A lot of newer homes feature columns but they come as plain white plaster eyesores and not the elaborate marble column they’re designed to represent. If you’re looking to have that marble look then you can either hire a professional or paint the column yourself. And if you decide to do it yourself, be prepared its an incredibly long but very rewarding process.
The art of faux finishing to create the look of stone has been around since Pompeii and it has grown into an exact science where masters will exactly replicate the look of marble, so much so that it’s almost impossible to tell the difference. Most decorative painters are just happy to create a look that suggests a marble surface. This is the look you will be attempting with these instructions.
The first step requires a bit of a field trip. Take the time to really examine marble and decide what aspects of it you like, what types of marble are you drawn to, study the depth and intricate nature of the stone. The best faux creations come from people who have a good understanding of the original.
A little background on marble may help your process. It’s a metamorphic rock made from limestone over thousands of years. There are two main families of marble, breccia and veined. Breccia is many small stones that have broken up and then been drawn together with sediment cementing them. Veined is one piece of stone with cracks that are filled with sediment and other loose particles. This bit of knowledge may be a good thing to keep in mind as you approach your project.
Once you’ve decided what you want your columns to look like and how to go about it you will need to prepare the column for painting. This can actually be the most frustrating part because plaster does not hold paint well. Tape off the parts you do not want to paint and apply a good primer to the entire surface. A foam brush is really useful here because you do not want to leave any imperfections on the surface and brush strokes will look really incongruous on the finished marble.
Once you’ve finished the priming take off the tape. This is key! Many people like to leave tape on for days when they’re doing a painting project and if you’ve ever done this you probably know that a razor is necessary for clean tape removal and even then you may end up pulling a bit of the new paint off the wall. With plaster columns you will not only pull a little paint off but you may pull large sections of it away leaving you with a bigger mess and a very uneven surface. So remember that professional always pull the tape off immediately.
Your next step is painting the columns. Selecting a darker color for the base (both top and bottom) is a good idea whether you’re going to marbleize it or not. A lighter color usually works best for the column itself. Apply the basecoat and make sure you give it ample curing time before beginning the next step. This means (remove the tape) and let the paint sit for a couple of days.