Faux marble tile can offer a dramatic aesthetic upgrade for a small fraction of the price of the real thing. Here's an approach you might take to make your own.
Let's say you're starting with tumbled marble tiles approximately 12 by 12 inches or normal tile size. The process is to insert tiles in a rock tumbler, and whilst this is rotating, the rubbing of the tiles will attain a chipped edge and a rough surface. Since these are natural marbles, the veins and grooves are in the tile itself, and no further action will be required other than to glue them to the wall or as floor tiling.
Considering that tumbled marble tiles are quite expensive to purchase, you might consider treating ordinary tiles to look like tumbled marble with a DIY process. You can perform this process on your existing floors or worktop tiles or new tiles you intend to install.
Step 1 - Roughening the Tiles
To acquire a tumbled look, the tiles need to be abraded. An option is to use an electric sander to remove the glaze from the tiles. Next, use coarse sandpaper, say 150 grit, to acquire the desired effect. Rougher than this will leave undesired rubbing marks that will show in the final product.
Alternatively, you can use a liquid acid or paint remover. Make sure to wear your protective clothing before starting this part of the project. Using an old brush, thoroughly apply to the tiles. Leave the acid or paint remover on for approximately 15 minutes. Next, wash the tiles with plenty of water and liquid detergent and dry the tiles. You will now notice that the surface of tiles has become rather rough, thus the desired effect. If you are still not happy with the result, repeat the process a second time.
Step 2 - Cleaning the Tiles
Having attained the desired rough surface of the tiles, it is now imperative that the tiles are spotlessly clean, irrespective of whether these have been abraded with sandpaper or using acid. Should dust, acid, or paint remover remain on the tiles, your efforts will be insignificant, and paint will not adhere to the tiles.
Step 3 - Applying the Base Coat
Prepare the eggshell paint by thinning it to the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply one thin coat and leave to dry overnight. The next day, reapply a second coat. For an excellent base, thin the paint further by a further 10 percent and apply the third coat after two hours. Again, leave to dry overnight.
Step 4 - Applying the Faux Effect
Place three large drops of paint of your choice on a paper plate and dip the sponge in all three colors. Next, dab and smear the tiles to create a marbled effect. While working in the paint, should you notice any excess paint, remove it by sponging off paint onto a rag or paper towels. Once all the tiles have been dabbed, leave to dry overnight.
Step 5 - Marble Veining
Using a lighter shade of paint, dip a feather or an artist’s fine brush and paint fine lines to achieve veins. To obtain a true likeness to marble, add some white lines adjacent to the lighter shades applied. To continue softening the tiles, sponge lighter shades to the sides of the tiles.
To protect your hard work, apply two coats of urethane. Urethane is durable and will last for a considerable number of years. Once dry, buff the tiles to give them a realistic marble effect.