Expert Tips for Selecting Subway Tiles for Shower Walls

When it comes to selecting subway tiles for shower walls, we're diving into a sea of choices. The right tiles can make a splash in your bathroom, transforming it into a serene oasis. But with so many options available, where do you start?

Fear not, for we have the expert tips you need to navigate this watery wonderland and choose the perfect subway tiles for your shower. So, grab your towel and let's take a dip into the world of tile selection.

Tile Material

ceramic tile porcelain marble

When selecting subway tiles for shower walls, it's crucial to carefully consider the tile material that best suits your needs and preferences. The tile material plays a significant role in not only the aesthetic appeal of your shower, but also its durability and maintenance requirements.

One popular tile material for shower walls is ceramic. Ceramic tiles are known for their versatility, as they come in a variety of colors and patterns to suit any style preference. They're also relatively easy to install, making them a popular choice for DIY enthusiasts. However, it's important to note that ceramic tiles may require regular maintenance, as the grout used in their installation can be prone to staining and mildew growth.

Another option to consider is porcelain tiles. These tiles are known for their strength and durability, making them an excellent choice for high-moisture areas like showers. Porcelain tiles are resistant to water absorption, making them less prone to cracking or damage. Additionally, the grout used with porcelain tiles is typically more resistant to staining and mildew, making maintenance easier.

Glass tiles are another popular choice for shower walls. These tiles can add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your bathroom. Glass tiles are non-porous, meaning they're resistant to water absorption and are easy to clean. However, it's important to ensure proper installation of glass tiles, as their transparency can highlight any imperfections in the tile grout.

Tile Size and Shape

To create a visually appealing and cohesive shower design, carefully selecting the size and shape of your subway tiles is essential. The size and shape of the tiles can greatly impact the overall look and feel of your shower. When it comes to subway tiles, there are a variety of sizes and shapes to choose from.

One popular option is the classic 3×6 inch rectangular shape, which is known for its timeless and versatile appeal. This size works well in both traditional and modern shower designs.

However, if you want to add a unique twist to your shower, you can consider using subway tiles in different sizes and shapes. For instance, you can opt for larger subway tiles, such as 4×8 inches or 6×12 inches, to create a bold and contemporary look. On the other hand, smaller subway tiles, like 2×4 inches or even mosaic tiles, can add a touch of elegance and intricacy to your shower walls.

When selecting the size and shape of your subway tiles, it's important to consider the tile installation techniques and grout color selection. Larger tiles may require more precise installation, while smaller tiles can be more forgiving.

Additionally, the size and shape of the tiles can influence the grout color selection. For example, if you choose a larger size tile, a contrasting grout color can highlight the individual tiles and create a striking effect. Conversely, a similar grout color can create a seamless and uniform appearance with smaller tiles.

Tile Color Options

variety of tile colors

One crucial aspect to consider when selecting subway tiles for shower walls is the wide range of tile color options available. The color of the tiles you choose can greatly impact the overall ambiance of your bathroom, so it's important to choose wisely.

When it comes to tile color, there are a few key factors to consider. First, you'll want to think about the overall color scheme of your bathroom. Are you going for a clean and modern look, or something more warm and inviting? Matching the tile color to your existing bathroom décor can help create a cohesive and put-together look.

Another important consideration is grout color coordination. The color of the grout can dramatically alter the appearance of the tiles themselves. If you want a seamless and uniform look, choose a grout color that closely matches the tiles. On the other hand, if you want to create contrast and make the tiles stand out, opt for a grout color that's different from the tiles.

Ultimately, the color of the subway tiles you choose for your shower walls will have a significant impact on the overall ambiance of your bathroom. Whether you go for a classic white, a bold and vibrant hue, or something in between, make sure to consider the color scheme of your bathroom and coordinate the grout color accordingly for a truly stunning result.

Tile Finish and Texture

When it comes to selecting subway tiles for shower walls, the finish and texture of the tiles play a crucial role in the overall aesthetic and functionality of the space.

