30 Different White Subway Tile Shower Designs
Since there are so many ways to execute the white subway tile shower, we’re sharing our favorite design ideas to help you put your own spin on this simple yet stunning bathroom design mainstay.
Why is White Subway Tile Good for the Shower?
White subway tile is timeless, elegant, and suits every design style. When considering the function, feel, and flow of the bathroom, white subway tile ticks all the boxes for a shower that reflects a clean, comfortable, and rejuvenating space.
Using handmade tile elevates a white subway tile shower with variations in color, size, and sheen adding a unique, one-of-a-kind personality to your design.
Is White Subway Tile Outdated?
Absolutely not. White subway tile will always be a key interior design element. While we offer a wide variety of colors, our top 3 best-selling colors of ceramic tile are all shades of white (White Wash, Tusk, and Calcite). White subway tile has never gone out of style since its introduction in New York's subway system in 1904 and judging by today's contemporary bathrooms using white subway tile liberally, it shows no sign of falling out of fashion.
Set it Straight
The most modern interpretation of subway tile is the straight set pattern. Featuring clean lines and simple forms, straight-set subway tile is a minimalist dream, even in among New Traditional accents like this bathroom below.
This shower features straight-set subway tile with a light grey grout to tastefully highlight the clean lines without going full contrast. The grout also pairs well with the grey mosaic tile--also straight-set--on the shower floor.
Twice as wide as standard subway tile, 3x12 straight set tiles highlight the horizontal lines of this bathroom, accentuated by the design carrying over to the tile backsplash behind the bathroom vanity.
Straight set subway tile is made even more intriguing with a high-variation glaze. Notice the subtle differences in color and sheen spread randomly throughout the shower.
Straight-set also works when hanging the tile vertically. This warm white shower wall tile matches its tall and narrow footprint with 2x6 tile laid lengthwise. The warm shade of white goes great with the organic elements of the shower like the exposed beam and planks above.
Same pattern but a much different personality, matte Calcite glaze gives off a cool white color and barely-there lines thanks to a matching grout.
Tile Shown: Calcite 2x8 // Design & Image: Quynh Dang
If you're a fan of straight-set but can't decide between horizontal or vertical, create a shower with a blend of both. This shower features vertical subway tile on the walls of the shower but a second plane below the shelf is hung perpendicular for an interesting detail in this minimalist shower.
Tile Shown: White Wash 2x6 // Design & Image: Leslie Murchie
Speaking of minimalism, this Scandinavian bathroom shows what simple design done well can achieve. A two-tone palette of warm white and beige tile is differentiated by a pairing of horizontal and vertical straight set subway tiles of equal size.
Sometimes you can't help but stick with a classic. White subway tile in a traditional half-offset pattern is the way subway tile was first introduced to the world and it still remains an incredibly charming combo today, evidenced here in this ethereal 3/4 bathroom.
Offset isn't always indicative of tradition. Vertical offset gives a shower a strikingly contemporary look with broken lines streaking down the shower walls.
Tile Shown: Calcite 3x12 // Design: Mokume Design Studio // Image: Christopher Stark
Herringbone is a legendary pattern that works perfectly with the rectangular shape of subway tile. This walk-in shower features walls of 3x6 subway tile in a tight herringbone pattern for an elegant woven look.
This tub surround features a similar herringbone design with a slimmer tile for a slightly more delicate-looking pattern. The matching grout adds to the lightness of the design.
By contrast, this shower really shows off the herringbone pattern with black grout against the white tile for a bold accent that plays off the black floors.
Be advised, dark pigmented grouts are not recommended with some white glazes due to staining potential. Please consult with your design consultant and installer and test your desired grout's effect before applying to your installation.
This shower goes all in on the herringbone pattern with a middle-of-the-road grey grout that shows off the design without overdoing it. While the bold look works for the contained shower above, this full coverage space rewards restraint unless you're after a maximalist look.
Add an Accent
White subway tile doesn't have to be the star of the shower and is perfectly appropriate as a supporting shape. This tub surround features white subway tile with high contrast grout throughout but it's the accent wall of hand-painted tile that steals the scene.
This shower is awash with decorative lines. Long linear subway tiles cover two walls extending out across one side of the bathroom while an accent wall of Hexite tile draws a honeycomb pattern intersected with diagonal lines, all accentuated with bright white grout.
Speaking of lines, this shower features oversized subway tiles and an accent wall of Handpainted Ripple tile, giving a sense of flowing water to the wettest part of the home.
Tile Shown: Ripple in Neutral Motif // Design: Stonewood Kitchen and Bath // Image: Megan Gery
A slightly more modest accent wall, this modern bathroom in an original Eichler home takes midcentury cues to deliver a clean-looking shower with a sophisticated gray tile accent wall.
Subway with Squares
This wet room bathroom features walls of glossy subway tiles stacked between matte 6x6 squares in an offset pattern for an intriguing take on the traditional white subway tile wall.
Taking a similar design approach, this shower features subway tile interspersed with square tiles in a more random pattern. A warm white shade of glaze adds to the organic nature of this shower design.
Subway With Stars
This subway tile shower shares its space with a floor of Star and Cross tile for a classic combination of utilitarian and decorative design.
This shower takes the decorative element to new heights by using two colorways for the Star and Cross tiles to accentuate the pattern even more while the subway tile stands strong on the walls.
Hexagons Help Out
Another shape that frequently shares the shower with subway tile is the hexagon. A true classic for bathroom floors, there may be no more quintessential bathroom pattern pairing than subway tile and hexagons. Choosing contrasting colors lets each shine in their own regard.
Black and white. Subway tile and hexagons. Some things just go together effortlessly. This bathroom looks both contemporary and timeless thanks to these enduring shapes and colors.
On the other hand, any classic combo can skew contemporary with the right tweaks like this shower that brings the hexagons up to the walls alongside the white subway tile and a colorful, futuristic floor of hexagon ombre mosaic.
Tasteful Two Tone
Adding contrast to a white subway tile shower can come from the grout, the floor tile, an accent wall or even the same walls with a two-tone design. This bathroom features white offset subway tile beneath a gray wall of offset subway tile for a balanced and dapper design.
This two-tone design takes things to the next level with two sizes of subway tile. The white half uses large 6x12 tiles while the top half features 2x8 to give the bathroom an interesting dimension of depth.
Parquet (and Other Possibilities)
The possibilities of white subway tile are virtually endless. This parquet pattern is clean as can be, showing what a little attention to detail and imagination can do for the simple and persistent subway tile.
Tile Shown: White Wash 2x4 Sheeted // Design: Orlando Soria // Image: Tessa Neustadt
This modern bathroom features a spacious shower of pearly white tile laid in a vertical straight set pattern with matching grout that flows virtually seamlessly throughout the bathroom, separated only by the glass doors and a short curb.
Working on an entire bathroom design? Discover 20 subway tile bathroom ideas here.
This bathroom features a similarly seamless design, with only glass partitioning the shower from the rest of the bathroom. Here, however, you'll notice a horizontal subway tile with a half offset pattern.
Tile Shown: White Wash 3x6 // Design & Image: Andrea Rugg
Wondering which white is right for your subway tile shower? Order 5 free samples to find out. Or better yet, get in touch with a free personal design consultant to guide you through the sampling and design process of your specific shower.