“Wow!” is what people want to hear after installing onyx. It is not only added to bring beauty but also a sense of mystery. Onyx is the stuff of fantasy. Its sparkly translucence belies the fact that it’s solid rock. It appears to be a gemstone, with wavy bands of amber, ivory, and white fused together in a fluid pattern. During the backlit, it reflects an ethereal and soft light. Undoubtedly, it is an extraordinarily beautiful natural stone. Nothing in the universe is greater artist than our very own earth which creates and develops such varieties of materials we can bring into our homes. Let’s see what the salient features of this fragile natural stone are.
Translucence of onyx
It is a translucent natural stone. If you pick a piece of onyx and keep it against any light source, you can observe different shadows and shapes through the stone. Due to this particular feature, your setting material may show through or may affect the color of the stone. To avoid such issues, you must only use thin and white mortar. The white mortar will not affect the natural color of the onyx during or after the installation process and apart from that, it will also help to preserve its translucency. Use the edge of the trowel to smooth out the grooves when the mortar has been grooved or keyed down to the desired or appropriate depth. It will help to avoid the shadows created by the grooves after the installation of the onyx.
Fragility of onyx
Due to its fragility feature, onyx is usually created and installed with a fiberglass, mesh or resin backing to help give it strength as a tile. Such a backing makes the cutting process of this natural stone quite tough. To avoid such an issue, use a wet saw with a diamond blade to cut the onyx. Don’t place it over an uneven substrate during the cutting process because it will break into pieces due to its fragility feature. Make the substrate even and leveled. A 5/8-inch cement backer board is recommended beneath onyx tiles in a floor installation, while 1/4-inch cement backer board is recommended beneath a wall tile installation.
Variability of onyx
You can’t expect to see two similar pieces of onyx tiles. It hugely varies from piece to piece and even within a single piece. Even within a single lot, you’ll observe onyx having different colors and color patterns. To ensure a pleasing layout of the tiles and prevent the colors from clumping or grouping, do a dry layout of the tiles before installing them. When you want to install them, mix all the pieces thoroughly so that the variation properly appears in all the parts after the installation.
Sealing of onyx
Onyx is extremely porous. It is vulnerable to stains and scratches and absorbs liquids. To protect the stone, seal it well with an impregnating sealer meant for porous stones prior to grouting it. The sealer will help as a grout release to make clean up easier, while it helps to protect the stone from future staining. When onyx is well-sealed, water should bead up on its surface as it does on a waxed car. When the stone stops doing this, it should be re-sealed with another coat of impregnating sealer.