Onyx is a semiprecious, translucent stone that emits light through it. The stone comes in pastel colors, and can be recognized by the swirling patterns and bands on its surface. Backlighting an onyx slab creates a dramatic effect in the room, and gives you an opportunity to upgrade your regular countertops into colorful works of art. The countertops, however, require special care, as they tend to absorb liquids quickly and scratch easily. The slabs are fragile, and almost always have a fiberglass material on the back to hold the stone together. Many homeowners, therefore, avoid onyx countertops in their kitchens, although they can be used for bathrooms.
Onyx slabs are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Many suppliers can customize your order and cut the slab according to your requirements. Others may sell standard onyx slabs, and in such cases, it's your job to cut the slab to your measurements without chipping it. The edges of the countertop can be square, curved, angled, beveled or eased. If you're cutting the slab yourself, and this is your first project with onyx, try a simple square edge for best results. A wet saw that uses water-cooled diamond blade is a good tool to cut onyx slabs cleanly and safely.
The translucent texture and vivid colors and veins of onyx slabs can be further enhanced by backlighting the surface of the slab. Use 1/2-inch light panels or LED sheets that provide uniform lighting with no hot or cold spots. You may also manipulate the colors of the onyx slab by reflecting the light on your countertops, instead of focusing it directly.
The slabs are usually laid over a countertop support frame that has cabinets in the bottom. You may require some professional help to do the final priming and fitting. Remember that onyx is a delicate stone, and it may not be possible to remove the slab and redo it without breaking or chipping it.
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