When it comes to giving your home an update, it’s natural to want your decor changes to last longer than a passing interior design trend. This is why our range of brick effect and metro tiles offer a perfect solution for any room in the home, delivering a durable finish that will stay looking pristine for years.
Of course, longevity is a desirable quality in a tile - but there’s more to longevity than hard-wearing materials that can handle their fair share of wear and tear. At Tiles Direct, we’d say lasting beauty is just as important as durability. Sometimes, this means making compromises, foregoing heavy patterns in favour of something timeless and evergreen, but with metro wall tiles it’s possible to have the best of both worlds.
Our iconic range of metro tiles (otherwise known as subway tiles, underground tiles or brick effect tiles) offer an ideal way to revitalise tired interiors. From kitchens and bathrooms to living rooms and hallways, these versatile, era-bending tiles offer endless styling possibilities to bring your home’s interiors well and truly up-to-date.
With a rich history, you can find out more about the cultural roots and design potential of our metro brick tiles, giving you all the inspiration you need for bringing a fresh new look to kitchens, bathrooms and beyond.
What are subway tiles and metro tiles?
In the early 1900s, the walls of London and New York’s Underground stations were famously adorned with plain, white, brick-shaped tiles. This boasted a powerful, timeless look that birthed the name ‘subway tiles’ in the United States and ‘metro tiles’ here in the UK.
Due to their simple, slick, minimalist look, these popular brick-look wall tiles are among the most versatile on the market. And thanks to their iconic origins as subway tiles, they’re also the epitome of contemporary chic.
The first subway tiles were designed by George C. Heins and Christopher Grant La Farge. Chosen for their aesthetic appeal and easy-clean, durable glazed surface, subway tiles offered a practical solution to decorate the first underground railway station, City Hall, in New York.
An instant hit, it wasn’t long before subway tiles crossed the Atlantic and began appearing in underground stations in other major cities like London and Paris.
Despite many of London’s tube stations undergoing modern overhauls, you don’t have to go far to see stunning examples of original metro tile designs for yourself. From the colourful station signs at Regent’s Park and Russell Square to the iconic white corridors at Tottenham Court Road, the beauty and visual impact of subway tiles can still be witnessed today. This is great news as it offers interior design inspiration even in the most practical spaces.
Instantly recognisable by their slim brick shape - generally being twice or three times as wide as they are tall - brick-look metro tiles are highly sought-after in the world of interior design. Available in a broad spectrum of shades and finishes, it’s possible to pair subway tiles with all kinds of design themes.
One thing to note, though, is that classic metro tiles are almost exclusively sold in plain designs, using block colours. This quality allows them to play a powerful supporting role in a room’s overall aesthetic - be that a retro-themed kitchen or a contemporary bathroom.
Naturally, traditional designs evolve to cater for modern styles and changing customer demands. As a result, the humble underground tile is no longer limited to the quintessential colours and styles you see in tube stations.
While the dimensions and design principles have largely remained the same, you can now find an even greater choice of metro-style tiles on offer. For a traditional finish, go for flat edge subway tiles or add depth to walls with bevelled edges. Or, play around with different finishes, shapes and materials like subway tiles with a crackled glaze, natural stone options, oxidised tiles, chevron-shaped versions and rustic styles (to name but a few).
So much choice means even greater potential for home interior updates. You can have all the alluring charm and characteristics of a metro tile with the added scope for incorporating different textures and finishes. Whatever home design ideas you have in mind, we’re confident there’s a metro tile to match.
Why subway tiles are great for your walls
When it comes to covering your walls, metro tiles are the ideal solution, and here’s why:
- Durable: made from hard, glazed materials like ceramic, porcelain and glass, metro wall tiles provide a strong and robust layer to protect walls against daily wear and tear
- Practical: scratch, stain and water-resistant these tiles offer exceptional practicality to give walls added longevity, whether you’re using traditional subway kitchen tiles or modern styles in other areas of the home
- Low maintenance: their glazed finish also makes them incredibly easy to maintain. Needing little more than a wipe down with water to banish cooking splashes and spills, your walls will be back to pristine condition in no time
- Sustainable: thanks to their long-lasting properties and the natural materials used, most subway tiles offer a sustainable decor material for eco-conscious homeowners
- Timeless: with an evergreen appeal, using metro walls tiles enables you to bypass current trends knowing you have a wall tile that will always be in style
- Versatility: with a huge variety of colours, finishes, sizes and styles available, subway tiles are the epitome of versatility, offering countless styling options
All the colours of the rainbow
To enjoy the full impact of brick effect tiles, it’s important to get your colour choice spot on. With tile colour options galore up for grabs, you really can have your pick of the entire colour spectrum.
