Backsplashes for Kitchen Countertops

Take the Subway Backsplashes for Kitchen Countertops

You have probably seen a score of homes that used subway tiles for bathroom walls or kitchen backsplashes. These are recognizable because of their size, which is usually 3 x 6 inches, usually white and laid in an offset pattern. This type of tiles got its name because the city used them extensively on the walls of subways of New York way back in the 1900s.

The choice was practical as subway tiles were easy to clean and the white color made the space look brighter. Subway tiles are also available in 2 x 4 inches and 4 x 8 inches. Its clean simplicity is a big part of its appeal. It was not long before designers agreed and decided to use them in homes for the same reasons.

You will often find subway tiles in many bathrooms today, but primarily in classic or traditional kitchens only. However, subway tiles are actually quite versatile. Subway backsplashes work well with all types of stone countertops even in modern kitchens. Here are some ways to take the subway backsplashes for kitchen countertops and beyond.

Black and white

kitchen with white subway tile backsplash with solid black quartz countertops
The black quartz countertops are clearly representative of the modern age, so you would think that there is no place for white subway tiles. However, applying dark grout to the subway tiles makes a nice transition. You now have a kitchen that can go either modern or classic, depending on the cabinet, lighting, and appliances you choose. Such a combination will keep you guessing.
For instance, if you put in freestanding base cabinets, this is a definite match for the subway tiles. Add a stainless steel range hood, and you are back to the year 2020. Is your kitchen back in the 1900s or not? The beauty of subway tiles is it blends well in the past and the future. Another word for it is timeless, and that makes your kitchen design very versatile.

Retro bathroom

subway tile walls and octagon floor tiles
We mentioned previously that subway tiles have never really gone out of fashion in the bathroom. However, octagon floor tiles became a relic of bygone days, and hardly seen in any but the oldest homes. It should be interesting to see how the pair would look in today’s bathrooms.
You can pair octagonal tile floors and subway tile walls with a simple pedestal sink and floating vanity with black quartz countertops. If you have a black and white kitchen using the same subway tiles, you could consider it a theme for the home.

Trip to Tuscany

Tuscan-style kitchen with subway backsplashes
A kitchen in the Tuscany style combines natural elements such as wood, natural stone, and earth, so a clearly engineered product like subway tiles might seem a bit off. However, because subway tiles are neutral, they play well with natural products such as terracotta bricks, granite countertops and hardwood floors. Subway tile backsplashes also serve as a transitional element for mod cons such as a stainless steel refrigerator and state-of-the-art cooking hob.

Colored tiles

kitchen with colored subway tile backsplash
White subway tiles are the most common ones used in the home, but other colors are also available. A good way to make it a design element is to combine white subway tiles with colored tiles such as orange, green, and blue. You can use these accent tiles to refer to the color palette of the kitchen, such as blue cabinets, orange wall paint, or green appliances. You can choose tile colors that match or complement other accent colors in the kitchen.

Orientation change

subway tiles laid vertically
A good way to achieve a unique look for your subway tile backsplash is to simply turn it around. Subway tiles are usually in a horizontal orientation laid in a running bond arrangement. Lay it on a vertical orientation and you have something unexpected and attractive. The change in orientation will also create visual height because of the direction of the tile. This is a good style for kitchens with low ceilings and pairs well with marble or granite countertops with a neutral color and simple design.

Natural stone option

Carrara marble subway tile backsplashes with Carrara marble countertops
Subway tiles are usually ceramic, but you can also find them in granite or marble. Using natural stone tiles and laying them like typical subway tiles is a fantastic design choice. It will make your backsplash very attractive and your kitchen unique.
The only issue with this idea is only a few suppliers carry marble and granite tiles in the right size. You might be able to find some measuring 3 x 8 inches instead of the standard 3 x 6 inches, but that should not be too much of a problem. You are more likely to find granite tiles than marble tiles, however. Your tile supplier will be able to help you with that. Choose matching or contrasting countertops in the same material for best results.

Glass variations

glass subway tile backsplash in bathroom
Another interesting alternative to ceramic subway tiles are glass subway tiles. These are much more widely available than natural stone tiles, and the official alternative used in New York subways. They are available in many colors, and work best in bathrooms for home use.
Glass subway tiles are slightly different in that they do not come as individual tiles but in groups of 8 set in wire meshes to make them easier to install. They also lay in uniform lines rather than a running bond pattern, although there is no reason why you cannot remove them from the mesh and lay them in whatever pattern or orientation you want.


Subway tiles for backsplashes are a great addition to your kitchen design, especially if your kitchen countertops are granite, marble, or quartz. They are very versatile and low maintenance, so they are a boon to any homeowner. These are just some ways to use them to great advantage. Can you think of other ways to use subway tiles in your kitchen?

If you need help choosing the right stone for your countertops to match your subway tile backsplashes, give us a call. KNC Granite is a local company with a large collection of natural stones. You can check actual granite and marble slabs in our showroom in Lanham, Maryland.
We deal directly with stone manufacturers and fabricators, so we can give you the best prices possible. In fact, we have a best price guarantee. Additionally, you only pay for what you use, so it does not matter how big or small your project is; you will not be forced to buy a whole slab.
We also distribute and sell engineered quartz stone from the top brands in the industry. These include Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and MSI, all of which come with manufacturer warranties.

We do not only supply top-quality stones, however. We are experts at fabricating and installing kitchen counters or bathroom vanities. We also specialize in kitchen remodeling and bathroom upgrade projects, delivering on time and on budget.
Give us a call or email us for your free in-home consultation and quote!

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