We need to consider whether we prefer a glossy or matte finish. Glossy tiles tend to reflect more light and create a sleek, modern look. On the other hand, matte tiles offer a more subtle, rustic feel.

Additionally, we should decide between smooth or textured tiles. Smooth surfaces are easier to clean and maintain, while textured tiles can add depth and visual interest to the shower walls.

Glossy or Matte?

The choice between a glossy or matte finish for your subway tiles can have a significant impact on the overall look and feel of your shower walls. Consider the following factors when deciding on the tile finish:

  • Smooth or Textured: A glossy finish creates a smooth surface, giving your shower walls a sleek and modern look. On the other hand, a matte finish adds texture, providing a more rustic and earthy feel.
  • Reflective or Non-Reflective: Glossy tiles reflect light, making your shower appear brighter and more spacious. Matte tiles, on the other hand, absorb light, creating a softer and more muted ambiance.
  • Ease of Maintenance: Glossy tiles are easier to clean as their smooth surface prevents dirt and grime from sticking. Matte tiles, however, may require more regular maintenance as their textured surface can trap dirt.
  • Style and Personal Preference: Consider the overall style and aesthetic you want to achieve in your bathroom. Glossy tiles are often associated with a contemporary and minimalist design, while matte tiles lend themselves well to a more traditional or vintage look.

Ultimately, the choice between a glossy or matte finish depends on your personal taste and the desired atmosphere you want to create in your shower.

Smooth or Textured?

To determine the ideal tile finish and texture for your shower walls, consider the tactile experience and visual impact that a smooth or textured surface can bring.

Smooth tiles offer a sleek and polished look, creating a sense of sophistication in the bathroom. They're also easier to clean and maintain.

On the other hand, textured tiles provide a more rustic and natural feel, adding depth and character to the space. Additionally, textured tiles offer better slip resistance, making them a safer option for shower walls.

Ultimately, the decision between smooth and textured tiles should be based on your desired aesthetic and the level of slip resistance you require in your shower.

Reflective or Non-reflective?

For a shower that exudes elegance and sophistication, the choice between a reflective or non-reflective tile finish and texture is crucial. The decision will impact not only the overall aesthetic of the space, but also its functionality. Here are some pros and cons to consider:

Reflective (Glossy):


  • Adds a luxurious and polished look to the shower
  • Enhances the feeling of spaciousness
  • Reflects light and creates a bright atmosphere
  • Easy to clean and maintain.


  • Can show water spots and fingerprints more easily
  • May require more frequent cleaning to maintain its shine
  • Can be slippery when wet.

Non-reflective (Matte):


  • Provides a more subtle and understated appearance
  • Hides water spots and fingerprints better
  • Offers a softer and warmer feel
  • Provides better traction when wet.


  • May make the shower area feel smaller
  • Doesn't reflect as much light
  • Can be slightly more challenging to clean.

Consider your personal style, maintenance preferences, and desired atmosphere when making your decision. Both finishes have their own unique charm, so choose the one that best suits your needs and taste.

Grout Color Selection

When it comes to selecting the grout color for your shower walls, there are two main options to consider: matching or contrasting.

Matching grout color is a popular choice as it creates a seamless look, blending in with the subway tiles and giving a clean, cohesive appearance.

On the other hand, contrasting grout color can add depth and visual interest to your shower walls, making the tiles stand out and creating a bold statement.

Deciding between matching or contrasting grout color will depend on the overall aesthetic you want to achieve in your bathroom.

Matching Grout Color

Choosing the perfect grout color for your subway tile shower walls adds a final touch of elegance and cohesion to your bathroom design. The right grout color can make a significant difference in the overall look and feel of your shower.

