Faux Marble | How to Paint Faux Marble Technique

by THAT Painter Lady

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Example of a faux painting in antique verde marble

Image via Wikipedia

Being asked how to paint Faux Marble is like asking your grandmother how she makes bread.  It’s a little of this and that and a ton of talent and practice.  Faux painting marble to make it look real is a bit of an art.

We learned to paint faux marble early in our faux painting career.  It was and is still one of our most profitable talents.  A ton of new homes have big concrete or plastic pillars in the living areas of their homes.  They tend to look like big hulks of concrete instead of a decorative accent.

The ability to turn plain concrete pillars into delicate marble columns is really an art.  But… almost anyone can learn this old world stone look, with a little practice and some training.

Here are some great tips for painting faux marble:

Debra has an entire website devoted to the art of faux marble painting : www.EasyFauxMarble.com

Learn How To Paint Anything To Look Like Granite… Even Your Laminate Kitchen Countertops.!

Click Here to read more about the Painting Laminate Countertops

What is Faux Marble?

Faux marble or faux marbling is the painting of painting surfaces so as to imitate the appearance of polished marble. It is typically used in buildings where the cost or weight of genuine marble would be prohibitive.

Faux marbling is a special case of faux stone painting, although the distinctive and varied patterns of marble make it the most imitated stone by far.

History of Faux Stone

Faux stone painting was widely used in Pompeii, but it really took off in Europe during the Renaissance with two schools of faux marbling developing. The Italian school was loose and artistic, the French school was formal and realistic. It typically took an apprentice ten years or more to fully master the art.

Modern professional marblers are very skilled and will use a variety of techniques to closely imitate real marbles but many decorators are happy to merely suggest the appearance of marble rather than accurately imitate a particular stone. It is not as difficult to do as it looks. It is perfectly possible for an amateur to produce a beautiful effect with a little practice.

How to Paint Faux Marble

Materials and equipment

  • White eggshell paint {sometimes known as semigloss or softsheen} (oil based
  • Boiled linseed oil {Available in the wood treatment section of a “Do-it-Yourself” store. It is used to slow the paint drying time}
  • White spirit {to thin the paint and clean the brushes}
  • A tube of black artist oil paint. “Lamp black” is nice
  • Brushes, one of which should be good quality and very soft.
  • Two feathers, the traditional one to use is goose but any large feather will do.
  • Some rags or lint-free cloths

Method

Image:Marbled paint stage 1.png Image:Marbled paint stage 2.png Image:Marbled paint stage 3.png Image:Marbled paint stage 4.png
Stage 1
Adding the glaze
Stage 2
Softening the colour
Stage 3
Adding soft veins
Stage 4
Adding final veining

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Stage 1

The surface is cleaned then painted with the eggshell paint and left to dry overnight. The following day the surface is painted with a thin layer of linseed oil. This slows the drying time of the paint considerably and therefore keeps it workable. Next the black oil paint is mixed with a little of the white eggshell to produce a light grey tone, which is added here and there over the linseed oil base. Other shades of grey are used to fill in the gaps so there is a swirly pattern of colour.

Stage 2

A soft, dry paintbrush {two or three inches wide} is used to soften the colour. A rag is dabbed over the surface to break up the colour and remove excess paint, then the surface is softened again with the dry brush.

Stage 3

An artist’s brush is used to add a light veining pattern in mid grey. The veins do not cross one another, they do not start or stop suddenly, and they do not fan out from a point. They do go in a diagonal direction, but they are never regular or even.

Colour can be removed from part of the surface, if required, by dipping the artist’s brush in white spirit, and lifting the colour off with the brush. The whole surface is then thoroughly resoftened with a dry brush, or a crumpled cloth.

Stage 4

Fine veining is added with a feather. The feather is dipped in white spirits and roughly brushed backwards to separate the bits. Then it is dipped in thin charcoal grey paint and used as a brush to add the fine wiggly veins. Light coloured veins can be added either by dipping a feather into off-white paint or by dipping the feather into white spirits.

As it is drawn across the surface the white spirit dissolves the paint underneath and a light vein appears. The whole surface is then gently softened with a very soft brush – traditionally badger hair is used.

(Added Content) You must coat with layers of glossy sealer for the Faux Marble technique to look realistic.

