Faux Carrara Marble Painting Technique

by Diane Henkler on 06/03/2013

Happy Monday everyone. I have been up to some decorative  painting last week and finally have the piece I was working on completed.

After stripping the wood cabinet that sits on top of an unmatched sideboard in my kitchen, I wanted to update the sideboard to help make the pieces look better paired.

In my next kitchen I would dearly love to have white Carrara Marble counter tops.  That may be a long time coming, if ever.  Not one to do without when I can see a way to get the look by doing a little creative DIY, I decided it would be fun to create faux Carrara marble painting on the top of the sideboard.

Furniture-Makeover-Before-and-After Faux Carrera or Carrara Marble

I painted the rest of the sideboard using DIY Plaster of Paris chalk paint and distressed the edges and then used paste wax to add protection and shine.  I used the paint color Alabaster by Sherwin Williams. It is the color of the trim molding in my house. It is not too white or too off-white, making it go perfectly in the white/off-white color scheme of my kitchen.



Remember how it looked before I stripped the cabinet?  Two non-matching pieces to make one to fit and fill the space.  The white sideboard looks the same in the photos, but now it is a bit whiter with distressing around the edges.  Exposing the raw wood by distressing the paint finish – helps the pair look matched.


I also switched out the gold pulls for glass.


How to Paint Faux Carrara Marble


supplies needed:

White primer – Kilz if painting over a previously finished surface, Gripping primer if painting over a painted surface.
Eggshell or satin finish White paint
3 colors of grey craft paint – light, medium, and dark . I used Apple Barrel Light Grey, Martha Stewart Crafts Wet Cement, and Apple Barrel Dark Grey.   I also used white and black to produce a few more shades of grey to make the veins look varied in color.
Smooth foam roller, and roller tray
Feather, Sea sponge, Soft paint brush, paper towels
Small mixing bowls
Water in spray/misting bottle
Medium and Fine grit sandpaper
Tack cloth or damp rag
Paste Wax and rags to apply and buff
Optional:  a piece of actual marble to help visualize  the veining.  Scrap piece of wood to practice veining before moving on your actual piece of furniture.

To make the paint technique look as real – it is important to make sure the surface is as smooth as possible. Fill in any dents or holes with wood filler or Spackle. Sand smooth, then paint.   Sand in between each coat with fine or wet sand paper to level each coat of paint. Clean sanding grit before applying the next coat.


1.  Sand surface smooth with medium grit sandpaper. Remove dust and grit with a tack cloth or damp rag.  Use one coat of primer over surface, let dry.


2. Roll on one coat of white eggshell or satin paint. Let dry.  Apply 2 – 3 coats, making sure each coat is dry thoroughly before applying the next.

Once you like the smoothness of the white paint you can proceed to the veining.


To help make veining easier, buy a marble tile. It will help you better visualize what the veins really look like.   Veins in marble usually run on a diagonal and they look like they are under water – slightly blurry.  I used my tiles as my guides.


3. The veining is created using a feather.  I bought my feathers at the craft store, but you may find one out in nature to use.

4. Mix each color of paint with water: 3 parts paint to 1 part water.  Dip the tip of the feather into the lighter grey paint and then draw a diagonal line with the tip of the feather moving it on its side and back and forth as you draw the line. You don’t want it to be a solid line, the more variation you can give each vein in color and width – the more realistic it will look.


5. After you make a few veins – hold a spray or misting bottle of water about 12” away from the surface and lightly spray water on top of the veining.  This will blur each line, spray a bit more on a few areas to achieve larger sections of blurred grey. If necessary, blot excess water with a sea sponge to fix mistakes or to spread out an area of veining.  If you want to spread a the paint bit to soften a vein, go over it with a large soft bristle paint brush. Gently dab it up and down over any area that needs softening.   Do not spray too much water or you could raise the white coat of paint – just a light misting is all that is needed.



6. After the water has dried, use the darker color of paint to accent the veins you have already made.  Use at least 3 different greys and mix some black or white paint into one of the paint mixes to produce another shade of grey. For a realistic look, vary the shades and width of each vein that you are accenting.  Mist with water and let dry.


Remember to continue the veining down and around the sides of the piece you are working on so the top looks like a slab of marble.   When you have all the veins and accent veins completed, let dry.


