How Much Does Subway Tile Cost per Square Foot?

Typical Range:

$7 - $13

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.

Updated June 1, 2022

Written by HomeAdvisor.
the average cost to install subway tile is $7 to $13 per square foot.

On average, subway tile costs anywhere from $7 to $13 per square foot. At the highest, you could pay around $24 per square foot, as compared to $1.20 per square foot at the lowest. 

Subway tile can take your space from bland to beautiful, whether it’s installed in a kitchen, bathroom, or shower. Before you attempt a DIY tile job or hire a professional, however, it helps to know how much subway tile costs.

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Subway Tile Cost per Square Foot

A basic 3-inch-by-6-inch ceramic subway tile can cost as little as $1.20 per square foot or as much as $24 per square foot. In general, however, you should be prepared to spend between $7 and $13 per square foot.

his doesn’t include the cost of grout, sealant, or any additional tools or materials, such as backer board or a tile cutter. While subway tile prices can be fairly budget-friendly, things can add up once you factor in other materials and labor.

Cost to Install Subway Tile by Use

Whether you’re redoing your kitchen with a vibrant blue backsplash or want to line your shower walls with classic white subway tile, here’s a look at what you’ll pay.

Kitchen Backsplash

The cost to install a subway tile backsplash in your kitchen could be between $1,300 to $2,400. This depends on the square footage of your backsplash and whether you take the tile all the way up the wall or just between your countertop and cabinets. 

A classic white subway tile can match just about any kitchen style, while a marble or herringbone-patterned subway tile brings a more modern touch. 

Regardless, the average subway tile installation cost is about $1,000, so it’s a good idea to have at least that price point in mind when budgeting for this type of project. 

Bathroom Wall Tiles

For basic bathroom wall tiles, you’ll pay around $1.50 to $2 per square foot, as opposed to more intricate designs, which cost around $4 to $6 per square foot. Although this subway tile price is on the lower end of the spectrum, you will likely need more of it since your bathroom walls probably take up more space than a shower or backsplash. 

Shower Wall

The cost to install shower tile ranges anywhere from $450 to $10,000, which includes the price you’ll pay for tile, materials, and installation. The type of shower you’re tiling can also make a difference. Walk-in showers, for example, cost $2,500 to $5,000 to tile, depending on the size of the space and the difficulty of the job.

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Cost to Install Subway Tile

Labor charges on top of subway tile costs can alter the total amount you spend by a significant amount if the tile is hard to cut or has to be placed around several obstacles, such as windows, outlets, or other barriers. Contractors typically charge an hourly fee plus a difficulty fee that can fall anywhere from $600 to $1,350.

Size 

Subway tile comes in a variety of sizes—some as small as 2-by-4-inches or as large as 12–by-24-inches. The size you prefer to install can determine whether you go over or under budget. Here’s an idea of what the range of sizes costs per 10 square feet.

Tile SizeAverage Price per 10 Square Feet
3-by-6$55
4-by-4$60
4-by-8$66
4-by-12$70
2-by-4$70
2-by-8$75
4-by-10$90
12-by-24$110
3-by-12$180

Material

Ceramic subway tile is the most budget-friendly material on the market, while marble and granite are traditionally the most expensive. The type of material you choose for your subway tile can make a major difference in what you end up paying. 

The cost to install ceramic or porcelain tile, for example, can be as high as $115 per square foot.

Tile MaterialAverage Price per Square Foot
Ceramic$5 – $10
Porcelain$5 – $10
Travertine$20 – $30
Glass$30 – $40
Copper$30 – $50
Steel$30 – $40
Granite$35 – $60
Marble$40 – $50

Subway Tile Installation Cost Factors

If you have some DIY experience, you might consider taking on this job yourself. However, to ensure installation goes smoothly and you get the exact look you want, it would be best to hire a pro.

Scope

If you or your tile installer has to account for the cost to repair previous tile and grout, it could significantly increase the total budget for installation. The difficulty of the job is also something to consider, as labor costs could increase when contractors have to tile in intricate patterns or around tricky corners or uneven walls. 

DIY vs. Hiring a Professional Tiler

The average cost to hire a professional to install subway tile backsplash is $40 to $150 per hour, minus the materials. Simple, straightforward subway tile falls on the lower end of labor costs, while a more complex design or level of difficulty falls on the higher end. 

To complete the project yourself, you’ll likely spend about $300 on tools and materials, depending on the square footage of the area you’re tiling. 

This task requires lengthy preparation, especially if you’re a novice DIYer. You’ll need to properly remove existing tile, sand the walls, tape off surrounding surfaces, and detach outlet covers. If you don’t have spare time to devote to tiling, find a local tile installer who can get it done in a pinch. 

FAQs

How do I get the best price on subway tile?

The easiest way to get the best deals on subway tiles is to compare prices on various sites. You can also get more accurate estimates by contacting a tile backsplash contractor near you who can give you a professional quote. 

What size are subway tiles?

The classic subway tile size is 3-by-6 inches,but you can find them in a wide variety of lengths and widths. For a timeless look in a kitchen backsplash, you can use 3-by-6 inches or 4-by-4 inches in a straight-set pattern. Other options include 3-by-12 inches, 4-by-10 inches, 2-by-8 inches, 4-by-12 inches, and 12-by-24 inches. 

Does it cost more to lay tile in a herringbone pattern?

Yes. Although you can lay subway tile in a variety of patterns, herringbone can cost up to $2 to $4 more per square foot for labor due to the complexity of the style. 

Herringbone requires more intricate cuts and more attention to detail, especially since most walls aren’t perfectly perpendicular or square. This style can create a beautiful focal point or accent wall, but be prepared to pay more for it. 

How do you clean subway tiles?

To properly clean subway tiles, you’ll need a mixture of distilled vinegar and dish soap. Combine about 6 teaspoons of the vinegar with a few drops of dish soap and spray your subway tile thoroughly. Let the solution sit for 2 to 3 minutes before wiping off with a damp washcloth and drying with a clean towel. 

How do you measure for subway tile?

First, determine which walls you want to install the tile on. Then, multiply the length and width of each wall and add an extra 20% to account for breakage or mistakes. This will ensure you have enough material to get the tiling done without multiple trips to the hardware or tile store. 

Why do they call it subway tile?

Subway tile got its name because it was the material first used in New York subways in the 1900s. Since then, it’s grown in popularity because it’s easy to clean and comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles.

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