Subway Tile Designs Inspiration

10 Subway Tile Designs: 1 Cosshatch 2 Stack Bond 3 Traditional Herringbone 4 Running Bond 5 Straight Herringbone 6 Diagonal Herringbone 7 Offset 8 Diagonal Offset 9 Vertical Stack Bond 10 Vertical Offset BondIt’s no secret that we LOVE subway tile here at ABM. It’s fresh, inexpensive and classic. In the past I have stuck with a traditional offset pattern for all of my subway tile. But recently, as I’ve been renovating my new home, I’ve gone a different route by mixing up the patterns throughout the home. It’s been a fun way to add a little personality to my basic, white tiled spaces.

Black and white herringbone tile with yellow sneakers on itIf I had to pinpoint the moment that I actually fell in love with subway tile, I would say it was this moment. Emma and Laura had the vision for this special floor in our Habitat for Humanity house, and it turned out to be my favorite detail. It’s so bold, but also not insane. Right? I wish you could have seen it in person!

Anyway—today I’m excited to share a guide of some of my favorite patterns for laying subway tile!

Crosshatch tile designCrosshatch

Since I couldn’t find a good example image for this one, I’m thinking maybe I should do it in my own home. I really love this pattern and I haven’t picked the pattern for my master bathroom yet (yep—it’s still gutted).

Stack Bond tile designWhite Stack bond subway tile in a bathroom with a white tub, white toilet, 3 potted plants, and a wooden table with candles on itStack Bond

I love the clean lines. So fresh and modern! I chose this look for our guest bathroom. I wanted something super clean and simple. I’m planning to pair it with a lot of texture, brass elements and pops of color.

Photo via La Maison d’Anna G

 Traditional Herringbone tile designWhite Traditional Herringbone subway tile in a kitchen with white cabinets and a big islandTraditional Herringbone

One of the prettiest subway tile patterns, in my opinion! It reminds me of a cool Paris apartment.

Image via HGTV

Running bond tile designWhite Running bond subway tile in a kitchen with brown cabinetsRunning Bond

I chose this pattern for the shower in one of our bathrooms. It turned out really great. It’s like the traditional offset pattern, just flipped on its side. This pattern can make a space appear taller.

Image via WS Workshop. 

Straight Herringbone tiel designwhite Straight Herringbone tile in a bathroom with brown cabinets and whit countertopStraight Herringbone

My personal favorite herringbone variation. I chose this pattern for our kitchen backsplash, which is being installed right now! (Augh! The anticipation is killing me!) I think of it as a geometric version of herringbone.

Image via Smitten Studio.

Diagonal herringbone tile designWhite Diagonal Herringbone in an all white kitchenDiagonal Herringbone

Another take on herringbone. It’s rad how the smallest variations create a totally fresh, unique pattern. I’m a big fan of all the vertical options.

Image via Remodelista.  

Offset tile designWhite Offset subway tile in an all white kitchenOffset

The most traditional pattern for subway tile. I will say, this is the safest choice if you are flipping a house or remodeling with resale in mind. It’s also the most classic and less noticeable if you want to save the show-stopper moment for other elements in your space.

Personally, I think I would also choose this traditional pattern if I was doing a bold colored subway tile. I like that mix of classic and fun. If I did a rainbow subway wall, for example, I’d choose classic offset.

Image via Blood And Champagne

Diagonal offset tile design

Brown Diagonal Offset tile in a bathroomDiagonal Offset 

One of my favorite patterns because it’s so uncommon. I chose this for the backsplash in a bathroom, but it looks a lot more subtle than this example because it’s white tile with white grout. I love it with the black tile, so bold!

Image via Home Designing.

Vertical stack bond tile designWhite Vertical Stack Bond tile with plates and utensils in front of itVertical Stack Bond 

Again, I’m a huge fan of the clean lines here. It reads much more modern than a traditional pattern. Very cool!

Image via Lotta Agaton

Vertical offset bond tile design

Vertical Offset Bond 

Another fun vertical variation.

If you’re curious about cost, here’s a couple things I’ve learned:

Buying the tile/

Subway tile is very budget friendly! In my original plans for our new home, I had a lot of marble and specialty tile planned for bathrooms and the kitchen. But when other areas of our budget started running over (insert frightened emoji here), I switched most of the tile to subway tile and saved over eight thousand dollars just with that one swap (party horn emoji?). I sourced it all over Nashville in both big box stores and local stores to get the best possible deal, which shaved off another couple thousand dollars since the volume I needed was pretty high. Always ask for bulk discounts. I saved hundreds one day because the store was running a tax-free weekend sale.