If you love classic colour schemes, our choice of black, cream, grey and white subway tiles is sure to have just what you need, but these aren’t the only colours you’ll find.
Use the raised profile of the bevelled edges on brick effect tiles in muted hues for added impact, or keep it simple with a flat finish to your walls. Whatever your preference, you’ll still find plenty of colour inspiration to pull off your dream interior updates, including:
- White: if cool and classic is your must-have interior, simple white subway tiles on the walls will see you through to monochrome perfection
- Black: another monochrome favourite is black metro wall tiles that expertly add drama to your walls
- Cream: create a softer look than white with cream brick-effect tiles that can give your walls a more traditional and warm look, whether in a glossy or matt finish
- Grey: choose from our numerous shades of grey subway tiles like taupe, dove grey and charcoal to help you pull off your dream look, be that industrial chic or ultra modern
- Red: make your walls demand attention with loud and proud hues like fire engine red subway tiles or go for bold and moody interiors with rich mulberry hues like those in our Stromboli tiles range
- Blue: from dark navy to sky blue, our choice of blue metro wall tiles will help you create soothing interiors that never go out of style, whether you go for glossy tiles or a more rustic feel with an antiqued finish
- Green: reinvigorate your interiors with green shades that evoke a connection to nature, be that funky and playful lime green or calming sage and olive tones
- Yellow: give walls a bright and sunny feel with yellow subway tiles that can adapt to both modern and classic interior design styles
- Pink: chic and elegant, pink metro wall tiles lend a sophisticated and comforting finish as a standalone colour or paired with grey, blue or green
- Brown: from pale beiges to deep chocolate hues, brown subway tiles are primed for creating a rustic look, especially if you go for brick-effect or stone designs
Metro brick tile materials and finishes
Whether you’re tackling a minor kitchen update, a full bathroom renovation or any other room, our metro brick effect tiles deliver versatility, colour and flair. The right tile finish can have a direct impact on the overall look and feel of your space.
That’s why, at Tiles Direct, we want to give you as much variety as possible when it comes to choosing your metro brick tiles. So, beyond our extensive colour wheel, you’ll also find a fantastic array of different finishes and materials available for metro wall tiles, giving you all the versatility you need for your desired look.
From smooth, glossy brick tiles that deliver a clean and sleek finish to oxidised metallic mosaics, glass, crackled glaze options and even natural stone, we’ve handpicked a diverse selection of metro brick effect tiles to pull off almost any aesthetic. All this means the variety is abundant, guaranteeing you find just the right tiling solution for the job.
Discover what finishes we have available to help you nail the look you have mapped out for your metro tiles:
- Ceramic: in line with the traditional manufacturing materials and process, many of our metro brick tiles are made from ceramic. Strong, durable and water-resistant, our versatile ceramic metro tiles are an ideal solution for splashbacks in kitchens, bathrooms and beyond. Featuring a sturdy top glaze, they're designed to repel water, resist stain absorption and scratches, giving you a hard surface that will stay in mint condition for years
- Porcelain: made from more refined clay than ceramic, porcelain brick tiles deliver a superior density which makes them slightly stronger and less porous. As a result, they can be the ideal choice for wetroom walls or shower areas that will be exposed to a lot of water. Produced in a wide range of finishes, you can install porcelain metro tiles with brick or stone effects as well as traditional glazed tiles
- Brick or stone: for a rustic and rugged aesthetic, brick or stone-look tiles could be the way to go. Acting as a rough façade, you can instantly conjure up that raw, industrial look in kitchens, living rooms and more
- Glass: strong, smooth and sleek, glass metro tiles are ultra-hygienic, easy to clean and scratch resistant, making them perfect for use in kitchens and bathrooms where hygiene is a top priority. From colourful glass designs to chic mirrored options, you can add depth and light into any space with glass brick tiles
- Metal: embrace the beauty of metallic tones on your walls. Not only are metallic subway tiles incredibly stylish; they're also extremely practical and durable, too. This provides a robust, water and scratch-resistant covering for walls throughout the home. Whether you opt for brushed metal or shiny, you can delight in how these tiles create different visual effects
- Polished: tiles with a shiny, glossy finish are right at home in modern interior design, creating a sleek and fresh finish, but the benefits don't end there. Glossy brick tiles also work to bounce extra light around the room and expand the depth of spaces, especially with bevelled edge tiles. This makes them ideal for use in compact or dimly lit areas as they'll help the room feel brighter and bigger
- Matt: with a slightly duller, often rougher finish, matt tiles instantly add texture to your interior design. When contrasted against shinier materials, you can use matt tiles to soften the aesthetic and lend a more tactile feel. Most matt tiles will still feature a glaze, so you don't need to worry about them being more prone to staining or absorbing liquids - they can be quickly wiped down just like other materials in no time
Handpick metro tile styles and sizes for your home
At Tiles Direct, you can handpick subway tiles from a huge range of colours, styles and sizes to ensure the tiles you buy are based on what works best for your home.
