Splashback Tile Ideas

Subway tiles look great wherever you put them. But they look particularly good as kitchen backsplashes. They let you say goodbye to boring plastic facades and give you something that looks both retro and contemporary at the same time.

Cool, Calm And Collected

 subway tile

This designer didn’t want to do anything fancy. We have a laminate countertop, Belfast sink, chrome fittings and a delightful simple subway tile backsplash. 

This setup works for a number of reasons. The first is that the tiles stretch all the way up to the cabinets. As such, there’s no annoying line of paint, just sitting there waiting for boiling hot spaghetti sauce to splatter all over it. 

The tiles themselves are also quite chunky and have more height than conventional subway tiles. This feature helps them cover the space more comprehensively without feeling crammed in. 

Lastly, the white colour is helpful. If you do get any food on them, you can quickly see it and wipe it up. 

Heavenly Hexagons

hexagon tiles

If you want your kitchen backsplash to remind you of a beehive, you might want to try this hexagon-inspired design. This backsplash runs behind the sink, counters and oven protecting the paintwork while also making the space feel totally unique. 

If you look closely, you’ll see that the designer rejected the temptation to cut the uppermost tiles in two to create a straight-line interface with the paintwork above. This clever oversight makes the kitchen feel more futuristic and shows off the fact that the backsplash is made of real tiles, not just a plastic panel. 

Hexagon tiles work for any homeowner who wants to give their kitchen a designer bistro feel. It’s the perfect addition to a dull, neutral kitchen.

Cover The Whole Wall

splashback subway tiles

When it comes to backsplashes, people can be a little conservative. They’ll build one or two feet above the countertops, but they won’t go beyond that. 

But why not? 

In this example, you can see that the designer didn’t pay any attention to convention at all. These subway tiles go all the way up to the ceiling, and to hell with anyone who doesn’t like it! It doesn’t matter how many times the lid flies off the blender in this kitchen, it’s not going to matter. 

As a design choice, this arrangement makes sense. The six-oven range and hood are both so large that they almost require a full-wall backsplash, like something you’d see in a commercial kitchen. 

Subtle Opulence

hexagon tiles as a splashback tile

We’re back to hexagon tiles, but this time, they’re bigger, bolder and cover the entire wall. Hexagonal tiles are a good way to give your kitchen a premium look. In this particular example, tiles beautifully reflect the marble worktops, stainless steel range, and neutral cabinets. They also help to give the kitchen a semi-diner feel. 

Wide And Thin

wide subway tile

These subway tiles are wide and thin and feel both sophisticated and natural at the same time. As such, you can see why the designer chose to pair them with these raw wood shelves. 

Designs like this work in the kitchen for several reasons. First, they complement the chaos. Although there is stuff everywhere in this design, it feels controlled. You have pots, pans, plants, glasses and chopping boards, yet nothing feels out of place. The washing up is done and the tiles still look great. 

Wide and long subway tile backsplash work well with all countertops, including stone in this example. While they aren’t natural bedfellows, they work quite well together, particularly when coupled with the simple floor cabinets below. 

Elegant And Simple

subway tile

Not all subway tiles are retro, though. As you can see from this example, they can complement contemporary kitchens, too. 

But why? It all comes down to the shape of the tile. The tiles in this kitchen are flat all the way to their edges and have modern proportions. This means that you can use them in contemporary kitchen interiors and they’ll still look right at home. There’s nothing passé about them. 

Make Them Vertical

vertical subway tile

Just because the subway authority places tiles horizontally, doesn’t mean you have to as well. As you can see in this example, placing them vertically is totally viable, too. 

Fitting tiles with this orientation changes the atmosphere in the room. Instead of feeling like a diner, the vertical placement creates something unique. The space between the countertop and the cabinets feels taller, making it feel as if you have more room. And the tiles don’t require any cutting along the horizontal edges of the backsplash, allowing a cleaner finish. 


subway tile as a kitchen splashback tile

This country-style setup is another great example of how to use subway tiles in the kitchen. Here, you can see that the designer is going for the ultimate “greige” look, a colour that sits somewhere between grey and beige. The subway tiles complement the cabinets, gold fittings, and stainless steel appliances rather nicely. And the whole space feels light and airy, making you want to whip out your recipe book and start cooking. 

Subway Strips

This designer had a very usual idea for the backsplash. Instead of using subway tiles all the way up the wall, they decided to use them to create backsplash strip features instead. 

Here you can see a combination of regular beige tiles with small, blue and white subway tiles in strips in between.

Pair With Retro Kitchen Floors

kitchen splashback tile

Lastly, why not pair your subway tiles with retro checker-pattern tile floors? In this example, the monotone backsplash perfectly complements the black and white floor tiles, black cabinets and chrome-finish dishwasher. 


In summary, there are so many subway tile backsplash ideas to choose from. Here, we’ve only scratched the surface. There are many colours, cuts, and styles to play with so you can always find something new.