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Stacked Tile In the Bathroom: Yay or Nay?

Are you a fan of stacked tile? I’m sharing the photos that changed Scott’s mind, plus why we’re choosing to ‘stack’ our bathroom tile, rather than a more traditional ‘stagger.’

Bathroom with white tile on the walls and black tile floors | Inspiration for Stacked Tile, stacked bond tile pattern, via Yellow Brick Home
design by Tamar Barnoon

To Stack or Not to Stack?

I’ve wanted to implement a stack bond tile pattern – tile that is, literally, stacked on top of one another as opposed to a staggered (or running bond) pattern – for a long time. Scott has been completely, 100-percent against it for years, and so throughout every bathroom and kitchen we’ve ever tackled, we continue to use the more traditional running bond. It’s classic, it will always be in style, and it’s easy to lay.

But this time? This time, I decided I would be persistent. Our Tree House bathroom renovation is right around the corner, and I was determined to get Scott on Team Stack! (Could I do it?!) We shared the mood board for the bathroom last week, and we’ll be using this 3″ x 12″ ceramic tile with a handmade feel. The bottom half of our bathroom walls will have painted beadboard, and the top half (to the ceiling!) and into the shower will have this tile:

Detail of 3" x 12" white subway tile, laying on the floor in a stacked pattern | Inspiration for Stacked Tile, stacked bond tile pattern, via Yellow Brick Home

A Closer Look at Our Tile

We’re using a longer, slim version of a classic subway tile, with edges that are perfectly imperfect. The website describes it as farmhouse style, which isn’t how I’d describe our style, but we still loved the look. The way I thought about it was this: Why not ‘modernize’ the artisan-inspired tile with a slightly contemporary stacked bond? It would be the best of both worlds!

Detail of 3" x 12" white subway tile with a handcrafted feel | Inspiration for Stacked Tile, stacked bond tile pattern, via Yellow Brick Home
Detail of 3" x 12" white subway tile with a handcrafted feel | Inspiration for Stacked Tile, stacked bond tile pattern, via Yellow Brick Home

Even the glossy surface of the tile has slight ripples and waves, which we think will reflect light beautifully. My only fear was that if we didn’t do a stacked bond pattern (I’m nothing if not persistent!), the tile may begin to look too messy. Like, handcrafted edges and a wave-like front face and staggered tile? Scott still wasn’t sure, so I began rounding up images that have inspired me over the years, and I began to state my case.

Our Stacked Tile Inspiration

From Mandi’s kitchen to Amber’s dual bathrooms (they’re like bathroom cousins!) to Chris and Julia’s moody shower, I made sure to cover every angle. Dark tile, light tile, textured, smooth and matte tile. These are some of my favorites:

All white kitchen with a link pink and a bowl of oranges on the counter | Inspiration for Stacked Tile, stacked bond tile pattern, via Yellow Brick Home
design by Mandi Johnson
Side-by-side of two bathrooms with wood credenzas | Inspiration for Stacked Tile, stacked bond tile pattern, via Yellow Brick Home
design by Amber Interiors
Bathroom with floral wallpaper, marble floors and a green tile shower | Inspiration for Stacked Tile, stacked bond tile pattern, via Yellow Brick Home
design by Chris Loves Julia

Another thought came to mind – horizontally stacked or vertically stacked? From the beginning, I’ve always pictured a horizontal stack, but these photos could convince me otherwise:

Bathroom with a wall-to-wall marble sink and blue tile with black fixtures | Inspiration for Stacked Tile, stacked bond tile pattern, via Yellow Brick Home
design by Emily Henderson
Bathroom with green tile and a light oak sink cabinet | Inspiration for Stacked Tile, stacked bond tile pattern, via Yellow Brick Home
design by Banner Day
Bathroom with maroon tile in the shower and white tiled floors | Inspiration for Stacked Tile, stacked bond tile pattern, via Yellow Brick Home
design by Effortless Chic

Although the tile below doesn’t have the same handcrafted look, I knew this photo would be the biggest help for my case. The combination of green, wood and black accents was similar enough to our color scheme, that I knew Scott would come around:

Bathroom with walnut credenza and two mirrors | Inspiration for Stacked Tile, stacked bond tile pattern, via Yellow Brick Home
design by Effortless Chic

You guys, he came around. He came around! (To be fair, he wasn’t as resistant to the idea as I thought he may be; maybe I finally wore the poor guy down, ha.) Our Tree House bathroom will soon have my long beloved stacked tile pattern!

