Timeless in nature and an Australian favourite, subway tiles are an easy and stylish choice for your next custom build.
For tilers, this popular tile presents a unique opportunity to collaborate with their customer and showcase creativity by highlighting layouts and grout options that are often unknown or overlooked, providing them with a truly unique tiling project.
According to Beaumont Tiles’ strategic designer, Vanessa Thompson, the subway tile lends itself to a myriad of dynamic patterns and vibrant layouts that many consumers are unaware of.
“Irrespective of the customer’s motive to buy, flip or sell, offering sound technical and design advice that is collaborative in nature can only build further rapport with the client and position the tiler as their go-to expert and often up-sell their services,” she says.
“From herringbone, step ladder, cross hatch and stacked, the possibilities of the subway tile are endless and provide the perfect opportunity for tilers to show-off a little design flare.”
Whether it’s for the floor, a kitchen splashback or a bathroom wall, a herringbone subway tile pattern can turn the space into a prominent feature that creates depth and theatre to the overall project with mass appeal.
“The herringbone 45 degrees, 90 degrees and horizontal herringbone layering styles create an illusion of grandeur throughout the space,” says Thompson.
To make a bigger statement, Thompson advises choosing a contrasting grout, like a charcoal or light grey.
“Using a contrasting grout to your tile will frame each tile and emphasise the intricacies of the way they’ve been laid, creating a beautiful feature on your floor or wall."
The step ladder pattern is like the herringbone, resembling dynamic movement and direction that creates a focal point wherever it's installed.
“This unique layering option can make any space feel bigger and is a great statement piece,” says Thompson.
“The step ladder is the perfect choice for a niche space in the bathroom – particularly the shower – but would also create a dynamic and vibrant kitchen splashback or feature wall.”
Tip: to ensure a perfect pattern, lay your design onto the ground before you adhere to the wall.
This versatile pattern is a unique combination of horizontal and vertical stacking, where the tiles are layered at 90-degree angles.
“For coastal projects, country chic or classic traditional, opt for a soft shade blue subway like Agrestic Blue gloss with a complementing grout.
“Whereas for modern, eclectic bohemian or retro vintage, be bold and contrast the tile from the grout, and if possible, select a bold shade of subway like our Devonshire in Mustard Yellow or Agrestic in Emerald Green.”
Tip: To create the crosshatch pattern (or basket weave), lay two tiles next to each other to form a square. The next pair of tiles are then put at 90 degrees to the first, and so on. The horizontal and vertical tiles then alternate on the following rows.
From the New York subways of the 1920s to modern houses of today, brick bonding is everywhere. It’s simple, it symmetrical and when you turn it on a 45-degree angle down your client’s wall, their bathroom will be the talking point of the street.
“This unique way of layering captures dimension and flow, and any space can be revamped with a brick bonded subway tile,” says Thompson.
“Choosing a variety of different colours or mixing finishes like satin and gloss with a bold coloured grout is daring and fun, and a perfect way to change or accentuate the final result.
“For projects with a retired fireplace, suggest turning it into a statement piece by using contrasting laying styles on the facing and firebox. I like to pair brick bond in our Agrestic Gloss White subway with Agrestic Gloss Grey laid horizontal in the firebox.”
Tip: To ensure a polished look, use spacers at all intersections to get the most accurate lineup of tiles.
For a variation on a traditional look, stacked subway tiles are a great, playful option.
“The vertically stacked layout is perfect for making ceilings feel taller, and the horizontal stack has the same principle, however with widening capabilities.”
“Mix things up a little with the vertical and horizontal stacked alternating layouts, which means you offset the rows to create a modern look. This layout is great for full tile walls or as a statement wall in the kitchen.”
Take this unique design to the next level by experimenting with grout colour. With coloured grout currently making waves in tile design, consider using black grout with white subways for serious impact.
Tip: As you’re tiling a straight tile pattern, allow 10 to 20 percent extra for cuts and breakages. Also, remember that different batches of tiles may have slightly different colour variations which will be evident with this simple pattern. Make sure you use tiles from the same batch.
Image and diagrams courtesy of Beaumont Tiles