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Subway Tile Blog

  • Timeless Tile For The Period Home

    Authenticity and the Period Home Times change and you can find those changes preserved in the tile of the times. An essential element of our built environment for the last 120 years, American ceramic tile has demonstrated a unique ability to adapt and innovate to create new forms, new fashions, and new solutions to the meet the architectural challenges of the day. Fashions change. Tile endures. How will we feel about the tile choices we make today, say 5 or 10 years into the future? Consider the one (and only) timeless tile fashion choice; the tile that was (or could) have been in your home when it was first built.  For the pre-war home, Subway Ceramics is your timeless choice...
  • Thin Gray Grout Lines

    All our tile collections are steeped in the history and heritage of a specific style of tile. From the 1920s-inspired Subway Ceramics and Subway Mosaics to the Arts & Crafts style of Batchelder Tile and Japanese Tile crafted in 16th Century kilns, we have something for every aesthetic. Left to their own devices, tile contractors will often use white grout on a white glazed tile installation - not the natural gray grout found in most vintage tilework. So why white? Contractors simply want to make the grout lines disappear, because it's virtually impossible to make consistent grout lines with conventional "pillowed" wall tile. But what happens to those bright white grout lines as soon as the tile installers pack-up and...
  • The History of Ceramic Tile

    Did you know February 23 is the National Tile Day? The day has been created by Coverings, North America's largest international tile and stone show, to shine a spotlight on the benefits of tile in residential and commercial design. From the modest to the extravagant, tile is one of the most versatile, attractive, and durable surfaces available and has been used around the world for centuries. A Brief History of Ceramic Tile: Ceramic tile has been used in buildings around the world since the ninth century BC. For thousands of years tile was only used to adorn important public buildings and for homes of the wealthy. Many of the tile styles used by ancient civilizations, including the Romans, Greeks and...
  • Shively Sanitary Tenements

    The Shively Sanitary Tenements were originally built to house low-income families who had been infected with tuberculosis. Easy to clean, stain resistant, and light-reflective, the now classic subway tile was the perfect choice for a building designed to combat infection. Using our Subway Ceramics collection, a current building resident recently set out to restore his bathroom to its original character. Previously known as the East River Homes or Shively Sanitary Tenements, The Cherokee is a cooperative apartment building in New York’s Upper East Side. The project was conceived by Dr. Henry Shively, head of the tuberculosis unit at Presbyterian Hospital, to house low-income families who had been infected with tuberculosis. It was designed by architect Henry Atterbury Smith and completed...
  • Pretty in Pink | Retro Bathrooms

    Pink is back in a big way. Rose Quartz is the 2016 Pantone Color of the Year and we've been seeing pink everywhere. From pretty pastel to funky fuchsias, it's clear that pink is having a moment. Heritage Tile Collections (Subway Mosaics Daisy in Rose and Red, 3"x6" Moderne in Cameo, 2"x2" Bungalow in Tea Rose, and 3"x3" Rose Deco). A natural habitat for pink in the home is, of course, the bathroom. It is estimated that 5 million pink bathrooms went into American homes during the 1940s-60s and many still exist today. Why pink? It may have been First Lady Mamie Eisenhower.She was passionate about pink – so much so that the White House was dubbed “The Pink Palace”...
  • What We Now Know As Subway Tile

    Avalon, the Restoration White White, and pretty much only white, was the norm in America's turn of the century kitchen and bathroom tilework. In fact, what we now generically call "subway tile" was originally referred to as "white ware". It was only in the 1920's that color broke through the Victorian constraints, under the influence of the Art Deco and Craftsman movements. A close look at vintage, Victorian tilework will reveal that these tiles are no longer a pure white, but now appear to have a slightly amber tone.  This patina, due to the natural oxidation of the glaze constituants, is common to all pre-war subway tile, as you may have discovered if, for instance, you attempted repairs or additions...
  • New York Chelsea Market: What's not to love?

    What's not to love about New York's Chelsea Market? Well, the original bathrooms, for sure. Until last month, that is, when "The Cellar" addition officially opened. Before, long queues for the individual restrooms were common, but that experience has become a thing of the past. The 6 million annual visitors to this 1890's Oreo cookie factory will now be getting a little relief... Subway Ceramics was used to restore the original Victorian character to this landmark structure. In this historic building you will see great attention to details of the past. Keep your eyes open for overlapping radius corner and cove trims; pencil-thin grout lines, a perfectly flat field tile, and a simulated "patina" glaze effect produced by introducing a slight variation...
  • Porcelain vs. Ceramic Tile

    Before you buy tile, it's important to decide what material you want to use. Porcelain and ceramic tile are the most common types of tile, and each one has its own benefits. To help you choose between the two, we've put together some useful tips. Porcelain tile and ceramic tile are both technically "ceramic" because they are made from a mixture of clay and other natural material. Porcelain tiles, however, are composed of a finer porcelain clay and are fired at higher temperatures than ceramic tile. The result is tile that performs very differently from ceramic tile. Ceramic Tile Ceramic tile is usually made from white or red clay, which is fired and given its color from a layer of glaze.Ceramic...
  • Subway Tile Patterns

    Traditional or transitional? Historic or modern? Subway tile patterns are limited only by your imagination. The original 3" x 6" subway tile was placed in an offset pattern but over the decades designers and homeowners have used their own aesthetic to create new patterns that really make an impact. If you look closely at subway tile that exists in your own neighborhood, you'll see many variations. You'll probably find tile in an Offset or Offset 1/3 pattern since these are most common. Turn a subway tile at a 45-degree angle and suddenly you have a Herringbone tile pattern that offers direction and texture to your installation. You can use different sizes of subway tile for this pattern, each of which will give...
  • Green Subway Tile Inspiration

    We love the month of March. With the first day of spring and St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, we can't help but be inspired by the color green. Green is known to boost creativity and motivate people, so it's a great option for decorating a work space. It can also create a calming atmosphere, making it an ideal color for residential spaces. Green can range from a soothing pastel to a vibrant emerald so we've put together some of our favorite green Subway Tile Ceramic to inspire your next design. Green subway tile can make a real statement if you use it as your field tile. Pair it with a black tile trim and you'll get a classic subway tile...

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