Painting corbels to look like stone

Late last year I bought two corbels for about $31 each. I was thinking of trying to do a wood finish but then I thought I don’t have any stone looking decor. The challenge had been set. Could I paint them to look like old, mossy stone?

Here’s the photos but there’s no instructions. I watched a youtube video on how to splatter paint effectively and practiced on the one on the left. While I put a clear plastic tablecloth over my Olfa mats, I forgot to move everything out of the splatter zone.

I wanted a lot of darker, murkier parts in the low points so I did this very ugly undercoat. Please excuse my favourite cable news show being erased on the photo, I don’t think they’d want images on the blog due to copyright. Next I did a couple of different loads of paint, the dark one has black and dark green, the medium has grey, yellow, green and blue, and the lighter one is light grey with a bit of green and blue.

Right: undercoat. Left: first grey coat. In the background is my first watercolour of one of my new designs featuring in an upcoming book.

There was a lot of stippling and going between the three lots of paint. Overall it took about five days to do.

I was aiming for the finish on the right one but loved the rougher looking one on the left so I mixed the styles together.

The splatter was added.

The matte finish varnish was drying in the detail photos and that’s why it’s a little shiny in places.

If I had one tip for someone painting the fake (non-wood) corbels, it’s to seal/prime them. As they come primed and ready for painting, I didn’t bother and the early coats weren’t accepted well. Even now that they have been varnished, the paint comes off easily so I have to be careful when moving them. You can’t sand them and the surface is quite smooth. There were a few chips in them as they had journeyed half way around the world. This didn’t bother me as I wanted a distressed look and I’m lucky they weren’t bad.

Here’s the finished product. To me they look like real stone even up close so I’m really happy how they turned out. In low light they look quite dark and in bright light are light grey so that’s cool for a change. One is a little greener and one is greyer but I’m okay with that as they aren’t supposed to be identical. I wasn’t expecting them to be different sizes as you can see in the lower right photo. It’s about a half inch difference but I think that adds to the charm and makes them look more bespoke by fake stone masons.

I’d love to do some more as it was fun so I’d say have a go. Distressing the paint job means the rougher the paint job, the better it looks, otherwise I’d still be here weeks later trying to get a perfect paint job!

Happy painting,


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