a year ago – by Maggie Rossell

Crackle Paint: How to Make it at Home & How to Use it for Vintage Vibes

5 min read
If you are into DIY projects and love that aged, antique look, you will love crackle paint. The crackle paint effect will create a vintage vibe to your furniture and give a stylish edge to your space.
  1. What is Crackle Paint?
  2. How to Make Crackle Paint
  3. Get Fun Painting Projects Delivered to Your Home!

If you are into DIY projects and love that aged, antique look, you will love crackle paint.  The crackle paint effect will create a vintage vibe to your furniture and give a stylish edge to your space.  

Crackle paint is fun to make and looks awesome. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to use crackle paint, so you can get messy, have fun, and transform your living space in the process! 

What is Crackle Paint?

Crackle paint is a method of painting that creates a cracked look. It involves covering a painted object in glue. Then, to create that crackle effect, paint over the glue. The result is a beautiful aged patina appearance. 

Crackle paint looks great on picture frames, mirror frames, chairs, tables —- really any furniture. It looks especially good on wood, though it will work with most materials. 

Just remember, it’s always a good idea to practice the crackle effect on a scrap object in order to get the technique down before committing to a piece you are attached to. 

Photo credit: Meg Del Design

How to Make Crackle Paint

There are lots of products on the market to make your crackle painting experience more streamlined, including crackle spray paint and crackle glaze paint. Many of these products are fantastic.

However, we’ll focus on an easy DIY method you can do at home. This way you can create crackle paint economically with things you probably already have on hand. You can always upgrade later, when you get the hang of it, in order to keep experimenting.  

1. Prep Your Piece

First things first: get your chair or table or whatever you’ll be crackling ready to go. This involves cleaning and usually sanding it down with sandpaper to remove any old paint and smooth out any rough bits. Be sure to wipe off any sanding dust.

It’s also a good idea to apply a primer to your entire piece because a primer allows the paint to adhere, preventing future chipping. However, if you’re just practicing on scrap wood, you don’t need to waste money on a primer.

Paint a thin layer of your primer and let dry.  

2. Choose Your Color Combo

The fun thing about crackle paint is that the base colour will show through when the top layer crackles. So you can have fun pairing different colours. If you want the cracks to really stand out, choose colors with sharp contrasts. Black and white, for example, are a classic combo that looks great. 

If, on the other hand, you want a more subtle cracking effect, choose two colours that are closer on the colour wheel. Gold and rose pink are a beautiful colour combo. 

The important thing is that you pick two colours that you like and that look good together.  

A note on paints: Latex paint, acrylic paint, and chalk paints work best. Using a semi-gloss or satin paint for the base coat will make the crackles stand out more in the light. A matte paint is preferable for the top layer. 

3. Paint the Base Colour

Once the primer is dry and you’ve committed to a colour scheme, paint the entire piece in your base colour. Paint with the grain of your wood for the best results. 

Let it dry thoroughly.

4. Paint on a Layer of Glue 

Now paint on a layer of good ol’ Elmer’s glue (or another similar white glue). A thick layer of glue will produce big cracks, while a thin layer of glue will produce hairline cracks. It’s up to you. 

5. Let Dry

Now, this is important: if you’re using one of the many crackle products sold at craft stores, you’ll wait until they are completely dry. HOWEVER, if using Elmer’s, or normal white glue, you want it to dry until tacky — so not totally dry.  This means that if you are painting a large object, you may need to do the glue and top layer of paint in sections, to prevent the glue drying completely before you’ve returned with a top layer. 

6. Top Layer of Paint 

Now for the top layer! Be attentive here: You only want only ONE layer of top paint. That means ONE stroke of paint. The cracking will begin right away and painting a second stroke of paint will cover up those much desired cracks!

Therefore be sure to put enough paint on the brush so one stroke will sufficiently cover the bottom layers. Once again, the thickness is up to you. A thick top coat will create larger cracks, while a thinner coat will produce thinner cracks.

7. Watch the Cracks Appear!

The crackling will begin right away. As the glue dries, the paint will shrink, creating the lovely cracking effect. If you want to enhance the crackling, you can use a blow dryer on high heat.  

Additionally, once the paint has totally dried, you may choose to sand it again. You can do this more or less depending how much you want to bring out the base layer. 

8. Seal It

This is optional. If you don’t seal your piece, it will look more authentically old. However, it will also continue to chip and crack with age. If you like this, great! If, however, you will be using this item a lot and want it to last a long time, a protective finish is advised.

Get a clear sealant and apply a layer over the entire piece. Use a matte finish to keep it looking natural.

Photo credit: Meg Del Design

Get Fun Painting Projects Delivered to Your Home!

If you love painting projects, sign up for Betterly’s Paint and Color subscription box service. You’ll get fun objects to paint, along with instructions and the opportunity to learn about design and colour. It’s the perfect gift for yourself or a friend who loves DIY projects!

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