Onyx Tile

Lush and luminous onyx is a stone that has been used to create dramatic effects in the most high end living spaces for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians used it to make pottery and it has always been highly sought after a gemstone that can be set into all types of jewelry. Today like in the past, onyx tile is one of the best materials for establishing the look of luxury.

What Exactly Is It?

Onyx is a sedimentary rock made up of bands of chalcedony, a form of quartz that has been exposed to both pressure and heat over a long period of time which fuses it together.

For someone who has yet to learn about it, it is actually many times mistaken for marble tiles. However its mineral makeup gives it a very distinct look that is totally unique among all natural stones and tile materials.

Onyx Tile




While most other options are opaque, onyx tile is in contrast semi-transparent or translucent. This can give it a luminous gem like appearance that other man-made choices like glass tile can only imitate. With the right lighting onyx tile can give off a warm glow that is truly jaw dropping.


A common misconception is that this stone only comes in black. This may be due to the fact that many dark black materials and home products are marketed as onyx in shade. Whatever the reason is, in reality nothing could be further from the truth.

Onyx Tile

While you can find stunning black onyx tile, it is actually much more common in other colors and can range all the way to white and include just about all colors in-between.

There is even choices such as pink or blue onyx tile all of which are natural of course. And depending on your preference you can easily find tiles which are more solid in color to match a specific color scheme or ones that have a huge diversity in each individual tile.

Onyx Tile



That diversity can also been seen in the striking natural patterns and bands of color that makes each tile its own work of naturally produced art. And like all natural stone no two are exactly alike.

One thing you may notice if you look closely among the elegant and swirls is that the bands of color actually follow each other in a parallel manner as they flow through the tile unlike with other types of stone.

Onyx Tile


Best Uses:

Onyx is softer than many other stones and therefore is not really suited to be used as outdoor tiles. Therefore it is almost always used for indoor applications. Because they are more delicate manufacturers will often sell them with a resin, fiberglass, or mesh backing to help increase their strength.

Onyx Tile Flooring

While they may not be as durable as granite for example they still make an excellent option for floors in areas that receive light traffic. Onyx floor tile is typically used in bathrooms, kitchens, and even bedrooms. Large square tiles are usually 12” x 12” in size but you can find them up to 24” x 24”.

Onyx Tile

Mosaics are another way to go. With these a large number of small tiles are attached to a square mesh backing so they can be installed easily and evenly. While they are most often square mosaics can be a wide array of shapes and even tile patterns such as the basket weave or herringbone.

Onyx mosaic tile is actually ideal for places like the bathroom and shower floor because of its many grout lines which can provide grip to help prevent slips and falls. But be sure that the tile you are purchasing is rated as floor tile.

Onyx Tile


Onyx Wall Tile

Of course on the wall it is used along with floor tile to complete onyx tile bathrooms. And don’t forget on tub and shower surrounds either. Backsplashes are also a favorite spot for this material both in the bathroom and the kitchen. Mosaic tile of all shapes are a great choice to use when creating an onyx tile backsplash as is subway tile.

The larger size of subway tile compared to mosaics is often used in backsplashes to show off the striking variations and markings that onyx can produce. Bigger sized wall tile is also used in the same manner to create feature walls.

One of the best ways to really show off the opulence of your wall tiles and their translucence is to make sure they are backlit which will give them a glow-like appearance. Don’t forget that both wall and floor options can also be used as fireplace tiles too.

Onyx Tile


Combine It With Other Materials

One of the best features of onyx is that it can be used in combination with so many other materials including other natural stones and look totally cohesive. Both marble and travertine tile are often used in the same installation as onyx with huge success.

Some mosaic tiles made from these materials will even have onyx accents tiles included in the same individual tile because they complement each other so well. Granite too is well-known for matching this stone without any effort. And of course you can easily use multiple colors of onyx together in the same project.

Onyx Tile


Popular Colors:

With all the eye catching colors, there are a few which stand out above the rest and are always in high demand. You might want consider the following colors to help you accomplish your goals.

