From the Floor Up

50 Shades of Gray Tile

Posted by Daltile Team on May 10, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Featured on Tiny House Nation. Photo features Contempo White Marble 3 x 6 on the backsplash

With another installment of 50 Shades on the horizon, we thought it was a good time to revist this post from the last time we all flocked to the theater for a little gray. Enjoy!

The lovely thing about gray is there are almost limitless shades of it. Gray, at its most basic, is just the mixture of black and white in different amounts. But these days, with gray being the primary color of choice in home decor, the options are boundless. Here are a few more options to add to your gray tile palette.


Color specialists define gray by the percentage of black added to pure white. 50% gray is the classic gray that probably comes to mind when you think about the color. Interior designer, Leyla Bowden Jaworski, told Sacramento Magazine last year, “I would say 80% of the paint consults I’m doing, we’re doing gray.” That trend bleeds over into all home and commercial design from gray subway tile to gray throw pillows.

Lighter grays with under 50% black have replaced white or cream walls and darker grays with over 50% black are all the rage for high-contrast designs. Gray is the new black. Gray is also the new white. It makes the perfect backdrop for the rest of your room.

If you’ve been counting, we’re up to at least 100 shades of gray so far. Ready for some more variations of gray?


“Greige. Beige-y gray” is what Leyla Bowden Jaworski calls it. Take any shade of gray and add  some beige to  it and you have a whole new palette to work with.  Adding beige or other browns to gray  creates a color that easily blends perfectly with any color scheme.

If you thought everything went with gray, graige is even better. The brown warms it up and harmonizes  browns and grays in a single room. The softer feel makes the room more inviting and that’s important as designers in home décor work to create that sense of relaxation all over the house.

 50Shades-1Steel, Rose, and Sage Grays

The gray craze goes beyond traditional neutral colors  like black, white, and beige. Take any color, add some gray to it and you’ve created a trendy softness for your home that’s defining design today.

On the color wheel, any hue with gray added to it is called a tone. Overall, tones bring out the complexities of a color and make it richer. Tones look dusty and comforting and are your brain’s way of looking at the world through rose colored glasses.

Familiar tones include steel blue, rose, and sage green but you can "tone down" any color.

 Metallic Gray

A metallic gray puts a whole new spin on the color. Silver, stainless steel, pewter,  and gun metal are all grays with a lustrous finish. Though metals have traditionally given a sense of the industrial to design, these shiny-finish colors are becoming more accepted in residential design.

You don’t actually have to use metal to get the metal look. Metallic finishes are available in paint, tile, and fabrics. If you’re concerned about the heavy presence of metallic finishes, try a pattern that blends other elements with the metallic to  minimize its effect.

For instance, a mosaic of metallic penny round tiles gives you the shiny gray color you want but grout lines break it up for a less overwhelming experience (pictured below).

You can also opt for brushed finishes that dull the luster a little bit. This still has the reflective quality you’re looking for with the softness you’re going for.

 Featured in EXTREME HOME MAKEOVER. Photo features Metallica in Brushed Stainless Steel 1 x 1 rounds

Natural Gray

There’s no more beautiful gray than what nature produces. Granite, limestone, travertine, marble, and slate are commonly available in gray shades. The grains and crystalline structures bring an organic look to your color scheme that enriches it with life.

Stone comes in several finishes from rough cut to highly polished. Different textures introduce an element that makes your  color scheme pop with a customized look. Add a gray to your color palette that only nature can provide.


How many shades of gray are we up to now? Far more than 50! There are so many options and variations when it comes to gray tile that you are pretty much unlimited. Play with gray in your design today.

  Find Gray Tile

Note from editor: originally posted March, 2015.

Topics: Remodel, Redesign, Bathroom Tile Ideas, Kitchen Tile Ideas, Subway Tile, Trends

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