Here are some expert tips to help you match the grout color to your subway tiles:

  • Consider contrasting grout colors: Opting for a contrasting grout color can create a bold and eye-catching effect. For instance, pairing white subway tiles with dark gray grout can add depth and visual interest to your shower walls.
  • Test different shades: It's essential to test different grout colors against your subway tiles to see how they complement each other. Take samples of the tiles and grout home to compare them in the natural lighting of your bathroom.
  • Take into account maintenance: Light-colored grout may require more frequent cleaning to keep it looking pristine, while darker grout can hide stains and discoloration better.
  • Seek professional advice: If you're unsure about which grout color to choose, consult with a professional designer or tile expert who can provide valuable insights and recommendations.

Contrasting Grout Color

To achieve a striking visual impact in your shower design, consider incorporating a contrasting grout color that complements your subway tiles. Selecting a complementary grout color can add depth and dimension to your shower walls, creating a stunning focal point.

When choosing a contrasting grout color, it's important to consider the overall aesthetic of your bathroom. If you have a more traditional or classic style, a contrasting grout color in a neutral shade, such as gray or beige, can create a timeless look.

For a more contemporary or modern design, bold and vibrant colors like black, navy, or even a metallic shade can make a statement. Experiment with different grout colors and sample them alongside your subway tiles to find the perfect contrasting combination that suits your personal style and elevates your shower design.

Consideration of Shower Wall Size

shower wall dimensions analysis

Considering the dimensions of your shower walls is essential in the process of selecting the perfect subway tiles. The size of your shower walls will dictate the size of the tiles you choose, ensuring a seamless and visually appealing installation. Here are some tile size considerations for your shower wall installation:

  • Wall Height: Measure the height of your shower walls to determine the appropriate tile size. If you have high ceilings, larger tiles can create a sense of grandeur, while smaller tiles can be used to create intricate patterns on shorter walls.
  • Wall Width: Consider the width of your shower walls when selecting tile sizes. If you have narrow walls, smaller tiles can make the space feel more open, while larger tiles can be used to create a bold statement on wider walls.
  • Shower Niche: If you have a shower niche, consider the size and shape when choosing tile sizes. Smaller tiles can be used to create a mosaic-like effect within the niche, while larger tiles can provide a sleek and modern look.
  • Grout Lines: Keep in mind that the size of your tiles will affect the width of your grout lines. Smaller tiles will require more grout lines, which can add texture and visual interest to your shower walls.

Design and Pattern Ideas

When it comes to selecting subway tiles for shower walls, there are several design and pattern ideas to consider.

As experts in the field, we've observed some popular design trends that can elevate the look of your shower.

Additionally, there are creative pattern options available that can add visual interest and uniqueness to your space.

Popular Design Trends

One can't underestimate the impact of popular design trends when it comes to selecting subway tiles for shower walls. Staying up-to-date with the latest trends ensures a modern and stylish look for your bathroom. Here are some popular design trends to consider:

  • Herringbone pattern: This classic pattern adds a touch of sophistication and elegance to any shower wall. It creates a visually stunning effect and adds depth to the space.
  • Geometric shapes: Incorporating geometric shapes, such as hexagons or chevron patterns, can give your shower walls a contemporary and trendy look. It adds a unique and eye-catching element to the overall design.
  • Bold colors: While white subway tiles are timeless, bold and vibrant colors are gaining popularity. Opting for colored tiles can make a bold statement and add personality to your shower walls.
  • Dark grout: Selecting the right grout color is crucial. Dark grout, such as black or charcoal, can create a striking contrast with light-colored subway tiles, enhancing the visual appeal.

Creative Pattern Options

To explore the endless possibilities of creative pattern options for your subway tiles, let's dive into some design and pattern ideas that will elevate the look of your shower walls.

When it comes to creating a creative layout, consider using herringbone or chevron patterns. These geometric designs add visual interest and create a sense of movement in your shower space.

For a more unique touch, experiment with different color combinations. Try pairing contrasting colors like black and white for a bold and modern look, or opt for a monochromatic scheme using different shades of the same color for a subtle and sophisticated effect.

