How to Create a Marbling Effect With Acrylic Paint

Updated July 20, 2017

Marble is limestone rock, polished to a high degree. Coloured marble is ingrained with different coloured minerals and other compounds. Extreme pressure and heat causes the veining effect and various hues to form. Traditionally, marble in the home was a sure sign of elegance, luxury and wealth. The cost is out of reach of many, yet marble remains highly desired. Small wonder then, that marbling techniques with paint were created to satisfy the desire for the real thing. Necessity is, indeed, the mother of invention.

Clean the surface to be painted. Dry it with a lint-free cloth, or leave it to dry naturally.

Sand rough or existing painted surfaces with sandpaper or an electric sander.

Run your hand over the surface to detect any holes, dents or cracks.

Pack the imperfections with hard-setting filler. Remove the excess with a scraper and leave to set, then sand down.

Put on the rubber gloves and apron to protect your skin and clothes.

Apply an undercoat of acrylic sealant.

Cover the surface with two coats of pale coloured, acrylic base paint. Apply with a paint roller and allow it dry completely before putting on the second coat.

Paint a thin layer of topcoat, using a second paint roller. Choose a darker, contrasting colour.

Wet a sponge and squeeze it, leaving it damp. Gently, and randomly, sponge parts of the wet, top layer of paint. Sponging it will reveal the parts of the first paint layer and create a softened effect.

Wash out the sponge periodically, keeping it damp. Continue to sponge the surface while it is still wet.

Hold a feather by the quill and trail it along the surface.

Rotate the feather backwards and forwards, as you drag it. A light touch is required for a subtle effect.

Allow the surface to dry thoroughly..


Practice will enable you to get the right effect. If possible, practice on the wall you are going to paint. You can use three different coloured base coats for a more interesting effect. Use eggshell paint for walls. Keep brushes wrapped in foil to stop them drying out overnight. Store unused, paint covered brushes in a container of white spirits.


Study different marble surfaces. Read various books, browse the Internet and study photos to get an idea of how marble veins look. Do not skimp on preparing the surface. It can affect the result badly. If applying paint to the floor, remember to start in the farthest corners of the room first.

Things You'll Need

  • Lint-free cloth
  • Electric sanding machine
  • Filler
  • Scraper
  • Acrylic sealant
  • Rubber gloves
  • Acrylic base paint
  • Acrylic topcoat paint
  • Two paint rollers
  • Medium size natural sponge
  • Swan or goose feathers
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