Metro tiles are one of Tile Mountain’s best-selling tiles and are an increasingly popular choice for both residential and commercial use. Their classic good looks combined with a vast array of styles and colours available, as well as the many different ways they can be installed, have all contributed to their popularity.
When you combine all these attributes with low affordable prices, it’s little wonder why so many people have decided that metro tiles are perfect for their own projects.
Our buying guide makes light work of choosing the perfect metro tile for your needs. No matter what your personal style might be – from traditional to contemporary, industrial, vintage, eclectic and anything in between – we know there’s a metro tile that’s just perfect for you. With a wealth of options, narrowing down your tile style, installation options, colour choices and finishes is easiest when you know what works best for the space you have.
But before we crack on with helping you with all that, there’s an important question that needs answering; Why the sudden resurgence in popularity of a tile that’s actually been around since the turn of the century? A little look back in time might explain…
The History of The Metro Tile
Around the turn of the 20th century, architects of the world created unique subterranean worlds – from New York’s Subway and the London Underground, to the Metro in Paris – and the station walls of this new underground travel phenomenon were covered in something that was different to the standard square tile. The world was introduced to the ‘metro’ or ‘subway’ tile – an easy to care for, easy to clean ceramic brick-shaped wall tile. The glossy white tiles were rectangular, allowing them to curve around the large expanses and wide arches of the stations and be used in conjunction with coloured mosaic tiles to create an impressive backdrop to this marvel of engineering.
The world soon took notice, and evolved the flat brick shape to incorporate a slight bevelled edge. Soon, these metro tiles were being used not just in underground stations but also in kitchens and bathrooms in the Art Deco style that followed and the metro was adopted across the globe. Simple, clean, easy to maintain and adaptable for nearly any style, they have stood the test of time and are just as popular as ever today.
Why Use Metro Tiles?
What makes metro tiles the best choice for your own kitchen or bathroom? Their versatility is one of the most important factors! Whether they are used as an accent within a feature wall, as a simple splashback, for a fireplace surround, or to cover the walls of your kitchen or bathroom, you’re sure to find a look using metro tiles that works with your style.
They look equally striking in a contemporary bathroom with all the latest fittings as they do in a traditional country kitchen and work perfectly when paired with industrial style accents. These simple tiles suit nearly any decorating scheme and this alone is likely the reason why they remain a favourite choice of architects, interior designers, and DIY’ers across the globe.
Using Metro Tiles in the Kitchen
If you want to create a traditional look in your kitchen, you may want to consider a bevelled metro tile in a softer or more neutral colour such as white, cream, grey, or even a pale green or baby blue. When installed in a brick bond layout, these elegant tiles create a vintage aesthetic, perfect for creating a cosy, almost nostalgia-tinged atmosphere that all the family will love.
For more contemporary interiors, considered a non-bevelled edge in a glossy bright colour or keep the look sophisticated in a combination of black and white in a block pattern. Combined with sleek cupboards and the latest brushed steel appliances, metro tiles are the perfect backdrop to your style.
Lovers of the industrial look might want to create the perfect urban kitchen by using metallic metro tiles in a chrome finish. If a vintage feel is more your thing then white metros with black grout really gives a sheen of Edwardian style. If you don’t get a lot of natural light in your kitchen, why not embrace the dark? A black kitchen with dark metro tiles will look sophisticated and elegant and combined with a multitude of lighting options, can transform what could be a dingy space into something you’d see in a glossy interior design magazine.
Using Metro Tiles in the Bathroom
Whether you decide on a bold colour scheme or a relaxed, neutral space, the bathroom is the perfect place to use metro tiles creatively. Why not consider installing metro tiles vertically? This creates visual height in what is usually the smallest room in the home. You can create a racing stripe feature by using a bold colour against bright white metro tiles and allowing it to run the full length of the wall and onto the floor. Add interest to what could be a utilitarian space by combining a plain metro tile with a bold statement floor to showcase an eclectic style.
Combined with a freestanding tub, you’ll create big style in a space that many assume is too small to make an impact. Consider installing a textured metro tile in a pale shade for the perfect spa-like feel. Simply add fluffy white towels and natural elements for a relaxing and inviting aesthetic. For sophisticated styling, consider using metro tiles installed in a herringbone fashion, transforming an inexpensive option into something that looks far more high-end.
