About Subway Tiles


Subway tiles are famous for their shine, color and especially their easy cleaning properties. Because of this, they have become hugely popular for bathroom and home applications, but do you know who first tiled the subways? Do you know all about the modern applications in the home? Read on!


  • George C. Heins and Christopher Grant LaFarge were the first artists to work on the subway tunnels in New York City. Most of the tiles in the subway system were already laid (circa 1901) by the time the subway first opened for business in 1904. Since then, various firms have been hired to restore and renew the beautiful tiles that have made New York's subways famous. Most of the mosaics were done by Squire Vickers, using smaller tiles with vivid colors to create imaginative and beautiful patterns.


  • Subway tiles come in a huge variety of colors. Historically, they were made of painted and fired ceramic, but currently they are mixed with more durable polymers for greater longevity. Glass tiles are also used for their unique appearance their ability to refract light.


  • Subway tiles have a long history in public places, but they have moved into the home for the same reasons: their durability and maintained appearance. They act as a solid, waterproof (when correctly grouted) barrier for humid areas like kitchen counter tops and back-splashes and in the bathroom. They are also used to aesthetically harness some of that big-city turn of the century charm that made them brilliant and popular in the subways. Additionally, ceramic is exceptionally resistant to heat. Therefore, subway tiles are excellent choices for the kitchen because they won't be damaged by any pots or pans.


  • Ceramics do have a tendency to break only when struck with a centralized locus of force. For example, it will snap when hit with a hammer, not when you jump on it with your foot. They are generally very resistant to breaking. Today, the ceramic can also be mixed with polymers for durability, but it loses the resistance to heat. Once polished, the tiles are also virtually non-porous. Stains and bacteria can dry on the surface, but they cannot penetrate and damage the tile itself.


  • Traditional subway tiles have a high gloss glaze that has been fired in a kiln for maximum resistance and durability. They started in black and white, but the tiles were quickly developed into many colors. They are a quarter inch deep. Rough, textured ceramic on the back makes it ideal for bonding and binding. Today, the term "subway tile" is applied much more generously to any fired and glazed high shine ceramic tile regardless of size.

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  • Photo Credit http://www.susanjablonmosaics.com/userfiles/image/subway-retro-mint-2-500.jpg
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