Water Resistance and Durability

water resistant and long lasting materials

With their excellent water resistance and durability, subway tiles are an ideal choice for shower walls. When it comes to selecting the right subway tiles for your shower, it's important to consider the waterproofing techniques and long-term durability. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Material: Subway tiles are available in various materials such as ceramic, porcelain, glass, and natural stone. Each material has its own level of water resistance and durability, so choose one that suits your needs.
  • Grout: The type of grout used can greatly impact the water resistance of your subway tiles. Opt for epoxy or urethane grout, as they're more resistant to moisture and less prone to cracking or staining.
  • Tile size: Larger subway tiles have fewer grout lines, which means less chance of water seepage. However, smaller tiles can be more flexible and better able to withstand movement, reducing the risk of cracking.
  • Installation: Proper installation is key to ensuring the water resistance and durability of your subway tiles. Make sure to hire a professional who's experienced in waterproofing techniques and follows industry standards.

Maintenance and Cleaning Tips

Regular maintenance and proper cleaning techniques are essential for keeping your subway tile shower walls looking their best and prolonging their durability. When it comes to cleaning subway tiles, the grout can be a challenge. Over time, grout can become discolored or even develop mold and mildew. To prevent this, it's important to regularly clean the grout using the right techniques.

One effective method for cleaning grout is to create a paste by mixing baking soda and water. Apply the paste to the grout lines and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, using a stiff brush or toothbrush, scrub the grout in a circular motion. Rinse with water and repeat if necessary. For stubborn stains, you can use a mixture of vinegar and water instead of baking soda.

To prevent mold growth, it's important to keep your shower walls dry. After each shower, wipe down the tiles and grout with a squeegee or towel to remove excess moisture. Additionally, ensure proper ventilation in your bathroom to prevent moisture buildup. Installing a fan or opening a window can help circulate air and reduce humidity.

Budget Considerations

cost effective financial planning strategy

When it comes to selecting subway tiles for shower walls, budget considerations play a crucial role in decision-making. We understand the importance of cost-effective options and maximizing the potential of your budget.

In this section, we'll explore different tile choices that offer both affordability and quality, ensuring that you can achieve the desired look without breaking the bank.

Cost-Effective Tile Options

For those on a budget, there are various cost-effective tile options to consider when selecting subway tiles for shower walls. Here are some alternatives that can help you achieve a beautiful look without breaking the bank:

  • Vinyl Tiles: Vinyl tiles aren't only affordable but also easy to install. They come in a variety of colors and designs, allowing you to create a unique and stylish shower wall.
  • Ceramic Tiles: Ceramic tiles are a popular choice for their durability and cost-effectiveness. They're available in different sizes and finishes, providing endless possibilities for customization.
  • Porcelain Tiles: Porcelain tiles are known for their strength and resistance to moisture, making them an ideal choice for shower walls. They're available in a wide range of colors and textures, allowing you to create a high-end look at a fraction of the cost.
  • Glass Tiles: Glass tiles can add a touch of elegance to your shower walls without breaking the bank. They're available in various colors and finishes, giving your shower a modern and sophisticated look.

With these cost-effective installation methods and alternative tile materials, you can transform your shower walls on a budget without compromising on style and quality.

Maximizing Budget Potential

To make the most of your budget when selecting subway tiles for shower walls, it's essential to carefully consider various budget considerations that will help you achieve your desired look without overspending. One of the best ways to maximize your budget is by exploring budget-friendly options that offer both affordability and style. For instance, instead of using expensive natural stone tiles, you can opt for ceramic or porcelain subway tiles that mimic the look of stone at a fraction of the cost. Additionally, considering the installation tips can also help you save money. For example, choosing larger subway tiles can reduce the labor and time required for installation, resulting in lower costs. By being mindful of your budget and making smart choices, you can achieve a stunning subway tile shower without breaking the bank.

Budget-Friendly Option Installation Tip Benefits
Ceramic Subway Tiles Use a tile adhesive instead of mortar Affordable and easy to install
Porcelain Subway Tiles Opt for larger tile sizes Durable and low maintenance
Subway Tile Sheets Choose a grout color that matches the tile Faster installation and seamless look
Subway Tile Panels Consider DIY installation Cost-effective and customizable

Table: Budget-friendly options and installation tips for subway tiles.

