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Decorative Paint Technique: Furniture and Wall Marbling Instructions

Marbling exudes richness and sophistication. It can have a big impact on both walls and furniture.

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Step 1: Read the Tips

  • Practice on a primed/base-coated sample board until comfortable.

  • Crosshatching technique is brushing in diagonal or intersecting strokes.

  • Reactivate technique is adding moisture so you rework an area that's already dry.

  • Keep rags on hand to remove paint from the dry brush.

  • It's helpful to have a visual aid, even if it's just a picture of marble from a magazine.

Step 2: Prime. Paint and Prep

Apply a coat of primer and let it dry. Then apply a white base coat. Sand it lightly once the paint has dried. Remove the dust with a damp rag between layers.

Step 3: Mix the Paint

For our table, we used four marble-like shades of paint. In separate containers, mix one part of each different color with one part water and one part latex glaze (each should be the consistency of heavy cream). Squiggle two of the paint color (we started off with the Jackson Tan and Valley Forge Brown) mixtures onto a small area, and then use parchment technique to soften them.

Step 4: Paint the Lines

Next to the parchment area, add a vein for a realistic marble look by pulling the the two other paint color mixtures (we used Coyote Trail and Hasbrouck Brown) into a natural flowing line with a dry brush or cheesecloth. The marble won't look realistic if you see brush marks, so crosshatch over them with a dry brush so they're almost imperceptible.

Step 5: Create Depth

To create depth in the marble, slowly dab a damp sea sponge over the parchment area to reactivate it, and then lightly crosshatch over the areas with a dry brush.

Step 6: Repeat Process

Repeat these two techniques (parchment and veining) until the entire piece is covered. Avoid overworking areas as they'll lack the clarity and luster of real marble.

Step 7: Create Veins

To create more veins, twirl and drag an artist brush with white paint across an area. If the vein is too thick, use a dry brush to gently spread the paint.

Step 8: Add Texture by Dabbing

Add more texture by applying paint directly to the sea sponge. Dab it where desired onto the piece, and then soften it with a dry brush as above.

Step 9: Apply a Protective Coat

Once satisfied with the finish, add varnish with a foam roller as directed for a durable finish.

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Resources

  • latex paint, eggshell sheen (base coat: Linen White, marble-like colors: Jackson Tan HC-46, Hasbrouck Brown HC-71, Coyote Trail 1224, Valley Forge Brown HC-74) from Benjamin Moore
    latex primer; latex glaze (Studio Finishes 405) from Benjamin Moore

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