Faux Marble Painting

Faux marble painting is not difficult as it seems. You can do it with matte latex wallpaint, if you paint on walls or over a shellac primer. Much of the effect depends on the surface you paint on - it has to be smooth.

faux marble

Scroll down for more pics

Anyone can do faux marble painting

The above example was done in three layers:

  • first a layer of blended greys
  • then stripes and dots, in a transparant layer
  • and last, a laquer with some white in it

When you do the three layers, you only have to do one thing at a time. With fast drying products like shellac, latex or acrylics, you can finish the whole within the weekend.


If your painting surface has a funny texture, the trick won’t work. Try mounting on some material. Drywall is fine, although a bit thin. If the edges will stay visible, saw them off (rounded edges are very un-marblellike). If you have to put on new material, take plates that have the form of marble slates. White styrofoam isolation plates are OK if you don't have kids, dogs or parties in your house (they don't take bumps very well). But they do have the right shape. Prime them white with latex, or glue flat paper on it. For an old look, you can break off an edge here or there.

In painting the first layer, divide the marble you 'll paint into sections, if it's more than 2 square meters. Give each section you paint its own direction, to make it look like different plates of marble were put next to each other. Eventually use masking tape, to divide one section from the other. You'll need more time then, or find a trick to not harm the neighboring piece when you start the next. An alternative is, using a strip of metal, put on the wall with its sharp side, to protect the neighoring section.

Faux marble painting on laminate

This is very well possible. You only need to do a good shellac priming layer, after that you can work with latex and finish with a strong polyurethane. Click here for more on painting over laminate

A 3 step system for faux marble painting

faux marbling instruction

If your painting surface is white and ready to work on, you can do it in a three-step system:

  • Create a background of blended long blotchy stripes, preferrably diagonally or in a 'wave'. Use two brushes: one to apply the paint to the wall, another (clean) brush, to blend the stripes away. Dry off this brush every now and then, on a cloth over your arm.
    For grey marble, paint white and grey randomly, but always in the same direction (it can be straight or a wave). For brown marble, take yellow ochre and brown (burnt umber). First put on the paint in rough strokes, then paint on it with a clean, damp brush to blend the paint together.
  • Let it dry
  • Paint on stripes and dots on with semi-transparant paint. Use the colors dark, medium and light gray, and mix then 1:4 with a transparant glazing medium: transparant latex, or acrylic eggsheene laquer. Work in about the same direction as the background, but not in exactly the same way. Repeat gestures here and there, let them come out and fade. Dab some lighter or darker points here and there too.

  • For stripes, you might take a broad brush, dip it into a glazing medium, and tip only a corner of the brush into the dark grey. The stripes may look brownish, which will be cured with the third glazing layer.
  • Let it dry
  • Glaze it with white or light grey, a mixture of paint and transparant stuff (binder, laquer), 1:4. Give it a transparant protection coat. Take acrylic transparant laquer for that (matte or egg-sheen), or urethane laquer (for strong protection). The whitish layer will give the marble its elegant, cold-stony look.

Extra tips for faux marble painting

  • Use synthetic brushes.
  • In latex, brushstrokes will be seen as texture. If you don't like that, use an enamel undercoater (primer) as white. Seeing brushstrokes is not necessarily bad, it might even be charming. The upper example is done with latex and acrylic binder.
  • Grey marble

    Grey marble (not faux)

  • When you use latex, first do a coat of clean transparant glazing before you start doing stripes. It won't need much drying time. In this way, your stripes won't be absorbed immediately, and you can change them or wipe them off if you want to. But:
  • The first stroke is usually right. Tampering not always makes it better.
  • Lay patterns over each other in a way that is logical, but not too logical (let the stripes cross over from a darker to a lighter spot)

Faux marble painting in other colors

green marble

Green marble - (not faux)

Brown colored marble exists, as does green, pink and black marble. Keep in mind that you want to create an illusion that’s convincing, so take the cliché’s in people’s minds into account. Grey faux marble painting is easyest recognized as marble. Brown faux marble painting can be done with burnt umber (mixed with white) and yellow ochre. You don't have to do a whitish layer then.

  • Brown marble: use burnt umber (evt. with some white) and yellow ochre. Glaze with yellow ochre, or burnt umber and white.
  • Black marble: take black and white paint, and work from dark to light. Start with very dark grey and do lighter stripes.
  • Brown marble tiles

    Brown stone - (not faux)

  • Green marble (like the example right) can be fauxed with green earth and white
  • Pink marble: take lots of white and caput mortuum.

Better not take highly chemical colors for faux marble painting. Use paints with earth pigments (burnt or raw umber, burnt siena, yellow ochre, caput mortuum). For green, you might consider green earth. These colors are available in the art store - take the economy acrylics.

Fauxing other kinds of stone

Once you know this three-layer system, you might 'invent' other ways to paint different kinds of stone. look up some pictures of real stone, and imagine a two or three-step system to imitate it. When you look at a stone, it has a 'top' color, and a 'base' color. Let's compare it to lightwood: that has a a yellow-brown base color, with dark brown accents. Look at the colors and patterns, see how patterns overlay each other.

In general, for a faux stone look it’s better to paint lighter over darker colors, than dark over white. One exception to this rule: light blue stone. Paint that dark over light (otherwise it'll look immaterial like blue sky), and finish with transparant white.

Related pages:

Color theory

Oil Painting Techniques

  • Oil Painting tips
  • Acrylic Painting

    Watercolor painting

    Color Schemes

    Interior Painting techniques

    Interior Painting Ideas


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