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How to Crackle Paint

Two Methods:Using GlueUsing Spraying Technique

Crackle painting is a technique used to give painted surfaces a worn and aged look. By applying a layer of glue or crackling medium between 2 layers of latex or acrylic paint, you can give most any surface a faux finish. Follow these steps to crackle paint your next craft project.

Method 1
Using Glue

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    Select the item you wish to paint. Crackle painting can be done on wood, ceramic, and canvas as well as various other surfaces.
    • If you are using wood, make sure it is treated as untreated wood may discolor the faux finish.
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    Pick two contrasting colors. It does not matter which color you lay down first. Crackle paint will show up with a dark on light contrast as well as a light on dark.
    • You can also use metallic paints to give the object an added shine.
    • Note: if colors are too similar, the crackling effect may not show up as well.
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    Paint the first layer. Use a paintbrush or small paint roller to coat the object with a layer of latex or acrylic paint.
    • Paint any edges that may be visible, like on a picture frame or piece of wall art.
    • Let the first coat dry completely before proceeding.
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    Cover the first coat in a crackling medium or all-purpose clear glue. Crackling glue can be bought at your local craft supply store. You can use generic glue as well. The thicker the coat of glue the larger the crackling effect you will achieve.
    • For fine crackle lines, apply a thin layer of glue.
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    Paint on the top color immediately. The crackling medium will dry fast so you must get the second color on before it dries or the crackling effect will not work. Lightly apply the paint with a soft paintbrush.
    • You do not want to be heavy handed with the brush or you will run the paint through the glue, which will distort the faux finish. You can also spray on the top color with a paint sprayer for a faster application.
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    Let your project dry thoroughly. As the paint dries, the cracks will appear.
    • If you want to speed up the process, you may wish to use a heat gun.
    • Finish the project by putting on a clear coat of polyurethane.
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Method 2
Using Spraying Technique

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    Use two different shades of acrylic paint. If you want a significant contrast in color, use two different colors. Alternatively, you can use two shades of the same color - one darker, one lighter - to create a more subtle crackle effect.
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    Use good quality paint. Good quality paint is essential. Acrylic paint is recommended.
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    Spray the first shade as a primer. Select the shade of paint you want to use as your base coat and spray a thin, even layer over the surface. Then wait for the paint to dry.
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    Spray a second coat. Apply a second coat of the same color, spraying heavily. Wait for the paint to begin drying, just until it becomes tacky.
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    Spray the second color. Now spray the second shade of paint to achieve a crackle effect. Make sure the paint you use is a high-gloss acrylic. For a heavier crackle effect, concentrate on spraying some parts more than others.
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    Use a heat gun. Use a heat gun to dry the final layer of paint. This will cause the top layer of paint to crackle and form interesting patterns.
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    Use a stain (optional). You could also give your work an aged woodwork effect by applying a thin dark stain to the surface, then wiping it off with a cloth. Raw linseed oil is a good option, as it doesn't dry too quickly.


  • The kind of brush used on the top coat will determine the crackling pattern. If you are using a brush, the lines will be parallel to each other. Top coats applied with a roller will have a more circular faux finish.
  • For larger projects, you may wish to work in sections so that the glue does not dry before you can apply the second paint color.

Things You'll Need

  • Latex or acrylic paint in 2 colors
  • Soft paint brush
  • Small paint roller
  • Crackling medium
  • All purpose clear glue
  • Heat gun
  • Polyurethane

Article Info

Categories: Home Decorating | Painting