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Faux marble fireplace

Listed under Blog, faux, Lee Simone, marbling-graining Posted Jun 12 2018

Here is a follow up to Lee Simone’s article on a Faux marble fireplace in Milton Keynes. This is the second fireplace in need of rescuing.

The finished marble effect fireplace

The finished marble effect fireplace

The original and decidedly worn finish

The original and decidedly worn finish

Close up of the faux marble paint effect I created

Close up of the faux marble paint effect I created

Background to the faux marble fireplace

This was the second faux marble commission for a couple living near Milton Keynes. The house was undergoing some serious renovations and part of their plan was to keep all the original Victorian fireplaces and bring them back to their former glory. This fireplace was in the dining room, the other in the lounge. The brief for both projects was brilliant: restore and faux marble paint the original Victorian fireplaces.

Faux marble painting was very popular in Victorian times and had inspired the clients to search out a faux painter. They had seen my work online, and even though I live in Harrogate, they phoned me to see if I’d be interested in looking at the projects. I was 🙂

I received some photos and emailed them back with my estimate. Dates were discussed, a deposit paid and the work was booked in. The plan was to work on both fireplaces simultaneously, to maximise my time for each stage of the process and take advantage of drying times. Both projects were slightly different. This one had the faux marble effect on the main body as well as the panels.

Starting work on the faux marble fireplace

The old finish with hints of the original red marble effect

The old finish with hints of the original red marble effect

I think the finish itself may have been the original. In places you could still see some of the red marble effect and there didn’t seem to be any other layers of paint. It was still pretty scratched and scuffed though, in better condition than the lounge one but still in need of quite a lot of preparation.


The process was essentially the same for both fireplaces, though in varying amounts. I started by cleaning away all the soot and grime. After many buckets of water, cloths and Krud Kutter it was squeaky clean and ready for sanding, priming and filling.

Primer coats

Again I used two coats of Zinsser B-I-N as my primer. It isn’t easy to put on, but sands wonderfully smooth and offers a high adhesion base with stain blocking properties.

Base coats

Once primed I applied two coats of Empire by Tikkurila, which I had tinted to deep black. These coats were applied with a mini roller and then ‘layed‘ off to create a smooth, brushmark free base for my marbling.

Prepared, base coated and partly masked off

Prepared, base coated and partly masked off

Nothing spoils the illusion of faux marble quite like obvious brush or roller marks in the background! Once top coated I set about masking off the areas to marble using “Edge lock” tape by 3M.

The Marble Effect

There are many YouTube videos that show how to create a faux marble paint effect. Essentially the main processes are the same. You want to choose your colours and then mix them with a glaze. You can use water- or oil-based paints and glazes, it’s a personal choice really. I tend to use tubed oil paints/raw pigment mixed with Polyvine oil glaze so I have a longer open time. By ‘open time‘ I mean the length of time the glaze remains wet and usable; the longer the open time the more you can play about with the glaze to achieve the effect you want.

In terms of the effect itself it’s all about practice and experimentation. I like to create a background effect and then add the veining. I often do two overlaying layers to give the base depth and create a lot of detail. For me painted marble effects are not exclusively about the veining.

To create the background I mix the coloured glazes together and manipulate them with lint free cloths, plastic bags, feathers and brushes. Essential to your kit should be muslin, a badger hair softener, a stipple brush and a real, unbleached Canadian Goose feather or 3. I create the veining with a combination of a sign writers brush, a narrow sable and a pheasant feather.

The marble paint effect without the silver detailing

The marble paint effect without the silver detailing

The start of the silver line detailing around the panels

The start of the silver line detailing around the panels

Protect the marble finish

Once the marble effect was done I sealed everything with 2 coats of Osmo polyx oil-based varnish in satin.

As a finishing touch, I then edged the panels with a silver line and brushed some of the same silver over the ornate metalwork on the hood. This really made things pop and brought everything to life. Job done 🙂

The finished effect of the Faux marble fireplace

The finished effect

Close up of the marbling and silver detailing on the hood

Close up of the marbling and silver detailing on the hood

Close up of the central panel

Close up of the central panel

Close up of one of right hand side panel of the Faux marble fireplace

Close up of one of right hand side panel

The finished Faux marble fireplace

The finished fireplace, quite the transformation!

Thanks for reading this blog. If you’d like to see other faux finish projects I’ve done then please check out the faux paint finish section on my website.

Bye for now!

There are quite a few articles on faux finish painting on the Traditional Painter website. Including marbling, graining, dragging, Oikos effects.

Not much to be seen these days on rag rolling?!
As an effect it was fine back when it was understood that the aim was to emulate suede. The basecoat and topcoat colours were very close together to achieve the effect when you rub against the brushed pile of cloth in a jeweller’s display cabinet. But when the decorating world was blessed with the flapper Duette roller, rag rolling seemed to morph into some sort of sloppy pink on grey “rag death roll” pattern. Before its popularity faded away, I remember seeing the effect in hospitals and pubs and on ceilings and door panels and…

Copying without understanding, never a good position to be in.

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