Backlighting Onyx Q & A with Patrick Dwyer from Knema LLC

As described by The Natural Stone Institute, onyx is a frequently translucent and generally layered, cryptocrystalline calcite.  It is a sedimentary rock that is usually deposited in cold water solutions often in the form of stalagmites and stalactites in caves.  It is through this formation method that cryptocrystalline is created and the size and uniformity of these crystals is what contributes to the classic translucent property of onyx stone.

Dating back to the Egyptians, onyx was used to create bowls and other decorative elements and now-a-days it is commonly used to create jewelry in addition to it’s appeal as a decorative surface and wall material. It’s unique look with striations in a wide range of colors make it the perfect material to add a dramatic focal point to a space. One of the many appeals to nature’s beautiful creation of onyx is it’s ability to be backlit due to it’s unique translucent properties.  By doing so, a piece is able to take on a completely new life, showcasing the unique veining while adding additional ambiance to a space with it’s subtle glow.

The key to backlighting is using the correct LED panels to ensure an even coverage of light and eliminating any “hot spots.”  To further analyze key tips when it comes to backlighting, we connected with the backlighting expert himself, Patrick Dwyer from Knema LLC (dba LuminousFilm), and picked his brain, so you can backlight with confidence.  Read on.


Q. What do you need to consider before lighting a Countertop? Power source? Size? Material? Is there anything that is different about lighting a wall verses a countertop? 
A. Actually, not really. As long as you are mounting the panels to a surface and securing them with something like mirror clips, or c-channel you should be fine.


Q. What should you know before choosing a light color? 
A. When picking a light color, you should be aware of the overall affect it will have on the room. Do you want to contrast or match existing light fixtures? And you should be aware of how the light will affect the color of the stone. If you have a honey onyx using a very warm color temp (2700K for example) would help bring out more of the yellows in the stone.


Q. What are the lighting color options? 
A. Our panels have two main color options. White light LEDs (ranging from ~2700K-6000K) and we have RGB LEDs, which allows for millions of different color options.

Stone Wood Feature Fireplace and Black Cloud Onyx Light Installation

Q. How much does it cost to backlight a stone?
A. Cost per square foot varies greatly depending on the project and the products used. Variables such as the thickness of the stone, distance of panel from the stone, and how translucent the stone is can affect the square foot price greatly. Generally, we find the cost to run roughly ~$45-100/square foot.


Q. What is the maintenance on the lighting panels? 
A. Typically there is very little – to no maintenance on the products.


Q. How often do they need to be replaced? 
A. If properly installed, the panels should last a very long time. We usually end up replacing power supplies before we replace panels. Our LED edge-lit panels have an L-70 rating of ~50,000 of continual use and our large LED modules have and L-70 rating of ~120,000 hours of continual use.

Note: L-70 is a rating that means that at 50,000 / 120,000 hours our lights should still produce 70% of their original brightness.


Want to view more inspirational images? View a few of our Onyx related projects here.

Click here to view our current collection of Onyx material.