Compatibility With Shower Fixtures

In our quest to find the perfect subway tiles for shower walls, it's important to consider their compatibility with the various shower fixtures. Not all tiles are suitable for every type of shower fixture, and choosing the wrong ones can lead to issues such as water leakage or inadequate water pressure.

To ensure a successful installation, here are some factors to consider:

  • Shower fixture compatibility: Different shower fixtures have different requirements for tile installation. For example, some fixtures may require a specific tile size or thickness. It's essential to check the manufacturer's recommendations to ensure that the subway tiles you choose are compatible with your shower fixtures.
  • Water pressure compatibility: High-pressure showers can cause water to splash and spray more forcefully, which may affect the longevity and durability of certain types of tiles. On the other hand, low water pressure may not allow some tiles to adhere properly. Consider the water pressure in your shower and choose tiles that can withstand the appropriate level of pressure.
  • Material compatibility: Different materials have varying levels of resistance to moisture and water damage. Porcelain and ceramic tiles are popular choices for shower walls due to their water resistance properties. However, it's crucial to ensure that the specific subway tiles you select are suitable for wet environments.
  • Maintenance compatibility: Some tiles require more maintenance than others. Consider the level of maintenance you're willing to undertake and choose tiles that align with your preferences and lifestyle.

DIY or Professional Installation

installation options for diy

After considering the compatibility of subway tiles with shower fixtures, it's time to determine whether a DIY installation or hiring a professional is the best approach for your project. When it comes to installing subway tiles in your shower, there are several factors to consider, including cost, expertise, and time. Let's take a closer look at the DIY vs professional installation options.

DIY Installation Professional Installation
Cost Considerations: Cost Considerations:
– Lower upfront cost – Higher upfront cost
– Potential for mistakes and additional expenses – Expertise and precision
– Time-consuming – Time-saving
Installation Options: Installation Options:
– Requires tools and materials – Professionals have the necessary tools and equipment
– Can be a learning experience – Professionals have experience and knowledge
– Allows for customization – Professionals can offer design suggestions

When considering a DIY installation, it's important to remember that while it may save you money, it can also be time-consuming and potentially lead to mistakes that could cost you more in the long run. On the other hand, hiring a professional ensures expertise and precision, saving you time and offering peace of mind.

Ultimately, the decision between DIY or professional installation depends on your budget, time constraints, and level of expertise. Consider these factors carefully to make the best choice for your subway tile shower installation project.

Tile Layout and Installation Techniques

For a visually pleasing and structurally sound installation of subway tiles on your shower walls, careful consideration of tile layout and the use of proper installation techniques are key. Here are some expert tips to help you achieve a flawless result:

  • Herringbone pattern: This classic layout creates a visually stunning effect by placing the tiles in a zigzag pattern. It adds a touch of elegance and depth to your shower walls.
  • Stacked pattern: For a more modern and clean look, consider the stacked pattern. This involves aligning the subway tiles vertically and horizontally, creating a sleek and streamlined appearance.
  • Diagonal pattern: If you want to add a unique and dynamic element to your shower walls, try the diagonal pattern. By placing the subway tiles at a 45-degree angle, you create a visually interesting and visually stimulating design.
  • Brick pattern: The brick pattern is a timeless choice that mimics the look of traditional brickwork. By offsetting each row of subway tiles, you achieve a classic and sophisticated look for your shower walls.

When it comes to tile installation methods, it's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions and use the appropriate tools. Additionally, mastering grout application techniques is crucial for a professional finish. Properly mixing and applying the grout ensures that your subway tiles are securely held in place and that the joints are sealed effectively.