7.  If you look at marble carefully you will see it has some splotchy spots in areas. To achieve this, dip a toothbrush into white craft paint. Move your thumb over the loaded brush to create some paint splotches over some of the veins and white areas.  To emphasize the effect even more, use the toothbrush as a paint brush, by bouncing the bristles right on the surface to create splotches.  Let dry for a few hours.


8. Run very fine sandpaper over the top to ensure that the veins and splotches are not raised in any area. Remove sanding grit with a tack cloth.


Thick and thin veining.


More mottled veining.


The more varied the veins the more realistic it will look.


9.  Mix your base white color of paint with water.  1 part paint to 3 parts water. Mix well and then roll one coat on top. Let dry.


10. I used paste wax to protect and add the shine needed to make the faux paint technique look real.  I like Fiddes & Sons, the best. Johnson’s (not in photo), and Briwax work just as well. You can also use clear non-yellowing liquid floor wax polish.  Pour it on and let dry, buff and then reapply until you get the desired sheen.


11. I applied 3 coats of wax.  I let each coat dry to a haze and then I buffed it with an old t-shirt. I repeated the process 3 times to achieve a nice shine that resembles the shine on a real marble surface.


Ed can’t get over how real it looks. The only thing that would make it more real is if it felt real  – marble is cold to the touch.  Painted wood is not.


Many of you have commented on the cabinet I stripped. I am just smitten with the raw wood look and would do it again without any hesitation.  It is a messy, smelly job, but worth it. If a piece does not come out the way you envisioned because the grain in the wood is not pretty or the color is off, you can always paint the piece.

When I was stripping the outside of the cabinet, some of the orange stripper dripped inside the cabinet.  Some of you liked the way the drips of stripper looked on the inside– old and distressed.  I can see why they liked the look, but I like a cleaner feel, so I sanded the areas where the stripper damaged the paint and repainted the inside of the cabinet.

Two hand-me downs have now become one of my favorite pieces of furniture.





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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jenna June 3, 2013 at 11:33 am

Thank you SO much for this tutorial, Diane! I love, love, love carrara marble – just not the price! This is awesome! Pinned! Jenna @ Rain on a Tin Roof


2 Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions June 3, 2013 at 1:56 pm

That is amazing, Diane! It definitely looks like real marble in the pictures. Great job. I did a marbelizing technique on the walls in our guest bath at the old house using Christopher Lowell’s paint technique for that {remember him?}. Guests always thought it was wallpaper and even when I said it wasn’t they had to touch it.


3 Crystal June 3, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Wow – that is very realistic and so neat. Thanks for the how to.


4 Josee June 3, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Wow! That looks great!


5 Beth June 3, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Wow, this looks great. Not sure I have the patience for this, but I certainly will file away for future reference.


6 Diane Henkler June 3, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Thanks Beth – The actual process of veining goes fast. It is just that you have to wait for each step to dry before doing the next one that adds to the time to complete factor.


7 Ce El June 3, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Beautiful work Diane. With faux-marble, knowing when “enough-is-enough” is tricky. You have nailed it to perfection!
Thanks, as always, for the tutorial and for sharing your expertise with us.


8 Vikki June 3, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Wow Diane…fabulous job! You are a talented artist.


9 Christy Keyton June 3, 2013 at 9:43 pm

You are truly amazing! That looks so real! I have white Carrara marble countertops in my kitchen. We had to completely redo our kitchen several years ago when we had a pipe burst in the bath above and flood the kitchen. Marble countertops were my dream – I kept looking at everything else in the stone yard, because I had heard so many negatives about marble. Finally, the sales lady said to me, “I don’t think you will be happy with anything else!” She was right. I absolutely LOVE them!


10 Rachael@LovelyCraftyHome June 3, 2013 at 10:26 pm

This is stunning, Diane!


11 Diane Henkler June 4, 2013 at 8:35 am

Thanks Rachael Wish I could have the real stuff, but until I do – this will suffice :)


12 Debbie / Daqa June 4, 2013 at 2:52 am

Wow! It looks great! Also the top cabinet with a new layer of varnish, it just all looks so new. I’m sure to mess up marbling this way (the knowing when to stop is the problem – it’s when I’m actually finished and just want to add a few more stripes here and there. Then it happens. I spill the paint, lean against a wet painted surface, drop a big drop of black paint on it, let the brush fall from my hands so it lands in the wet paint, etc. I’ll wait a few years for enough room and older kids before I even think of trying this, haha!


