Slate Faux Marble fireplace - What Paint and Varnish?


23 Jul 2010
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United Kingdom
This is my new project to renovate my Victorian Slate Faux Marble fireplace. But I need some assistance with regards with what paint to use.

As background this is a fireplace made from lengths of slate. The Victorians then painted it with a "Faux Marble" effect to make it look like a marble fireplace. So my fireplace has 1) plain black marble effect (no marbling) 2) with brown marble effect panels.
I am lucky in that this is the original Faux Marble paint and no-one has painted over it (many seem to hate the fake marble effect) or worse (in my opinion) removed the fake marble paint with paint stripper so it is the 'original slate'.

My issue is that the Faux Marble effect is in okay condition for most of the fire surround. But the black marble effect, which basically looks like black paint with a thick varnish, has been warn away from the lower ground touching sections. So these areas are now bare slate.
My question is does anyone have any suggestions or recommendations on what paint and what varnish I should use on these bare slate areas to reproduce an effect similar to the undamaged area? To be clear I am looking for black marble effect with no marbling.

With thanks SFK
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I'm wondering how you got on with restoring your fireplace? Did you end up painting it?
Yes I took the plunge and painted it. Note that I only wanted to cover the areas where there was un-covered slate. I did not want to re-paint the entire fireplace as I wanted to keep as much original work as possible. Also I was happy to have some wear and tear as I wanted it to keep its 100years old look (which it definitely has).
As the uncovered slate looked so bad, and only in three areas (the two feet and the mantelpiece) I decided to take the plunge as I could not find any good guidance.

So in the three areas I sanded the original paint off using 240 paper and then 600 wet and dry and then 1200 wet and dry. This revealed the original very blue slate. Interestingly you could see where imperfections and holes in this slate had been filled before the original paint had been applied.

I then selected the paint. I could fin no suggestions or recommendations, so I selected "Fortress Black Satin Metal Paint - No Primer Needed Apply directly to rust". My thinking being that
- I did not want to bother with a primer that would be hard to blend into the original paint
- I wanted a Stain colour to match the original finish of the paint (which was gloss, but had lost its glossiness)
- I thought/assumed/hoped that the Slate would be similar to metal and for this paint to adhere to (the paint is designed for application to metal).

So I applied the paint in thin layers using a small foam roller. Cutting back with 2400 wet and dry after each coat was dry. In the end I cut back with 2400 wet and dry after final coat to give a more mat finish (it looked too perfect) to match the rest of the original aged paint.

- I did have an issues with the paint forming a slight orange peal effect (small dimples) that I could not fix.
- 2 years on and the paint is still on, so I am happy with the selection of paint.
- I am happy with the finish as I have the original fake marble look, but have hidden the Slate.
- I decided I did not need to varnish as the finish was good enough for me.
- Also, I got a bit of offcut slate tile/paving stone to try my paint on in advance.

Hope it goes okay for you, SFK
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