17 Best Square Subway Tile Ideas to Try Immediately

square marble tiles in kitchen backsplash

Pure Salt Interiors

Scandinavian design is having a moment, and we've witnessed one trend, in particular, making its way across the Atlantic: square subway tile. A staple in Swedish homes for bathroom walls and kitchen backsplashes, square subway tiles are very friendly on the wallet and are a minimalist's dream tile. They may be a budget staple in European Nordic homes, but stateside, they're cropping up in the coolest spaces, from hotels and restaurants to luxury apartments. Paired with dark grout, pretty soap bottles, brass fixtures, and luxe bathrobes, these tiles will be all over Pinterest soon. If our predictions are correct, they may even replace subway tiles as the budget backsplash of choice. Keep scrolling for our favorite square-tiled rooms.

01 of 17

Use a Thin Line of Grout

square subway tile bathroom with marble floor

Burchard Design Co.

Pictured here as a small cove surrounding a gorgeous standalone bathtub and luxurious marble floor, this square ceramic tile has a thin line of grout, giving it a polished, sleek look. The added gold and wooden accents combine a rustic concept with a modern feel. The natural light flooding in from the open windows illuminates the space and makes it feel spacious.

02 of 17

Tile Those Shower Walls

square subway tile shower

Cathie Hong

One of the most common places to find square subway tile is easily the shower—and for good reason. The square tiles covering the three walls that make up this shower space create a polished look that we love. The built-in cubby that holds bath products blends in effortlessly since it also incorporates the same square tile—you almost don't even notice it.

03 of 17

Try Pairing Square Tile With Other Styles

shower with square subway tile

Design: AE Designs/Photographer: Madeline Tolle

One of the major benefits of square subway tile is its flexibility to work with plenty of other styles. Pairing this tile with another style or pattern—the way this bathroom does with square tile in the shower and patterned tiles on the floor—is a great way to create interest without having to go overboard.

04 of 17

Try a Half Wall

bathroom with square subway tile

Design by Julie Rose for EHD/Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

This bathroom features a half-tiled wall with the upper half featuring purple and white striped wallpaper. The vintage touches of the wooden towel hooks and artwork pair nicely with the off-white square tile below, allowing for more personality and customization without losing the fresh quality this tile brings to any room it's in.

05 of 17

Pair With Color

bathroom with half square subway tile half yellow dot pattern wall

Home by Polly

In this bathroom, another half wall is accented with a freehanded yellow dot pattern that is unique and lively. The styling is kept simple, with only a simple plant, mirror, and black-framed piece of art to decorate the space. The combination of white tile with color, allows the selected pieces to pop without getting lost in busy patterns.

06 of 17

Pair With a Different Tile Insert

white square subway tile with matching white grout and pattern tile insert

Katherine Carter

Want to mostly use square tile but also mix things up? Try implementing a tile insert to break up the solid wall of white. This can allow you to showcase some color and flair without basking the entire wall with an elaborate design (which can end up being rather costly). This arched insert uses colorful blue and navy arabesque tile to create a stark contrast that we can't take out eyes off of.

07 of 17

Extend Your Kitchen Backsplash

kitchen with white square subway tile

House 9 Interiors

Kitchen backsplashes are always a sight to behold, and square subway tile suits it perfectly. However, extending your tile design outside of the backsplash and into more of the walls can not only create the illusion of a larger kitchen but serve as an ideal backdrop for various dećor items you may want to display. The way this kitchen also covers the raised wall right before it crosses over into the dining room helps create a distinct threshold to separate the two rooms.

08 of 17

Try a Marble Version

bathroom with marbleized square subway tile

House 9 Interiors

If you want to elevate your square tile to a new level, try using a marble version. This shower and lower half of the wall give off an elegant feel to an otherwise plain environment. The small hexagon tile floor adds its own level of intrigue without overshadowing the wall tile.

09 of 17

Try Zellige Tiles

square subway tile backsplash zellige

Kirsten Diane

While not exactly the same as square subway tiles, the two are somewhat related. In fact, zellige tiles are often referred to as the ancestor of what is currently subway tile. Zellige tiles are usually installed by hand one at a time to give the appearance of a slightly uneven, texturized look, which is great if you want the clean appearance of white square tile without it looking super sleek and rigid.

10 of 17

Accent the Tile With Colorful Cabinets

white square subway tile kitchen backsplash and deep teal cabinets

LA Designer Affair

Using square subway tiles can easily cause people to double-take, especially if they expect the typical elongated version. If you really want the tile to stand out, though, opt for colorful upper and lower cabinets, particularly in a darker color. The result will allow the white backsplash to capture attention front and center.

11 of 17

Don't Forget Your Laundry Room

white square tile backsplash in laundry room

Marie Flanigan Interiors

Kitchens and bathrooms aren't the only places that can use a backsplash. Try adding one in your laundry room to add some interest and texture—and what better tile to implement than sleek square tiles? These tiles use the same color grout to match the rest of the white color scheme flawlessly.

12 of 17

Try Luxurious Materials

marbleized square backsplash tile in kitchen

Marie Flanigan Interiors

Marble isn't just for bathrooms, though. Square subway tile with a subtle marble pattern can help any kitchen feel a little more upscale—especially if paired with a darker jewel tone like these emerald cabinets. If you don't want things to feel too over the top, add some natural materials into your dećor, like the three wicker chairs placed at the kitchen island to add a slightly casual feel.

13 of 17

Add Texture to a Neutral Kitchen

square tile kitchen backsplash

Michelle Berwick Design

Using white tile in a neutral kitchen is a classic, and can help create a range of styles from minimalist to modern. Using square tiles rather than traditional subway can change things up subtly without compromising the color scheme or adding anything too eclectic. The result keeps your walls and backsplash from appearing flat and dull without overpowering anything else in the kitchen.

14 of 17

Use Colorful Grout

square white subway tile with orange grout

Michelle Boudreau Design

If you want to add some color to your otherwise white tile, try using colorful grout. While white grout can give a seamless appearance and darker colors can create contrast, using unexpected colors is an ideal way to add a subtle dose without changing the tile out. Additionally, grout can come in a wide range of colors, perfect to fit any theme you want to create—we love the bright orange used here that gives the space a retro vibe.

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Use Dark Grout to Create Contrast

square subway tile with thin black grout for kitchen backsplash

Pure Salt Interiors

While white grout (or no grout) in tile helps create a consistent and streamlined appearance, using dark grout can help create some dynamic contrast. Black grout can strongly highlight the square shape, emphasizing that you've chosen a different type of tile over regular rectangle versions. Additionally, black grout can hide dirt better than white, so it's easier to keep looking fresh and clean.

16 of 17

Mix and Match Tile Shapes

white square subway tile juxtaposed with pattern tile

Tyler Karu Design

Sometimes less is more. When using square subway tile, you can try using it in only small amounts in your bathroom or kitchen so it has the chance to shine, rather than blending into the background. Placing white tile beside a more eclectic pattern can be ideal for achieving this, like the shower shown here.

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Use Square Tile as an Accent

marble square subway tile shower

White Sands

Rather than allowing tile to become the whole show, why not use it as an accent instead? This primarily white bathroom already has a spacious, airy atmosphere, and the square marble tile accentuates the rest of the space. Using it solely on the shower instead of all over the walls and floor allows you to appreciate the tile and what it adds to the room.

Updated by
Lacey Ramburger
lacey ramburger bio
Lacey is an editor with 4 years of experience writing about and researching home décor trends, techniques, and helpful tips.