Vein-matching and Book-matching - what's the difference?

Last week’s article on marble worktops, and increased interest in marble generally, has led to an old question coming up again in conversation with kitchen worktop customers. What is the difference between vein-matching and book-matching?

The problem is that even people in the solid stone worktop industry occasionally use the two terms sloppily, and it is hardly surprising that the lay person gets confused. So here is an article to clear it all up…

Classic quartz alaska bianca worcester park surrey affordable granite 134238 a

What is vein-matching?

Classic Quartz Alaska Bianca quartz worktops Haywards Heath west sussex 190930 143446d

Vein-matching is the technique of making veins in patterned materials appear to run across joins.

We have written about this before in an article featuring Classic Quartz Alaska Bianca in a Haywards Heath kitchen. Joins can be between two worktops in the same plane, as in the image at left (above on phones)…

sensa platino island showing veinmatching

.. or in two planes. In this case a mitred external corner (island to downstand) shows off the fine natural veins in Sensa Platino quartzite. This has been achieved by using the same slab – the veins match because they were always matching in the stone anyway – we have effectively just “bent” the slab around the corner.

Classic Quartz Alaska Bianca quartz worktops Haywards Heath west sussex 190930 143604c

Internal corners can also have veins which match because they have come from the same slab. As a matter of routine, we cut upstands from the same stone as their adjoining worktops, giving the best possible match, at least on the long edge.



Often we have no option to make the two sections out of one slab. In that kind of situation we have to find another section which is big enough which can more or less function. In the case of this Cambria Brittanicca island, far too long to create its own downstands, we have managed to get enough join on two veins to generally fool the eye.

Lemon Spice granite kitchen worktops Middlesex

It was the same with this Lemon Spice kitchen in Barnes. Getting perfect vein matching everywhere was impossible – but making the overall direction of flow consistent has made it an eye-catching installation.


What is book-matching?

Whereas vein matching is something we can try to with any material that has veins in it, bookmatching has to involve the actual production of the slabs. That can be in the sawing and polishing of the blocks from the quarry, or in the way the veins are “printed” into a man-made material, as is the case with the Calacatta Gold island shown here.

Bookmatched slabs are mirror-image slabs, created by polishing the “inside” faces of two adjacent slabs cut from the same block, or deliberately “printed” as mirror images in a quartz or ceramic process.

Norden Kitchens Affordable Granite Classic Quartz Calacatta Gold 210427 101536 (2)

Island in bookmatched Classic Quartz Calacatta Gold

Ephesus terrace house bookmatched Cippolino Verde marble

As a technique, bookmatching of slabs is very old indeed. This house is in Ephesus, in modern Turkey. A single block of Cippolino Verde marble has yielded the slabs for one superbly opulent room. The marble here has been studied intensively, and the excellence and efficiency of Roman stonemasonry has been analysed in depth. The quality, wastage levels and intelligence in use of stone are fully comparable with modern figures. We can only assume that we are a little faster!


The image of the house in Ephesus was taken by my daughter on holiday last week. This image and the other Ephesus image below both copyright © Rebecca Severs of Three Little Birds Bakery

Bookmatching techniques are used in other fields too. Wood and wood veneers have often been cut to create symmetrical designs in this way – most have us will have seen Victorian wardrobes and other furniture with bookmatched walnut. The cutting and matching can be done along two axes of symmetry to create four-cornered symmetrical designs.

green bookmatched marble in Westminster Cathedral

Green bookmatched marble in Westminster Cathedral

bookmatched veneer in a victorian wardrobe

A Victorian wardrobe, with bookmatched walnut veneer doors

Sensa Platino Granite CO240418 Bookmatched and put together on photoshop

Two bookmatched slabs of Sensa Platino granite/quartzite

Bookmatched slabs can be used for ordinary vein matching, of course, just like any other veined material. But that is really to miss the point, and a bit of a waste. In normal worktop installations, bookmatching isn’t especially relevant, but for large islands and occasionally very large splashbacks, it can give a huge wow factor.

Calacatta Macchia Vecchia slabs leaned together to see the bookmatching.

Calacatta Macchia Vecchia slabs leaning together to see the bookmatching

Bookmatched marble in Westminster cathedral
terrace house one bookmatching in Ephesus
Hagia Sophia bookmatched marble

We are Affordable Granite, the leading installer of granite, quartz and marble kitchen worktops in Surrey, Sussex and across the South East. We would love to talk to you about how to use real marble in your home. It is less expensive than you think, and will add a unique and unmatched beauty to your home. Please do not hesitate to contact our sales team on 01293 863992 or by email on Or you can use our quotation or contact forms.