What is your go-to material when it comes to your kitchen backsplashes?

If you did your research, you must have come across plenty of kitchen design suggestions, using subway tiles. Subway tiles are classic and timeless. Their design is clean and simple, most fitting for any home interior.

In this post, we’ll share a few tips to designing your kitchen with subway tiles. Plus, you’ll also learn some tips and tricks for kitchen designing ideas that you can apply for your kitchen makeover..

First, let’s look at how subway tiles can fit into your kitchen.

Use subway tiles as your kitchen backsplash.

A backsplash is a vertical extension covering the wall area between kitchen countertop and upper cabinets.

What is the purpose of a backsplash? A kitchen backsplash primary does two things:

  1. It protects the wall behind the sink from water damage.
  2. It also protects the wall behind your stove from oil splatter, when you cook. 

These reasons alone is why we recommend homeowners to install a kitchen backsplash made out of tiles. Other than its aesthetic appeal, a backsplash made up of tiles – is also easy to wipe down and clean.

Conveniently, subway tiles fit nicely into the design needs of backsplash – making it sort of a ‘permanent wall design’ for your kitchen.

Subway tile patterns ideas for kitchen

The look and feel of subway tile designs relate closely to their patterns. Generally, there are 4 main patterns usually applied with subway tiles:

  • Classic staggered stack
  • Vertical stack
  • Herringbone pattern
  • Chevron pattern

Classic Staggered Stack

This type of pattern arranges the tile in staggered horizontal rows. To get the best aesthetic appeal out of it, pair the subway tiles with colored grout.

For example, by pairing white subway tiles with black grout lines, you can create a striking contrast that is just nice for a modern-looking kitchen backsplash. Dark grout lines also make it less susceptible to dirty marks.

Vertical Stack

Instead of placing the tiles horizontally, twist the design by stacking the subway tiles vertically. 

Vertically stacking tiles gives away a clean and classing feeling, while also adding an illusion of a spacier kitchen backsplash. 

 Herringbone Pattern

Having a herringbone pattern for tile is an eye-catching design to consider for your kitchen. It adds visual interest and dimension to the kitchen space and is worth considering if you feel your current kitchen design to a little plain. 

The downside to a herringbone pattern for tiles is cost – where your contractor might charge you additional fees, as it takes more effort and time to set tiles in a herringbone pattern. 

Chevron Pattern

Also known as the “V” shaped pattern, the chevron pattern looks quite similar to the herringbone pattern, with a few key differences between them.

The edges of the chevron pattern are cut at a 45-degree angle whereas the herringbone pattern is cut at a 90-degree angle. In a chevron pattern, the titles meet point-to-point to create a seamless line in between them. 

Because the tiles have to be cut (by your contractor) at an angle to create a continuous zigzag pattern, the chevron pattern normally costs more to set, compared to the herringbone. However, that may be worth it as well – as it also portrays a more expensive look.

Which tile pattern should I choose?

The choice of tile pattern you choose to design your kitchen backsplash or anywhere at home, is quite subjective. Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preference and the styling choice you want to achieve.

Are you more comfortable with conventional and safe patterns such as the staggered stack? Or are you more adventurous to go with an expensive, classy herringbone pattern?

While there is no hard and fast rule to tile designs, there are some design factors to take into account. Let’s discuss them next. 

Ways to design your kitchen with subway tiles?

The first step to designing your kitchen comes down to picturing your overall kitchen design, color scheme, and theme you’re aiming for. 

Let’s look at some examples.

1– Styling your kitchen the classic way

kitchen subway tiles klang valley

Photo credit: Chango & Co

Let your kitchen design instantly pop out with this black-and-white look. The design is classy and the pattern fits nicely into the overall colour scheme of the kitchen. 

This is one of the most common designs out there. If you prefer to play it safe, this design is perfect for you.

2 –  Blending subway tiles into your kitchen wall


Photo credit: deVol Kitchens

Instead of just using subway tiles as your kitchen backsplash, another good idea is to seamlessly extend them to other parts of your kitchen. 

Then to take it further, combine the colors of the kitchen cabinet and kitchen wall. With subway tiles installed in the middle, you can add texture to an otherwise monotonous room.

3 – Play with different tile colors


Photo credit: Chango & Co

Subway tile designs don’t have to be just black and white. In fact, you could get creative, experimenting with different tile colors to complement the color of your kitchen furniture. 

First, choosing the right color depends on the theme of your kitchen. Otherwise, it comes down to choosing a color for a ‘cooler’ or ‘warmer’ atmosphere in your kitchen. Green and blue colors for tiles for example, provides a cool and fresh atmosphere, while brighter colors like red and orange adds excitement. 

4 – Go bold with your colour choice


Photo credit: Catherine Kwong

If you think white subway tiles are too plain and colorful ones are too bright, consider a darker theme with dark colors. 

