Trending: Stacked Subway Tile Designs for a Contemporary Home

Subway tile is a go-to choice for nearly any home design—its enduring beauty, affordability, simplistic elegance and ease of maintenance make it a timeless choice. Its contemporary twist, stacked tile a.k.a the straight pattern, is one of the biggest interior trends that takes this traditional design to a whole new dimension—and we’re here for it! Whether you love a play on classic home design or you’re looking for a contemporary look to refresh your space, these stunning stacked tile ideas will have you planning your next renovation with flair!

Vertical Subway Tile Layout with Zellige Blue ReefIntroducing color and texture, this stunning La Riviera Blue Reef Ceramic Subway Tile is proof that vertically staggering your tiles adds a sense of height to the room. Paired here with blue-grey cabinets and wooden tones, it shines without detracting from the surrounding elements. 

Any time you're craving a design refresh but are looking for a bit of a change, stacked subway tiles make a world of a difference in any style of home. With their clean lines and linear elegance, these vertical tiles are aligned directly upon one another for a finish that’s visually appealing for lovers of order and pattern alike. 

What’s more, the beauty of repetition in design is that it creates an incredibly attractive grid-like appearance that adds flair and can bring mid-century modern, contemporary, transitional, and farmhouse aesthetics up to date. Ahead, we’re talking the straight subway tile design trend and using it to create a stylish impact in your home—from kitchen backsplashes and accent walls to shower surrounds and more!

Why the Stacked Subway Design is Popular

Wondering if the straight layout is that important? Why, yes! You may not be aware of this, but your eyes subconsciously take in the arrangement of grids and lines within a room. A pattern layout that feels too busy can make any room look visually cluttered, even if all the other design elements are in place. But this design trend? It has the impressive ability to impart a sense of modernism and boldness that sets a unique tone for the entire room. Below are a few other reasons why this tile layout is popular:

Elegant bathroom with Laguna Pearl glass subway tile backsplash and wood vanity with gold fixtures

Incorporating a straight set does not mean shying away from other tile patterns. Here, horizontally laid Laguna Pearl 3x12 Glass Tile offers a very clean, modern sensibility while large format floor tiles add to this bathroom’s tasteful finish. 
  • Creates a contemporary look
  • If you’re looking for a polished contemporary finish, perfectly aligned tiles create a clean refresh that feels authentic to your distinctive style. Straight grout lines, as opposed to another subway tile classic, the running bond pattern, are aesthetically pleasing and create a sense of order on your walls or floors. 

  • Delivers clean and sleek lines
  • Subway tile itself is simple and, laid out in a stacked style, results in a sleek, modern look with clean lines that will complement interior spaces deserving of a fresh, confident feel. This is a great complement to a minimalist home or to create a simple canvas for a cluttercore aesthetic. No matter your home decor style, a neat grid pattern for your subway tile layout can complement and enhance your space!

    Black and white tuxedo bathroom with Nero Marquina honed black marble subway tile
    Just when you thought your bathroom design couldn’t get any better, this Nero Marquina 3x6 Honed Marble Tile, with its punchy yet sophisticated dark aesthetic, adds a distinctive touch that’s sure to endure for many years.
  • Visually widens or elongates the space
  • If you’re wondering how to make a small room look and feel bigger, laying tiles directly upon one another can change the perception of the entire space. Whether laid vertically or horizontally, the straight set creates visual continuity that widens or elongates the room, making it appear larger and more uniform than it really is. This visual cheat is a favorite of interior designers who want to make a small space appear roomy.

  • Minimizes tile cutting and waste
  • Since most houses aren't square, tile jobs often result in about 10-15% overage. Whether installing square or rectangular tiles, a linear design cuts down on extra materials and hassle. The reason is that the straight layout minimizes the number of cuts needed and, instead of ending up with a small cut piece at one end of the room, the pattern almost always results in a full tile on each side. 

    Stacked Subway Tile Design Layouts

    From their humble beginnings, subway tiles have provided great versatility when it comes to home design. Better yet, they offer a world of creative ways to lay them, from the popular horizontal layout to the more unconventional vertical composition. Additionally, sticking to similar-sized white or neutral tiles in any layout of your choice allows the room's striking design elements to advance into view.

  • Horizontal tile layout
  • La Riviera Lavanda Ceramic Subway Tile

    The spa-like zen of this walk-in shower is amplified by the serene lavender gray hues of our La Riviera Lavanda tiles with a handcrafted style finish - the horizontal stack protects bathrooms alls and continues inside the arched doorway to the curbless shower, while porcelain floor tiles keep the whole area water-resistant!

    Much like the classic subway tile design, stacking tiles horizontally offers a neat and concise vibe while maintaining the traditional feel. This classic way of laying your tiles creates the illusion of added width to your application, making this design a suitable solution for narrow spaces while simultaneously adding flair and style.

  • Vertical tile layout
  • Modern fireplace with black marble tile surround
    The vertical layout turns Nero Marquina 4x12 Polished Marble Tile on its head and we’re sure you’ll appreciate how this results in a modern, unexpected finish sure to make a lasting impression! 

    Most homeowners picture tile laid in the usual horizontal grid, but this timeless surface finish becomes modern when rotated into a vertical line. Placing the stacks vertically up the wall adds height and interest — making it an effective option for rooms with low ceilings. 

