Hello, readers! Welcome back to the Stonehouse Countertops blog! We’re pleased you’ve chosen Stonehouse Countertops for everything you need to know about custom countertop materials. We provide comprehensive deep dives into various aspects of the design and installation process, as well as helpful tips for choosing the best material for your home. Our goal is to equip you with the information you need to commission the perfect countertops! Stonehouse Countertops carries an array of granite, marble, quartz, quartzite, soapstone, silestone, limestone, travertine, onyx, glass, sodalite, slate, and porcelain materials in its inventory. In addition to countertops, we offer fireplace surrounds, patios, floors, and walls. Whatever your design goals, we’re happy to help you achieve your unique vision!

Our last article was a comparison of marble vs quartz. Marble and quartz are known for their elegance and durability, respectively, but how do their attributes compare? If you’ve been wondering which stone is right for your next project, then we encourage you to check out our last post! And remember: If it has to do with stone, we can do it– Stonehouse Countertops specializes in the fabrication and installation of all things stone!

Today, we’ll be returning to our All About series– a set of articles that aim to shine a spotlight on the unique attributes of various stone materials. Our first post, ‘All About Marble,’ explored marble’s association with luxury, how its composition contributes to its luminosity, and how designers are pushing the limits on how marble can be used in residential and commercial spaces. Our second post, ‘All About Granite,’ recounted the interesting history of granite, how the stone’s versatility has been put to good use by designers across the globe and how granite is graded. Our third post, ‘All About Quartz,’ completed the trifecta of the most popular stone countertop materials on the market. We then discussed soapstone, one of the softest stone materials on Earth, followed by limestone, one of the most historically relevant stones in our series. Our most recent post in the series was about travertine, a type of limestone that is generally inexpensive and durable. The All About series is everything you need to know to plan the next custom stone addition to your household or commercial space and we hope you’ll give these articles a read!

The star of today’s show is onyx! Solid black onyx is arguably the most well-known form of this stone, though it is typically dyed to achieve the look. Onyx has long been used throughout history for jewelry and hardstone carving, but can also be used for home decor as well as sinks, countertops, and vanities. This gorgeous stone can provide an elegant look to any room! If you’re interested in learning more about onyx, including its pros and cons, you’re in the right place. Let’s get into it!

What is onyx?

Onyx is an oxide mineral variety of chalcedony, a silicate mineral that is a form of microcrystalline quartz. Unlike agate, which is also a variety of chalcedony, onyx has parallel bands. These bands can range in color from black to white, but varieties of the stone can have red, brown, blue, or yellow layers. Brown and white onyx is typically known as sardonyx, while white and red onyx is known as cornelian onyx. Most commonly, onyx has black and white alternating bands. Its luster is vitreous, meaning it has a glass-like appearance. 

This gemstone can be found in various regions of the world including Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Argentina, and some areas of the U.S., such as Arizona. It has a 6.5 to 7 rating on the Mohs Hardness Scale, which means it isn’t extremely durable. 

Pros and Cons

One obvious pro of onyx is that it is absolutely beautiful. It comes in a variety of colors and like all stones, no two are alike. Onyx is translucent, which means it allows light to pass through. When the light hits the stone, it will shine and brighten up the room! Even black onyx can have hints of other colors like red that may shine through when the light hits it a certain way. In fact, backlit onyx tends to give off some of the most breathtaking views. This element of onyx can be showcased especially if it is placed strategically in your home according to your light fixtures. This is bound to impress guests, and will be breathtaking each time you look at it.

Another great thing about onyx is that it can last a long time when cared for properly. Onyx can last approximately 100 years, or sometimes longer, with proper maintenance. 

However, there are some things to think about before installing onyx in your home. Like other stones, onyx requires care to keep it in its best condition. Similar to marble, onyx is a soft stone because it is calcium-based. This means it reacts with acids– Including common household substances such as vinegar, lemon juice, and wine. Additionally, onyx is very porous, like most natural stones. With that being said, you’ll want to avoid spilling anything on onyx at all costs. However, accidents happen, so if you do have a spill, be sure to clean it up as quickly as you can to avoid damage. Pro tip: Blot the spill rather than wiping (and spreading) it.

When it comes to cleaners, avoid ordinary kitchen cleaners, as they may be too acidic. Look for cleaners with a neutral pH level. You should not spray the cleaner directly onto the onyx, as the stone may absorb it and become dull over time. Generally, spraying some cleaner onto a soft microfiber cloth or soft tissue will work best to wipe down an onyx surface. 

Because onyx is so porous, it will need to be sealed properly. This will not make the surface stain-proof, but it can slow down the absorption of liquids from spills. Sealing your onyx countertop or other surface will also help maintain its shine and durability. You will probably want to reseal your countertop once every two to three years for maximum effectiveness, but this will depend on how much wear and tear the surface gets on a daily basis, as well as what type of cleaner you use, and what color onyx you have. For example, lighter colors of onyx may need to be sealed more often due to the fact that they can stain more easily than darker onyx.  

Since onyx is a softer stone, it will also be more prone to scratches. This is something to keep in mind when thinking about where you want to install onyx in your home. If you are thinking of installing an onyx countertop in your kitchen, you will want to minimize the chance of scratches, so you’ll most definitely want to use a cutting board for chopping vegetables.

As you can see, onyx is a gorgeous stone but it requires a lot of maintenance to retain its beauty. Onyx countertops can add elegance to your kitchen, but if your kitchen is used often, it can be more prone to scuffs, scratches, and spills. If your mind is set on an onyx countertop but you use your kitchen quite a lot, you may want to consider using it for aesthetics on the front or side panels of your counter rather than on its surface. 

Cost of Onyx

When it comes to the cost of onyx, it can depend on a variety of factors. First, onyx is considered a rare material, so it tends to be a bit more expensive than other stones. Still, the price can depend on the company and the quality of the stone. Typically, top-quality onyx can cost up to $250 per square foot, while some lower-quality types of onyx can cost as little as $40 per square foot. Therefore, the cost can largely depend on the look you are going for as well as the size of the surface you want to cover. 

Onyx can be a great addition to your bathroom, vanity, backsplash, or around the base of your kitchen island. If this article has you thinking about the installation of onyx or any other stone, remember: At Stonehouse Countertops, we are willing and able to work with you to your specifications. We offer a wide range of different materials and always have someone on hand to answer your questions! Don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation or for help forming a plan. We want to ensure your vision becomes a reality! Be sure to come back for upcoming articles! Until next time—thanks for reading!