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How to Faux Paint your Coffee Table Top to Look Marble

Updated on May 10, 2017

How to Faux Paint your Coffee Table Top to Look Marble

If shopping at fine furniture stores for quality materials like marble table tops is just out of your reach, don’t feel bad. You don’t have to do without luxurious looking furniture; you just have to learn how to fake it with faux paint jobs. One great weekend project that can transform your living room is to take a basic coffee table and give it a makeover so the top looks like a block of solid marble. The stunning results are a lot easier than they look, and when done well, people will have a hard time telling that it’s not polished stone.

Coffee Table

You have two different options for choosing a coffee table. You can choose a one-piece, solid, unfinished wood table, or you can pick a table frame made to hold a glass table top. Instead of glass, you’ll need a solid, unfinished wood shelf or board to go on top of the frame. Get the board in the size you want your coffee table top.

Choosing Colors

Your color choices are going to be important in the finished look. Do a web search for marble and you’ll see some incredible colors, from the dark greenish marble with veins running through, to muted browns and beiges, to stunning white marble with a few gold and grey color variations.

When choosing colors, you’ll need four. One will be the undertone. The undertone will be the absolute darkest color if you prefer a dark marble or the absolute lightest color if you prefer a very light marble.

Two additional colors should be close, one only a shade or two darker than the other. We’ll call them mid-tone #1 for the slightly darker shade, and mid-tone #2 for the slightly lighter shade.

The final color is for the veining. It’s only requirement is that it stand out among the other chosen colors.

Some good color combinations are:

  • Black undertone, dark green and medium green mid-tones, and white veins.
  • Cream undertone, taupe and beige mid-tones, and gold veins
  • Dark charcoal gray undertone, medium and light gray mid-tones and white veins
  • White undertone, light gold and light gray mid-tones, medium gray veins

There really are no “right” and “wrong” colors to choose, but stick with neutrals and earth-tones if you want your marble table to look like it came from nature rather than a factory. Then again, red, blue or purple marble might make quite a conversation piece.

Shopping List

At the paint store, you’ll need :

  • Latex primer, latexsemi-gloss paints in 4 different colors (quarts are fine), water-based glaze and a clear, non-yellowing, glossy acrylic sealer.

You’ll also need :

  • Paint roller with ¼ inch naps for a smooth finish, paint cups, paint stirrers, fine grain sandpaper, painter’s tape, plastic garbage bags, a sea sponge or a roll of paper towels, Styrofoam plates for blotting and a 1-inch natural hair flat brush.
  • Aside from regular drop cloths, you’ll need at least 3 clear plastic drop cloths as a tool for this project.
  • One final tool is a feather; preferably turkey.

Paint Preparation

  • Work in an open, well-ventilated area. Spread out some drop cloths and open windows and doors. Set your coffee table on the drop cloths. Cover the legs or the frame with plastic bags and painter’s tape so that they won’t get paint on them as you work.
  • Cut the clear plastic drop cloths so they are slightly larger than the table top itself, and so the plastic hangs down about an inch below the table edges. Set these aside for later.
  • Lightly sand the surface of the table, and the side edges. After sanding, vacuum up the dust and wipe it with a damp rag or tack cloth.
  • Paint the surface with a coat of primer, getting the side edges as well. Let the primer dry overnight before continuing.

The Base Coat

  • Paint your table top and the sides or edges of the table top with your under color. This will be the absolute darkest or the absolute lightest of colors, depending on how you want the finished project.
  • Let the base color dry thoroughly. If it requires a second coat, give it one and let it dry.

Mid-tone #1

  • Once the base coat is completely dry, mix four parts glaze with one part of the mid-tone #1 color you have chosen. Stir thoroughly.
  • Dip a sea sponge or paper towel in clean water and wring it very well so it’s just damp and not dripping. If you’re using a paper towel, crumple it up into a loose ball. Dip the sponge or the towel into the glaze, and then blot it on newspaper or a Styrofoam plate to remove excess.
  • Dab the sponge, or pat the paper towel, to cover the table top. You can cover 90% of the entire undercoat with the glaze if you want, or you can just make diagonal, formless shapes that resemble curvy, twisted ribbons. Make these marks randomly over about 30% of your surface area. Let some taper off into the center of the table, while others can go all the way across. Let some overlap each other, or separate some.
  • It largely depends on how pronounce you want this shade to be. Remember, since it’s mixed with glaze, it’s going to be translucent and the under color will show through anyway. You’ll also be removing some of the glaze in a minute.

Don’t try to make any perfect shapes, as there is no such thing in nature. You want it to look completely random. Don’t over-think it.

