Alternatives to White Subway Tile

By Kate Riley November 9, 2016

This week, I went searching for backsplashes for the two kitchens I’m working on for my transitional housing projects for a non-profit. For one kitchen with white cabinets, I chose a gray hexagon backsplash. The second galley kitchen will have dark wood base cabinets and white upper cabinets, and for that space I want to do a white backsplash but not in the basic subway style.

I’m drawn to clean white geometric backsplashes with movement: raised shapes, swirls, circles, hexagons, and quadrilaterals. (Still loving the white backsplash in this kitchen so much).







A white brick pattern will always be timeless but I went in search of something different and discovered some good ones for bathrooms and kitchens.

These mosaics are all under $15/sheet, they’ll give you clean white look and are a nice alternative to the basic 3 x 6” subway tile. I ordered a few samples for my project to see which one I like best. With white geometric mosaic tile, stick with white grout for subtlety, or opt for darker grout to make the pattern pop.


glossy prism / triangular mosaic / white kanga hex / basket herringbone / merola glossy white / white bubble / victorian soho  / paissan glossy / dovetail elongated hex / straight stack / white hexagon / broadway porcelain


If you’re looking for more interesting shapes, take a look at patterns available at Heath Ceramics and Fireclay Tile  (below).





If you’re still a fan of the basic white subway tile and love that classic shape, stick with it, but consider the different patterns you can create with it. If you’re interested in different ideas for basic subway tile, read my article on white subway tile patterns I posted earlier this year.



Find inexpensive 3 x 6” subway tile here and here. Also consider basic white square tile. I love this look adding contrast with a border and different shape elsewhere (like the dark hex on the floor).



inspiration image sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5/ 6


  1. I love the original shapes so much, my absolute favorite is the ogee! I ended up not being able to use it in my last project because the tiler pointed out all the places where the tile would have to be cut (corners, niches) and he recommended another simpler tile. I also went for a wave tile and its textured complementary tile for my bathroom and there are two things to remember- the wave tiles look a bit bad going around outside corners, it was hard to finish the corners neatly which is disappointing. The textured tile is a pain because dirt gets caught in it and the tiler said to beware of soap build-up in the shower, its going to be a nightmare to remove. In a kitchen, I would be very wary about those problems for clean up.

  2. Perfect ideas for a white tile update.. I personally feel like the subway tile is being over done! Great post about all of the options out there.

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