Frequently asked questions


Can I use your tile to repair individual, damaged tiles in my vintage tilework?

We understand the challenge in making repairs to vintage tile with a new replacement tile. While we have developed the Avalon White glaze option to blend with the original, early 20th century tilework, the replacement of individual tiles on small sections of a single wall area is not recommended. It is better to correct the underlying cause of the tile damage and replace the tile on that entire wall section. Best results in these circumstances are found when new tile and the vintage tile will coexist on separate but adjacent wall planes.

How can I order glaze samples?

We offer individual field and accent glaze sample cards and hex tile sample cards for purchase online. Each accent glaze sample card contains a subset of 3 colors from our palette of 12 accent glaze options. Each hex tile sample card contains a swatch of white hex tiles a one black accent. The cost for each sample card includes shipping costs.

Please use the link below to order your sample cards:

Are your accent colors available in a non-crackle finish?

A crackle finish is produced by promoting the formation of crazing features in the glaze during production. The accent color glazes are translucent, which allows you to see the crazing features in the glaze layer. By contrast, the white glaze is opaque, and crazing lines are not apparent unless stained, which normally happens over time. Even if we did not promote the crackle features, they would appear over time, as this is a natural process all glazed tiles go through over time.

Where can I get design help for my tile project?

Please call us first at 888-387-3280. We may not be able to answer all of your questions, but we will certainly offer some tips for getting started on your project. Many excellent magazines are available at the larger bookstores for design inspiration. Don’t be afraid to ask your tile installer for suggestions, as they are the best resource for addressing the technical details of your unique situation. For more creative guidance, we recommend that you seek out the services of an interior designer or architect with extensive experience in tile design.

Where can I find the small, white one inch hex tile and square mosaics common in vintage bathrooms? now offers several bathroom floor tile options to compliment our classic, historic subway tile. A flat, 1" hex tile typical of the mosaics commonly used in traditional homes is in stock, ready for immediate shipment. We have recently introduced a 2” version of this same historic hex tile. Both of these hex tile options are made of the highest quality unglazed porcelain and carefully arranged on a fiber mesh as one square foot sheets. A complimentary black hex is also in stock in both sizes and available by the sheet for creating borders and accent designs.

Another classic floor option is the flat, 1" square mosaic in unglazed porcelain, which is also offered in white and black in one square foot sheets.

What tile is available for immediate shipment? maintains a stock of 3” x 6” and 6” x 6” field and surface trim tile in ‘gloss white’ and Avalon white glaze options. Also stocked are the Victoria cap, the ‘P’ cap and both sanitary cove base and shoulder cove base moldings along with the associated outside corner trim. For accents we stock the ½” accent strip in the ‘gloss black' glaze. Please allow 3 to 4 weeks to produce the non-stock items in your order.

How do I determine how much tile to order?

Determining the correct quantity of tile to order is often the responsibility of your tile installer. They will be able to account for the number of trim tiles needed and the necessary overage (extra tile) required so they won’t run short at the end of the job.

I am a homeowner. Can I order directly from Subway Ceramics?

Homeowners have several options for ordering Subway Ceramics tile and other Heritage Tile products:

  • Your local METRO dealer
  • Your general contractor, tile installer, or design trade professional
    • architects, interior designers and contractors can apply online for a Heritage Tile trade account
  • Our Heritage Tile of Oak Park (HTOP) design studio/showroom

I am a trade professional. How can I place my tile order?

Qualified trade professionals can prepare a purchase order and send to Subway Ceramics by email (, by fax (1-608-237-7291), or call us toll-free at 1-888-387-3280 if you prefer to place your order by phone. We will then prepare a Sales Order with the items ordered including shipping costs that will be emailed or faxed back to you for your approval before your order is processed.

What forms of payment do you accept?

Payment for purchase orders submitted by qualified trade accounts can be made with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover cards. Trade accounts may also pay by check only if drawn from a business account and accompanied by a commercial purchase order.

Where does Subway Ceramics tile ship from?

Western region orders typically ship from our West region warehouse near Los Angeles, CA. All other regions are served from our Central region warehouse in Verona, WI. Special order shipments may come from either location.

How will my order be shipped?

Subway Ceramics offers several options for shipping your tile order, including UPS and Yellow Freight. The final cost of each shipping method will be calculated once all of your tile selections are submitted as a formal purchase order. The least expensive method will always be used to calculate your shipping cost if you have not stated a preference. Customers also have the option to arrange for pick-up using their own preferred shipper.

Can you expedite my order?

Subway Ceramics offers an expedited UPS 2nd Day Air shipping option for stock orders that need to be on the jobsite fast. Expedited orders received after 3:00 PM CST may not ship until the next business day, while non-expedited orders will be shipped within two business days.

How can I find out when my tile will arrive?

When your order ships a shipping confirmation is sent via email with your tracking number. Freight shipment confirmations will include a website where you can find the contact information for the local service center, who will contact you to arrange for delivery.

What color of grout should I use?

The color and intensity of the grout that you choose can make a significant effect on the overall effect of the tile installation, even when pencil-thin grout lines are used.

The offset subway tile pattern will be emphasized more when a more contrasting color is used. On the other hand, you may want to create a more monolithic tile surface with a grout that matches the glaze color. Either way is OK - it is your personal opinion and aesthetic sensibility that matters.

Color is a relative thing, and we always recommend that a final selection is made after the tile has been set on the wall and you can really see what each grout option will look like in the same room with its peculiar lighting, etc. Other colors in the room, such as floor or wall surfaces can also effect the way you perceive colors.

What size grout joint should I use?

Tile spacing is an issue to discuss with your tile installer. Because the tile-to-tile variations are minimal for this type of historic tile, a tile spacing need not be any more than 1/16”. Also, an unsanded grout is recommended when set with a minimum spacing.

One note: it is necessary to apply a penetrating sealer prior to grouting to seal crackle glazes (to prevent grout pigments from staining the crazing features) and to act as a grout release for unglazed porcelain hex tiles (to prevent a grout film from staining the unglazed tile surface and to make clean-up easier).

What if I need more tile?

Place your order for the additional tile needed on the project as soon as you can. We will treat your ‘add-on’ order as our highest priority to minimize your delay in completing the project.

Don’t hesitate to request our assistance in reviewing your order with you. While your installer should accept the responsibility of calculating the tile amount he will need for the project, we can look for items they may have overlooked.

What if some tiles are damaged in shipment?

For normal UPS shipments, Subway Ceramics carefully double-boxes all shipping cartons to minimize the possibility of tile damage. Should you find damaged tiles due to improper handling, contact us immediately so we can assist you in filing a damage claim. Remember to save all shipping cartons as they may need to be inspected by the shipping company. For freight shipments, note any signs of external damage to the truck driver, then contact us so we can assist you further. Refer to the “Terms & Conditions of Sale” document for our complete shipping policy.

What should I do with the leftover tile?

The amount of tile ordered for any project should always include some amount of extra tile or ‘overage’. This is necessary to prevent the possibility of a shortage near the end of the project. A tile shortage can be both annoying and costly, and you should expect a reasonable amount of tile left if all goes well. Place this extra tile in a safe place where you (or the next homeowner) can find it should the need arise someday.

We always advise that you consider keeping some quantity "just in case ...". We routinely hear from frustrated homeowners seeking a match to their vintage tile in order to repair a tile or two without having to replace an entire bathroom wall. In the event that a mistake is made and you have more leftover tile than expected, we do have a return policy detailed in our Terms and Conditions of Sale document.