13 Diane Henkler June 4, 2013 at 8:30 am

Hi Debbie – I say just do it, no time is ever right. I mess up plenty, but always tell myself “there is always a way to fix it” and I fix it somehow. I didn’t add a new layer of varnish on the cabinet, I just stripped it. I am keeping it raw. Maybe add a coat of paste wax from time to time, but just let it be. I love the look of the Restoration Hardware pieces in natural and unfinished wood, but not the price tag. :)


14 Debbie / Daqa June 4, 2013 at 9:20 am

Ah yes I see! Although I do also like the varnish on the cabinet, I also like the removed version. The before state looks more..”harsh” – hard colours and edges. The new version looks softer. Also, the old version looks quite in splendid new state, which is why i was confused. I like old furniture too, not only raw state, but furniture with a story. Ikea furniture has no story. It has no history. Old furniture has a history.
(My house is full of Ikea furniture, and the one old cabinet I have, I have mixed feelings about. It would be an immense project to repaint it (actually, to sand it), but right now it’s kind of dark.
Do you sell advice on how to alter a cabinet to fit a certain (wannahave) style? (Or is it cupboard? I don’t know the difference). Or complete advice on a whole interior, about how things can match more? We still have lots of unfinished bits in the house, so that would come first. Actually, I’m going to enlarge the (physical) mailbox right now, so A4 sized mail can come in without being folded. Off I am, sawing a bigger hole in my front door…


15 Lisa June 4, 2013 at 7:56 am

It looks Fabulous!!! Nice job!!


16 Patty June 4, 2013 at 8:11 am

Diane – you always do AMAZING work! Awesome job. Again!!


17 Sheryll & Critters. June 4, 2013 at 8:54 am

You have got to be flippin kiddin me!!! I can’t believe it is paint. But why am I surprised, you do the most amazing things. Me, I would make a mess trying to to that. But wow, I sure want to try.

I am wondering if you put a finish on the stripped upper cabinet? I mean waxed or poly or such? I missed something about that part. I love them both so much…. they look like a million bucks for sure.


18 Runt June 4, 2013 at 9:33 am

That is truly amazing!


19 Deb Hrabik June 4, 2013 at 10:06 am

Love that look! Beautiful work,


20 Margaret June 4, 2013 at 10:15 am

Really beautiful look and I love the idea!


21 Regina June 4, 2013 at 1:14 pm

WOW! Enough said.


22 Kim June 4, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I’ve seen this done before and am always amazed how real it looks. You did a great job for your first attempt….not surprised! What a smart idea to use a real piece of marble as an example. Copying a design is much easier if you see it and don’t have to “visualize” it. Thanks!


23 Tonya June 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Absolutely beautiful!! Love the glass knobs too! You are one talented lady!!


24 Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse June 4, 2013 at 4:34 pm

You did an amazing job. Wow, you could work in Versailles castle to do all the faux marble they need!


25 Sharon June 5, 2013 at 12:20 am

Absolutely lovely, Diane! And amazing. I have a hard time believing I could do as good a job my first time out. I have saved this tutorial because I hope to finish a table top like this some day. Changing the knobs out to glass is the perfect finish. I love the entire unit. I’m sure you get a big grin every time you look at it!


26 Diane Henkler June 5, 2013 at 9:19 am

Thanks Sharon – I have created faux marble on furniture before, back in the 90′s – mostly green marble. This is my first time doing the Carrara, but the steps are basically the same – except you use different colors.


27 Karen June 5, 2013 at 2:59 am

I don’t believe you, I think that’s really marble! :D You did an amazing job!!
I really like the raw wood. I’ve a bit of (unpainted) wood in my home but I always like bloggers’ painted projects.


28 Kathy Long June 6, 2013 at 7:06 am

Your Marble look came out beautiful! I have tried this before and it ended up a hot mess… Great Job!


29 Sherry June 6, 2013 at 10:15 am

You did such an amazing job at creating the marble look, it looks like the real thing! Great work!


30 Debra June 6, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Thoroughly enjoyed this. I am about to make over a large desk and this is a wonderful idea on how to add some character without the expense. Thank you.


31 Emily June 7, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Wow! This looks amazing! What an inexpensive way to achieve an expensive look! Love it!


