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Basics of Faux Marble for Floors
By C. J. Cluster


In the Basics of Faux Marble article, we covered faux marble for floors and basic estimating formulas for materials. For faux marble for walls, we will use the same formulas and techniques with a few modifications.

First you will need to know your subject, the type of marble. The colors and textures are the important characteristics to focus on. Once you have determined the colors and the amount and type of material you will need, you can begin preparing the surface. For this type of project I would suggest oil-based Japan paints for veining and polyurethane for the clear coat (this is a very toxic method but very durable). You will need a few things before you start:

  • Chemical resistant gloves (change them often and as needed).
  • Surgical foot covers (to help prevent footprints)
  • Respirator mask (not a paper dust mask)
  • Dust masks (for sanding)

The actual work always begins with surface preparation (it is considered to be the most important part of any paint project). If you have plywood as your floor, as with most sets, you will need to sheet the floor with Masonite; this will give you a smooth surface to work with. Once you have done this fill the nail holes and seams with automotive filler (e.g. Bondo). Do not apply too thickly or you will spend a lot of time sanding it smooth. A belt sander with a fine sandpaper such as 120 grit should do the job. When you are finished, clean the area of dust and debris.

Now you can prime the floor. When priming the floor you can use the brush and roll method or spray the primer (I prefer to spray whenever possible). At this point, you may also consider tinting your primer if you feel it will help your process with a particular type of marble, but white is usually good, as it will help show variation in tone and depth. Kilz or an equally good primer (check with paint dealer) is a good primer to use here. Allow the primer to dry and cure according to the manufactures' directions, then clean up and move on to the next step.

Your next step is to apply the base coat. This can be done in the same manner as the primer coat. It is important not to leave footprints; I use surgical shoe covers so that my shoes do not leave marks, and sometimes working in your socks is simpler (But not for the next step; you'll see why.) Allow the base coat to dry and cure before continuing.

Now you can apply your marble pattern. Fill three Hudson pumps (bug sprayers): one with Mineral sprits, one with Alco (Denatured alcohol), and one with Benzine. Wet the floor with Mineral sprits making a puddle. Then take a 4" brush affixed to a roller pole (one for each color) dip it into the paint and swipe it across the floor creating a vein (the paint will spread out naturally). Then work the vein with the brush spreading it out as desired. Now use the Alco, lightly misting it in areas. The reaction will thin the paint more in those areas then in the areas with just mineral sprits. Now adjust the sprayer with the benzine so that the spray comes out in heavier droplets and spritz the floor lightly in areas. You will see that where the droplets land in the vein they will create little circles were the paint will move out of the way. This technique is known as floating a floor. Work your way back across the floor (not trapping yourself in a corner). Once you have completed the floor and allowed it to dry and cure, clean up and you will be ready for the next step.

Finally, it's time to clear coat the floor with polyurethane. Again, you can brush and roll this step or spray. Apply a good even coat to the floor (it is very important not to leave foot prints in this step). Once you have applied a nice even coat allow it to dry and cure for about 4 days, then apply a second coat (this is usually best for durability, especially with high traffic). Allow about 4 more days to dry and cure (always follow manufactures directions).

This is a very impressive finish for faux marble.

If you follow these basics you will be on the way, though faux marble results will vary on your individual skill level. But the keys to faux painting are practice, knowing your material, and knowing your subject. You will be able to achieve a great deal of quality if you work at it.

Patrick K. Coppinger has been freelancing as a scenic artist and set painter. He has worked in the entertainment industry for 20 years, and has worked on such horror and Sci-fi classics as Masters of the Universe, Waxwork, and Critters 2. http://hometown.aol.com/pkcpainting/index.html

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