Options for Installing Metro Tiles
It’s clear now that versatility is one of the metro tile’s most important assets. And this versatility is equally apparent in their installation. The most popular format in which to install metro tiles is in a brick bond layout, but they also can be used in other creative ways. You can install them to run vertically to create height or in a herringbone pattern for a highly stylised take on a classic style. You can also create interesting patterns by combining different coloured tiles in a harmonious palette in a weave pattern. With the options of colours available, you have the ability to design something truly unique. Consider these various layouts to create the right look for your space:
Metro Tile Colours
While classic white remains popular, metro tiles are also available in a myriad of colours, meaning you can do anything from mixing black and white for a monochrome look to going for a bright shot of colour to really make a statement. The popularity of grey as the go-to neutral of interiors means grey tiles are no longer the staple of drab office blocks. Grey metro tiles can create a sophisticated backdrop for nearly any look you wish to create. Of course, the favourite soft beige neutral metro is still going strong but why not combine various shades of creams and browns for a sophisticated take on a traditional style?
Our Tile Visualiser tool has been created to help decide on colours and combinations, so please do give it a try. Pick from hundreds of tile options, room-sets and even grout colours to create your dream room!
Metro Tile Sizes
The most popular size of metro tiles is 200mm wide x 100mm high, but they also come in two other sizes. For a subtle change, why not try the more linear 300mm x 100mm size tile for a contemporary take on a classic? Or you can create an interesting mosaic effect with our mini metro tiles that measure 150mm x 75mm. Choose a flat metro tile without a bevel to create an unfussy contemporary look or consider a bevelled tile for that Art Deco vibe.
Using Grout with Metro Tiles
Grout is another way to easily change up an aesthetic, be it via using a classic white grout or mixing things up with a coloured grout to create a totally unique and creative space. Darker grouts in black and greys really make the shape of this classic style pop against your walls or consider using a glitter grout for a glamorous, sparkly touch.
How To Choose A High-Quality Metro Tile
The fact that these tiles are inexpensive does not necessarily mean they are low quality. Prices vary considerably from the high street where some retailers are selling metro tiles at nearly double the price of those sold by online retailers. The best way to know which tile is worth the price is by getting samples of tiles to compare their quality.
When you receive your samples, the colours should be clean and crisp and the finish should not have marking, dimples, scratches or imperfections on the face. A nice clean, crisp edge should also be apparent as this gives the tile its unique finish and reflects light. Also, you’ll want to consider the practical side of things – if you are working on a kitchen or bathroom remodel, you want to be sure they are sent in sturdy boxes, making easier work of moving the tiles into and around your project area.
How To Install Metro Tiles
Find the centre of the wall and mark a vertical and horizontal line using a spirit level. Dry lay your tiles, starting at the centre working your way out towards the end of the wall. If you require the tiles at either end to be cut at approximately the same size, do this by adjusting your vertical reference line.
Starting at your middle reference point, apply your tile adhesive to an area of approximately 1m, two at a time using a notched trowel (6mm notch) at a 45° angle to the wall. Firmly press the tile into the adhesive using a slight twisting motion. If you are fixing metro tiles in a brick pattern, T-Spacers are available for this purpose. Use the required sized spacer between each tile on all sides to give consistent sized grout lines.
Trims for Finishing Open Edges
Trims are available in both metal and plastic and in various colours and finishes. We recommend a trim size of 8-9mm for metro tiles to be able to take the depth of the tile when cut as the centre of the tile will be 2-3mm thicker than the bevelled edge.
Ceramic tiles can be easily cut in a straight line using a score & snap tile cutter. For irregular cuts such as around plug sockets, an electric diamond wheel tile cutter is beneficial. However, the same type of cut can be achieved using a straight cutter for scoring with a pair of tile nippers. These can be used to nip or nibble pieces from the tile until the desired shape is achieved.
Allow the tile adhesive a full 24 hours to cure before grouting. Mix the grout as per manufacturer’s instructions to form an even paste. Apply using a rubber grout float or squeegee at a 45° angle to the wall making sure to press the grout firmly into the gaps. Wipe any excess grout from the face of the tile using a damp sponge, being careful not to remove the grout from the grout line. After approximately 30 minutes, buff the tiles with a soft dry cloth to remove any grout haze. This can be repeated until the face of the tiles are clean.
All internal corners (both horizontal and vertical) should have matching silicone applied to eradicate any cracking from movement such as along worktops/stud walls etc.
How To Care For Metro Tiles
Metro tiles are easy to care for. Simply wipe them down and either leave to dry or buff with a soft towel to keep them looking their shiny best. Use a tile or grout cleaner periodically to ensure they stay looking perfect for years to come.
Hopefully this guide will have provided you with all you need to know about these wondrous little things we call metro tiles. Feel free to have a click around the rest of the Tile Mountain blog as there’s tonnes of useful and interesting stuff about metro tiles and the like and if you have any further questions, just give our customer service team a ring on 01782 223822 and they’ll be happy to help.
- Black & White Metros: mummydaddyandmemakesthree