A marble fireplace surround adds visual appeal to an area of a home that attracts attention. One disadvantage of choosing marble is that the natural stone is heavy and expensive to replace. One alternative to replacement is to paint over the marble. In painting, you lose the natural stone touch, but you can choose the color or even faux-finish the look to create a marble look. Preparation is the key to painting a marble fireplace surround.
Lay a protective tarp or drop cloth under and around the fireplace area to protect your surroundings from paint. Use painter's tape to cover walls with tarp.
Clean the marble surface with mineral spirits or a similar solvent-based cleaner. These cleaners remove grease, oil, dirt, dust and all other contaminants that prevent paint from bonding to the surface.
Dry the area with a lint-free towel and inspect your work. If you find any cracks in the tile larger than 1/8 inch, fill them with epoxy filler. These cracks will show through your final paint job.
Sand the marble surface with 220-grit sandpaper. Sanding roughens the glossy surface, making it more accepting of primer and paint. Be sure that you sand all surfaces you need to paint. Wipe the surface down with a tack cloth to remove residual sanding dust.
Prime the marble surface with a primer designed for glossy or shiny surfaces. Use a paintbrush or roller to apply a thin layer of primer over the entire surface. Allow the first coat to dry and apply a second coat to ensure proper coverage. Allow the second coat to dry completely before continuing.
Inspect the primer and touch up as needed. When the final primer has dried, sand the area again with 220-grit sandpaper to prepare the surface for the paint. Wipe the primer with a tack cloth to remove dust.
Paint the primed surface with semi- or high-gloss paint. Thin the paint according to product instructions. Use a brush or roller to apply a thin coat. Allow the first coat to dry, then apply a second thin coat, sanding lightly between each coat.
Apply at least three thin coats of paint; this will ensure better bonding and longer-lasting paint than a single thin coat. You may need to apply more coats to achieve the best color. Allow the final coat to dry completely for at least 24 hours before igniting the fireplace.