Crackle Painting

Crackle painting has become one of the most popular paint techniques in recent years. Crackling can add a great aged or worn look to furniture, cabinets, and other accessories.

The rise in popularity of the “Shabby Chic” decorating style has led to an increase in the number of crackling glazes, or crackling mediums, available to the do-it-yourself painter. These products have made crackle painting a fairly easy and painless process.

To create the look of an antiqued piece of furniture or woodwork, crackle painting works best when the base coat and the top (or crackled) coat are contrasted.

This basically means that the base coat should be a dark color and the crackled top coat should be light, or vice versa. The effect can be achieved either way.

As I mentioned, there are many different types of crackling glazes available. These instructions apply only to water-based, second-coat crackling glazes.

This type of glaze is designed to used with latex (or water-based) paints and be applied after the base coat.

Most crackling glazes found today are exactly this type, but be sure to double check the label before purchasing.

For crackle painting, as with all the paint techniques found on this site, I strongly suggest you practice on a practice board or a piece of drywall before moving onto more permanent surfaces.

Before you begin, make sure your surfaces are properly prepared for painting. Not sure? Take a look at our paint preparation instructions (opens in a new window).

Here is what you’ll need:

Necessary Paint Products:

  • Latex Paint (in two colors)

  • Crackle Glaze

Necessary Paint Tools

  • 3” Nylon-Poly Paint Brush

Optional Paint Tools

  • 3/8” Roller and Roller Cage (for base coat, if area is large enough)


Painting Base Coats

Important note: If you are painting unfinished wood, I suggest using a primer/sealer on the surface before you apply your base coat. If this is left unfinished, the wood may discolor the paint.

If you are working on woodwork, cabinets, or a wall, tape off all the adjoining, unpainted surfaces.

Brush on (or roll, depending on the size of the surface), your base color.

Allow the base coat to dry completely (12-24 hours) before beginning Step 2.


Applying the Crackling Glaze

The crackle glaze will be applied directly over top of the dried base coat. It will go on clear and shiny, giving the surface a wet, glazed appearance.

Load your brush with crackling glaze and brush in one direction along the surface, applying a single smooth, even coat. Crackling glaze must be applied in one direction, so do not vary your brush strokes.

As a general rule, the thicker you apply the crackle medium, the larger your cracks will be. For very fine cracks, apply a thin coat of glaze.

Continue until you have applied a single coat of glaze over your entire surface. Allow one hour to dry.


Applying the Top Coat

Using a clean brush, begin applying your top color over top of the crackling glaze in the opposite direction in which you applied the glaze.

And that’s it. I told you crackle painting wasn’t difficult. Enjoy your new crackle painted surface.

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