In total, I saved over ten thousand dollars by choosing subway tile! 

(( High fives! ))


Every contractor is super different on how they price the installation. But both of the contractors I ended up using to install my subway tile did not charge extra to do special patterns. Some patterns require more cuts and some don’t. So don’t be afraid to ask! It’s not necessarily going to be more expensive than the traditional pattern, and even if it is, it may be more minor than you think.

Oh, and by the way, I know a lot of blogs out there have taught how to DIY tile installation. So if you’re brave, there are a lot of good resources! For me, personally, it’s worth every penny to have it installed by a professional because tile is expensive to undo and I just don’t feel up to that risk. So, get a few quotes and see what you think, but I recommend hiring a professional for installation.

black Subway tile on a bathroom wall behind a white toiletImage via StyleCaster.

As you can see, there are tons of really fun possibilities for how you lay subway tile. It doesn’t have to be traditional. It can be super creative. And I love that you don’t have to spend crazy money to have tile in your home that is custom and special!

Have fun with it. xx- Elsie

P.S. You can read about my removable kitchen tile backplash here!

Credits// Author: Elsie Larson, Graphic Design: Mandi Johnson. Images credited throughout. 

  • This post is so incredibly informative. I have been searching for weeks for pattern options for subway tile. I love that you have an illustration with all of the pattern variations, it’s been so helpful when deciding what exactly I wanted in my space.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!

    Lauren –

  • Such great timing! I’ve been pondering our backsplash for awhile now, and we’ve held off because the funky ones I love are SO expensive… this is a fabulous alternative and that herringbone pattern! I love it to bits. I think we’re finally ready to commit to a tile! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • My Husband and I just finished a DIY patio and we used the crosshatch pattern for the pavers. It came out BEAUTIFULLY and is really quite striking. After researching different patterns, I’m obsessed and now have a lot of ideas where I will incorporating tile! Thanks for the one stop pattern references!

  • Love the laying pattern ideas 🙂

    You could try this with vinyl floor tiles too – Harvey Maria have a gorgeous new range of brick-shaped vinyl tiles in pretty colours that would be perfect!

  • Thank you for this fabulous inspiration!

    Greetings & Love

  • I’m so inspired! My hubby and I are looking into buying a house soon, and I have always loved subway tiles. They are so versatile!

  • I must admit – for a while I became quite frustrated with subway tiles because they were *everywhere* but I am rekindling my love by trying to work out new patterns! I never liked the crosshatch style until I found this example in Egg Shop NYC. Diagonal cross hatch for the win!

  • I am in love with subway tile. I would love to do a herringbone back splash, but I have to convince my other half. Thanks for sharing the different patterns. I will used this to show the other half!

  • So many beautiful examples of patterns I’d never thought of! Thanks for inspiring me!

  • Hey Maggie,
    That example is A-MAZING!!! Love it.
    Thanks for sharing!
    xx- Elsie

  • I love all the options for subway tile! I am in the research process for my home in Nashville … where did you find the best prices?

    Thanks for all of your posts!

  • Awesome post! My husband and I are renovating our first home and using subway tile in the kitchen and bathroom. We almost went with herringbone, but we LOVE the classic look of offset. Have fun with your new house!!


  • my favourite is crosshatch! I will definitely be remembering all this for when I buy a house (many years away!) hope you have a lovely week!xx

    Erika | Just That DIY

  • So many lovely designs and so much inspiration! Thanks! Sincerely,
    Vera – The Flash Window

  • I loved the floor in the Habitat for Humanity house too! It made me research about subway tile!

    This patterns are really inspiring too. I loved the crosshatch (it’s so traditional too me, reminds me an hotel that I used to visit in my childhood) and all kinds of herringbone.


  • Very Nice!! I recently bought a place and I am kind a addicted to this style of backslash in my kitchen!! This will be my refrence guide

  • Orlando Soria has an example of Crosshatch that he has in his new condo. When using more tiles to make the pattern he also calls it parquet.

    and with more detail:

  • Your posts never fail to inspire me to want to move out, get my own place, and go DIY-crazy. Love it!

    White Walls & Wanderlust


    here’s an example of the first pattern that you couldn’t find a picture for! my favorite!

  • All great patterns! Who know there was so much creativity with a simple subway tile? My favorite is the straight herringbone.

    Analog House

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