Tile Design IdeasTile Trends

Have vertical tiles caught your eye?

Whether you’re wondering what this new trend is or looking for specific design ideas to install in your home, we have everything you need to know about vertical tiles right here.

What Is Vertical Tile?

Vertical tile is loosely defined as any tile laid vertically.

Simply put, vertical tile is tile that’s laid vertically rather than horizontally.

Vertical tile layouts have been trending, initially as a creative use for subway tile. Laying subway tile vertically is more than a new approach to the classic look. It also draws the eye upward to create the illusion of higher ceilings.

All sorts of shapes can work in a vertical layout. If a tile is laid vertically, you can consider it a vertical tile — whatever the tile shape.

Pro Tip: Vertical rectangle tiles that are not staggered are often referred to as vertical tile grids.

Is It Better to Tile Vertically or Horizontally?

The advantages of installing tile vertically or horizontally depend on the look you want to achieve.

Vertical tile draws the eye upward and visually elongates a space. This makes vertical tile ideal for drawing attention to a certain focal point or adding visual height to a room.

Similarly, horizontal tile can visually widen a space.

If you want to make a wide wall without much height feel taller, you might opt for a vertical layout. And if you want to widen a small space, a horizontal layout could help.

Another element to consider is creativity. Horizontal tiles may be more suitable for a traditional or classic look. But if you want something more unique, vertical tiles are trending with contemporary decor and have the versatility to coordinate with styles such as minimalism and boho.

Mixing Vertical and Horizontal Tiles

This twist on herringbone tile is a great way to incorporate both vertical and horizontal tiles into your space.

Before you choose vertical or horizontal tiles, keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be either-or!

Sometimes incorporating both vertical and horizontal tiles is just what a space needs. In fact, some popular tile patterns do just that.

For example, the running variation tile pattern lays subway tiles both vertically and horizontally, creating “L” shapes across a surface. Vertical shower tile accents — often contrasting a vertical strip of vertical mosaic tiles (yes, vertical on vertical) against larger horizontal tiles — are popular as well. (More on this design later.)

Our Favorite Vertical Tile Patterns and Looks

So, let’s take a look at some of the most popular vertical tile patterns.

Vertical Subway Tile

Vertical white subway tile is a popular take on the classic design, and in this case, a navy blue accent stripe takes it even further.

When it comes to subway tile, vertical installations create a fresh take on the timeless design.

Note that vertical subway tile has an offset, whereas vertical stacked subway tile (or vertical stacked tile) does not. So, you may also see vertical subway tile referred to as “vertical offset tile.” The common brick/subway pattern is simply turned 90 degrees to achieve this look.

[Related: Everything You Need to Know About Subway Tile]

Vertical Stacked Tile (aka Vertical Tile Grid)

The simplicity of a vertical tile grid is especially helpful for achieving a modern monochromatic look.
Alternating pink and white tiles creates the illusion of a stagger in this vertical stacked tile.

Vertical subway tile’s close cousin is vertically stacked subway tile.

The key difference between the two patterns is that the vertical stack pattern lacks the staggered design of vertical offset tile. Understanding this and using the names properly will ensure you properly communicate your desired design to your designer and/or installer.

When should you use the staggered versus the stacked vertical tile pattern?

Vertical offset tile retains more of the original subway tile look and the staggering might also add a touch of playfulness to your installation.

The vertical stacked tile pattern creates a sleek grid layout that can lend a sense of order to your space.

[Related: Trend Alert: Stacked Subway Tile]

Vertical Picket Fence Tile

When it comes to a picket tile backsplash, vertical layouts give you a classic look.
A darker grout color will draw more attention to your vertical picket fence tile layout.

Not all vertical tile has to be rectangular. In fact, our next design idea is a spinoff of hexagon tile.

When you lay elongated hex tiles vertically, you create the look of a classic picket fence — especially if you use white tile. Vertical picket fence tile creates a nostalgic, yet playful look that’s sure to make a statement.

Of course, you don’t have to use white tile to create the vertical picket fence look. For example, this space opts for a stone look picket fence fireplace surround and backsplash.
Choosing a solid color for your vertical picket fence layout and using a contrasting grout color can help emphasize its shape.

Vertical Wavy Tile

These white mosaic tiles in arabesque-like shapes create vertical wavy lines.

Vertical tile tends to make heavy use of straight lines, but that doesn’t have to be the case. As long as the tiles create a sense of vertical direction, vertical tile can come in any shape — straight-edged or not, such as the vertical wavy tile shower above.

These white vertical wavy tiles accented with gold create spiral upward movement in this elegant bathroom.

Vertical Mosaic Tile

This mosaic vertical subway tile in shades of white, blue, and gold would make for a lovely backsplash, feature wall, or shower.

Considering a tile mosaic for your space? Mosaics and vertical tile layouts are highly compatible.

[Related: Mosaic Tile Ideas: Your Big Guide to Little Tiles]

These mosaic penny round tiles laid in a vertical diamond pattern tie right into our next vertical tile example.

Vertical Diamond Tile

This glossy pink vertical diamond tile manages to be both modern and retro at the same time.

There’s nowhere to go but up with diamonds, right? That’s what we had imagined, and these diamond-inspired vertical tile bathrooms confirm it.

This diamond-esque vertical tile is an elongated version of the classic octagon and dot pattern.

Vertical Running Bond Tile

This entryway flips the classic hardwood floor look on its head, using vertical wood-look ceramic tile for the walls in a running bond layout and a neutral shade of ceramic tile for the flooring.

We’re used to seeing wood-look running bond tile on floors to create the look of classic hardwood. But who’s to say it doesn’t belong on the walls as well?