This content was provided by Wikibooks.org available under the GNU_Free_Documentation_License

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Angela August 1, 2007 at 5:27 pm

Could this technique also be applied to “exterior” pillars, using exterior paint?
And is there such a thing as a gloss sealer for exterior finishes???
Thank you
Angela

THAT Painter Lady August 1, 2007 at 6:26 pm

The faux marble technique can be painted on exterior pillars. No problem. Yes, use exterior paints, latex is fine. And… yes their are exterior grade sealers designed for exterior use. The big box hardware stores carry brands that will work fine. Look for the words “non-yellowing”

Have fun and good luck.

Make sure you send pictures of anything we can put on this website and share with others.

CALLITRARON September 14, 2007 at 11:03 am

I,M WANT TO PAINT A FOUX MARLE ON AN INTERIOR WALL IN MY LIVING ROOM. WHERE CAN I FIND A BOOK THAT HAVE DRIFFRENT STYLE.

tio.lewis October 25, 2007 at 4:57 pm

Thank you for your helpful site; however, we need wallmagic designer narble kit. We are looking for a painters tool to immitate marble. Feathers work but a tool would suit us better. Please send an email with your suggestion. THe wallmagic tool isn’t available locally. Taks for your help. Tio.lewis PS: tio stands for uncle.

Hi Lewis,

I checked on the WallMagic Marble Kit, which is a roller kit, and doesn’t have anything to make the marble “lines” that I can see. It is available online here: Wagner WallMagic Designer Marble Kit This kit creates more of a stone effect than actual marble.

Here is a link to an article I just did about marble kits

Amy November 8, 2007 at 2:11 pm

I’d like to paint my wooden columns a light green faux marble. How would I achieve this?

THAT Painter Lady November 14, 2007 at 12:03 am

Hey Amy… I answered this question here:

Faux Green Marble Column”

THAT Painter Lady November 14, 2007 at 3:10 pm

Hi CALLITRARON -

Faux Marble on entire walls is very tricky… I have done it, but it took much longer than expected. The problem is that I didn’t break the wall up into small areas.

If you look at marble interior walls they are in blocks or sections. Marble slabs only come in so many sizes. I defiantly would suggest you look for pictures of public spaces that are done in marble to get some good ideas before you start.

The best book for teaching advanced marble techniques is The Handbook of Painted Decoration: The Tools, Materials, and Step-By-Step Techniques of Trompe-L’Oeil Painting (Open Market Edition). Pages and pages of gorgeous examples, close up pictures and exact instructions.

Corey June 1, 2008 at 5:37 pm

I tried to do this once but was unsuccessful in making it look good. Wish I had your instructions then! LOL!

fort worth decorative concrete July 17, 2008 at 3:35 pm

Creating your own marble effect is easy as following the directions above. The cost of the paint is minimal but creates an expensive looking effect. Marble has long been used as a luxurious and opulent building material, leaving a unique finish that can be easily mimicked with a little effort.

Julie October 1, 2008 at 6:55 pm

I am putting heated concrete floors in my house. I plan on adding colour to the concrete, perhaps right into the concrete before it is poured or acid etched on after it is poured, or both. I’d REALLY like to try a marbleized look. Would I have to paint the veins on the coloured concrete, or is there a way to place the veins in the acid etching itself? I’m not looking for perfection, but any help, books, video ar advice is greatly appreciated.

THAT Painter Lady October 30, 2008 at 12:31 pm

I have not worked with acid staining on concrete, but I was able to do a little bit of research and found that you CAN get creative with it.

The stains are not coatings on the concrete, they are chemicals that react with the lime deposits already in the concrete. The color is the result of this chemical process.

I would do some further research to figure out how you can accomplish the marble veining using this method.

I posted your question on the message board as well to see if anyone has any feedback.

Kirk March 16, 2009 at 1:14 pm

I used latex paint as a base color and while the paint was wet added grey and blue paint and swirled the three colors to make a marble look. It actually looks good, but the paint is textured much like the unpolished side of stone would be. Is there some way to level off the surface and retain the look I’ve created? Or will it need to be sanded out and re-done?
Thanks for any advice you can give.
Kirk

THAT Painter Lady April 2, 2009 at 3:39 pm

I am not sure I completely understand what you mean by “The paint is textured”. Was the wall textured previously to painting with the latex paint? Was the blue & gray paint textured that you used to swirl the paint?

Most likely if you have a textured surface, the only way to level it out would be to sand it or to fill it with a coat of joint compound. No matter what, you would wind up going over what you did. How come you don’t like the texture? Is it a matte finish and maybe you want it more glossy? Did you use flat paint? Just trying to understand your issue.

Let me know so I can better help you.
DEBRA

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