The Shower Niche

Oh, the niche. As if deciding on a tile in the first place – and then the pattern, and then the grout! – wasn’t already surmountable, along comes the niche. How high? How wide? Do we need bullnose tile for the edges? Which wall?

Close-up of shower niche with white tile | Inspiration for Stacked Tile, stacked bond tile pattern, via Yellow Brick Home
design by Tamar Barnoon

It wasn’t until we found the image above that it all clicked into place. That’s where we’ll have a vertical feature! It’s subtle but clearly intentional, pretty but not flashy. Our hope all along was for a 12″ high niche (by as wide as possible), and yet the idea to turn our tile vertically never dawned on us. (I know!) We’ll have the niche on the wet wall along with the shower head and temperature valve, and I’ve already picked up 3 of these amber bottles to fill up with suds.

What do you think? Are you Team Stack?

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  • Caitlin Spearson11.19.19 - 5:02 AM

    I know I probably don’t have to tell you this, but you should definitely take the extra time to make sure the lines in the stacked tile are straight and the tile is all spaced evenly, because it shows so much more in a stacked pattern if it’s not!  The kitchen at my office has stacked tile and it’s done so poorly, it makes my eyes cry every day haha.  
    But looking at the pictures you  posted of stacked tile done right, I think it’s beautiful and now I know what I’m missing! ReplyCancel

    • Kim11.19.19 - 6:56 AM

      I hear you! I think I’m most nervous about our penny tile floors, to be honest, we’re definitely choosing materials that have to be laid juuuust so! Yeah, it makes me nervous, haha.ReplyCancel

  • Stacy11.19.19 - 5:05 AM

    I am absolutely Team Stack (more than half of my inspiration images are the same as yours!) but I’m struggling with two things – horizontal or vertical? and finding the right sized tile. I prefer an elongated rectangle (specifically a 4:1 ratio. It’s weird that I have that figured out I KNOW) but I THINK I want something in a smaller scale. So I love your 3x12s, but I’d prefer a 2×8? And that’s been kind of difficult to find. Not completely impossible, though, so I’m on the hunt!ReplyCancel

    • Kim11.19.19 - 6:55 AM

      Stick to your guns – your perfect tile is out there!ReplyCancel

    • Ryan11.20.19 - 3:27 PM

      Nor for nothing, I clicked through on the tile they selected for the Tree House bathroom and found this one that’s a 2.5 x 8 tiles in greige (also white, grey and silver) that might be what I want for my next tile project:×8-2-1-2-in-x-8-in-Ceramic-Wall-Tile-Common-2-1-2-in-x-8-in-Actual-2-46-in-x-7-87-in/1001031218
      It’s in stock at my local Lowe’s so I might be stopping by tonight to pick up some samples.ReplyCancel

      • Barb Kornbrath5.3.21 - 1:24 PM

        THAT is the exact tile I initially chose for our kitchen backsplash. It’s beautiful. However, our budgets required some squeezing, so I chose a basic 3 x 6 white subway tile. One hundred square feet cost $125, vs $800+. We are considering a 4 x 12 white subway vertical with one black strip towards the top in the master bath shower. I’d love to see your finished product if you used the tile in the link!ReplyCancel

        • April6.23.22 - 4:26 PM

          Did you by chance do this?  I would love to see a pic of the vertical stack with a horizontal band.  ReplyCancel

  • Julia11.19.19 - 6:36 AM

    I think you said it best – stacking a “farmhouse style” tile will bring it into the more modern aesthetic of Yellow Brick Home. I’m so excited to see this transformation! You’ve got lots of people cheering you on!ReplyCancel

  • Mara11.19.19 - 6:42 AM

    Nope! Just can’t ever get with the stacked look.ReplyCancel

  • lak11.19.19 - 6:55 AM

    I love the vertical stacked tile!  Can’t wait to see it in your bathroom!ReplyCancel

  • Arleen11.19.19 - 8:20 AM

    Already decided to do stacked on my new bath. Just waiting for contractor. Floor is a  colored, pattern Tile tile I n white ground so thought stacked would be less busy than staggered for shower. It’s a 5×12 white tile with barely visible pointillist blue on it with a blue edge. Using a dark blue/gray grout  & having the tile horizontal. I am contInning the horizontal in the niche with Schlutter  strip. I have a question? You said your niche was on the wet wall with plumbing but it seems to me it’s in the side wall. I’m probably putting my niche on the end wall opposite shower head. As nice as they are, I just find it’s less visible there. I will put it where you put yours if I can’t go into bed wall if we put a pocket door in there. I’m using a prebuilt double niche instead. Very nice job. ReplyCancel

    • Kim11.19.19 - 8:29 AM

      Hi Arleen, that sounds pretty!