While most homeowners tend to favor light-colored kitchens, there’s no rule saying you can’t have a more urban-looking, darker kitchen design – even in Malaysia. 

5 – Going dark-themed.

kitchen wall tiles malaysia

Photo credit: Studio Helder

A dark-themed kitchen with black tiles is more often chosen by cafes and restaurants. If you like to bring some of that ‘cafe-style’ element home, consider black tiles for your kitchen. 

In our example above, you can see that the kitchen is completely covered with black glossy tiles, drawing a fine line between retro and futuristic, making a great way to up your kitchen aesthetic.

If black is too much for you, you could also replace them with white subway tiles. Just remember, the colour of the grout lines will affect the visual feel as well.

6 – Mixing black and white elements.

black and white subway tiles

Photo credit: Victoria Pearson

If you’re afraid the previous idea would leave your kitchen looking too dark, then play around with the colors of your kitchen by mixing black tiles against light-colored kitchen walls and furniture

The black subway tiles add a hint of retro-ness, while the light colored surrounding provides a sense of space in the area. 

7 – Applying herringbone pattern

herringbone kitchen tile pattern

Photo credit: Simo Design

Show off your kitchen backsplash wall with a herringbone tile design. Using a herringbone pattern combined with the black grout lines for tiles make for an eye-catching design. 

But, and yes, there’s a but. With a herringbone design, make sure that the surrounding furniture and fixtures complement its design. 

A design mistake is to have too many ‘feature walls’ in a single space like the kitchen, causing a striking herringbone pattern wall tile to bring clutter into a room. 

8 – Go with a clean design.

white subway tiles

Photo credit: Almost Makes Perfect

Can’t decide the type of kitchen design to go for? If all else fails, you’ll never go wrong with a clean and neat design style for your kitchen backsplash. 

Choose subway tiles that blend in together with the colors of your wall and furniture, to get a modern design and a feeling of more space. 

Kitchen design mistakes to avoid.

If you’re planning to install subway tiles in your kitchen, there are a few potential mistakes to keep your eyes on.

Either you’re installing it yourself or having a contractor to oversee it, it’s best to have these pitfalls in mind so you know you can avoid them in the first place.

1 – Matching your kitchen backsplash to countertop

This is one of the most common mistakes homeowners made. From a design standpoint, it is always recommended to blend your backsplash design with the kitchen cabinet and walls.

2 – Forgetting about your kitchen flooring

Photo credit: Maria Killam

What do you think about the design from the picture above? Notice how busy the design is.

Both patterns from the kitchen backsplash and flooring design are competing visually. The design is all over the place and you don’t even know where to look at.  

So, always keep your flooring design in mind when you’re choosing your subway tiles. Make sure the design is compatible with your kitchen floor.

3 – Getting the tile size wrong

Buying tiles that aren’t a good fit will result in odd sized cut tiles. And this will mess up your kitchen design.

So, it is always recommended to buy an all general-purpose subway tile. This is to make sure the tiles are suitable for all sorts of room layout.

4 – Buying different type of subway tiles for one room

A general rule of thumb — stick to one type of subway tile for one room. You wouldn’t want to mix up the designs. Too much variation will lead to visual chaos, which is a bad thing for your kitchen.

5 – Subway tiles not evenly spaced or levelled

Imagine if you’re pairing white subway tiles with dark grout lines and they are not evenly spaced. This mistake will be very obvious and awful to look at.

To avoid this, you can put spacers at every corner of the tiles during installation. This will help you to make sure the tiles are levelled and spaced evenly.

If you’re not feeling up to the task, there’s always another way — get professional help

Photo credit: Homedit

How much do subway tiles typically cost?

In general, subway tiles are usually sold in bulk. And their price typically ranges between RM1.96 to RM3.80 per piece.

Here are 2 things to know, before buying subway tiles: 

  • Area coverage required for tiles.
  • Type of subway tile material. 

We usually recommend that you buy a few additional pieces of tiles or keep some of the extras after your home makeover, so that if a tile were to crack, you can replace it with the same tile. 

Tiles are also made with different types of materials that determine its hardness and where it should be used. 

You can learn more through our guide: How to Choose the Right Tiles for Your Home

Looking for affordable subway tiles? Check out the hot-selling classic white subway tile on our website. Feel free to chat with us if you like some help choosing and selecting tiles within your budget. 

Lastly, will subway tiles go out of style?

The last thing homeowners like yourself wish for, is to spend lots of money on a home makeover, only to have its design go out of style in a few years. 

Well, lucky you! The nice thing about subway tiles is that they have been around for a long time and is showing no signs of going out of style, thanks to its clean, timeless look. 

Subway tiles are also affordable, compared to textured or marble tiles, making them ideal for homes of all sizes and budgets. 

Now that you know all about subway tiles along with some designs, share with us your thoughts on your upcoming makeover project in the comment section below.

Write A Comment