Top 7 Secrets of Subway Tiles Nobody Wants To Reveal

Although different tile experts have revealed a lot about subway tiles, it would amaze you to discover that there is still much more to learn. Presently in our archives, we have over two hundred stories that contain the term ‘subway tiles’. Yet, none of them has revealed some of the top secrets of the tiles. 

You might have probably heard, or known subway tiles are timeless, practical, and durable. And one of the most prevailing facts about them is that they work perfectly in all types of interior designs. 

Is that all you also know? Do you know what counts as subway tile? Do you know where it originated? Have you also discovered some secrets that can help you maximize the use of these unique tiles? If your answer is ‘NO’ to all of the preceding questions, you need to pay more attention to this article at this juncture.

Perhaps you will love to know that the best way to becoming an expert in tiles and interior designs is to understand the secrets behind those materials. Although it is not a gainsaying, it counts a lot in using them to achieve your preferred methods. 

Before I go into the full details, let me start by admitting that I was a novice like you. I barely have any tangible information about subway tiles. But, when the need to learn more arose, I began to dig deeper. 

Are you also ready to unlock some hidden codes about these tiles? Let’s go digging!  

1. Subway tiles originated beneath Manhattan

Yes! Incredible, isn’t it? Absolutely. In 1904, the iconic designers George C. Heins and Christopher Grant La Farge took up a tricky task to design a surface that people can easily clean. They found the first subway tiles below the ground in the subway system of New York City. The idea was to aid the then occupants of New York City using underground transit for the first time. 

Guess what? The two iconic designers came up with some tiles with slightly curved edges and a polished finish. Meanwhile, it illustrated that the subway stations were bright, sanitary and glossy. 

2. The first subway tiles are still available to date 

Does that sound shocking? Of course, it should. To be truthful, not many people are aware of this fact. For many years now, it has remained a secret though some people have visited the place to catch a sight of the first subway tiles.  

Are you a design expert, or you love to discover new things in life? Then, I am pleased to update you to gain access to see the first subway tiles. Your sole responsibility is to take a trip to the abandoned first subway station: the City Hall stop. 

The New York Transit Museum recently revealed that New Yorkers stay on the six trains purposely to catch a glimpse. So, if you’re planning to go on that tour, you are not alone. 

3. Subway tiles came into exist6ence out of an obsession with hygiene 

Have you ever wondered why designers always suggest subway tiles when there is a need to observe higher hygiene standards? Now you know why. 

Subway tiles came out of a Victorian-era when cleanliness is the watchword of every habitant. As you might have noticed, they come with glossy, glazed finishes, making them easy to clean and stain-resistant. More so, you can also channel that to the reason they reflect light perfectly. 

Since the time subway tiles came into the interior design world, they quickly became the top designer’s choice. After a few years, they became the best choice for wall and floor covering for bathrooms, kitchens, butcher shops, and more.

Without a doubt, the sudden general acceptance of the tiles came from being sanitary and valuable. However, it has been the reason they have been in high demand for several decades.

4. Subway tiles don’t have a definite shape

Of course, people used to the traditional rectangular shape will find it difficult to swallow this truth. So the classic dimensions of subway tiles have been up for debate for several years. 

Most people claim that the tiles always come with 3 x 6 inches dimensions. But, in reality, it is a different story entirely now. The truth is, Subway tiles don’t always come in only rectangular shapes anymore, and their dimensions are increasingly expanding. Have you ever seen a subway tile in a square shape? There are many of them out there.

5. Subway tiles also come in stone and glass 

So, if you have always thought that you can only define subway tiles the way there making, you need to think again. Typically, the general definition of subway tiles is a low-fired, thin, glazed, and glossy ceramic tile. However, the first subway tiles they made in the New York Subway stations had white glass as the primary material. That was based on account of the Washington Post.

In recent times, subway tiles are available in different materials, including stone, glass, marble, and many more. 

6. Subway tiles can cost below $1

Yes. It is true! How does it feel knowing that you can get a quality subway tile for as low as 90 cents or even below?

I will not disagree that this fact is among the reasons many people, including top designers, are always searching for subway tiles. And I wouldn’t blame them. Who would like to purchase high-quality materials for interior designs for a lower price?  Not even you.

7. Subway tiles are not for floors

It is rather strange that many people use subway tiles kitchen and bathroom floors. That is incorrect.

Of course, subway tiles come in good quality and are durable enough to serve for a long time. The possibilities of the pattern you can create are also endless, but they are not ideal for floors. 

Why? It is simple. Subway tiles are thin. As a result, they cannot stand the consistent wear and tear. However, you can use them to do all you like on your walls.


There are many other top secrets about subway tiles, but the above ones are more important. They will guide you during the use and maintenance practices and help you achieve the best design you would love to create.