How to Imitate Marble, Leather, and Other Expensive Surface Finishes

If you’re looking to breathe new life into old furniture or decor, a little paint will help. This faux finish will add sophistication to common pieces and add elegance to old furniture, and you can DIY them for less than you think.

The elegance of marble without cost

Adding in faux marble is a great way to revitalize old furniture or add some flair to any home improvement project. There is a cheap and tricky way to simulate marble that you can handle yourself. All you need is a feather, three shades of your marbled color, some glaze, and a glossy clear top coat. Before you start, it is helpful to have a look at real marble to get an idea of ​​the color and type of veining you want. (Don’t you have a piece of marble lying around for comparison? Check it out on the stone supply site.) First, apply the base color and let it dry. Then, using a pen from a craft store, draw lines in a second color, mix 50/50 with the frosting and let dry. Then apply a small amount of your third color feather stripes, also mixed 50/50 with your glaze, slightly overlapping the first layer of stripes. Once it’s dry, apply a clear coat. Make sure you have enough dry time indicated on the product label and your project will be ready to go. (For more details and photos, check out this guide .)

Aged plaster without age

To create the effect of artificially aged plaster, use a technique in which the paint is applied in layers and with a paint / putty mixture. This will work on just about any surface, including accents, moldings, or even home decor items. You will need a base paint color (preferably a semi-gloss latex paint), a spatula tube, some white paint and, if you want to add patina, a tinted glaze. Apply base color first and let dry. Then apply a 50/50 mixture of white paint and apply the putty unevenly to the base coat so that the underlying color shines through. Once it’s dry, you can cover it with a bright white plaster or add an aged patina using a little gray or other dark glaze to soften the white and add some contrast.

Leather that resembles fabric

You can use a mixture of paint and fabric softener to simulate leather trim on the upholstery. You will need latex paint in three shades of your skin color, some fabric softener, and a sponge. Create a mixture of dye and fabric softener (this helpful post may give you some idea of ​​the ratios used – and you’ll want to test this on scraps of fabric first to make sure you get it right). Then it’s time to apply the leather paint / fabric softener mixtures to the furniture, starting at the edges with a darker color and working towards the middle of the surfaces with lighter colors. Use a damp sponge to blend colors and blur clear lines. The result is leather with a textile feel.

Patina, no metal needed

Create a fake patina effect using metallic spray paint and acrylic paint in your patina color. For copper, use aquamarine; for darker metals, a dark green or gray color is suitable. You will also need a sponge brush or a sponge that you can dampen a little. First paint the entire surface with metallic spray paint. Let dry overnight. Then apply some patina with a sponge or brush and use a damp rag or sponge to wipe off some of the color so that the metallic shade shines through. (For a darker, more aged look, use more patina; for a slightly aged look, use less.) Allow to dry and your project will look like a high-end polished item.


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