Backlighting Onyx: Avoid Design Flaws with Key Insight


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The unique properties of onyx imbue it with unique potential: The mesmerizing patterns of this already stunning stone can be backlit, achieving unparalleled design effects – provided proper fabrication. Go DIY or try to cut corners with a more budget-friendly, unversed fabricator, however, and it could turn your investment into this rare and stunning stone into a stunningly expensive mistake.

Backlit Onyx: What Gives?

Formed in caves from dripping stalactites and stalagmites, onyx bears unique characteristics not shared by any other precious stone. It is fragile and difficult to extract. Even the largest onyx quarries are dwarfed by the smallest marble operations, making the stone expensive and scarce. To help the stone keep its shape in installation, slabs must be laminated, with the addition of glass or plastic transparent backing. In the hands of the inexperienced, the simple application of opaque joint filler can disrupt the path of light in the stone, creating shadows and detracting from the renowned looks of backlit onyx.

Putting Onyx in the Spotlight

Achieving the astonishing and attention-grabbing effects of backlit onyx can be achieved a number of different ways. Advancements in lighting technology have evolved from the uneven illumination of fluorescent tubes to today’s technologically-advanced and energy efficient LED lighting panels. Unlike their fluorescent predecessors, LED panels, unlike LED bulbs and modules, require very little spacing behind the onyx slab surface for proper illumination. Products, such as LumiSheet, SLABlite and Light Tape are simply cut into the size and shape needed, making for a far easier installation and more even illumination results.


Keeping it Together

Though prepping LED light panels seems to be a relatively simple process, it pays to remember this is not where installation difficulties lie. Lighting must be spaced properly to prevent ‘hot spots’ from damaging the stone. Electrical components must be carefully positioned and installed. Last but not least, the fragile slabs of onyx must be properly sized, trimmed, positioned and installed. There is very little room for error in onyx backlighting applications. This project is far from the weekend warrior’s wheelhouse.


Considering a backlit onyx installation? Let us help you through the process, from discovering which stones provide the best luminescence, to the shades most prone to hot spots. Visit your area Granite Imports to learn more today.