Honey Onyx Tile

These are a great way to add a warm honey brown color to your home. Honey onyx tile is for good reason the most popular of all colors. It makes a phenomenal natural pairing for rooms with wooden shelving or cabinets since it has such a similar look to wood grain itself.

This color is also one of the best choices because it just blends so well with such a large diversity of styles, themes, colors and materials particularly anything earth-toned. An added benefit is that scratches are just about impossible to see due to the variation in shades. Its white veining and varying shades of golden brown are simply intoxicating.

Onyx Tile


Green Onyx Tile

Light green tile always makes for a calming space and with onyx it’s no different, just more attractive. It can range from very light to more of jade color but also be quite dark too.

One of the most popular green onyx tile options is what’s known as multi-green which while it does have a fair amount of green also contains colors like reds, yellows, and rusty browns.

This can be used to make  a focal point since all of these colors individually stand out so well against each other when in the same tile, which really highlights their beauty.

Onyx Tile


Red Onyx Tile

Like green this too can be a dramatic looking choice. It is often used on backsplashes and walls to instantly catch your eye or draw your attention to a certain area of the room. Multi-red tiles are especially bold with their mixture of greens, yellows, browns, and oranges among others.

Onyx Tile


White Onyx Tile

This color is famous for being a soft milky or creamy white. Using white is always a great move for bringing light into a dim room and creating a clean look. White onyx is also commonly used by those who are not necessarily looking for something extra assertive but more traditional.

Some manufacturers offer a pure white which may have different shades of white but no other colors. Most standard white onyx tile will usually have a few veins of darker colors as well such orange, yellow, or more of a rust color.

Many homeowners like to use bright white grout to help bring out their color especially when using subway tile to make a white onyx tile backsplash.

Onyx Tile


Caring For Onyx:

As a porous stone, all onyx tile needs to be properly sealed regardless of where it is used. It is very important to use a high quality stone sealant from a reputable brand. This will protect it not only from water but staining too and should last a couple of years until it needs to be applied again.

Sealing before you apply tile grout is always recommended to prevent staining during the process. Using a dry mop for floor tiles on a regular basis will keep them dust free and a sponge with warm water will make sure your wall tiles are looking their best.

When doing a more serious cleaning every few day or on a weekly, only very mild and non-acidic cleaners should be used. Never use anything containing lemon or chemicals like bleach. A good wet mopping with warm and a mild detergent will do just fine. Special stone cleaners made for stones of this type are also an excellent choice too.

Onyx Tile

For those looking to add visual texture to a dull space, create a stunning onyx subway tile backsplash, or make their shower, wall or floor literally glow with natural beauty this is the right material for the job.

You can enjoy the same opulence every day that in ancient times only the wealthiest could afford. Onyx tile will instantly command attention in any space you install it and in any color, or combination of colors you decide on from light to dark.

Extra Onyx Tile Tips:

Here are few extra tips to help guarantee your success when using onyx.

-It’s always important to remember to compensate for breakage. With ceramic and porcelain it’s a smart idea to purchase between ten and twenty percent more tiles than you need to help make up for broken tiles, errors made when cutting with the tile saw, or simply to keep as a backup for future repairs. However, since onyx tile is more fragile than these materials a better estimate would be around twenty five to thirty percent.

Onyx Tile

-Before you install be sure to perform a dry layout. This simply means laying all of your tiles on the floor so you can play around with different tiles in different locations to see what looks the best. This is a particularly good idea with onyx because it will allow you to prevent specific colors or shades from grouping in one or two spots. It will give you the chance to make your layout much more balanced in appearance.

-When many homeowners do lay out their tiles they often number the back of them so they can be later set so individual tiles can be set in specific spots. While this is a smart way to ensure a cohesive display, be sure not to use a marker when numbering your tile. Because onyx tile is fairly translucent if you do use a marker the ink may end up bleeding through and will be seen from the front of the tile due to the moisture of the tile adhesive used in the setting process.

Onyx Tile

-Even thought their translucence is one of their most attractive and well-known qualities it also means you’ll need to be careful when choosing your adhesive. Make sure to purchase only a high quality white thin-set instead of one which is grey in color as it would most likely show through the body of the tile.

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