Open Pages: Why You Should Judge a Stone Composition By Its Cover

With precise attention to book-matching, designing with natural stone can result in striking compositions.

Are you familiar with the old adage “measure twice, cut once”? To obtain perfect veining patterns in our stone feature walls, at GPI it’s more like “measure twice. draw a diagram. step back and think about it. call the design department. then cut”.

(Photograph courtesy danielpermanetter via Flickr Creative Commons)

Book-matching is a reflection of stone veining patterns across a joint so that adjacent panels appear as “mirror images”. Think of an open book: the left page is one panel, the right page is another, and the spine of the book is the joint. Book-match patterns are most commonly found in wood veneers, but the same principles apply to dimensional stone and stone veneer as well. Other variations of matching patterns include: blend match, slip match, and diamond match.

The quality of book-matching can make or break that uninterrupted wall of backlit stone that you have envisioned. Disregard the continuity between panels, and you risk having skewed veining patterns that appear to shift and jump as they move across joints. This uncontrolled use of natural stone gives the appearance of a defect or installation error, so care must be taken in the manufacturing and installation process to ensure quality control. Many natural stone panels are pre-fabricated and cut to size, making on-site adjustments costly and time-consuming.

(Above image: Book match/diamond match seams at GPI’s Signature Place project)

Because stone possesses movement and graining sculpted by natural processes, each slab is unique. The visual prominence of bookmatching depends on the veining characteristics and color variations of that particular stone in use. The sharp red veins of a stark white onyx are emphasized by precise mirroring (see above photograph), while a more uniformly colored stone surface will have less pronounced book-matching.

To ensure quality book matching, care must be taken when choosing a stone manufacturer. Fluid communication between the sales, design and manufacturing departments is truly the only way to ensure attention to detail. A responsible stone company will have the insight, experience, and quality control standards to achieve those tight seams. Unfortunately, with many typical stone manufacturers, pertinent information is lost as a project moves from stone tickets into production. Make sure to detail your stone wall elevations and call out the particular seams which should be book matched. You’ve gone to painstaking measures to detail your prominent stone feature, so take a few minutes to ensure that you nail the details.