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painted faux marble countertops

Guys….. I almost named this post, “the best DIY I’ve done to-date ever”, but then I came back to my senses and named it something that google could easily find should anyone else in the world want to do this project. And I hope everyone does, because it’s amazing. So amazing, in fact, that the $30 faux marble countertops fooled my (very style discerning) Mother-in-law, who said, “I didn’t know you guys were buying marble for the kitchen!”.  That, my friends, is a win.

But let’s back up to just two days ago when I was *this close* to throwing the whole project into the trash and forgetting about it completely. 

I had seen several online tutorials for faux marble.  Some of them looked good, most of them looked like a faux finish paint effect from the 80’s (sorry, it’s just true).  Then, I stumbled upon this YouTube video from Gorgeous Shiny Things and I loved her painting technique, but didn’t love the finish.  So, after a little more searching, I found this post by Batchelors Way and she used a finish that I loved.

So, I put two and two together and created this gem.

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Seriously?  How realistic does that look?  AND it looks even better in person.

But, let’s start at the beginning… If you recall, the original kitchen plan didn’t have any marble (faux or otherwise) on the docket, but then I realized that the butcher block counters and the butcher block island might not only be a lot of butcher block, but it might not match at all.  And, I felt like all the black cabinetry and wood might start getting really really dark.  I needed something light and white and marble would be perfect, but marble would also be about $800.  That’s $800 I’d rather spend on my upcoming vacation. I have priorities, clearly.

I was really afraid, however, to paint the butcher block directly, so I bough a piece of MDF that I’d top onto the island.  Then I gathered some white paint I had left over from my office renovation and some gray paint that I had leftover from my bedroom.

First, I applied two full coats of white paint to the MDF.  Then I mixed three different levels of gray paint (by adding more or less white) and got out a sea sponge and a feather. When I started with the shading and veining of the marble I was so nervous.  It looked ‘ok’ but not awesome.  It just looked like paint, not marble.  I realized that the marble pattern was a little too small and intricate, so I painted back over the entire thing with white and started over again.  I actually think that covering the first draft in white helped give it more depth, which make it look a lot more realistic.

The second time around, I watched Danika’s video and followed it to the ‘t’.  I went and got a big soft dry paint brush from the basement, got another mid-sized paintbrush for the larger veins, and kept the feather for the small veins.  I would paint an area, then sponge over it with watered down white.  Then paint again, then sponge over it again.  The entire process went like this:

  • Paint with brush
  • sponge with damp sponge
  • brush with dry brush
  • sponge over with white
  • repeat a gazillion times (ok, maybe 40 times)

then,

  • Paint with feather
  • sponge with damp sponge
  • brush with dry brush
  • sponge over with white
  • repeat about 10 times.

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So, I realized there is a huge gap in photos here.  It’s mostly because I had no clue what I was doing and was unsure if I should photograph anything for fear it was all wrong and would end up in the trash.  Really between the above and below photos, I just watched Danika’s video about 3 times.  Still, after all that painting, I was unsure about it.  But, I knew that I could potentially sit there all day debating the accuracy of my marbling and I needed to just get on with it, so I took my painted board outside and poured on the glaze.  I used Super Glaze from The Home Depot.  I mixed according to package directions and then spread it all out. The spreading was actually pretty fun. I made sure to spread over the edges and get them covered as well.

Now comes the disastrous part. I had to do this outside, because I was worried about getting any glaze on my floors. We don’t have a garage, so outside it was.  WELL, it seems that every bug and their mother wanted to be a part of my project and flew RIGHT INTO THE GLAZE. I spent about an hour with a wooden skewer picking bugs out of the glaze.  Since it was very wet, I couldn’t take it inside, either.  So, I just set up a stool outside and sat there for 2ish hours picking out any bug that flew into my glaze. Then, once it was dry enough to carry, we carefully carried it inside.

Had I to do this over again, I would have just bought some plastic drop cloths and done it inside. You live, you learn, right?

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So, even before the glaze I had some concerns about the marbling patterns, but as soon as that glaze went on, I knew it was going to be awesome.  The thick clear coat kind of fills in any paint or brush textures, making the whole thing look crazy smooth and realistic. I even followed Ronda’s advice and used some very fine white glitter on top of the paint (under the glaze) to emulate mineral deposits. It worked phenomenally.

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before and halfway kitchen

I really can’t even describe how amazing it looks in person.  It looks so much more expensive than just a $30 project. I wish you could all come over and have a look!

I think it’s made a wonderful addition to our kitchen changes, and I can’t wait to complete the rest of the stuff on our renovation list:

 

Finish cabinet build-out (waiting on cabinet doors…)

Replace hardware (it should arrive at the end of the month!)

Hang open shelving

Buy Rug

 

We’ll see you back here tomorrow for a super fun DIY that you can use from Thanksgiving through Christmas!

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Latest comments
  • Wow, girl. That looks seriously amazing. Many kudos to you for having the patience for such a project!

  • This looks beautiful! I can’t wait to get a look in person. You never cease to amaze me,Erin!

