Category Archives: Columns

Backlighting Stone Columns and Counters

Backlighting is a popular method of adding some depth and interest to bathrooms, bars, and other dimly lit areas, particularly in homes and businesses that entertain. And while there are many different glass and resin products that can be lit, some types of translucent stone can also be backlit as well.


Onyx is a fragile, translucent marble with a great deal of natural variation. Light passes easily through onyx, making it an ideal material for backlighting, particularly in areas where the look being sought after is less contemporary and more elegance. When not lit, the onyx still provides beautiful depth and color to the room. When it is lit, the onyx glows and transmits a soft light from within.


There are a few ways that onyx can be lit. Because the stone is translucent, rather than transparent, the lighting apparatus can be placed behind the stone, on the edges of the stone, or can be inserted into the stone through strategically drilled tunnels and holes. The individual lights aren’t as likely to be seen as with a glass or resin product, which gives a greater flexibility in terms of light placement.


If the stone is being lit from below, such as in a counter, the lighting should be hidden or encased by a surround. This can be made of wood or of separate pieces of onyx to create a shallow box for the lighting to reside. Onyx tiles can also be laid directly over LED tape embedded in white thinset if the installation doesn’t have the depth to build it out.

Because of the extreme color variation in the onyx, the effect of backlighting can be dramatically different from piece to piece, making any installation immediately stand out. Using backlit onyx in this way is an interesting way to add soft ambient to any room. The next time that a backlit installation is called for, consider using onyx in place of glass or resin to add additional interest and color to the design.