Stack Bond Tile

By Kate Riley June 8, 2017

Up in the studio above my garage there is a little kitchen and I was looking at it this week thinking it’s time for a few upgrades in that space. I painted the cabinets white a few years ago and I’m still happy with that, but I believe the kitchen could look better if I replaced the countertops and light fixture and added a counter to ceiling tile backsplash.

I remember when I photographed my friend’s kitchen last year that she had installed beveled white field tile in a stack bond format in her kitchen. The client I’m working with now also chose a gray glass tile stack bond installation for her kitchen (I’ll be sharing her home soon!)

Stack bond installations are gaining popularity for those who seek a contemporary look in their bathrooms, kitchens, or commercial spaces. The more I see it the more I consider it for my studio’s kitchen too. Stack bond is different from brick pattern installation which has more movement because the tiles are offset. Stack bond is a straight grid format, below are some horizontal stack bond tile installations:






imola ceramic

avocado sweets


melissa davis


coco cozy


style at home


westside tile

Vertical installations have an elongating effect and feel very contemporary.


amber interiors



bicker design


boro new york

I’m still on the fence and still looking around at tile in search of “the one” that calls to me. What do you think of this stack bond tile installation? Does it feel fresh to you, or do you prefer the more traditional flow of brick pattern or herringbone?

See also alternatives to white subway tile and subway tile pattern options.


  1. I personally like stack bond and would do it this way if I had anything to tile.

  2. I wasn’t going to say a word, but you did ask……sorry, not a fan.

    • Ok I stand corrected. That same evening after I posted this comment, I saw my friend’s new bathroom that had 12″ x 24″ stacked tiles. I will say I thought it looked nice but only like it with the larger tiles.

  3. It feels too modern and “rigid” for my taste….. I like the movement of the classic running bond brick pattern.

  4. i really like the look, but I think it also depends on the tile and the look you’re going for.

  5. The smaller the tile the better it looks. With the larger tiles it looks very odd to me. I also think it will look dated much sooner than a classic pattern.

  6. I LOVE this, it’s so visually-clean to my eyes. The vertically-laid tiles is an interesting take; I do prefer horizontal. This post is being book-marked for our master bath reno!

  7. I also think it depends on the look and the tile you’re going for (and probably the size of the tiling area), and I think the fact they are referred to as creating a “contemporary” look (which is a “now” look) is automatically going to date them. A couple of the examples are pretty at first glance, most not, and I think many of them will become the latest version of the too busy “look at me” backsplash.

    • Actually, I have to add because this is kind of interesting, “contemporary” pretty much sprang out of the “mod” look from the 1950s-60s, and really started coming into its own in the ’90s-00s. So it’s actually about a 30-60 year old style! :) That being said, I think it won’t look dated so much as just very indicative of a particular style, in the same way that “traditional” has never really looked dated.
      That’s just about the style in general. You might be right about the tile, but I just had to add in the tidbit. ;) I wonder if people will see the tile and think an amateur did it or if it looks like a mistake? Just because it seems to follow a simpler pattern than the brick style, haha. I personally think it’s a good choice for oversized tile, as brick pattern in oversized tile can seem a little too busy.

  8. Not my taste either. Feels sterile to me, but of the examples you showed, I prefer vertical over horizontal. And, I’m a firm believer in doing what you love in YOUR home. Looking forward to seeing what you choose.

  9. Hmm! I never knew what this was called before–I kind of like it. I just bought a box of /original/ 1950-60s aqua tile (for $3! It’s 23 tiles, you normally have to pay that kind of money for just one original tile, so I’m super happy) and I was wondering how to use it in a way that seemed slightly updated, but still retro. I’ll use it in a stack bond (I keep wanting to say stock/bond, lol) pattern as edging, that’ll definitely update it a bit.
    Thanks so much for sharing it. :) Sometimes the world of tile can seem so limited! But maybe it’s just because we always see the latest trend, so we’ve all seen brick style white subway tile so much that it gets a little hard to think outside the box or think anything else will look fine.

    So… I think that like all tile, it can be great depending on what you’re going for. It’s definitely contemporary. If you want a more traditional, or warmer, bent, brick style is probably the way to go. But if you want to bring in that hint of ultra-modern or contemporary, it’s a subtle and inexpensive way to do it! (After all, if you already have the tile on hand, no extra money, right?)

  10. i’ve never responded to one of these conversations, but i just couldn’t resist this one!
    i recently refurbished an older 50.000 sq ft building we purchased for my company’s new home offices and warehouse.
    i used some of the typical subway tiles for the larger rooms and more costly, but still, rectangular shapes for the others.
    i was going for a clean, modern feel, so, i decided to have them installed in the stacking style.
    the installer and the contractor tried to talk me out of it, because it
    “just wasn’t done that way”. i design eyeglasses & accessories, so someone telling me that, just made me want it more!
    the installation … does cost a little more because it needs to be installed more precisely. (it doesn’t hide any mistakes) the way ‘brick pattern’ does.
    i absolutely love every room it’s in!
    we often have visitors/customers visit our offices and so many of them notice the difference and mention how fresh it feels.
    so, if you’re going for a modern, clean and new look, you’ll love it!
    even the installer does!

  11. What a helpful post! My hi rise condo is a mix of mid-century modern style in a contemporary loft setting. I’m refacing my kitchen cabinets with Northern Contours’ Fisherman’s Wharf (flat-front panel style of door) which has a cool horizontal wood pattern; didn’t want a backsplash that would be busy. I was begrudgingly going with off-white subway tiles(yawn!) until I saw the stack bond tile arrangement. Suddenly I’m excited about subway tiles hahaha! I’m now all in to stack my 4x16s like this! Thanks!

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