  • Dude! THIS IS UNREAL! I’m usually not into faux finishes – like, be you, you know? – but THIS I can get on board with. You absolutely CANNOT tell it’s not real. Fabulous job

  • That looks incredible!!! By far the best looking faux marble I’ve seen. You’ve definitely inspired me to do my own island; hopefully I will have the same success!

  • Bravo Erin! I have been looking for a marble letter tray for my office but now I might just DIY it. The kitchen is coming together splendidly and I’m excited to see the final product.

  • Wow. This is incredible! I’m blown away at how real it looks. Thanks so much for sharing your whole trial and error process!

  • The best DIY you’ve ever done. Truly.
    Score dude. It’s fantastic.

  • THIS IS AWESOME!

  • This is INSANE. It looks so good! Possibly the first and only DIY faux marble I’d ever consider. I feel like I need to run out and do a test run this weekend!

  • This is just beautiful. I think it would be so loving of you to do our countertops for us. Wouldn’t that look good with our new black appliances?
    Just kidding. We love you.

  • Wow, wow, WOW! I’ve seen several attempts at this but yours actually looks like real marble! I’m saving this away in case I’m ever brave enough to give it a try. Amazing job!

  • This is the most amazing DIY project I’ve ever seen. Just put an offer on a house as a first time homebuyer … if I get it, I’m definitely doing this! Just a question – how well do you think the Super Glaze will hold up? Will you be able to chop on top of it, or put hot dishes on it, or do something else careless and not have to worry about it getting messed up? Obviously I want my counter top to be as useful and long-lasting as it is beautiful. Nice work! And thank you for the tutorial.

  • Erin, this is CRAZY good!!!! It looks so real. I tried DIYing marble on a thrift dresser top and it definitely didn’t turn out like this. The shiny glaze made all the difference! Any feedback on how it’s holding up? I’m so tempted to do this to all of our kitchen counters now instead of getting butcher block since we won’t be in the house forever. Good or bad idea?

    amandakatherine.com

  • Wow – I’m normally not super convinced with DIY marble projects, but yours is incredible! The painting is spot-on, and that super glaze really finishes it off beautifully.

  • Erin this is beautiful! Love,Aunt precious

  • This looks amazing!!!! Now I need to find a place for some faux marble in my home :) thanks!

  • Goodness that looks amazing! I just can’t believe its not marble… I love marble. I’m going to print out your post and run to my mom… I know I know, but I’m not that good handywise, she is fantastic though, she might help me with this one. But seriously I love this, you did a fantastic job!

  • I can’t even believe this….this is freaking amazing!! You did an amazing job and it looks 100% real. I have a serious crush on this over here.

  • This post is AMAZING! It really looks like a real marble unit. This is absolutely phenomenal and I will definitely be trying it.

    Love Charlotte Elizabeth xo
    http://www.charlottelizabethblog.com

  • I’m just blown away by how realistic this looks. I’d like to try this on a smaller scale with something to test my artistic abilities. Did you have a piece of marble to use as a sort of pattern and example? Or did you just go for it?

  • This is INSANE. We have a huge island but it has a sink in it too so without removing it and lifting up the sink to fit the MDF board I wonder if I could just paint the countertop? It’s already plastic laminate that’s been painted with a countertop kit from the previous owners. Any tips on how to make it smooth first? I bet a super thick coat of primer would do the trick :) Can’t wait to try it!

  • Oh my goodness! I am going bananas over this. AMAZING. You did a fantastic job. I have to try this! Well done! xoxo

  • What the heck, this is amazing. You can’t even tell it’s not real!

  • I used the Super Glaze and Contac paper in a marble pattern-so understand how you wanted to title your post Besy DIY ever… high end look, thrifty, easy and a big “WOW” factor…

  • That looks incredible

  • Wow! I am blown away by how real it looks! I just happened to be messing around with my phone and ran across your DIY projects, and boy am I glad I stopped to look through them! I have extensive tile counter tops in my kitchen I’d love to replace and this is definitely do able for me without bankrupting myself. I have just one question since I’m new to your blog, what is MDF? I consider myself to be pretty artsy craftsy and went to school ( many, many eons ago) to do interior design. I can’t wait to give this a try and I’m definitely going to start following your blog, which I’ve never done with anyone before. Thanks for a wonderful solution to my counter top dilemma!

  • Gaaah!!! This is so gorgeous! Love!

    xox

  • Hey Erin, have you though about doing this, but with black marble?

  • Nice job BUT that was no $30 project.

    MDF board – $12-18

    Primer – $8-10 for a quart

    Primary paint color – $8-10 for a quart

    Secondary color – $8-10 for a quart

    Tools – brushes (several) @ $5-10; feathers $2.19 at Michaels; sea sponge at Michaels $5; glitter at Michaels $4-8 = $20.69

    Sealant – that stuff is EXPENSIVE per sq ft. It is $26 -30 and only covers 6 sq ft. (That is only a counter that is 3 ft long) That is $4.66 per sq ft for sealant alone. You can buy large marble tiles for around that same cost per sq ft if you hunt them up. Totally impracticable for more than an itsy amount of counter. It would take over $225 of that sealant for even a smallish kitchen with only 18 ft of counter and the sink cutout. Home Depot has laminate in a marble pattern that will do $60 sq ft for $1.80 a sq foot. No more fake than the paint job.

