How to Faux Paint your Wooden Table Top to Look Like Granite
A granite table top is sleek and modern looking, giving any kitchen or dining room an instant feel of luxury. Unfortunately, a real granite table is one few of us can afford. It’s notoriously expensive and too heavy to be practical as a table.
You can still have the look you want though, for a fraction of the price. Use a faux paint treatment on a plain wooden table. Achieving a granite top look is one of the easiest types of faux paint job, and the results are both stunning and practical.
Granite is a natural stone that comes with many different color variations. You might want a black or deep gray, a bronze or tan color or go with chic and classy looking white granite.
The trick to achieving that granite look is in layering many colors with different variations. When deciding on your colors, pick a dark color, a mid-tone color, and a light color in the same color family.
If you can, look at a catalog or stop by the granite countertop section of your home improvement store to get a sense of shades that you like.
A wooden table will work best for this project. If you have a table made of some type of laminate or plastic, you can use it as well. Just know that, with heavy use, your paint job may not last as long on a laminated or plastic table top. Plastic and laminates do not absorb paint the way wood does, so they have a tendency to begin to crack or peel sooner. On the other hand, if you have an old table handy and don’t mind investing in a bit of paint, you can get a year or two (or more, depending on how often you use the table and how rough it’s handled) of use for very little investment. But wood, particularly unfinished wood, will last the longest and be the most durable.
For paint, you will need an acrylic primer, a quart of acrylic metallic gold paint, a quart of a dark acrylic semi-gloss color of your choice, a quart of an acrylic, semi-gloss medium shade of your choice, a quart of a light semi-gloss acrylic shade of your choice, a small (touch-up size) can of medium shade tan acrylic semi-gloss paint and a clear-drying, non-yellowing acrylic varnish.
You will also need a paint roller with ¼ inch nap, a roller pan, a 3-inch pain brush, a large sea sponge, a bag of Styrofoam plates, some old newspapers, plastic garbage bags, painter’s tape, drop cloths and sandpaper.
If your table has gashes or small holes, you will need joint compound and a putty knife. Keep your vacuum handy as well.
Place the table on drop cloths in your work area. Cover the table legs with plastic garbage bags and painter’s tape to prevent them from getting paint on them.
Take a look at the surface of your table. If it’s been painted a few times, if it’s old or worn, you may need to do a bit more prep work. Wash it thoroughly with a mild detergent and a cellulose sponge to really get off the dirt. Fill in nicks and gashes with a putty knife and some joint compound. Sand it smooth with a medium grit sandpaper. You can sand it by hand, or use a palm sander if you prefer, but scuff it up really good to remove any sealers, waxes, or slick paint surfaces. Vacuum up the dust as you go along.
If your table is unfinished, clean wood, you can skip all that. No matter what type of work the surface of your table required (if any), the final step is to sand it with a fine grain paper. This gives it a smooth finish with a mild “tooth” that the paint adheres to well.
Clean the dust up and wipe the table down with a tack cloth to remove any last remnants.
Prime the table with a roller using a ¼ inch nap for the finest, smoothest coat. It’s better to do two, light, even coats than it is to slop on a heavy coat, so go light-handed.
Acrylic primer generally dries to the touch within 30 minutes, but give the table up to 4 hours to fully dry before adding additional coats
Sponges for Painting
The Base Coat
The first base coat you want to cover your table with is a gold metallic acrylic paint. One of the hallmarks of granite is the shimmery metallic flecks; these will show through very little just to give it that effect.
When you paint on the gold base coat, don’t make it even and perfect. Instead, take a brush, and brush it on in random, crisscrossing strokes. Don’t go back to even them out. You want this variation.
Let this base coat dry about 30 minutes.
The First Color
The first color you want to add to your granite should be the medium shade you selected. Stir your paint well and pour a little onto your Styrofoam plate.
Dampen your sponge and wring it as firmly as possible— you don’t want to get any drips. Pat the sponge into the paint and dab it a bit on newspapers. This will blot it so you don’t get thick globs of paint. Do this each time you re-load the sponge.
Take the loaded sponge and dab, dab, dab it over the surface of the table. You want a heavy dappled effect, so don’t entirely cover up all the gold.
Let this first color dry for about 30 minutes. Clean your sponge while you’re waiting with soap and water until the water runs out clear when you squeeze it.
The Second Color
The second color you apply should be the darkest or the lightest of your three personal choices. Remember, this second color will not be the dominant color. If you want the darkest color to be dominant, choose the lightest color for the second coat. If you want the lightest color to be the dominant color of your table, choose the darkest color to be your second color.
Mix the paint and dribble a little into a new Styrofoam plate. Dab the color on the sponge, blot it on the newspaper, and pat it gently on the table, a little more sparingly this time than the last color. Again, you’re going for that dappled effect; now you want some of the previous color and gold to show through this one.
When you’ve finished, clean your sponge and let it dry.
The Third Color
This time you’re going to apply the final coat with your dominant color. Using the same technique, pat this color on gently over the table, leaving clusters of the other colors showing through. Keep going until you like the overall coverage.
Let it dry. Clean the sponge though, because you’re not done yet.
How to create Faux Granite Countertops
Natural granite has an earthy tone to it that is mottled in with the other colors. To achieve this look, get a shade of tan acrylic paint. Mix one part paint with four parts latex water-based clear glaze, and stir well to tint the glaze.
Pour it out into the plate and dab and blot that damp sponge.
Ever so sparingly, randomly here and there, pat on a little bit of this glaze color. A few dabs every few inches will do it. Since the glaze is translucent, the other colors will still show through from underneath.
Allow the glaze to completely dry overnight.
