Polishing Bathroom and Shower tiled with “Honey Onyx”

People often choose to use natural stone like Onyx, Marble, and Granite to decorate their homes. These stones are beautiful and give a feeling of permanence. You won’t find with a lot of other materials.

When something like onyx is polished—and better yet, backlit—it’s just so beautiful. 

Let’s be honest, is a marble floor or carpet going to last longer? It’s obviously the marble floor, right? That being said, it’s important to understand that some types of stones are “harder” or “softer” than others. If you think back to high school Earth Science, you may remember the Moh’s scale of mineral hardness. Moh’s scale is a way to quantify scratch resistance of any given mineral when scratched by another mineral. Onyx, often thought of as a subcategory of Marble, is softer than most types of natural stone. If you’re wondering why that’s important, bear with me a moment.

Recently, I had a contractor that does a lot of work at Smith Mountain Lake get in touch with me. He’d installed Honey Onyx tile throughout a bathroom for one of his clients. Something happened that caused the tile to lose the shine that had originally been present in the stone. For context, that shine is the entire reason (in my humble opinion) for getting this kind of tile. Whether it’s Onyx, actual Marble, or even Granite, you can get an absolutely beautiful shine when it’s polished correctly. The tiles throughout the entire bathroom had become dull and non-reflective.

Shower Wall, before polishing. The colors are dark and dull, and you can just barely see where one of the bathroom lights is reflecting, on the top left.

The contractor had been trying for some time to replicate the problem and was unable to.

He had no idea why the tiles installed in the bathroom were dull when the leftover tiles that had not been used were still nice and shiny. Take a look at this video (it’s about 5 seconds long, don’t worry) to get an idea of what they were dealing with. This is after I’d worked on one of the floor tiles to see what was going to be necessary to do the job:

We never figured out exactly what had etched the face of the tiles and caused them to dull. A lot of specialized cleaners, like ones that remove epoxy grout haze, will create etching on softer types of stone. As “hard” as stone can seem, some of the basic ingredients used for cleaning will react with the stone and destroy that glossy “wet” look. I have one client who tried to clean a spot with vinegar and wound up having to have the entire floor refinished. The acetic acid in the vinegar will leave a dull spot on your marble and onyx tiles in a heartbeat…so be sure to check in with me if you don’t know how to clean/maintain your floors and counters. 

For what it’s worth, don’t put marble counters in a kitchen, either. That’s just begging for heartache and frustration.

Shower wall, after polishing, and under the same light as the picture above.

The important part is that I was able to fix the problem for the client. When we finished, the tile itself is absolutely gorgeous, and the client is very happy with the result:

“Joseph did a great job removing the cloudy residue that was left on our onyx tile by the installer (installer worked with a different company). After others had attempted to remove the residue and failed, Joseph was able to make the tile shine and look like it was supposed to. He works very diligently and does what it takes to make sure the job is done right. Highly recommend!”

You can find that on our Google Review page. Have a great day, folks!

Here’s one more look at that beautiful, glossy stone!

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