When you’re designing and decorating a room from scratch, finding a range of truly complementary design elements is no easy feat.
Thankfully, the simple and adaptable aesthetic of metro tiles means they’re able to bring out the best in any room, meaning they’ll slot in seamlessly to any interior design theme. Whether you go for classic bevelled brick effect tiles, inverted InMetro designs or a rectified edge, each style and finish is designed to deliver a fresh and funky interior.
Here are some of the different styles and sizes on offer:
- Bevelled: bevelled-edge brick effect tiles are perfect for bouncing light around the room and making smaller spaces feel larger. For a contemporary finish, lay in grid patterns or keep things traditional with a classic brick lay pattern
- Flat/rectified: like the original subway tile, flat-edge styles deliver a nice smooth and clean finish to walls that can make them easier to clean
- Inverted: perfect for bringing new depth and perspective, inverted metro wall tiles have a sunken centre that offers an eye-catching alternative to original styles
Similarly, the size of subway tile makes a difference, helping to create different perspectives within any given space. With metro tiles, you will inevitably have more grout lines, but you can use this to your advantage.
Daintier room designs are best matched with mini metro tiles, while larger alternatives in pale colours like cream or light grey are ideal if you’re looking to create the illusion of additional space in your modestly sized property.
Don’t be afraid to play around with tile patterns before you fix them to the wall, either, allowing you to ensure your metro tiles deliver optimal visual impact. This could be laying larger format metro tiles in uniform vertical rows or a staggered waterfall effect to expand the height of a particular area. Or, opt for herringbone or chevron patterns to break up large expanses of tiled walls.
Top tips for accentuating your metro tiles
With effortless style guaranteed, metro-style tiles need very little in terms of added detail to make them a stand-out feature - but there are some ways you can enhance their look even further if you want to. With this in mind, we’re sharing some of our insider tips to help you along your way.
Small spaces and small tiles
As a rule, we would always recommend using larger format tiles in small spaces, as fewer grout lines are an effective way to create the illusion of extra space. However, if you have your heart set on metro brick tiles, don’t let this get in your way.
A safe bet is to opt for lighter shades and glossy tiles to help bounce light around the room. For a classic look that works wonders in brightening up a cosy kitchen or bathroom, simple yet stylish white tiles can be all that's needed, meaning you won’t have to give up your precious metro tile design. Complement with the same colour grout or a very close match to minimise the appearance of grout lines and you’ll soon see that size doesn’t matter.
Keep things simple
Subway tiles are the masters of blending into almost any interior design theme, be that rustic, vintage, industrial-chic or contemporary. However, their potency can be lost if there’s too much going on around them. So, we’d suggest you optimise their beauty with simple surroundings that complement one another.
For instance, if you opt for bold-coloured brick tiles for your kitchen splashback, offset this with pale-coloured cabinets and walls to let the tiles come to the fore. Alternatively, you can jazz up monochrome tiled areas with pops of bright colour or metallic accents.
Embrace the grout lines
An important part of any tiling project, tile grout works to seal tiles
and the surface behind against moisture and dirt. But, this practical application can also be used to create striking visual effects to accentuate the finished look of your metro wall tiles.
