Step Aside, Subway Tile—Penny Tile Is the New Classic

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By Kate Reggev
Both classic and graphic, penny tile is an impactful choice for the kitchen and bath, as these six examples show.

Known for being an economical, easy-to-install tile, the penny tile—so named because of its round shape—has been around for more than a century, but is now experiencing a resurgence in popularity. And with good reason! The penny tile has both aesthetic and functional properties that make it appropriate in a variety of spaces, from bathroom walls to kitchen backsplashes. 

It's slip-resistant, works well on floors, and is also flexible enough to wrap seamlessly around curved objects, while its simple geometry speaks to a minimalist aesthetic. Better yet, it's available in a wide range of colors, and its low price won't break the bank. Take a look as we review some of our favorite projects that use this classic tile in ceramic and stone finishes.


A Minimalist Black-and-White Bathroom by Noah Walker

In a bathroom in a renovated Hollywood bungalow, architect Noah Walker used a simple palette of black countertops, stainless-steel fixtures, gray rectangular floor tiles, and white penny tile. The penny tiles on the wall create an abstract pattern, and the glossy tiles reflect natural light from the oversized window.

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Delicate Light Blue Penny Tile in a Neutral Bathroom by StudioLAB

The variation in the light blue tile of the back wall in this bathroom in Manhattan's Tribeca neighborhood creates a feeling of being outside with a view of the sky. The minimal features and neutral palette let the pattern and color of the penny tile subtly stand out.

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Brass Fixtures and Ceramic White Penny Tile by Formafatal

White ceramic penny tiles line both the walls and the bathtub in this bathroom in Prague, giving a cohesive aesthetic to the different elements in the room.

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Marble-on-Marble Bathroom by Neumann Monson Architects

Marble takes on two forms in this bathroom in Des Moines, Iowa: a dramatic slab of white and gray veined marble acts as a feature wall behind the freestanding tub, and marble penny tile covers the walls and floors. The result is a space that is unified in its materiality and plays with texture and pattern.

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Curved Walls Sheathed in Penny Tile by Christoph Kaiser

Penny tile works well on curved surfaces, and this bathroom in a former grain silo takes advantage of this feature. The bathroom is outfitted with all-white fixtures, including a round sink that mimics the form of the silo itself.

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A Wet Bathroom With Slate Gray Tile by Guerin Glass Architects and LifeEdited

In an apartment that is less than 400 square feet, resident Graham Hill opted for the timeless penny tile in a range of slate gray  tones. Because of the bathroom's small size, the entire space is transformed into a shower (called a wet bathroom), and so the walls, ceiling, and floor are all covered in the penny tile.

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