Marble accessories can lend a formal elegance to any room. Unfortunately, real marble can be quite expensive to purchase and install. One solution is to create the appearance of marble by using faux finishing techniques. A good project for a beginner is a faux marble fireplace hearth. The first step is to settle on one of the many striking varieties of marble that exist in nature. White-veined Carrara marble is common and one of the easiest to simulate.
Tape off around the fireplace hearth with low-tack painters tape. Lightly sand the surface of the hearth if it is very smooth or has a glossy finish. Prime the hearth with latex-based primer. Cut in around the edges with an angled brush and fill in with a small roller. Allow the primer to dry completely.
Apply two coats of latex-based white paint. Cut in with the angled brush and use a roller to fill in all other areas. Brush out any drips or lap marks for a smooth surface. Allow the paint to dry.
Review your photograph or marble sample to get a basic idea of what your faux marble should look like. Mix a white glaze by adding a dash of white acrylic paint to a mixture of 1 part matt medium and 1 part water in a small container. Mix a grey glaze containing 1 part matt medium, 1 part water, white acrylic and a small amount of blue and raw umber in another container.
Glaze the entire surface with the white glaze, using broad, quick strokes. Divide the project into slabs of marble if the hearth is too large to comfortably paint at one time. Follow with the second glaze while the first glaze is still wet. Brush on the grey glaze in random, irregular stripes to mark out where you will add veining. Soften and blend the surface using a rag.
Hold one or two thin sign-painter brushes carefully in your grip. Dip the brushes in the grey glaze. Slowly drag the brushes across the surface, following the pattern of veining in your sample. Pivot your wrist to allow the lines to meet and overlap in places. Soften by gently dabbing with a soft, clean rag. Continue to add veins until the surface is covered. Almost all of the veins should run in the same diagonal direction. Add a few long lines that intersect the veins, going in the opposite diagonal direction, to create cross-veining. Allow the surface to dry.
Add another part of water to your white glaze. Brush over the entire surface with this glaze. Soften with rags and smear with the sea sponge in short, horizontal strokes to flame the surface. Wash all tools and brushes with soap and water.
Protect your faux finish with varnish.