(Even More) Creative Vertical Tile

We couldn’t help ourselves, so we’re including a couple more unique vertical tile looks below.

This 3D marble-look design creates the look of stair steps that span the wall.
Mosaic glass tiles in elongated trapezoid shapes make this backsplash beautifully eye-catching.
The angles of these vertical wall tiles create a 3D effect that leads the eye upward.

Vertical Tile by Installation

Now let’s take a look at some of the best places to install vertical tile.

Vertical Tile Backsplash

This terrazzo-look subway tile backsplash is flipped 90 degrees in the center between vertical ceramic trim pieces.

Vertical tile is the perfect choice to lend height to backsplashes, which tend to be wider than they are tall. Backsplashes also often create a focal point in a room. What better way to show off your personal style than with a ceramic tile backsplash?

Pro tip: When designing a vertical tile backsplash, just be sure to choose a tile size that enables you to install enough rows of tile. If you have a short backsplash area and choose a long tile, you may not be able to install enough rows to sufficiently show off the design.

[Related: 81 Bathroom Backsplash Ideas]

A chocolatey vertical stacked subway tile backsplash is the design highlight of this kitchen.

Vertical Wall Tiles

In this space, the walls’ variegation and striking green hue contrast with the orderliness of the vertical straight stacks.
This space uses vertical wall tiles in different colors.

Vertical wall tiles that extend across an entire wall can add order and calm or present an opportunity for a one-of-a-kind design element. The design you choose can completely change the look and feel of a space.

The larger surface area of wall installations also gives you the option to go bigger with vertical tiles.
Notice how these large, oxidized metal-look vertical tiles are the same as those used on the floor but in a slightly different tone. This is a great way to create a coordinated application that ties together the entire space and/or multiple rooms.

Next up is perhaps our favorite place to use vertical tile: the shower.

Vertical Tile Shower

How could you not start the day on the right foot with this vertical subway tile shower to admire every morning?

When it comes to shower tiles, “horizontal or vertical?” is a common question. And while it’s true that people often use horizontal tiles to make narrow walls (like those in showers) feel wider, vertical tile in shower applications can make a shower feel majestic. Vertical shower tile layouts often give balance to narrow shower walls.

[Related: Choose the Best Shower Tile in 10 Steps PLUS 40 of Our Favorite Design Ideas]

Vertical layouts give you plenty of room for creativity, including using more complex patterns such as these black and white mosaic vertical shower tiles.

Bonus: Vertical Shower Tile Accent

This mosaic vertical shower tile accent takes a horizontal design and gives it vertical movement.

When it comes to shower tile, vertical accent stripe additions are a stylish way to add a unique tile feature.

Vertical accent tile in shower applications enables you to add just the right amount of flare. We typically see mosaic tile used in these designs but, depending on the size of your desired accent stripe, you could go larger.

Standard square tiles with a vertical feature area take on a sophisticated flair.

Our favorite vertical shower accent tile ideas include:

  • Tiling just a section of the shower, as in in the photo above
  • Accenting a shower niche or bench
  • Using the same tile style that’s in the rest of your shower, but with smaller vertical tiles as an accent
  • Contrasting the color of your accent tile against the rest of your shower’s tile (such as using colorful or patterned tiles for an accent area and more neutral tiles for the rest of the shower)

Vertical Bathroom Tile

This vertical subway tile bathroom features a stacked layout that draws attention to its pink grout.
This design combines the organic feel of color variegation with the orderliness of a vertical tile grid for an interesting balance of organic versatility and structure.

Vertical bathroom tile isn’t limited to showers — it looks great throughout the rest of the room as well. For example, vertical tiles in bathroom spaces often highlight backsplashes, walls, even counters and vanities.

[Related: The Complete Guide to Bathroom Tile]

If you’re planning to use vertical tile across a large bathroom wall, consider larger tiles to avoid overwhelming the space with design details.
Split personality! When a horizontal design is best for your room but you love the vertical stacked look? Horizontal color block options of vertical tile can solve the issue to balance your space! 

Vertical Kitchen Tile

This vertical subway tile kitchen design incorporates both glossy and matte tile for added visual interest.

Consider using vertical tile in your kitchen on a backsplash, wall, or kitchen island, or use a vertical flooring pattern. Any surface that could use a durable and easy-to-clean material is a good place for vertical ceramic tile. And, let’s face it, that’s every kitchen surface.

White subway tile is a classic look for kitchen walls and backsplashes, and remember that there are plenty of options to get creative using vertical tile while maintaining a traditional look.

[Related: Bathroom and Kitchen Backsplash Tile: Your Comprehensive Guide]

The mosaic elongated hexagons lend this vertical white tile design a vintage vibe.
The slightly curvy lines of this white and gray vertical kitchen tile have a storybook aesthetic that works beautifully with this kitchen’s modern farmhouse decor.

Take Your Design to New Heights

We hope you’ve found a vertical tile design idea to take your home’s interior decor straight to the top. But if you’re still searching for the perfect design, be sure to check out our Pinterest board for more inspiration.


Where to Buy Tile

Your next steps are simple:

  • Use the search tool at the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) to find a ceramic tile showroom in your area for a more individual, one-on-one shopping, design and education experience, or visit a home improvement or flooring retailer.
  • For specific products and installation-related materials, you can consult the product locator of the Tile Council of North America (TCNA).
  • Download our Tile Buying Guide below to share with your contractor or designer or bring with you to the showroom. Having these tips handy will make it that much easier to shop for your tile.

Download #OutsideTheBox:
Your Tile Buying Guide…and get started now!