    Total for this job = $90.69

    WHy do people (and I refer to the Batchelors Way ) keep blathering on that this is a “$30” project when it is no such thing.

  • STOP it – this tutorial is everything!! You did such a wonderful job!!

    One question I have is about the edges of the faux marble.. Did you use the sealant on them or would that be undo-able because the sealant levels out and would drip down off of the edges?

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  • That. is. INSANE!! I cannot even believe how realistic is looks! Thanks so much for sharing – well done!

  • Hi Erin! This is cool. I’d love to try making a bathroom counter top this way. Do you think it is water resistant enough? Thanks!

  • I LOVE this! We just installed slate countertops (from an old pool table) in our house. (you can check it out on my blog if you are curious) I love them for wear and tear and cheapness, but I totally know what you mean about the dark. I think, in retrospect, that it may have darkened our kitchen up a bit too much. I dream of marble….and now am seriously tempted to try this.
    How do you think it would be to do the entire kitchen?

  • SO so so good! My jaw hit the floor. Love it!

  • Wow, this is so incredible! I just found your blog through Centsational Girl, and will be following along now. We’ll hopefully be purchasing a fixer upper house within the next year, and I’m researching and saving countertop ideas like crazy trying to learn all I can before than.

  • WHOA! I want that! Gonna try it on my “craft table”.

  • It looks amazing! Major props to you for taking the steps and having the patience to get it done.

  • Looks good! Glad I inspired you and thanks for the credit. Let me know how it holds up in the kitchen. My laundry room is doing fine. I just did the same finish in my girls bathroom. So far so good.

  • Hey, I am going to try this on something today. My husband just left to go out of town for a couple days…ya know easier to ask for for forgiveness than permission..lol BTW, how is it holding up?

  • I love this!! I wonder if this would work on granite? I have some U-G-L-Y granite that would be expensive to replace. But if this would work, that would be amazing!

  • Hi! I’m looking at doing this on my 50 ish sqft of countertop. I’m trying to calculate how much of the resin I will need… How big is your piece of mdf?? The super glaze says it only cover 6 feet… Yikes! But your island top looks bigger than 6 sq ft to me. Trying to decide if it will even be worth it. Thanks! Looks great!

  • This looks so amazing but I have to say I think this is one of those situations where it looks easier than it really is.?.? IDK but I am notorious for watching DIY shows on TV and getting super amped up about a project then attempting it and failing epically.

    My kitchen countertops are laminate with a faux marble pattern so all I would have to do is apply the super glaze which seems easy enough.

    I’m wondering if I will have to remove my countertops apply the glaze then re-install? Seems like the only option in order to apply evenly and not have it drip on cabinets and flooring.

  • Excellent tutorial! Thank you also For suggesting The youTube Video, it was also super helpful. I completed our kitchen island last night following your tutorial and i am thrilled with the result. I normally prefer method and Order, so it was hard to let That go and let it be more natural and organIc (as marble is), but you can’t really do this ‘wrong’ and this technique is very forgiving! Thank yOu again! :)

  • I am seriously considering this for our island and surrounding countertops. Great job!

    Question: Do you think the glaze is food safe???

    While I don’t plan to serve any meals directly off the counters I have small children and eating something off the counters I’m sure is inevitable.

  • WOW! This looks SO good! My husband and I are renovating a 5th wheel and this would be PERFECT for the countertops. How long did it take you to paint your 2.5 x 4 piece?

  • Very beautiful work!

  • Awesome! Thanks so much! I’m planning to tackle our counters this coming weekend 😬

    How did you get the sealant/varnish on the sides of the countertop?

  • Hi Erin! Stumbled across this tutorial today and LOVE it. I have a quick question: Did you let the paint dry before applying the glaze? And did you let paint dry at all in between coats?

  • This is beautiful. Can you actually cut on it, if you still wanted to use it as a chopping block? Or will it ruin the glaze? I’m wanting faux marble in my kitchen, and trying to decide whether or not I can do it myself. Another interesting option I’m looking at is printing the marble design in glass. I found someone who does printing in glass online for artists, and I was thinking it would work for this, but if the glaze is scratch-resistant, this is a cheaper option.

  • I love this idea and gave it a shot! It came out well up until I had to glaze. Total and utter disaster. Did you run into an issue where once the glaze was settled there were dimples? I’m considering applying another coat but I’m not sure how that will turn out. Alternatively, I was thinking of sanding down the glaze and applying something else. Suggestions? Wish the glaze was cheaper – think it works well for smaller pieces.

      • Thank you Erin! A second coat did the trick! It was a very wide surface, but the error was mine. I was being too generous in some spots and not really spreading it as evenly as possible. You really have to work it and gently smooth out the glaze. I also used a much smaller plastic putty knife to help control the spread. I initially used a wider tool that made it difficult to spread out in some areas. One final trick, I would mix the glaze in small batches (1/4th cup). I had a fear of it drying out quickly, but the small batches made me less nervous.

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