Explaining Bookmatched Stones
Bookmatching refers to the practice of matching two (or more) stone slabs and placing them side by side to mirror each other – much like an open book. The ultimate in opulence, book matched (also known as butterflied) stone can be stunning and is typically displayed across a large area so the full effect can be captured. The stone can have the look of abstract art, and people often see distinct patterns or shapes on the surface that’s created.
The book matching process begins when the large blocks of quarried stone are delivered to the processing plant and cut into slabs. Generally, slabs are cut and then laid flat and then all the slabs are polished on the same side. They are then bundled back together in the same order they were cut. To obtain a mirror image, book matching requires that two neighboring slabs be polished on opposite sides.
Bookmatching natural stone slabs are a complicated ordeal, primarily because the fabrication process is interrupted to ensure the right side of each slab is polished. The two slabs will then be placed adjacent to each other, primarily in larger applications. Often the stones are specially cut and joined in a manner that highlights the slab’s best features.
Natural stones with strong veining and movement are most suited for book matching. A number of different marble, onyx, granite, travertine, and quartzite, varieties have the ideal characteristics befitting for book matching. Fine-grained stone like Bianco Antico granite is decidedly less popular for this procedure because their patterns don’t stand out, and as a result, it can be difficult to tell that it’s been book matched at all.
For this reason, the more exotic and dramatic looking stone slabs like Onice Ovorio onyx are commonly used for book matching applications because they’re the ones that contain the heavy veining and striking characteristics that are so appealing when book matched.
It’s also important to consider the type of book matching you want, crosscut or vein cut. Usually, book matched slabs that have been crosscut provide the most varied and dramatic patterns, while vein cut slabs produce a more striated and structured pattern.
Photo: Courtesy of Hamilton Stone
Bathroom walls, accent walls, and shower walls are among the most in-demand book matching applications. It’s also an excellent application for large kitchen islands that act as the focal point of the space. Some homeowners choose to book match all the kitchen counters, however, the resulting surface looks its best in large uninterrupted applications. It’s also a great option for high-end commercial uses, like the backdrop behind a hotels front desk.
Other applications include bathrooms, where book matching slabs can greatly enhance a small space making it feel roomier. It’s most commonly found as a bathtub surround or in a marble shower. In a bedroom, book matching the natural stone to create an amazing headboard immediately creates a beautiful focal point. Dining room tables, coffee tables, and flooring are all additional applications.
Bookmatched slabs are almost always more expensive, for the reasons listed above (the fabrication process and the more exotic stone itself) as well as the layout restrictions that are inherent with the slabs. There’s just one layout that will create the book matched effect.