Architectural Home Designs & Decorating Ideas

Kitchens with White Subway Tile Backsplash

Gabriela Connell
5 minute read

White subway tile backsplashes have been popular in kitchens for over a century, and for good reason. The classic rectangular white tiles lend a vintage charm while still feeling clean and contemporary. Read on to discover why this versatile backsplash option endures, and get ideas to add it to your own kitchen.

With many colors and designs to choose from, backsplashes provide a great opportunity to showcase your personal style. Yet you can’t go wrong with the simple beauty of white subway tile. The crisp, bright tiles make any kitchen look more spacious and airy. Let’s explore why they have been a go-to backsplash choice for generations of home chefs.

Benefits of White Subway Tile Backsplashes

From their durable porcelain construction to effortless maintenance, white subway tiles offer many advantages for your kitchen backsplash.

Timeless Look

kitchens with white subway tile backsplash

White subway tiles first grew popular in New York City subway stations in the early 1900s. Their classic rectangular shape has stayed fashionable for over a century! While many trends come and go, white subway tiles remain timeless. This clean, versatile style blends seamlessly whether your kitchen aesthetic is modern, traditional, cottage, or coastal.

The vintage roots of subway tile make it a great choice for older homes seeking a period-appropriate look. Or easily incorporate these tiles into contemporary kitchens to balance sleek, minimalist elements. Whatever your style, white subway tiles will stay stylish for years to come.

Brighten Up the Kitchen

The pure white color of subway tile backsplashes reflects light beautifully, making kitchens appear more open and airy. They lend a fresh, clean look that enhances the space. This light-boosting effect makes white subway tiles especially ideal for small, dark kitchens needing a brightening touch.

By extending the tiles onto the wall space around windows, you can make the most of natural light streaming into your kitchen. Their illuminated sheen will make the space feel more expansive.

Easy Maintenance

White subway tile backsplashes made of ceramic or porcelain are incredibly durable and stain-resistant. They hold up well over time without needing special care. The hard glaze makes tiles easy to wipe down and keep looking as good as new.

While the grout between tiles may get dirty, it can easily be scrubbed clean or resealed periodically. Overall, white subway tile backsplashes are one of the lowest maintenance options for kitchen walls prone to splatters.

Affordable Option

Product price matters for most kitchen renovation budgets. Compared to premium backsplash materials like stainless steel or natural stone, white subway tiles are very budget-friendly. With such an inexpensive tile material, you can cover a wide backsplash area while enjoying big visual impact.

Whether you choose economy grade ceramic or higher end porcelain, subway tile prices typically range from $5 to $15 per square foot. With various quality levels available, you’re sure to find the right whites for your budget.

Design Ideas for White Subway Tile Backsplashes

One major benefit of white subway tile is its sheer versatility for creative designs. While the classic brick pattern remains popular, you have many options for laying out eye-catching backsplash looks.

Mix and Match Tile Layouts

Go beyond basic bricks and get creative mixing up your tile design. Lay some sections in a herringbone pattern for visual interest. Or alternate bricks with a fun mosaic design. Combining layouts like diamonds, chevrons, basketsweave and more makes a unique backsplash.

Creative Use of Grout Color

Your grout color choice can make a surprising impact. White grout blends seamlessly with the tile for a cohesive, clean look. Or go bold with black grout lines that accent each tile. Gray, off-white, or cream grout also complement subway tiles beautifully.

Consider matching or contrasting your grout with the color of kitchen cabinets. Dark grout can look dated, so aim for white or soft neutral tones.

Accent Tiles

While white subway tiles create the backdrop, consider adding accent tiles in bolder colors or designs. Mini mosaic tiles in one section of the backsplash can provide eye-catching pops of color. Metallic backsplash tiles like copper or stainless steel add modern flair.

Clear glass subway tiles have a light-transmitting effect for interesting visual depth. Pair them with opaque white tiles on the same backsplash. The options for infusing additional tile shapes, sizes, and textures are endless.

Combine with Other Materials

Think beyond just tile to incorporate other elements for a dynamic backsplash. Mix in marble, travertine or penny tile strips. Or add floating wood shelves for plants, cookbooks and personalized display space.

Using contrasting countertop materials like granite, soapstone, or butcher block also complements a crisp white subway tile backsplash beautifully.

What to Consider When Planning Your Backsplash

Now that you’re inspired to install white subway tile backsplashes, lets explore key factors to consider during your design planning.

Kitchen Cabinet Colors

Which cabinet colors will you pair with white subway tiles? recommendations include white, light gray, navy, black, and natural wood tones. Avoid tones too similar to the tile, as you want enough contrast between surfaces.

White subway tiles pop against black cabinets for a bold, dramatic kitchen. Soft gray cabinets create a calming, neutral palette. And for traditional charm, combine white subway tile with wood cabinets.

Kitchen Countertops

Materials like white quartz or white marble complement subway tile backsplashes seamlessly. But don’t be afraid to pick contrasting countertop colors and materials to make your backsplash stand out.

Butcher block, soapstone, or granite countertops in various hues look stunning against white subway tiles. The options are wide open for the countertop and cabinet combinations you can dream up.

Grout Color

As mentioned earlier in the design ideas section, your grout color choice impacts the overall look. Soft white, light gray, and off-white grout colors suit subway tiles in most kitchens.

Consider whether you want grout that blends with the tile or contrasts against it. Matching the grout to your cabinets, whether white, wood, black or gray, assures a cohesive completed look.

Tile Size

The most common options are 3×6 inch and 4×8 inch sized subway tiles. The smaller 3×6 inch size provides more grout line patterns and texture. Meanwhile, fewer grout lines with 4×8 inch tiles create a smoother appearance.

Larger 8×16 inch subway tiles can also make a dramatic impact. Just ensure your tile dimensions align with the scale and layout of your cabinets and countertops.

With their versatile rectangular shape, bright white color, and vintage roots, subway tile backsplashes are a timeless choice. They instantly elevate kitchens with character and visual interest.

Combine white subway tiles with your cabinet, countertop, and grout colors of choice for a look that’s distinctly yours. And don’t forget to get creative with mixing tile patterns and adding accent tiles. Installing this affordable, low-maintenance backsplash is a great way to increase the style, light, and functionality of your kitchen.