Fabricator How-to / Stone in Architecture / Residential

A study in book-matching

July 2, 2012
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For the master suite addition to a 14,000-square-foot residence in Danville, VA, the homeowners wanted a signature, one-of-a-kind look to the space. This goal was achieved with high-end stonework that included a number of book-matched applications.

“A designer that I had worked with in the past gave me a call, and they knew from the beginning that it would be a book-matched job. The homeowner really knew what they wanted,” explained Len Malave of Granite & Marble by Malave in Greensboro, NC, which was responsible for the stone design, fabrication and installation.

“We used Giallo River, which was supplied by Granite Depot in Charlotte, NC,” Malave said. “We had a book-matched slab shower and tub, along with a vanity top that has custom-made granite sinks that we made.”

Great care was taken in the fabrication of the slabwork for the project, particularly the book-matching. “This is one of the most perfectly book-matched jobs we have ever done,” Malave said. “All of the slabs are 3-cm, and shower floor is book-matched with the shower walls, which was very difficult to do. The walls were done using five slabs, and the floor was another slab, so there were six slabs in the shower alone. We pre-cut all of the walls, and because we were traveling to the job, we would measure and re-measure and make sure that the walls were square and plumb. Then we would allow ½ inch of play, and build the wall out if we
needed to.”

At the tub, the book-matching pattern runs from the riser and step to the tub facing, and finally to the tub deck itself. “If you look at the trim pieces, and the curved pieces, all of it is book-matched,” Malave said. “It was like putting a jig-saw puzzle together. The bottom slab is radius cut, and the panels are removable so a plumber could access them.  We mill the access panels down ½ inch or 5/8 inch, so they are light and easy to remove.  And we add a fiberglass backing for reinforcement.”

The book-matching continues at the vanity, which has an ogee edge and two custom-made sinks. “We book-matched the countertop with the sinks so it looked like it was carved directly out of the block.” The make-up counter also features an intricately shaped countertop with an ogee edge.

Because the master suite was on the second floor of the home, care had to be taken in transporting the workpieces on the jobsite. “The pieces were 1 ¼ inches, and we had four guys on the job,” Malave said. “We had to cart them up the steps using Gorilla Grips.”

Malave explained that great care has to be taken whenever doing book-matched work because a single broken piece cannot simply be replaced. “If you break a slab, you’re starting all over again,” he said. “You can’t book-match slabs out of sequence.”

Additionally, extra fabrication is required to achieve the book-matched pattern. “You also need a bed polisher to polish the back side of it,” Malave said. “You can order book-matched slabs if you have the time, but most of the time, you don’t have the time. I have good contacts overseas, and it will still take 10 weeks. Time is always an issue because as the stone contractor, we are always on the back end of the job. We travel anywhere in the U.S. and Caribbean to do this type of work, and I have a consulting company that offers training for book-matched slab fabrication and installation.”

In all, 10 slabs of Giallo River were used for the bathroom, and the floor is comprised of 18- x 18-inch Jerusalem Gold tiles, with custom-cut accents of Giallo River. “We cut and sliced the granite down to the thickness of the tile,” Malave said. “We even made a matching toilet paper holder.” The stone floor also features an underfloor heating system from Nuheat.

Malave also fabricated and installed granite for the laundry room, and Golden Crystal granite was chosen for the design, along with Jerusalem Gold flooring. Once again, the company fabricated custom granite accents to be integrated into the floor pattern.

Overall, the project was completed in two weeks, from fabrication to installation.

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