32 Beth Coburn June 11, 2013 at 10:59 am

I’ve been getting your updates, and you always inspire me to do something in my home. Several weeks ago it was cleaning my fridge. This past weekend I got out the old paint can and started painting around the kitchen floorboards. My kids were saying, “What’s gotten into you, Mom?” From now on I’ll have to tell them, Diane made me do it! Or maybe I’ll start calling it the Henkler Effect! tee hee! Thanks for all you do!! {hugs}


33 Diane Henkler June 11, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Hi Beth – :) I am happy to know that I have inspired you in such a positive way. XO Reminds me of a granite countertop installer I once worked with. He cut a clients counter tops wrong. He figured he would have to go back and re-cut a new slab of granite, but I asked why he couldn’t just add a piece and I showed him my idea. He and my client were quite happy with the fix. I ran into him years later and he reminded me of the job. He told me that he did the trick a few more times on other jobs and that he called the fix “the Henkler” :)


34 Karen - The Graphics Fairy June 21, 2013 at 4:11 pm

How gorgeous Diane!! It really does look like real marble! Hope you’re doing well!!


35 Sue July 7, 2013 at 10:27 am

Fantastic job, and the best tutorial I have seen. You rocked it!


36 Connie August 9, 2013 at 3:24 pm

It really does look real! Beautiful.


37 babu August 13, 2013 at 7:01 am



38 Donna Dierkes August 27, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Thank you for this great tutorial, I have been looking for weeks for help with what supplies to get to give this a try. Hope it looks like yours when done.

Very nice job.


39 Loa Lee September 28, 2013 at 9:34 pm

I was very impressed with your marbling project,it looks great.I had wanted to do a piece like this but a little nervous how it might turn out.Your projects are wonderful and makes me more confident on trying new things.You have one more fan.lol I hit your site before going anywhere else just to see what your doing next.I want to thankyou for all your tips how to and photo before and after.Wonderful.


40 Diane Henkler September 29, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Thanks Loa – Look at the project this way – It is only paint, if you don’t like how it comes out, you can just paint right over it. :-) I would experiment with the technique on a scrap piece of wood to gain confidence.


41 Melissa L. September 30, 2013 at 11:09 am

Lady, you have CRAZY skills! Seriously. Such a unique and beautiful piece. Found this on Pinterest. Love it.


42 Diane Henkler September 30, 2013 at 11:51 am

Thanks Melissa – It looks harder than it really is. Having a real piece of marble to use as a guide helps, too.


43 christine October 5, 2013 at 11:01 am

I love how your piece came out, beautiful. I, like yourself, always have a project going. I love making something that’s not so great into something wonderful. My house is full of furnishings that are refinished. It’s more fun than buying something new, to me. I have always wanted to try faux marbling. I recently picked up a desk that was tagged free at a church garage sale. Some people saw a desk, my son and I saw A BATHROOM VANITY!!!! I am now going to refinish it and try my hand at faux marbling the top. Your tutorial will help me. I will probably epoxy it instead of waxing, only because it will be exposed to water, obviously, but I do love the look of a waxed piece! I’ll let you know how it comes out……might be awhile, because I’m in the middle of a couple of other projects, but soon!!


44 Diane Henkler October 10, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Hi Christine – I would love to see it, especially with the epoxy. When you get it completed, please send me a photo.


45 christine November 12, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Hi Diane, I finished the bathroom vanity. I am emailing you a couple of pictures (don’t know how to attach them here). Eventually, I will probably change the sink, because I used my existing sink and faucet, and it is almond. It would look much nicer in white. I did the epoxy, like I had mentioned, instead of waxing because it will be exposed to a lot of water. That was the hardest part. You are supposed to sand the surface before applying epoxy, but I couldn’t, because if I did, I would have sanded off the marble technique. So, I put the first coat of epoxy, which looked terrible, then sanded that and reapplied the epoxy. That looked better, but it wasn’t until the 3rd coat that I achieved the smooth polished look that I was after. Thanks for your tutorial. It was a big help, and everyone thinks the vanity looks great!


46 Jeanne October 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm

This is sooooo frickin’ easy!!!!!!!!!!! I’m going to do all the shelves and ledges in the house, lol. Thanx for the know how.


47 Ronda Batchelor April 3, 2014 at 11:02 am

Thanks for the post I used some of your ideas in my counters, and I have a link your post.



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