In contrast to the first concept of using the same or similar coloured grout to minimise the appearance of grout lines, you can highlight the lines to give a more dramatic decor style that demands to be noticed.
From vibrantly coloured grout in sunshine yellow, red and blue to dark and dramatic black and grey, if you want to deliver an impactful look with your metro tiles, this could be the way to go, injecting a funky, contemporary feel to a quintessentially classic tile design.
Metro tiles for kitchens, bathrooms and more
Brighten up your bathroom with a striking new feature wall in an eye-catching colour or refresh your kitchen with a perfectly practical splashback. Wherever you use metro tiles, they offer a multifunctional solution to all kinds of interior decorating dilemmas that extend beyond the obvious places.
- Easy-clean kitchens: the kitchen is one of the busiest rooms of the house and, naturally, the most prone to stains, splashes and other spillages. This makes metro kitchen tiles ideal for a fuss-free splashback. Offering a winning combination of uncomplicated good looks and an easy-to-clean surface, styles like the Retro Metro tiles range eliminate the maintenance issues typically associated with paint or wallpaper in this kind of environment. But it’s not just practical advantages these metro tiles boast. On the contrary, with an array of stylish aesthetics to choose from, you can achieve an array of interior styles with brick metro tiles - from a cool, contemporary urban vibe that mirrors city life to a classic, rustic charm to transform your kitchen into a country cottage, the possibilities are endless.
- Brilliantly practical bathrooms: the same can also be said in the bathroom, where practicality reigns and simple, enduring beauty is generally the goal of any design overhaul. Enhance the area behind your bathroom sink with brick metro wall tiles in a complementary colour, or introduce texture by treating your shower room to a tiled white border that delivers a refined finish that still embodies the beauty of the Underground. For a classic finish, V&A vintage decorative border tiles could add a nice sense of texture and colour to complement the overall finish of your bathroom
- Heavenly hallways: The hallway is often the last area for consideration when it comes to interior updates, but, as the gateway to your home, it does deserve a little TLC - and the metro brick tile is primed and ready for the challenge. In busy households, metro wall tiles in hallways provide the perfect remedy for mucky handprints, scuffs and general wear and tear. But, beyond the practicalities, they also give drab hallways some much-needed personality. Whether you opt for classic monochrome white brick tiles or the sorts of bold colours found in our English Victorian collection, subway tiles are guaranteed to make a lasting impression
- Lavish living rooms: while subway-style wall tiles in the living room may not seem like an obvious choice, they can be a fantastic way to add a lavish and striking feature that boasts practical benefits, too. Protecting walls from scuffs and marks from furniture, metro tiles bring a strong style statement to these social living areas. Nail the shabby-chic look with our gorgeous grey Harbour tiles, bring texture and depth with natural stone split face tiles available in a variety of designs, or coin a vintage-inspired look with our colourful Antic Pastels collection, all offering stunning hues to complement any design theme
- Blissful bedrooms: opting for calming and serene palettes in bedrooms is the ideal technique for achieving a great night’s sleep, but this option doesn’t have to be bland. Curate a blissful space that oozes elegance with a feature wall that uses metro wall tiles to great effect. Why not try our striking Crackle Glaze tiles (which come in a vibrant range of colours) for an antique vibe or achieve an attention-grabbing wall with Chevron tiles in pale tones?
Why choose Tiles Direct?
When it comes to buying brick and metro tiles, we’re confident that our extensive selection of both classic and contemporary designs will provide you with everything you need for sprucing up tired interiors.
With over three decades’ experience in the tile industry, we’ve forged strong relationships with quality suppliers across Europe to bring you the best tiles at the best possible prices on the market.
We even offer a price match promise, so, if you find the same tile for a better price elsewhere, we’ll beat it - ensuring you get the best deal around. We’ll even throw in free delivery on any orders over £499.
Found a subway tile that suits you? Simply add them to your basket and head straight to the checkout to place your order. However, if you’re still deciding, you can order a sample online for just 99p and get a closer look before you commit to buying in bulk.
So, what are you waiting for? Explore our metro wall tiles range today to bring some classic cool into your contemporary home. Have a question about one of our products? Contact us now and our expert team will be happy to help.