Accent Tiles and Borders

decorative tiles and edges

Now that we have explored various tile layout and installation techniques for subway tiles on shower walls, let's turn our attention to the exciting world of accent tiles and borders. Adding accent tiles and borders to your subway tile shower can elevate the overall design and create a stunning focal point. Here are some accent tile ideas and border tile options to consider:

Accent Tile Ideas Border Tile Options
Glass mosaic tiles Marble pencil liners
Metallic tiles Ceramic bullnose tiles
Patterned tiles Porcelain chair rails

Accent tiles can be used to create visual interest and add a pop of color or texture to your shower walls. Glass mosaic tiles are a popular choice, as they reflect light and create a beautiful shimmering effect. Metallic tiles can also add a touch of luxury and sophistication to your shower space. For a more bold and unique look, consider using patterned tiles as accent pieces.

Borders, on the other hand, can be used to frame the subway tiles and create a finished and polished look. Marble pencil liners are a classic choice for borders, adding elegance and definition to the edges of your shower. Ceramic bullnose tiles are another option, providing a smooth and rounded finish. Porcelain chair rails can be used as a border option to create a decorative and architectural element.

When selecting accent tiles and borders, consider the overall style and color scheme of your bathroom. Choose options that complement your subway tiles and create a cohesive and visually appealing design.

Sealing and Waterproofing Recommendations

To ensure a long-lasting and water-resistant shower, it's essential to follow proper sealing and waterproofing recommendations. By taking the time to seal your subway tiles and invest in high-quality waterproofing products, you can protect your shower walls from moisture damage and prolong the lifespan of your tiles.

Here are some expert tips to help you with your sealing and waterproofing process:

  • Use a penetrating sealer: This type of sealer penetrates the porous surface of the tiles, forming a protective barrier against water and stains. Look for a sealer specifically designed for subway tiles.
  • Apply multiple coats: To ensure maximum protection, apply multiple coats of sealer. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for drying times between coats.
  • Pay attention to grout lines: Don't forget to seal the grout lines as well. Use a grout sealer to prevent water from seeping through and causing damage.
  • Consider a waterproofing membrane: In addition to sealing the tiles, you may also want to consider using a waterproofing membrane. This extra layer of protection can provide added peace of mind and help prevent leaks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Subway Tiles for My Shower Floor?

Yes, you can use subway tiles for your shower floor. However, it's important to consider subway tile alternatives that are more slip-resistant and suitable for wet areas.

There are various patterns you can explore for your shower floor, such as herringbone, basket weave, or hexagon. These patterns not only add visual interest but also provide better traction.

It's worth considering these options to ensure a safe and stylish shower experience.

How Do I Prevent Mold and Mildew From Forming on Subway Tiles in the Shower?

To prevent mold and mildew on subway tiles in the shower, we recommend a few expert tips.

First, make sure to choose a grout color that's resistant to discoloration and mold growth.

Additionally, regularly clean the tiles with a mildew-resistant cleaner and a soft brush.

Finally, ensure proper ventilation in the shower area to minimize moisture buildup.

Are Subway Tiles Suitable for a Small Shower Space?

Subway tiles can be a great choice for a small shower space. They have a timeless and classic look that can make the area appear larger.

When it comes to subway tile patterns, you can opt for a traditional offset layout or get creative with herringbone or vertical patterns.

If subway tiles don't suit your taste, there are alternative shower wall materials available, such as glass, stone, or even waterproof wallpaper.

Ultimately, the choice depends on your personal style and preference.

Can I Mix and Match Different Colors of Subway Tiles for My Shower Walls?

Sure, we can definitely mix and match different colors of subway tiles for our shower walls. It's a great way to add visual interest and personalize our space.

What Is the Best Way to Clean and Maintain Subway Tiles in the Shower?

When it comes to shower tile installation, choosing the right grout color is crucial.

To keep subway tiles in the shower looking their best, regular cleaning and maintenance are key. We recommend using a mild cleaner and a soft brush to scrub away any dirt or grime. Avoid harsh chemicals that can damage the tiles.

Applying a sealer can also help protect the tiles from water damage and stains.

With proper care, your subway tiles will maintain their beauty for years to come.