      We’re putting ours on the wet wall, since it will be less visible based on our bathroom configuration. I think that’s going to be different for everyone!ReplyCancel

  • Debra11.19.19 - 8:33 AM

    I’ve never really fallen in love with subway tile but this stacked pattern is changing my mind. I absolutely love the images above.ReplyCancel

  • suzanne11.19.19 - 8:54 AM

    Nope – firmly in the “no stack” group. Will look dated in no time (just like the current brass fixture phase!).  I am at least 20 years older than you guys and have learned to stick to more classic looks for things that are more or less permanent additions or changes!  That said, I am sure you will do it well! ReplyCancel

    • Kim11.19.19 - 3:14 PM

      I agree and disagree. Certain types of brass are timeless – especially unlacquered brass that will patina with age – but there are other elements that can make an item trendy, such as the shape. Our hope is that the handmade feel of the tile will balance the slightly modern edge (if we can call it that?) of stacked tile!ReplyCancel

    • Jill11.21.19 - 9:02 AM

      Devil’s advocate to your comment: I used to share your opinion, but there’s absolutely NOTHING you can do that will feel ‘current’ in 20 years. Interpretation of what defines classic changes over time. I say do what you love in the moment and you’ll be happy!ReplyCancel

      • Janet L Webb11.25.22 - 3:09 PM

        I love the vertical staked. I’ll be dead in 20 years. Let the new owners deal with it. LolReplyCancel

    • Angelina11.25.19 - 1:40 PM

      Sorry- I just have to chime in here, even if I am reading this much later…..Le Corbusier, considered to be the father of modern architecture, used horizontally stacked, white, elongated subway tiles (complete with slightly wavy faces and edges) in Villa Savoye, which was completed in 1929. That’s almost 100 years of proven design staying power! Some design definitely does supersede trend. Way to go Kim on recognizing and reimagining classic modern design!ReplyCancel

    • Bethany5.16.23 - 10:23 PM

      Well ….! I won’t give my age but will admit my son’s age is 50. Let the guessing begin! Anyway, in my years, I’ve come to the conclusion there is no such thing as timeless. Unless it’s a period house, which I’ve owned too. I’ve heard this or that is a great investment because it was “timeless.” Nope. Those styles have become as dated any other style. Who amongst us can’t walk into a home and pretty much nail when it was built, remodeled, or redecorated?  I’m a collector (DH says hoarder) of accent pieces, case goods and softs so was persuaded to sell pieces last year. Naturally, Pantone and others’ new colors revealing a major swing towards warm palettes are what I sold. Fickle Finger of Fate strikes again!  
      But I digress. I say go with the stacked if it’s what you like. I’d only discourage that philosophy if you own a Victorian, Tudor, etc where styles would clash horribly. However… old brick London houses with contrasting modern additions are divine! And, if you’re upgrading to sell, check current and local trends of competing houses both new and used before selecting. 
      Personally, I love stacked and will be using the exact same tile Kim showed above, in our guest bathroom this year. Stacked. ReplyCancel

  • Mallory11.19.19 - 10:22 AM

    Proud Team Stack member over here!  We just did a vertical stack in our tiny master bath, and it really made the room look twice as tall.  My husband needed some convincing as well and I described it as the cooler, older cousin of the traditional running bond: same family, just a little more hip and modern!
    I see others have cautioned about the spacing being just right, and our advice would be to use a laser level.  We used ours on a telescoping pole mount (ours is a Bosch) and it was so helpful with the spacing. The mount was awesome because it doesn’t take up a lot of space like a tripod (our room is super tiny so this was really important!) and it doesn’t move if you accidentally back into it!  Good luck, and can’t wait to see!ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin11.19.19 - 10:51 AM

    I LOVE stacked tile. I find the traditional subway tile look to be too traditional for me. Something I love about stacked tile is how clean and modern it is, which makes me wonder if this will be lost if the tiles don’t have as clean of an edge to them. ReplyCancel

