Decorative know how – faux marble in six easy steps

Home decorators looking for something a little different are often faced with expensive products and time consuming solutions, making many of us opt for more everyday options like wallpaper and basic paint finishes. However one lasting favorite offers an inexpensive solution that can be used almost anywhere and mimics that most ancient and noble of finishes – marble.

With the right approach, and a little patience, you can recreate marble on almost any surface using basic paints and glaze.

Tools for the job
For a pale marbling effect you will need:

1) Undercoat or eggshell paint for the background (dependent on surface)
2) Artists oil paints in umber and varying shades of grey (for the veins seen in marble)
3) Translucent glaze to create a natural sheen for the finish
4) Brushes – household paint brushes, a soft flat artists brush, soft makeup brush, natural sponge, lint free rags
5) Glass paper and white spirit

Mixing the paint
The marble effect is created by applying layers of tinted glaze, veins and mottling over a white or pale basecoat. You then work in gradual variations of tone to the background color by dabbing on artist’s oil paint or tinted eggshell paint. Use the brushes and natural sponge to break up the color of the basecoat.

You need to mix the paint in the appropriate ratios. For an opaque glaze, good proportions to work with are:

– Three parts oil based scumble
– Five parts of white eggshell
– Two parts white spirit.

Mix the paint with the glaze then add the white spirit to give a creamy consistency. You can create a more translucent glaze by tinting it with stainers or oil paints and then add equal amounts of white spirit.

Six easy steps
1) Rub down the surface to be decorated and apply undercoat (on wood or metal) or eggshell (on walls) in a suitable color. A well-prepared surface will be free of splinters or flaking paint. The paint effect will look better if you take care over this stage.

2) If necessary, apply a further coat to act as a base coat for the decorative finish. Tint it slightly with grey oil paint and use a sponge to create lightly mottled areas.

3) Using artists’ oil and an artists brush start to create a random trellis of diagonal veins across the surface. Traditional colors to use are burnt sienna and dark grey on pale marble and whites and greens on black backgrounds.

4) Strengthen some of the veins with darker colors, and then soften the effect by brushing over the surface with a soft feather or soft brush.

5) Use a natural sponge to create variations in tone, lifting off color or applying more color where needed.

6) To create the natural luster of marble apply a translucent glaze, with a light umber tint. In some patches, add extra coats of glaze for a natural effect. Finish by applying a coat of clear gloss varnish followed by a coat of satin varnish to give the surface added sheen and greater depth.

Luxurious and opulent
Creating your own marble effect is as easy as following the directions above. The cost of the paint is minimal but creates an expensive looking effect. Marble has long been used as a luxurious and opulent building material, leaving a unique finish that can be easily mimicked with a little effort.

The real beauty of this technique is that because the materials are inexpensive it allows you to try different colors and finishes to match your décor. Experiment with different shades and tones and try varying the depth of the veins to really bring the work alive. With a little practice, and some patience, you might be amazed at the results.

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