How to Give Any Surface the Faux Marble Print Look

A plaid cloth on a marble surface.

nilimage / Getty Images

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 3 - 5 hrs
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 days
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Estimated Cost: $50 to $100

Marble countertops are elegant and stylish, bringing a sense of sophistication to any space. But the biggest downside of marble is that it’s expensive. If you’re not ready to make that kind of investment, consider DIYing a faux marble surface on a table or basic, non-stone countertop to achieve the same classy look. With a few basic painting skills, you can get the look of marble at a fraction of the cost (and without quite so many installation difficulties).

You can purchase all the materials you need to DIY a faux marble paint surface at your local craft store. You can even use some old paintbrushes from a craft painting kit, but make sure they’re clean and undamaged before painting with them. 

Warning

Primer and paint fumes are often flammable and can be harmful if inhaled. Open doors and windows in the room you’re working in to increase ventilation and place a box fan near where you’re working to move fumes away from you. You may also opt to wear a mask so that you will breathe in less paint fumes during the project. Keep kids and pets away until the paint is dry.

Before You Begin

Sand your working surface down to help the primer and paint adhere to it. Medium-grit sandpaper will do the trick. Make sure to completely brush off the dust when you’re finished.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Blending brush
  • Paint brushes in a range of sizes
  • Sponge
  • Plates or bowls

Materials

  • Satin finish white paint
  • Satin finish white primer
  • Satin finish black paint
  • Polyurethane

Instructions

  1. Apply Primer

    Use a large paintbrush to apply two or more layers of white primer to cover the entire surface you’re working on. Allow this to dry completely before applying any paint over top. The product you use will likely have drying instructions printed on its label, but the general rule is to wait at least two to four hours.

  2. Mix Paint

    To achieve a convincing marble print look, you’ll want to use white, light gray, and dark gray paint. On your plates or in your bowls, mix black and white paints to get all three shades. Make sure each one is separate so you won’t have accidental mixing throughout the project.

  3. Apply White Paint

    Once your primer is completely dry, cover the surface with a layer of white paint. You can apply the white paint with a sponge or a brush as long as brush strokes aren’t obvious. This should look sort of natural, like you didn’t paint it on yourself. You don’t need to allow this to dry completely before moving onto the next step. In fact, painting the marble veins on top of wet paint can make it look more natural.

  4. Paint Marble Veins

    Marble’s signature look comes from its veins, which are long lines throughout it. They come from layers of different minerals that join together when extreme pressure and heat forms the stone.

    To imitate this look, dip a medium-sized paint brush into your lighter gray paint to paint long marble veins. Keep in mind that the veins are thick, jagged, organic-looking lines typically running vertically down the surface. Add a few veins randomly across your surface, but don’t go overboard—you’ll be adding more detail later on.

  5. Sponge Gray and White Over Top

    Take your clean sponge and dapple it over the veins you just painted to create an almost smoky look. Clean off your sponge and sponge white over top (but don’t cover it completely) to add depth. Then use a dry blending brush to smooth things out.

  6. Repeat

    Draw finer marble veins with a small paint brush dipped into the darker shade of gray you created and repeat the previous step as needed to create the marble look you’re going for. Paint veins sparingly, but make sure they are placed across the entire surface, including over the edges. The goal is to make this look as natural as possible. You don’t have to paint every vein within the surface area—some of them can be cut off.

  7. Apply Polyurethane

    Once you have finished painting your marble print, it’s time to seal it off to protect the surface from damage. Apply two coats of clear, water-based polyurethane (preferably with a satin finish) and let it dry for 24 hours before you put the surface to use.

    Not only will the polyurethane protect the surface, but it will also make it shine just like marble. Your end result should look like the real thing, without the high price tag.

Article Sources
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  1. "Healthy Indoor Painting Practices." United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, 2000.