  • Mixed tile layout
  • Green ceramic picket tile kitchen backsplashHere, the contrast of two layouts adds extra dimension while the reflective surface results in an exquisite design finish. Our Palisades Viridian Picket Ceramic Tile is a fun spin on a classic subway tile - this colorful kitchen adds height with a vertical stack to the ceiling, and visual interest in a horizontal stack along the butcher block counters behind the sink.

    In love with both horizontal and vertical and can’t decide which direction to lay your tile? Well, mixing the two styles is a fantastic option for virtually any space! This way of laying your tiles creates an eye-catching finish. We love how varying your materials—say marble tile laid vertically complemented by glass tile laid horizontally—allows the vertical look to stand out more by being a little unexpected. You may want to keep the rest of the room fairly simple to let your application pop. 

  • Small tile layout
  • Waterfall Gray Silver Glass Mosaic Bathroom Tile
    Tiny tiles make a big splash in any area of the home. We especially love how they visually create an illusion of spaceand a mosaic application means that you don’t have to install each of these mini rectangular tiles one by one! Mosaic stack tiles, like our Waterfall Gray Silver Glass Mosaic Tile, can be applied sheet by sheet to speed up installing these intricate designs.


    It should be quite obvious by this point that subway tile is an exceptionally versatile design element. While you can never go wrong with the standard 3x6 inches tile, we’re in awe of how embracing smaller-sized 1x3 inches rectangular tiles results in a much grander look. No need to worry about extra time when you choose a rectangular mosaic tile - these sheets of multiple smaller subway-style tiles are backed by a flexible mesh, allowing you to install larger sections with ease! These mosaics are a popular choice to add detail to a backsplash or to provide grip underfoot for a slip-resistant shower floor.

    Stacked Subway Tile Applications

    The clean, classic charm of subway tiles has captured the hearts of many designers and homeowners since they first debuted in New York City's subway station. With so many stunning styles to splurge on, from exquisite natural stone to colorful glass to classic ceramic, the straight bond application is an elegant pick for any area of the home. 

    Considering a remodel? Here are our favorite uses of this easy-to-clean, stain-resistant, light-reflective surface finish. 

    Stacked subway tile backsplash

    For practical and aesthetic reasons, subway tiles are a versatile staple of kitchen and bathroom backsplashes. The straight bond pattern endures as a perennial favorite for creating a neat and structured backsplash design, no matter your home’s interior aesthetic. Available in a a wide range of colors, patterns, and finishes, this tile trend is an enduring favorite!

    Combine mirrored tiles, like our Clear Beveled Mirror Glass Tiles, with open shelving and natural light to create a light-filled interior with gorgeous Z Gallerie style!

    Whether you going with a horizontal or vertical arrangement, consider using glass tiles for subtle interest. Glass's ability to reflect light will make your space appear more spacious, bright, and divine overall. Add intrigue to your backsplash design by opting for colored grout!

    For example, going darker with your grout on classic white ceramic subway tile creates a striking high-contrast look that draws attention to the layout. For a minimalist, no-nonsense look, you can always stick to a grout color that matches your tile. Better still, the tiles can stretch all the way to the ceiling for a visually impactful statement. 

    Stacked subway tile shower

    In bathrooms, this trendy tile pattern is guaranteed add a modern feel to shower surrounds. To make your shower feel taller, you can opt for a vertical application on your shower walls, and go for a horizontal layout for the rest of the room’s wall surfaces to further open up the space. Going for classic white or neutral colors delivers a sophisticated finish whereas letting your imagination run wild with vibrant and enticing hues results in a bolder design that’s sure to energize you in the morning! Choose from an array of colors of glass subway tiles to add a dose of energy to your space.

    Spa style bathroom with natural wood look floors and marble subway tile walls
    Wooden Beige 3x6 Beveled Marble Tile, paired with wooden tones and black accents, achieves elegance and a timeless flair that takes this traditional tile to newer heights. Work this look and your bathroom will never be the same again!

    Stacked subway tile accent wall

    As a classic staple in kitchens and bathrooms, stacked subway tiles are also a fantastic option for accent walls in just about any area of the home. This contemporary selection is pretty much a no-brainer for creating an accent wall that easily becomes the focal point or emphasizes a striking feature within the room. 

    Modern fireplace accent wall with wooden beige etched marble subway tiles with a gator patternThe Wooden Beige Gator Etched Subway Marble Tile looks particularly stunning as a fireplace surround, but also anywhere you desire an exotic touch. Its reptile texture allows it to boldly stand out without overpowering design elements surrounding it. 

    Add interest to an otherwise bland foyer, bring a subtle but eye-catching pop to a neutral living room, or accentuate the look and feel of your fireplace surround. Whatever your design intentions, straight set tiles are a sure-fire way to add visual intrigue and ever-attractive appeal to wall surfaces. 

    Love Living Here took things to the next level with a vertically aligned subway tile floor! That’s right - this innovative black ceramic tiled floor is made of our Matte Black Ceramic Tiles for a modern linear pattern on her laundry room and bathroom floor.


    Black Vertical Stacked Subway Tile Bathroom Backsplash

    Jacy Painter Kelly Interiors used our eye-catching Mallorca Black ceramic subway tiles for this black and white contemporary bathroom with a horizontal stack backsplash accent wall.

    Some trends come and go quickly, while others manage to last for a while. The stacked tile trend? This one is around for the long haul.! Whether you fancy something subtle or desire a bolder finish, Tile Club offers a range of subway tiles to create a memorable look in any area of your home. 

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