What Sizes Do Subway Tiles Come In?

Subway tile owes its heritage, name, function and design style to the early 20th-century New York City subway system.

Standard

Subway tile highlighting a street stop.Subway tile highlighting a street stop.
The tile's durability and ease of cleaning made it a perfect match for the heavily traveled Big Apple underground transit system. And although colorful mosaics and more durable tile now adorn present-day subway system walls, subway tile is a remaining feature of home decor--both modern and traditional--across the world.

When introduced in the New York City subway system, subway tiles were 3-by-6 inches. The standard size of the tile, representing the vast majority of its use still to this day, is 3-by-6. This modular size highlights bathroom shower and tub walls, bathroom backsplashes, kitchen backsplashes and, of course, subway tunnel walls. The subway tiles are both ceramic and glass.

Mini Sizes

Tile manufacturers also produce small, modular-size subway tile. Multicolored, glass-bodied subway tiles are decorative liners or backsplash materials. Small modular ceramic tile subway tiles are highlighting details or backsplashes and fireplace surrounds. Miniature-size subway tiles are 1-by-3, 1-by-4, 1-by-2 and extra-thin 1/2-by-1-inch pieces.

Large

Although not seen nearly as frequently as their 3-by-6 cousins, subway tiles are available in a 4-by-12-inch size. This larger size is frequently a standalone field tile in backsplashes and bathroom tub/shower surrounds.

Maintenance

Glass mosaic subway tile is more delicate than ceramic subway tile, often requiring different maintenance techniques. Both tiles require a pH-neutral soap cleaning and a special tile-penetrating sealant. A regular application of sealant and maintained cleaning pays off, adding to the longevity of all subway tiles. Consult manufacturer's directions for proper cleaning techniques.

About the Author

Residing in San Diego, Calif., Tim Daniel is a professional writer specializing in politics. His work has appeared at both the Daily Caller and Pajamas Media. With more than 20 years of experience in the field of construction, Daniel also specializes in writing about tile, stone and construction management. He is pursuing a bachelor's degree in communications.