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How To Apply a Crackle Finish

An easy-to-do crackle finish gives a piece the aged look of peeling paint.

More in Decorating

crackle finish gives an aged look of peeling paint Watch Video
  • Time

    Two Days

  • Price Range

    $50 - $100

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Paint a Base Coat

Apply a base coat of paint to the project surface, and let dry. The base coat will show through the crackled top coat, so choose paint colors that contrast nicely. We used a black base coat and a white top coat.

Step 2: Apply the Crackle Medium

Brush a coat of clear crackle-finish medium onto the piece. The crackle glaze usually takes 30 minutes to an hour to dry; follow the manufacturer's directions.

Step 3: Apply the Top Coat

Brush the latex top coat onto the piece, loading the brush with enough paint so that each section can be painted with one motion. The crackling begins immediately on the first layer of paint it comes in contact with. Avoid over-brushing, which erases the cracks.

crackling begins immediately after being painted

Courtesy of James Calloway

Step 4: Finish the Piece

When the entire crackle finish is dry, seal the piece with a coat of acrylic polyurethane. White glue may also be used as a crackle-glaze medium. Brush the glue on a base-coated piece, and when the glue is just dry enough to form a thin skin, brush on the top-coat color. As the glue dries completely, a subtle crackle effect appears.

To achieve a spidery, mottled crackle finish, spray-paint the latex top coat.