  • Elaine11.19.19 - 10:55 AM

    I did stacked in my bathroom renovation 2 years ago. Did a hybrid of vertical and horizontal stack – vertical for most of it so I’d have some lovely long vertical lines and did the corners in horizontal – no weird slivers that way. Looooove how it turned out. So I’m definitely Team Stacked. ReplyCancel

  • MK11.19.19 - 11:19 AM

    I am a huge fan of slim stacked subway tiles (not the biggest fan of horizontal ones but I might become a convert soon). When I was renovating my bathroom, I really wanted to do very slim stack subway tiles “look” behind the vanity, but the contractor said the installation is not as “easy” and “quick” as I might think. I thought since the slim tiles often come in “sheets” it should be easy like big tiles, but I guess the slim tiles are difficult like penny tiles. It would be awesome when you install your tiles, if you could share some tips and tricks for quicker installation! ReplyCancel

    • Scott11.19.19 - 12:48 PM

      Our contractor will be handling the tile work on this project due to time constraints, but we’ll update throughout the process!ReplyCancel

  • April11.19.19 - 11:59 AM

    I’m also considering stacked.  Why not?  Every look eventually becomes dated, then comes back around for another trend.  Sometimes you just want to see something different.  I do prefer the vertical stack, probably because it’s more novel (to me, at least).ReplyCancel

    • Scott11.19.19 - 12:47 PM

      Right! We do our best to use classic styles, sometimes with a modern twist so our designs stand the test of time and we think this style fits those parameters well!ReplyCancel

  • Colleen11.19.19 - 4:31 PM

    I think I learn more team stacked for a modern vibe, however I personally definitely prefer a darker tile for stacked. Not sure how a white stacked would look vibe wise. Think with the penny title on the floor, I would lean more horizontal though. Then again, the sizing of the penny tile definitely effects it too…can’t wait to see what you end up with! :)ReplyCancel

  • Christina11.20.19 - 8:22 AM

    I’m on Team Stack!!! I like the horizontal stack better with a soft neutral tile, and a horizontal stack with a bold color tile (although I love love loved CLJ’s bathroom). I also really like the idea of the opposing style for the niche! Just enough of a difference to make it pretty and a feature, without being the dated “accent tile.” I think it’s pretty classic overall. Can’t wait to see how yours turns out!ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa11.20.19 - 7:52 PM

    To heck with the tile, go for a pink sink!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie11.20.19 - 11:32 PM

    I think the vertical stacked looks ok but I probably wouldn’t choose it personally – however when I look at horizontal stacked tile all I see is an excel spreadsheet. ????ReplyCancel

    • Julie12.4.21 - 8:58 PM

      Oh No, you just ruined Vertical Stack for me! ???? ReplyCancel

  • Liz11.22.19 - 1:33 PM

    I would LOVE to do stack bond in our kitchen, which we’re doing literally next week! — but husband is totally against it, says it looks like siding.  Sometimes you gotta lose an argument :DReplyCancel

  • Teri Biegel6.5.20 - 10:48 AM

    I saw the stacked tile look on a kitchen remodel program a few years ago, and loved it.  We are close to the end of a total renovation right now, and my backsplash will be stacked tile.  My husband is not sure about it, but he is coming around.  We will be renovating our master bath within the next year, and I will want to stack the tile in that room too.  The pictures in your collection are such inspiration.   ReplyCancel

  • […] Stacked Tile In the Bathroom Yay or Nay Yellow Brick Home […]ReplyCancel

  • Catherine5.17.21 - 6:30 PM

    Team stack for sure. We are building a new bathroom and I want to do stack tile either vertically or horizontally. What 3 x 12” tile did you go with? Do you have any pictures to upload? Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer L8.11.21 - 11:05 AM

      I love the stacked vertical blue! We are doing an accent wall in our powder room and I love this idea! I just have to hold my breath that the installer is an expert and the tile is installed perfectly at right angles or it will drive me crazy! We like the Maiolica Tile by rocatile usa. I know I am a late poster but thanks for this article!ReplyCancel

  • Marilyn4.24.23 - 2:51 PM

    because of your article, and all the pretty photos you picked, I had bookmarked this and we did the horizontal stacked tile (3X16) in our shower and the niche was vertical. In our kitchen, the backsplash is horizontal stacked in a jungle green/iron tile and I’m so glad I did it! It’s starting to become more popular now and your article came out exactly in time for me to make up my mind. I did not like the vertical stack, it’s too lofty for my lil house. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! My husband was totally on board!ReplyCancel

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