tiles."

Marble Subway Tiles

Nothing says luxury like marble right? When people picture marble, you normally think of big, huge marble floor tiles. Break out from the norm though and use marble subway tiles to create your backsplash with.

Marble is another classic print, and is considered to be timeless. It can add a real luxurious and sophisticated feel to your kitchen, and will automatically make it feel grander than perhaps it is.

Again, you can get creative. Although marble is a relatively classic print, you can get variations in colour and design, and many manufacturers will include subway tiles in different sizes will allow you to create your own touch on this timeless design.

Marble is not always the best material to use in damp conditions. It has to be resealed, and there is more maintenance required compared to other materials. But, there is a solution. You can marble effect tiles in a more water friendly, and require less maintenance, but that will give you the same effect. Consider the size area that you are looking to cover, and research the care that is required for the material, and then decide if it is for you or not.

Glass Subway Tiles For The Kitchen

Glass tiles have become huge this year, and are a great choice for your kitchen backsplash. They are available in a huge array of colours, and will create a really modern and stylish finish to your kitchen.

Glass is such a versatile material. It is a great choice in wet conditions, as it will not absorb any water, and can easily be wiped clean. The maintenance is minimal, so it is a great choice if you are wanting to find a material that you do not have to spend a lot of time caring for.

They also reflect the light – both natural and artificial, making them perfect for smaller spaces, as they will create the illusion of a larger space.

Like we have said, they are available in a number of colours as well, so you can really get creative. Whether you want to create a really bold wall, or want to go for a more classic style, the possibilities really are endless.

This is the same for the size of the tiles as well. Small, mosaic style subway tiles are really effective for a backsplash, particularly if you are only focusing on a small area. The same rules apply though – larger tiles will give the illusion of a bigger space; so consider the size of your kitchen, and the area in which you want to tile, before picking the best glass subway tiles for you.

Weathered Subway Tiles

One trend that has been really popular in 2018 is the antique, weathered look. This applies to tiles as well. Weathered tiles will add texture and create a softer finish to your kitchen.

It creates a very warm, friendly and welcoming area, as well as creating a real visual interest for you and any visitors.

Subway tiles are some of the best cut of tiles to create this look with, but do not think that you cannot incorporate other trends with this feel as well.

If you decide to install weathered tiles to your kitchen backsplash, consider the existing colours in your kitchen, and try and pick a colour and material that will match accordingly. For a completely rustic look, rustic and weathered wood effect tiles will be the most effective; however do bear in mind that if you wanted to choose the real material, that it will require a lot more maintenance, and much like marble will require regular sealing and protecting, it order to keep it water resistant.

Contrasting Grey Grout

Subway Backsplash

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Finally, if you wanted to use a more classic tile, consider getting more creative when it comes to the grout. Contrasting grout is huge this year, and really can create an eye catching and striking kitchen backsplash.

Of course, the most common combination is white tiles with black grout. Not only is this a classic combination, but it will age well, and also, bear in mind that darker grout will stay looking fresher for longer.

Do not let this stop you from being creative though. Incorporate different trends, such as bold and contrasting colours, or even patterns to really create a design that is personal to you.


Andrew is the content writer for Tilesporcelain, keeping our customers up to date with information and news via blogs and articles.