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At Floor Coverings International in White Bear Lake, we love learning about the history of the materials we work with everyday. Today, we want to share a little bit about the background of subway tile. This durable tile has transformed from a purely useful part of public spaces to a stylish staple in homes across the country. Read on to learn about how this surprising transition occurred.

Practical yet stylish, subway tile has been an essential part of America’s tile history since the early 1900’s. It was first seen in New York City train stations around 1904. This white ceramic tile was ideal for subterranean spaces like the subway thanks to its durable, stain-resistant construction. The 3’’ x 6’’ tiles were finished with a thick glaze and arranged in a brick pattern across the walls of the subway. The shining white tiles were meant to evoke a feeling of cleanliness (without the subway staff having to do too much maintenance).

The same benefits that made subway tile a great option for public spaces inspired people to use this trend in their own homes not long after the original designs were unveiled. The most popular spot for these tiles was the kitchen. The clean lines and durability were appreciated by housewives of the early and mid 20th century who thought of the kitchen as a cleanly space meant only for cooking.

Today, subway tiles are used in a variety of rooms. The kitchen is still a classic spot for it, but you’ll also find these tiles in entryways, laundry rooms and bathrooms. Some people even use them as an alternative to brick around a fireplace. They offer a modern feel and are surprisingly heat resistant. Our experts at Floor Coverings International in White Bear Lake appreciate the history of this hardworking tile, and hope that you will consider adding it into your home!