How to step-by-step picture tutorial showing a simple faux Carrara marble painting technique used to paint a faux Carrara marble finish on a table, desk or counter top using acrylic craft paints. The finish has the look of marble and is very easy to do. Once sealed, the painted surface is very durable and will last for years.
After stripping the wood cabinet that sat on top of this unmatched sideboard in my previous kitchen, I wanted to update the sideboard to help make the 2 pieces look better paired.
I decided to go with a white Carrara marble counter top for the sideboard. But I didn’t add real marble, only the look of a marble countertop by doing a little creative DIY.
In this post I will show you how to do an easy marble paint technique to create the look of Carrara marble complete with marble veins.
How to Paint Faux Carrara Marble Using Acrylic Paint
By following these instructions showing how to marble with acrylic paint, you can have any flat surface looking like very realistic Carrara marble in no time.
Try it on the top of your nightstand or where you would like to see a marble surface. It does not have to be on a countertop.
- White primer – KILZ brand, if painting over a previously finished surface, Gripping primer if painting over a painted surface.
- Eggshell or satin finish white paint – True White or Pure White
- 3 colors of grey craft paint – light, medium, and dark:
- Apple Barrel Light Grey or Dolphin Grey
- Martha Stewart Crafts Wet Cement
- Apple Barrel Dark Grey.
- Martha Stewart Beetle Black
- I also mixed the white and black to produce a few more shades of grey to make the veins look even more 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
- Topcoats to choose: Paste wax or a waterbased polyurethane
- If using paste wax as a sealer – soft lint-free rags to buff
Important – DO NO SKIP THIS STEP: To make the marble paint technique look realistic, make sure the old finish or surface is as smooth as possible.
- Fill in any imperfections, 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 -100 grit sandpaper. Remove dust and grit with a tack cloth or damp rag.
2. Apply one coat of primer over surface, let dry.
3. 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.
How to Create Veins When Painting Faux Carrara Marble Using Craft Paint
To help make veining easier, buy a marble tile at the home improvement store. It will help you better visualize what marble 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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. After you make a few marble 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 bunched up damp cloth or damp sea sponge to fix mistakes or to spread out an area of veining.
If you want to spread the paint a 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.
Note: Do not spray too much water or you could raise the white coat of paint – just a light misting is all that is needed.
4. After the water has dried, use the darker color of grey 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 grey 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.
5. If you look at real marble or your marble tiles 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.
6. 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.
Various Ways to Paint Veining
Thick and thin veining.
More mottled veining.
The more varied the veins the more realistic it will look.
Whitewash The Surface Before Sealing
1. Mix your base white color of paint with water. Doing this softens all the veins.
- 1 part paint to 3 parts water. Mix well and then roll one coat on top. Let dry.
How to Seal Faux Marble Painting
1. I used paste wax to protect and add the shine needed to make the faux paint technique look real. You can also use a waterbased non-yellowing polyurethane like Polycrylic or an epoxy. I would not recommend an epoxy though it will yellow the paint over time.
I like how buffed wax looks and used the Fiddes & Sons brand, but any brand of clear soft wax will work.
2. I applied 3 coats of wax. Let each coat dry to a haze and then buff it with a lint-free old t-shirt. Repeat the process 3 times to achieve a nice shine that resembles the shine on a real marble surface.
The only thing that would make it look more realistic is if it felt real – marble is cold to the touch. Painted wood is not.
How to Maintain a Faux Painted Carrara Marble Surface
To maintain the surface of faux marble paint:
- Make sure to wipe up any water that may get on the surface.
- Once or twice a year, clean the surface with hot water and dish detergent on a rung out rag and wipe with a dry cloth. Allow surface to fully dry, then apply a thin coat of clear wax over the surface and buff to a sheen.
Doing these two things has kept my faux painted Carrara marble sideboard top looking like new.
Marble Paint Will Last a Long Time
Update: When I moved to a new home, the sideboard that was once paired with a hutch in my kitchen got a new role. It became a bathroom sink vanity.
The marble paint on the bathroom countertop is what I painted 8 years ago using my faux marble painting technique. The faux marble finish still looks great.
Read all about it in this post: How to Repurpose a Sideboard to a Sink Vanity.
How to Paint Laminate Kitchen Counters to Look Like Carrara Marble Using a Countertop Painting Kit
I have also painted brown Formica kitchen countertops to look like Carrara marble, but for this I tweaked a granite countertop painting kit to make it into marble paint.
You can see how I did it in this post:
- How to Use a Carrara Marble paint kit to paint kitchen counters.
How to Create a Marble Effect With Spray Paint?
Besides marbling with acrylic paint there are other paint products you can use to create a marble effect on any surface. The easiest is to marble with spray paint.
When using marble spray paint, the surface prep work is the same as when using brush-on paint. Once that is done, then you would need to mask the area you want marbled, shake the can and spray following each marble spray paint brand’s label instructions to create realistic looking marble.
Marble Effect Spray Paint:
In a matter of minutes you can transform anything to look like marble.
Now that you know how to do marble painting in different ways. Are you ready to try your hand at faux Carrara marble painting?
More Faux Painting Techniques to Try: