Faux Granite – Painting Walls and Counters to Look Like Stone
Granite is a very popular material for countertops, islands, tabletops, and columns. It’s beautiful, but heavy and difficult for the DIYer to install. It’s also very, very expensive.
If you’re craving the look of granite, there is another option: faux granite. Although it requires several coats of paint (and can therefore take awhile), creating a faux granite finish is actually a simple technique.
Because the real thing has so many different colors, faux painting granite requires AT LEAST 3 colors of latex paint. Four is better.
You’ll want to choose a combination that goes well with your decor. Don’t worry. It’s hard to go wrong because natural granite comes in a wide range of colors.
Some of the most common combinations are:
- Black, white, and gray
- Black, pink, and gray
- Black, red, and gray
- Black, red, and brown
- Black, gold, and white
- Brown, beige, and gold
- Green, gold, and gray
- Green, gold, and pink
- Tan, gold, and pink
- Gold, gray, and beige
One good way to choose your colors is to buy a granite sample that you like, a single tile, for example. You can use it as a reference. No matter which type of granite you choose, you’ll need to choose a light color, a dark color, and one or two medium tones.
Metallic paints and glitter spray are optional. They create the subtle sparkle often found in real granite. Use gold for red, brown and earth-toned faux granites. Silver looks better with black, gray, and green faux granites.
Tools and Materials
- Latex paint (3-4) colors
- A paint pan or shallow dish for each color
- Brush or roller
- Natural sea sponge
- Plastic bag, seams removed, crumpled
- Glitter spray or metallic latex paint (optional)
- Polyurethane or acrylic urethane
Getting Started: Surface Preparation
Like virtually all the projects on this site, surface preparation is essential to a good finished project. Clean and prep the surface, removing flaking paint and filling nicks, gouges, and holes. The exact process depends on whether you are painting wood, drywall, plastic, or laminates. Mask the surrounding area. Then apply a coat of fast drying, high quality primer; either latex or alkyd will work, but latex is easier to use and clean up and doesn’t smell as strongly. Allow to dry according to package directions.
Faux Granite Painting
The order you apply your paint will depend on the specific type of granite you’re trying to replicate. Faux finishing granite is much more art than science. If using a metallic paint to add shimmer, this will be your first coat. Apply it with a roller or a brush, depending on the area you need to cover. Metallic paints can be thin, so add a second coat if you need to in order to achieve total coverage.
If you’ve decided not to use metallic paint, decide which color you want to be least dominant. Refer to your sample if you need to. This will be your base color. Roll or brush on a single coat and allow to dry.
From this point all colors will be mixed with glaze. Use a ratio of 1 part paint – 3 parts glaze. If the glaze is too transpartent add more paint.
The remaining colors will be dabbed on with a sea sponge or a crumpled plastic bag.
Pour your second-most dominant color into a shallow pan. Dip the sponge or crumpled bag lightly in the paint, then pat it onto the roller grid area to remove some excess. Now lightly dab the surface to be painted. Don’t cover the area heavily, allow some of the background color to show through.
Repeat the process with the remaining colors, ending with the most dominant shade. Some colors can be added wet-on-wet and lightly blended using the sponge or plastic bag. Do not over do it as this will look like sponging and not faux granite. Excess can be removed using a piece of damp cheese cloth. For more domintae colors allow each coat to dry thoroughly before adding more. And refer to your sample often.
If you’ve chosen four or more shades, use the last color as an accent. Combine one part of paint with four parts of glaze and apply it very sparingly.
- If the sponge becomes completely saturated, rinse it out before continuing.
- If using a plastic bag, discard it and replace it when the layer of paint gets too thick.
- If you dip the sponge straight into the paint can, it may contaminate the paint with colors from previous projects. Always pour the paint into a shallow pan.
Now’s the time to add glitter spray, if you want to. Apply it very lightly for the most realistic effect.
When the piece is completely dry, protect the piece with a glossy, clear coating such as acrylic urethane or polyurethane. This will simulate the highly-polished shine of real stone and provide moisture resistance and protection from scratches. You may need several coats on high-use surfaces like kitchen counters or desktops.
Once it dries, you’ll be able to enjoy your faux granite surface for many years to come!