Do I really need to book match my granite?

misslivvyApril 16, 2012

My question is about book matching granite -- whether or not it is really necessary. I'm sure it depends on the grain and direction of the granite, where you put the seam, etc. But I'm curious to know what people have done in this regard.

The granite I want is much more expensive than what I was planning to spend orginally. However if I only buy one slab the additional expense is not that bad. I also figured out that I only need one slab to cover the square footage required, and this could be done with just one seam at the sink, and I'd still have some granite to spare. Buying two slabs to book match my counter seems extravagant to me.

As a side note, I was curious to hear if people have put their seams at the sink. My kitchen designer commented to me yesterday that fabricators are not doing it that way any more.

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From what I have seen, bookmatching is usually done on a large island countertop, where one slab would be insufficient, so two slabs are bookmatched. Beaglesdoitbetter has beautifully bookmatched blue bahia island countertop and I'm sure she'll chime in once she sees your post.

For perimeter counter it is not necessary. If you have a good fabricator, they will be able to template your countertop with the seam in an unobtrusive area, usually near a corner, if applicable and template it so that it matches. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 6:26PM
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Our granite was installed a few weeks ago and our seam is at the sink. Right in the middle of the sink to be exact. Our fabricator prefers doing it there because it is the smallest seam rather than having a seam go the entire depth of the granite. I think it looks great. You wouldn't notice it if you weren't looking for it.

We had to purchase two slabs and they were not bookmatched. Here's some info about bookmatching on the Granite Gurus website that might be helpful for you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sabs are

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 6:29PM
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Since bookmatching is only possible if the guys doing the cutting and polishing were savvy enough to polish alternating sides, many people don't even have the option.

My fabricator is all about bookmatching, but laments the fact that mony stoneyards have a dearth of bookmatched slabs; I've talked to some stoneyard employees who didn't even know what bookmatching was.

So, IMHO it's great if you can bookmatch--especially on a large island like Clarygrace said-- but definitely not necessary and perfectly fine to simply have the grains going the same way.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 11:58PM
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IMHO, it's great if you can bookmatch--especially on a large island like Clarygrace said-- but definitely not necessary and perfectly fine to simply have the grains going the same way.

Since bookmatching is only possible if the guys doing the cutting and polishing were savvy enough to polish alternating sides, many people don't even have the option.

My fabricator is all about bookmatching, but laments the fact that mony stoneyards have a dearth of bookmatched slabs; I've talked to some stoneyard employees who didn't even know what bookmatching was.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 12:00AM
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Granite comes in large blocks that is then sliced like bread. The polishing process polishes the facing surfaces, and leaves the rough surfaces touching. That way you don't have a rough surface against a smooth surface to scratch it. So, a big block will be R(ough)S(mooth)S-R-R-S-S-R-R-S-S-R-R-S-S-R-R-S-S-R. Basically, if a wholesaler buys enough of a block of a single granite, he will end up with several bookmatched pieces as each subsequent slice will be next to it's bookmatched slice. If you are dealing with a small fabricator, he may not have bought enough pieces to have bookmatched slabs, or if someone cherry picked the ones in the middle, the matched slabs may already be gone. But, any medium to large sized fabricator should readily have bookmatched slabs available with no issues.

The other issue that will arise, and it's a BIG one, is the ability of a fabricator to do the seam well enough. This is where it's important to see past work and to not choose the lowest bid just because they are the lowest bid.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 12:24AM
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How busy is your granite and will the fabricators be able to match up the colors/ pattern without doing it book matched? That is the key question.

Check out this disaster of a counter here:

These people tried to save money by just sticking the ends of a slab together. Unfortunately, the fabricators did not ensure that the veining or pattern went together at all.

Compare this to book matched and the perfect seam here:

While you are likely not going to get a perfect match unless you do book matched, you can get away w/ not doing it if you have a granite that doesn't have very distinctive veining, like so:

If your fabricator is good, you can also do better than my example of a disaster counter, although again, not perfect. This one below is better, for example, because they matched up the big block of color at least. But you can still see veins dying and colors changing in an unnatural way:

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 1:16AM
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Here is another example on a perimeter counter. The fabricator did a great job here:

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 1:19AM
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Ugh, sorry I posted almost identical messages twice. Kept getting error message, so rewrote and re-posted.

Green--I've seen countless blocks of marble, slabs in order, straight from the quarry, sliced like a loaf of bread, with the same (not alternating) side polished.

Could this be a matter of marble versus granite? I mostly spend my time looking at marble in stone yards. I'm just wondering why it sounds like the norm in your experience to have alternating sides polished, and for me it's been the exception to the rule.

My fabricator would love to have his clients shop at your stoneyards!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 8:11AM
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Your question reminded me of this picture I took a couple weeks ago in the bathroom of an upscale tennis club. It's the first thing I noticed when I walked in, LOL!

So, yes, it does matter which granite you are using, but I would say pay the extra for bookmatched.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 9:20AM
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Here is my seam... it's so hard to see the seam that I can't really tell you if it's bookmatched or not. I did buy two identical slabs.