Sealing the Deal
Apply a top coat of a clear acrylic varnish. You can roll it on or brush it on, but try not to get any brush strokes in it. This sealer will do two important things: it will make your “granite” look shiny and polished, and it will protect your precious paint job from the wear and tear of using the table.
Don’t panic when the varnish looks cloudy; it dries crystal clear. Acrylic varnishes are thinner than oil-based polyurethane (which you should not use on this project). So be prepared to apply at least three to four coats of acrylic varnish, letting the product dry completely in between coats.
Before you call it finished, look at your table legs. With your new faux granite table top, they may look unattractive or out of place. It might be a good time to stain them a rich color, or paint them a solid color to contrast with the granite and match your décor.
After you let your table cure for a week or two, set it with your finest plates and flatware, put a pretty vase of flowers on it and invite some family or friends to dinner. Wow them with your new table. You can shock them by telling them it’s not granite and you painted it yourself—though beware; they may start asking you to help them do some projects at their house. Alternatively, you can just keep your mouth closed and let them fawn over it, to see if anyone even notices it’s not real stone.
Faux Granite Table
My Related Hubs
Amanda Buck from Rural South Central Indiana on September 24, 2019:
That is an incredible kitchen, I love it!
Chen (author) on December 05, 2012:
Thank you! In fact, disastrous old wood furniture is the best kind for faux painting projects-- you feel like you've got nothing to lose, and when you lose the fear of doing it, it somehow turns out so much better. i appreciate your comments.
Chen (author) on December 05, 2012:
Ooh, I have to check out that hub. Faux stained glass painting is so pretty, it can be such a fancy touch to an otherwise plain window. Thank you so much for your votes and for stopping by!
Chen (author) on December 05, 2012:
Thank you so much! It's great that even when you can't afford granite furniture, you can still get the rich and luxurious look. Faux painting is so much fun. I appreciate your comments.
Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord on December 03, 2012:
shai77 this was a good lesson for me, actually I was about to make a disaster with my wood furniture. Thanks for saving the!
Mary Hyatt from Florida on December 03, 2012:
I am so glad I "found" you today. I love to paint and have done Faux Glass Staining on windows and doors. I wrote a Hub about that. I have never done a wooden table before, but you have certainly inspired me to do this. I am bookmarking this Hub.
I voted this UP, and will share, too.
ignugent17 on December 03, 2012:
Thanks for sharing this information. This would come handy in the future.
Voted up and more. :-)
Chen (author) on October 14, 2012:
Thanks so much for your vote, rajan jolly! Glad the videos gave you a good visual. It's really an easy process to master. Have a great day.
Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 11, 2012:
Very interesting. It's good to know there is a cheaper way to get the same granite look. Thanks for showing the way to do it. The videos are cool.
Voted up, useful.
Chen (author) on October 11, 2012:
Hi Jamie-- thanks so much for commenting! You can really faux granite your heart out once you get the hang of it... old blocks of wood can be converted into "granite" pillar candle holders. Finneals for your drapes can be turned into "granite". If you have a cement slab step outside, turn it into "granite" and make your house look rich. Endless possibilities.
Jamie Brock from Texas on October 10, 2012:
oh wow.. I love the look of granite! Thank you for this hub... knowing that you can make a wooden table top to look like granite really gets the gears moving in my mind and now I'm picturing all kinds of faux granite pieces... The videos were great too :) Very inspiring hub, voting up and useful!
Chen (author) on September 13, 2012:
Thank you, Better Yourself! It's amazing what some paint can do in a pinch, isn't it? Thanks so much for stopping by!
Better Yourself from North Carolina on September 07, 2012:
Very cool, I'm impressed! The videos were neat to watch the process and how real it looks finished. Nice job, and Thanks for sharing :)
Chen (author) on March 27, 2012:
Thanks, Pamela. While it may take a few extra prep and finishing steps (extra sanding, a bonding primer, waterproof polyurethane coating) you can actually do this not just on wood, but any old laminated counter in your bathroom or kitchen. Definitely a worthwhile project for weekend warriors on a strict budget.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 27, 2012:
I like your step by step instructions. I didn't know you could paint wood to look like granite. While it is quite a bit of work, when you compare the cost of granite with painted, it is well worthwhile. Very useful hub.
Chen (author) on March 27, 2012:
Thank you moonlake! Yes, it's a very pretty look. People who don't consider themselves artistic or painters are always afraid to try it, but it's really that simple. Anyone interested should give it a go on a piece of scrap wood. They'll be so amazed at the results and feel empowered, they will be ready to tackle their old furniture in a heartbeat.
Chen (author) on March 27, 2012:
Thank you RTalloni! This is such a great technique for homeowners or apartment dwellers on a budget. It's easy and inexpensive, but gives such a rich look. Anyone who thought granite columns or shelves or countertops, etc., was out of their reach should try this technique.
moonlake from America on March 26, 2012:
Enjoyed reading your hub. Tables look so pretty done this way. Voted UP.
RTalloni on March 26, 2012:
Neat tutorial you have here! Our computer desk is a built-in corner unit with about 2' on each side and the room is an outdoors theme. I did this granite technique on the desktop and sides using light and dark greens, metallic copper, and a touch of dark blue. It's fabulous, and indeed, everyone who sees it loves it. I wound up doing the same technique on a couple of wall mounted shelves, combined with some blue on green crackled shelves. The technique has been very durable, outliving a couple of computers and lots of use.
The granite technique can be used for a good effect with a wide variety of colors. I'm planning to paint a kitchen table top soon and am thinking of using the granite technique again. This faux paint technique is striking whether you are going for a true granite look or not.