Many granite and marble slabs have large-scale movement that is best seen when the pattern matches the seams. Large countertop areas in kitchens and bathrooms often require multiple pieces. On small projects where surfaces can be cut from the same slab, it is easier to continue the pattern at the seams. When a project is so large that it requires multiple slabs, additional planning is necessary to match the pattern. When installing granite and marble countertops, it is important to consider the natural movement of the slabs.
There are certain limitations when designing with stone slabs. Natural stone is quarried in manageable sizes measuring 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 in matching the pattern of the vein movement from one slab to the next. This allows the fabricator to customize a job according to the natural pattern of the stone. Particular attention is paid when planning where each piece of stone will end up on the countertop or shower wall with natural movement in mind. Since stone slabs are limited in size, combining the grain can raise the value of a project based on the craftsmanship it requires.
When the movement of the stone continues from one piece to the next in the same direction, it is called “pattern matching.” A more skillful and complicated form of pairing is called “book pairing”, where movement is reflected between two or more pieces. This method can be applied to a flat surface, such as a countertop or vertical wall, creating a bold statement. The book combination looks even more impressive when a horizontal surface meets a vertical surface, such as a backsplash or bathtub platform. For example, when the grain on the face of a bathtub reflects the grain on the top surface, the bathtub deck appears to have been cut from a solid block of stone. The preparation and extra planning are tremendous. Sometimes a large project, such as a master bathroom, that includes a shower, countertops, and a tub deck, may require a special order where it can take up to six slabs and some need to be flipped with the back polished. With the popularity of book combining, many fabricators have equipped themselves with the necessary tools to be able to polish the back of a slab in the shop.
Granite and marble slabs can also be cut into large tiles for floor patterns to match books. This can be done in a small project like a kitchen or a large commercial project like a hotel lobby. Since stone to match books requires such careful planning and fabrication, it is known to be one of the most elegant and sophisticated ways to install granite and marble slabs.