How to step-by-step picture tutorial showing an easy faux Carrara marble painting technique to paint a faux Carrara marble finish on a table, desk or counter top using craft paints. The finish is very durable and will last for years.
I have been up to some decorative painting, actually faux Carrara marble 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.
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
- White primer – Kilz 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. I used:
- 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
- Paste Wax and rags to apply and buff
Important: To make the paint technique look real 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.
How to Create Veins on Faux Carrara Marble Using Craft Paint
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.
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 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
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.
Thick and thin veining.
More mottled veining.
The more varied the veins the more realistic it will look.
7. 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.
How to Seal Faux Marble Painting on a Surface
1. 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.
2. 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.
How to Maintain a Faux Painted Carrara Marble Surface
To maintain a faux painted marble surface:
- Make sure to wipe up any standing water.
- Once or twice a year, clean the surface with hot water and dish detergent o a rung out rag. Let dry. 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.
Update: I painted the top of this sideboard 6 years ago using my faux marble painting technique. Since this time, it has now become a sink vanity. The faux marble finish looks better than ever and it even gets wet from time to time.
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
I have also painting my brown Formica kitchen counters to look like Carrara marble. You can see how I did it in this post: How to Use a Carrara Marble painting kit to paint kitchen counters.
Are you ready to try your hand at faux Carrara marble painting?