Beveled Subway Tile Backsplash Classic Style with a New Take


The subway tile backsplash has been a classic kitchen design feature for over a century, prized for its timeless beauty and versatility. While the classic white 3×6 subway tile is iconic, a new trend is emerging – the beveled subway tile backsplash. This small detail adds just enough visual interest to give a fresh update to this traditional style.

In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about the beveled subway tile backsplash, including its history, pros and cons, costs, and design ideas to make this style your own. With just a subtle change to a classic, you can achieve a backsplash that feels familiar yet current. Whether renovating a period home or designing a modern kitchen, the beveled subway tile backsplash deserves a spot on your inspiration board.

A Brief History of the Subway Tile

The subway tile dates back to the early 1900s, when it was first used to line the walls of New York City’s first subway stations. The white 3×6 tile was both easy to clean and decorate, while allowing light to reflect in the stations.

This utilitarian tile was quickly adopted in kitchens and bathrooms across the country. The classic bright white color kept these spaces looking clean, while the slim rectangular shape lent a sense of order and geometry.

By the 1950s, the subway tile backsplash was a must-have feature of every modern kitchen. For decades, this standard backsplash treatment remained popular in both commercial and residential settings.

While subway tile never fully went out of style, by the 1990s it had come to be seen as dated and somewhat boring. The beveled edge offers a subtle detail that helps to revive the subway tile, giving it a current feel. The angled edge catches and reflects light for added visual interest.

What is a Beveled Subway Tile?

A beveled subway tile has one long edge cut at an angle, usually around 45 degrees. This creates a sloped edge rather than a flat 90 degree angle. The beveled edge subtly breaks up the grid pattern of traditional subway tiles.

White beveled subway tile backsplash

Beveled subway tiles add subtle detail. Image Source

The beveled edge tiles are often laid in a brickwork pattern, with the sloped edges alternating direction between courses. This creates a zigzag effect when light hits the tile edges.

Tiles may have just one beveled edge or both the long and short sides cut at an angle. Having both sides beveled can create a fish scale effect. Mixing the direction of the beveled edges adds diversity to the pattern.

Pros and Cons of Beveled Subway Tile

Like most design choices, beveled subway tile backsplashes come with both advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at the pros and cons of using this style.


  • Provides visual interest without diverging too far from the classic subway tile look
  • Angled edges catch and reflect light beautifully
  • Beveled edges soften the linear look of flat tile
  • Zigzag patterns from alternating beveled edges adds movement
  • Design feels current while retaining vintage charm
  • Inexpensive to buy and install


  • Beveled tiles cost slightly more than standard square tile
  • Difficult to cut beveled tiles for outlets or other obstructions
  • Grout lines may be more visible because of the angled edges
  • Pattern requires careful planning, especially when mixing with unbeveled tile
  • Loses some of the seamless geometry of flat subway tile

For most homeowners, the biggest downside is the higher price tag. Expect to pay 10-15% more for beveled subway tiles. The extra cost is well worth it to get that elevated design. With thoughtful planning, the other potential cons can be avoided.

Cost Analysis

Let’s break down the typical cost to install a beveled subway tile backsplash:

  • Tile: $5-$15 per sq. ft., higher end for premium tiles
  • Thinset mortar: $10-$15 for a 50 lb. bag
  • Grout: $15-$30 for a 25 lb. bag of sanded grout
  • Trowels, spacers, etc: $20
  • Labor: Average $50 per hour for experienced tiler

For a 10 sq. ft backsplash, tile and materials would cost $200-$300. Labor would add $500 or more. The total for a small beveled subway tile backsplash would likely fall in the $700-$800 range.

Tile choices make the biggest impact on cost. Handmade encaustic cement tiles can be over $50 per square foot but give a stunning vintage look. Porcelain, ceramic, or glass subway tiles start at just $5 per square foot.

Hiring a tiling professional is highly recommended, but DIY installation can save on labor. Be sure to account for extras like a tile cutter rental too.

Overall, a beveled subway tile backsplash is only marginally more expensive than standard square tile. The cost increase of 10-25% gains you big design rewards.

Factors That Impact Cost

Many variables affect the total installation cost:

  • Tile material – ceramic, porcelain, glass, cement, natural stone
  • Tile size – smaller mosaics cost more
  • Tile finish – gloss, matte, textured
  • Bevel type – one edge or two
  • Pattern complexity – intricate designs need expert install
  • Backsplash size – 10 sq. ft. vs 30 sq. ft.
  • Accessories – accent tiles, listello borders, niche shelves
  • Professional installation vs DIY
  • Tile brand – premium designers charge more

Carefully review your entire tile selection before finalizing choices. Create an itemized budget to avoid cost surprises down the road.

Design Ideas and Inspirations

The beauty of beveled subway tile is its adaptability. Whether going for a contemporary, modern, cottage, or eclectic kitchen, this versatile tile can complement your style.

Here are some stunning ways to use beveled subway tiles:

Mix Colors in a Brick Pattern

Alternating subway tiles in two colors creates visual motion. Try light and medium grey for a subtle effect. Use white and blue for a preppy coastal vibe or opt for glossy black and white for bold contrast.

blue and white beveled subway tile backsplash

A brick pattern backsplash in blue and white. Image source

Stack Tiles Vertically

Installing longer rectangular subway tile vertically breaks out of the expected horizontal grid. Tiles with beveled long edges mirror each other for continuity.

Vertical white beveled subway tile

Stacked beveled tiles create height. Image source

Frame With Borders

Define the backsplash area by framing it with trim pieces. Combine with open shelving for an integrated look.

White beveled subway tile backsplash with wood trim

Framing adds structure. Image source

Create Focal Points

Use specialty shapes like circles or hexagons to form medallions for the eye to focus on. Or inset a strip of mosaic tile as a band of interest.

Hexagon focal point

A hexagon backsplash accent. Image source

Mix Sizes and Shapes

Pairing beveled edge subway tiles with smaller mosaics, large rectangles, penny rounds, or unusual shapes adds diversity. Contrast matte with shiny finishes too.

eclectic mixed beveled subway tile backsplash

An eclectic approach with different tiles. Image source

Go Bold With Color

Want your beveled tiles to make a statement? Use a single punchy hue like cobalt blue, emerald green, or lavender. Or create contrast with deep tones against a white background.

Cobalt blue beveled subway tile

Vibrant blue makes this backsplash pop. Image source

Finding the Right Tile Professional

Installing beveled subway tile takes skill to plan the pattern and handle the angled cuts. Hiring a tile pro ensures your project goes smoothly.

When evaluating tilers, ask the following:

  • Do they have experience with beveled subway tile installations? Request photos of past jobs.
  • Are they knowledgeable about the latest products, tools, and techniques?
  • Will they provide itemized quotes for materials and labor? Avoid vague pricing.
  • Do they offer design advice if you need help finalizing your tile selections?
  • Can they properly cut beveled tiles around outlets and fixtures? Avoid cracked tiles.
  • Will they share references from recent beveled subway tile backsplash projects?

A true tile pro will answer all these questions confidently. They’ll work closely with you from design to flawless finished product.

Beveled Subway Tile Backsplash FAQs

Looking into beveled subway tiles for your own kitchen? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Are beveled subway tiles hard to install?

Beveled subway tiles don’t require special skills, just attention to detail. Experience cutting angled tiles and maintaining pattern alignment is needed. Hiring a pro is recommended.

What color grout should I choose?

White or light grey grout keeps the focus on the tile colors. Dark grout highlights the grid pattern. Match or contrast the grout based on your style goals.

How are tiles with two beveled edges different?

Tiles beveled on two adjoining edges create a ridged effect. Tiles with just one beveled edge have a flatter surface and smooth edges on one side.

Should tiles be staggered or aligned in straight rows?

Offset and staggered tile layouts have more movement and interest. Grid installs look more uniform. Choose based on your ideal look.

How are beveled subway tiles different from pencil tiles?

Pencil tiles have two long finished edges, while beveled subway tiles have one decorative angled edge. Pencil tiles also tend to be thinner and longer.

Should I seal my backsplash after grouting?

Sealing is an optional extra step that protects porous tile from stains. It’s more important for natural stone than porcelain or ceramic.

Achieving the Beveled Subway Tile Look On a Budget

Don’t want to splurge on premium beveled subway tiles? You can mimic the look for less with standard square tiles:

  • Use 2×4 inch tiles instead of 3×6 – the shorter length exaggerates the beveled effect
  • Alternate direction of tile layout row to row
  • Choose glossy tile and miter edges for light reflection
  • Use tile spacers to emulate grout lines
  • Apply caulk or moulding edges at boundaries

With smart design choices, you can get a striking budget-friendly faux beveled subway tile backsplash.

Beveled Subway Tile Backsplash – Classic Style with a Fresh Twist

The beveled subway tile backsplash breathes new life into a tried-and-true classic. This simple update adds just enough visual flair to keep the traditional elegance while feeling current.

With so many colors, patterns, textures, and layouts to pick from, you can easily find a combination that matches your personal style. Beveled subway tiles work equally well in modern and cottage kitchens, blending in or standing out.

Take your time exploring different options online and in stores. Bring home samples to see how light interacts with the beveled edges.

Installing beveled subway tile does require attention to detail. But the extra effort pays off for a backsplash you’ll admire for years. Let the light dance across those sloped edges, putting a fresh spin on a century-old favorite.


The beveled subway tile backsplash deserves its renewed popularity. This ingenious twist on a classic backsplash style brings added dimension through subtle angled tiles.

With limitless ways to mix colors, patterns, textures, and layouts, you can tailor this style to match your kitchen’s look and feel. While a tile pro is recommended for installation, the end result is well worth the investment.

For both renovating and designing a home, the beveled subway tile backsplash injects vintage character with modern appeal. This versatile and affordable option should be on every homeowner’s radar. With just a touch of added interest, you can achieve a backsplash full of light, movement, and beauty.