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Picture of Turn MDF into Marble

Nothing says class like a bit of marble. Those Mediterranean stonemasons knew what they were doing with their big ol' pillars looking all fancy. But of course marble is heavy and expensive and so we must adapt.

Here's a method of making some boring old MDF into something much more interesting! We use this in the theatre industry for backdrops and flooring over huge scales, so I'd love to see it applied elsewhere!

Step 1: Base Coat

Picture of Base Coat
Photo 27-3-19, 9 46 12 am.jpg

Choose a reference picture for the sake of colour matching.

Mix up some acrylic paint to match the background colour- I mixed white, black, orange, yellow ochre and a tiny bit of pthalo blue to make a pale green grey.

Use a paint roller or a paintbrush to slap a layer over the entire surface you're painting. I painted a 5mm thick MDF board but you can make this on as big or small a scale as you'd like.

Let it dry.

arley.phone5 months ago
Sorry, ignorant here.What is MDF?
rhallett (author)  arley.phone5 months ago
No worries! It's basically a really cheap wood board made of wood fibres all bound together, so it doesn't have any grain lines like normal timber, which makes it easy to cut and screw into without splitting.

MDF is short for Medium Density Fibreboard, they should have it at any local hardware shop. You might have seen hobby craft project kits sold (like the birdhouse picture I've attached below) made of MDF pieces because it's a cheaply manufactured material.
Draw backs of MDF are that traditionally the fibres are bound with formaldehyde, which is an irritant and possibly carcinogenic, so take care to wear a respirator if you're cutting or sanding it, (there are also non-formaldehyde MDF sheets available too now.) It's typically cut with a laser cutter instead of a saw, to avoid producing the hazardous saw dust.
Also when exposed to moisture, the board can swell and warp. A lot of cheap flat pack furniture uses MDF so if you've ever had a dodgy bookcase that's fallen apart due to a bit of water, it's probably MDF haha

For the sakes of this technique you could paint the marble effect on just about any surface :) I just used MDF because I had it already cut, laying around and it makes a good blank slate for painting on!

Hope this has been helpful and not too confusing!
Medium Density Fiberboard.
Peter Balch5 months ago
I believe it's traditional to use a feather as the "brush" when painting faux marble. Have you tried it?
rhallett (author)  Peter Balch5 months ago
No that sounds like a good idea though!
I used a fitch brush painting this one
Photo 20-3-19, 9 14 28 am.jpg
OutofPatience5 months ago
Very nice results...thanks so much for sharing your work!
JoeB1005 months ago
Thank you for this great tip. I'm a wood carver and I think this would be a swell way of mounting some carvings, again ThankYou. . .JoeB
goroberts56.5 months ago
Awesome looking results! I've used two part epoxy infused with spray paint and powdered tints to achieve simulated stone.
rhallett (author)  goroberts56.5 months ago
That's awesome! I've not worked with powdered tints before how do you use them in this case? Do you just spray the epoxy/paint all over the surface then spray the powder over it while it's wet or something??
DavidE3415 months ago
Very impressive! If you are trying to create a "marble" slab (for a table top for instance) do you use the same technique on the edges of the MDF or do you need to create a thinner slab and then miter/connect both pieces to continue the pattern from top to sides?
rhallett (author)  DavidE3415 months ago
Depending on the thickness you could do both!
If you can find MDF thick enough for the slab you're trying to make, then yes you could paint the edges. But that can become rather heavy once you're looking at thicknesses over 25mm, so thin pieces around the edge is a great idea!

As far as the painting technique goes, you could stick it on just about any flat surface, edges included :D
seamster5 months ago
Fantastic technique, and very impressive results! Nice work, thank you for sharing this : )
rhallett (author)  seamster5 months ago
Thankyou! It's much easier than it looks, anyone could do it! :D