Crackle paint is a technique that creates a cracked effect on a painted surface, thus allowing the colors below to show through. This gives the impression that the piece of furniture, or whatever else had been painted, is very old. Crackle paint can be used on any surface that covered with latex paint. Crackle painting is easy to do but there are a number of tips that can make the job even easier and the effects more interesting.
Tip #1 - Choosing Colors
You’ll create the most interesting effect by using two contrasting colors for your crackle paint. The undercoat can be a light color with a darker color on top or, if you prefer, these can be applied the other way round. Remember that the undercoat will show through the crackle as well as the topcoat. Complementary colors can create a pleasant effect although it won’t be as striking as using contrasting colors.
Tip #2 - Masking Tape
Before you begin to crackle paint an area, you need to section it off with masking tape. Allow the tape to extend well beyond the area you’ll be painting to avoid any accidents or errors. Don’t wait until the crackle paint has dried to remove the masking tape. It should be done when the paint is still fresh to ensure you don’t remove any off the crackle surface, which can happen if you let the paint dry completely.
Tip #3 - Crackling Size
If you want large crackles in your crackle paint, you’ll be able to achieve this by applying a heavy coat of the crackle medium. For much finer cracks, use a think application of the crackle medium and let it dry. You should only apply the crackle paint in one direction and make sure you don’t overlap your brush strokes. If you do, you’ll be pulling the medium from the surface and the appearance will seem dragged rather than painted. Similarly, you need to make sure the crackle dries completely before adding a color coat.
The base color, too, needs to be applied in a single direction and allowed to dry completely before painting with the crackle medium. You can also use a roller for the base coat.
Tip #4 - Technique
For a porcelain glaze crackle effect, rather than using a paintbrush with bristles, apply the crackle paint with a foam brush for a more even coat. Apply the crackle in an 'X'-shaped pattern.
For a weathered glaze look, use a specific weathered crackle glaze and apply with a bristle brush or a very short nap roller. If the piece with the crackle finish will be kept outdoors, you can protect it from the elements by using an oil-based sealer.
For better cracking, reapply your masking time and add a second coat of the crackle medium. Always experiment with crackle painting on a spare board before undertaking a project so you’ll be able to see the results and make adjustments before starting on an expensive piece of furniture.
With large projects, such as a wall, don’t attempt to do the entire job at once. Divide into sections and tackle them one at a time. You can also experiment with different mediums for applying the crackle paint, such as a natural sea sponge, to test the different effects they can give.