Marbling Effect Technique

  • While the tinted glaze is still wet, place one clear plastic pre-cut cloth over the table. Pat down on it, smooth it out, wrinkle it and just slide it around a bit. Do this on the edges as well.
  • Peel off and immediately dispose of it. Take a look at your table; you’ll already see natural-looking, mottled color variations that resemble marble.
  • Let it dry. If you’re using a sponge, clean it thoroughly with soap and water in the sink. If you’re using paper towel to blot on the glaze, simply dispose of it. You’ll use a new one later.

Mid-Tone Color #2

  • Mix your second mid-tone color with one part paint to four parts glaze. Stir it well.
  • Dampen your sponge and paper towel again, and wring it out thoroughly. Dab it in the glaze and pat it on a Styrofoam plate to blot.
  • Repeat the process of dabbing on the glaze, gently following the same patterns of the other glaze marks. This time, leave more of the undercoat showing. Only cover about 20% to 50% of the table surface. This second hue works more like highlights.

Second Marbling Effect Technique

  • When you’re done, take your second pre-cut piece of plastic and throw it over the table. Pat it, wrinkle it, move it a little big, making sure to get the edges of the table as well.
  • Peel back the plastic. Let this coat dry.
  • Take a look at the result.Are you satisfied with the balance of colors? You can add more dark or light color by mixing one part paint with four parts glazeand then dabbing it on sparingly. Smear it gently under more plastic. Let it dry

The Wrinkle or Marble Paint Effect - uber easy trick


The tool of choice for creating veining is a turkey feather, or a feather with similar sturdiness. Why? Because a feather will shake and move, and this creates natural variation. It’s difficult to achieve this with a paint brush, because it’s too easy a tool to use; you want imperfection.

  • Dip just the tip of your feather lightly in your veining color. Brush a random, crooked streak with a slightly shaky hand lightly across the table. Make another, and another. Make one branch out of another streak, so it looks forked. They should not be evenly spaced, and should not run perfectly parallel to each other. They should be very random and very light.
  • Take a dry, natural haired 1-inch brush and gently follow along some of the vein lines, right along the edge of it, just to soften the lines.
  • This is another time that calls for discretion. You want a balanced amount of veins running through your marble, but you don’t want to overdo it. You can always add a few, then come back later and add more if you think it needs it. But be careful; you can’t just remove them without re-painting the whole piece.
  • When you like the look of it, it’s done. Let it dry for a couple of days. Even if the paint seems dry to the touch, you want to give it a little time to begin to cure.

Sealing the Table

  • Coffee tables are generally in high-traffic areas and get a lot of use. You’ll want to protect your paint job’s surface. Also, marble is shiny, so the extra shine from the sealer will add the final layer of realism.
  • Roll or brush on your sealer and allow it to dry according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Let the table sit and dry. Don’t put anything heavy on it for the first week to prevent any kind of indentations or sticking. Invite your friends over for some coffee to show off your work—see if they even notice it’s faux!

Marble Veining



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    • shai77 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      That's the beauty of these kinds of projects, jbosh1972; it's the creative process. I say go with the flow-- and if in doubt, just experiment on a piece of scrap wood or cardboard. If you like the results, there is no 'wrong'. Thanks for your comment!

    • jbosh1972 profile image


      6 years ago from Indianapolis, IN. USA

      Sometimes I might not even do the veining. I like making abstract metal art and the marbling of two colors on a black, grey, or white background might really set things off. Making glazes with pearlescent or metallic paints would be quite interesting in itself.

    • shai77 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi Jbbosh!

      If you're handy with a paint brush you can also use a liner brush. The reason the feathers are recommended is because they create a shakey, uneven line that looks natural. The look can be pulled off with a fine liner brush as well

    • jbosh1972 profile image


      6 years ago from Indianapolis, IN. USA

      I appreciate that. I need to go to Hobby Lobby anyway to get a piece of fabric to convert a box that my replacement rearview mirror came in to a sofa for my daughters Barbie's. I will look for the feathers there also.

    • shai77 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      You can get turkey feathers at many craft stores; turkey feathers are generally inexpensive because they're so abundantly available. You can also find them at craft feather outlets online (though they'll often sell them in bundles) or on EBay sometimes. If you live near a pond or lake, find a large duck feather-- it will work just as well. Clean it first (gently) and let it dry. Good luck with your sculptures!

      Try also Amazon.Good Luck :-)

    • jbosh1972 profile image


      6 years ago from Indianapolis, IN. USA

      Awesome! I will use this technique on my sculptures. Check out my hubs!

      BTW where would I find a turkey feather for the veining?


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