Many granite and marble slabs have large-scale movement that look best when the pattern is matched at the seams. Large counter top areas in kitchens and bathrooms often require multiple pieces. On small projects where the surfaces can be cut out of the same slab it is easier to continue the pattern at the seams. When a project is so large that is requires multiple slabs extra planning is necessary to match the pattern. It is important when installing granite and marble counter tops to be aware of the natural movement in the slabs.
There are certain limitations when designing with stone slabs. Natural stone is quarried into manageable sizes that are approximately nine feet high by five feet wide. The slabs are sliced like bread and numbered in sequential order. Keeping the slabs in order is important for matching the pattern of the vein movement from one slab to the next. This enables the fabricator to customize a job according to the natural patterning in the stone. Special attention is given when planning where each piece of stone will end up on the counter top or shower wall taking into account the natural movement. Since stone slabs are limited in size, matching the veining can elevate the value of a project based on the craftsmanship it requires.
When the movement in the stone continues from one piece to the next in the same direction it is called “pattern matching”. A more skilled and complicated form of matching is called “book-matching” where the movement is mirrored between two or more pieces. This method can be applied to a flat surface such as a counter top or vertical wall feature creating a bold statement. Book-matching looks even more impressive when a horizontal surface meets a vertical surface such as a backsplash or tub deck. For example, when the veining on the face of a tub mirrors the top surface veining, the tub deck appears to have been cut out of a solid block of stone. The preparation and extra planning is tremendous. Sometimes a large project such as a master bathroom that includes book-matching a shower, counter tops, and tub deck may require special ordering where it can take up to six slabs with some needing to be flipped over with the back side polished. With the popularity of book-matching, many fabricators have equipped themselves with the necessary tools to be able to polish the back side of a slab in the shop. Granite and marble slabs can also be cut down to large tiles for book-matching floor patterns. This can be done on a small project such as a kitchen or large commercial project such as a hotel lobby. Since book-matching stone takes such careful planning and fabrication it is known to be one of the most elegant and sophisticated ways to install granite and marble slabs.