Seam is compliments of the masterful Joshua from Creative Soaptstone. This was right after install. Now that the counter has been in use for a year I'd have to really really search to find it.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 9:23AM
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It really depends on the slab and how TKO you are. My counters space is so large, I needed 2 slabs. Mine are book matched. However, I needed 2 seams and could not match both seams with the book match because of a large spot I was trying to avoid. Since my slabs were about $2000 each, I would not have bought 2 just to match a seam, but that is me.

Interestingly enough, the guys are here now to finish the seams. I am not really happy with the seams or the match, but it is what it is.
Here is the same slab seam:

And here is the book matched seam:

Now, you may notice that the veins are very different (color especially) but that is the nature of this stone. So in my case, the book match did not really help. Looks much better than the same stone seam but really would not be on anyone's list of great seam matches.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 10:58AM
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Wow this has been quite an education. Thanks everyone! It's definitely something to discuss in depth with the fabricators when I interview them for my job.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 12:09PM
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Our job took 3 slabs so 2 of them were a bookmatched pair and the third one was the next one in sequence (the one that had its rough face against the rough face against one of the pair. Since its polished face was 4 cm away in the block of granite from the polished faces of the other two, its pattern was very similar to theirs but there was some drift.

Our L counter has a sink leg that was longer than the long dimension of the slabs and longer than twice the short dimension. The other leg was longer than the short dimension of the slabs. That means there was no way to lay it out on the slabs so that all seams were bookmatched. (If both legs are no longer than the long dimension of a slab, they can lay it out with a diagonal bookmatched seam in the corner. Our kitchen fabricator doesn't like to do the diagonal seam, but in our case it didn't matter because of the long leg.) The only way to do our counter with only one seam was for the seam to be at the sink or dishwasher. Fabricators seem to be divided on whether a seam at the sink is good or bad, but over the dishwasher is more of an issue because there is no cabinet front for support.

We wanted the seam at the sink because it let us have just one seam and our fabricator preferred that as well. Our granite is 2 cm with a plywood underlay so it is well supported at the sink by the plywood and cabinet.

Our granite is very active, but the grain doesn't have a strong direction - in some areas, it slants across the slab and in others it was pretty swirly. We spent a couple of hours with the fabricator laying out the templates on the slabs. We were doing granite backsplashes and wanted a good match between the counter and backsplash and also had to fit long pieces for our window sill and counter outside the kitchen window. We chose a placement where the two sides of the seam were in a swirly part of the granite. I can see the seam when I look for it, but I don't notice it otherwise even though the color match at the back of the sink isn't perfect.

Recently we had a surround made for a new fireplace from the remnants from our kitchen. The top and one side came from one piece and the other side came from another piece because those were the only remnants long and wide enough.

I think the fabricator did a good job of positioning the pieces on the remnants so that the seams aren't jarring even though the long direction of the top piece was parallel to the long direction of one of the side pieces on the same remnant. BTW, the left and right side pieces came from the same part of the slab on the two slabs that were back to back - you can see that they are close to mirror images of each other around the white smile-shaped mark but the darker area a foot or two below the "smile" shows more differences.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 5:30PM
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Sailordive, the two sides of your "bookmatched" seam may have come from two book matched slabs, but it doesn't look like the seam was bookmatched. To create a bookmatched seam, the pieces need to be laid out on the two slabs so that the two sides of the seam are at the same place on the pattern in the two slabs.

For example, here is one of our slabs with the template for part of our L on the top of part of the slab. The end that will be one side of the seam is on the right (just above the upside down white smile).

Here is the bookmatched slab for that one. You can see that it is a pretty close mirror image of the other slab. For the seam to be bookmatched, the other side of the seam would need to be positioned in the same spot on the mirror image as on the other slab (again just above the upside down smile), but the pieces won't fit that way and the seam is the end of the short bit almost touching the top edge of the slab. (The bottom of that slab is the backsplash for that side of the counter so we have a great grain match on that long very visible area.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 6:00PM
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If your granite has a strong grain and you want to avoid the expense of an extra slab, see where you can do the smallest seams (like at the sink), the least conspicuous seams (like under the toaster oven, and where on the slab your veins are least pronounced and adjust your plan accordingly.

When we fabricated our soapstone, I actually uploaded photos of the slabs to my PC, scaled them, and drew little 'box frames' in the sizes I needed with codes showing what pieces joined other pieces where. Part of our backsplash is also soapstone, and by having one extra seam in a plain area of a long counter, we were able to match the major veins in our counter to their adjoining backsplashes, and sometimes even to the upper counter on the dining ledge. We did have two seams at the sink corners, and also at our cooktop cutout -- again, bot very short seams, well reinforced from below. But NO dead-end veins, and all of my favorite veins got feature locations.

It all depends on what size pieces you need and what logical options you have for 'pattern breaks' -- They're probably more flexible than you think.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 7:45PM
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Cloud_swift and Sweeby, thanks so much for the details and suggestions. And Cloud, your fabricator did a fantastic job, as did Beagles...the difference in a good fabricator really shows.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 12:03AM
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I have seen some really huge oversize slabs of granite at Dal Tile. HUGE. You might be able to find one the size you need somewhere. I'd call around or maybe the KD will. P.S. I looked for over a year before I found my granite, lol.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 6:58PM
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