difference between metro tiles and subway tile bathrooms

What Is The Difference Between Metro Tiles & Subway Tiles?

 You may have heard both terms, ‘metro tiles’ and ‘subway tiles’ and wondered what the difference between them is. In all honesty, it is the same tile and simply down to the wording. Whilst subway tiles find their name from signature underground tiles often seen as white, high gloss walls in major cities, it can also be defined as a rectangular wall tile. ‘Metro tiles’ is a term more commonly used and can describe a similar range of different rectangular wall tiles such as polished, matt, colourful and monochrome. This post covers a full guide on metro and subway tiles and why they are a good choice for your own home.


What is the difference between metro tiles and subway tiles

The History of Metro and Subway Tiles

If you’ve ever been to the London Underground, NYC Subway or Paris Metro these small rectangular wall tiles are often seen. Dating back to the early 20th century, when the underground was first being developed, the first metro tile is said to have been made in 1904 and has since gone from being a practical wall surface for public spaces, to an iconic style that we now see in kitchens and bathrooms.  

Where to use Metro and Subway Tiles 

When it comes to where to use metro tiles, part of the popularity of metro tiles is their versatility. From a walk-in shower room, a grand family bathroom, to a kitchen splashback tile or muddy boot room wall tiles – the metro tile is perfectly suited for all of the above! Usually made of hardwearing ceramic or porcelain (man-made materials combined of clay and fired at a high temperature), these small rectangular wall tiles are very durable and forgiving, often with an extremely strong glaze to the surface. All of this considered, they can be a practical, yet pretty, wall tile solution for any part of the home, such as a bathroom vanity backsplash or kitchen cooker splashback.

Primrose Smoke Gloss Kitchen Tiles Wall Splashback

Matt or Gloss Metro Tiles 

As mentioned previously, since the first subway tile was made in 1904, advancements have come along way and new innovative ideas and styles have developed through the years, opening up a vast market of metro tiles to suit every home and interior. In terms of finish, the main two contenders are the classic high gloss metro and the matt metro. Gloss may sometimes be referred to as polished, whilst matt may also refer to metro tiles with a very subtle ‘satin’ texture. When it comes to choosing from the range of metro porcelain tiles it is down to your own personal preference, a gloss metro tile will reflect the light in a room and provide a sleek, luxurious look such as the Carrara marble effect metro tile, whereas a matt metro tile might work better for a contemporary bathroom such as the Orkney green wall tile.


Colourful Metro Tile Ideas

One of the joys of subway or metro tiles is the vast collection of colours and shades available. Often when choosing a floor tile, homeowners opt for something neutral and subtle in tone, however, typically as metro tiles will be laid across a smaller wall space, it is an opportunity to have a bit of fun with colour! Whether you are wanting a moody dark green such as Hockley Antiqued Green metro, or a playful pop of pink with the Primrose Blush metro tiles in a bathroom, there are plenty of options. For those wanting more recommendations for on-trend glossy pink wall tiles, why not opt for the Zellige Rose or Hockley Antiqued Rose metro tiles.

Metro Tile Laying Patterns

A common question asked is how to lay metro tiles or what pattern to choose for metro tiles. Again, this is down to personal preference and likely the layout or style of the room, but there are a few famous laying patterns that have been tried and tested. The most common is a classic brick bond where the tiles are staggered by a half or third for each row. Alternatively, they can be laid with no staggered joints and simply as a block or stacked layout (horizontally or vertically!). Another popular metro tile design is the elegant herringbone format, which is particularly effective with gloss or polished tiles, combined with downlights on the walls to really emphasise the beauty of the tile.

Metro Tile Samples

Whilst browsing online is great for gathering initial inspiration and helpful information, we know that seeing a tile in its true form and in person is important. That’s why we recommend ordering metro tile samples to give you an indication of true colour, finish and feel – all within the light of your own home. Our full collection of metro or subway tiles can be ordered as full tile samples for a very small charge of just under £1 each. These are carefully picked and packed by our team and delivered straight to your door – delivering across the UK and Ireland.

Difference between metro tiles and subway tiles tile samples

Shop our curated collection of gloss and matt metro tiles in a range of beautiful shades and hues. Suitable for wall tiles, porcelain metro tiles offer an extremely hardwearing and durable material. From pale blush pink tiles to rich antiqued blue metros, the metro porcelain tiles offer classic and modern statement tiles perfect for bathrooms, shower rooms and kitchen wall tiles.