Crackle Faux Painting: On Furniture

A technique that works really well on furniture is crackle faux painting.

A crackle finish will make the chair, dresser, or cabinet look old but with character.

Many have used this effect to complement a farmhouse country theme as well as a french country theme in their home.

To read more on how easy it is to accomplish this technique on entire walls, click here for the easy, step by step, faux painting book.

crackle faux finish

Here are the things you'll need for crackle faux painting on furniture:

Two paint colors, one for the base coat (the color for your cracks) and one for the top coat (your dominant color)

Crackle medium

Latex brush

Sea Sponge, the sponge is optional depending on what size cracks you want (more on this later)

Clear Coat, this would be a water based clear coat for protecting your finish

1. First pick two colors. Remember the final color is the one that will most define the furniture when you are finished. But you must choose a contrasting color for the base coat. This is the color that will show through the cracks.

2. Go ahead and paint the base color, the first one that you paint directly on to the furniture. A good suggestion is to have this color made up in a good bonding primer. That way it is sure to stick to your furniture no matter what finish is already there. If this coat goes on without streaking, if it coats solid, this coat will be enough. If not, just paint it again with the same color. Let this dry sufficiently. If it is oil, it'll probably take overnight. For an acrylic bonding primer, generally two hours is enough.

faux crackle furniture

This photo shows a solid brown coat as the base and the color that will show through the cracks.

3. Next, apply a crackle medium. This is a clear liquid that is specifically designed for the purpose of making cracks in the final coat. It is always called 'crackle medium' and is available in a variety of brands just about anywhere paint supplies are sold.

Apply this clear liquid and let it dry to the touch. You generally have about four hours to complete the project after this. Some crackle mediums lose their effectiveness after this.

4. Next apply your finish color. This should be an acrylic (water based) paint that is NOT glossy. Use either flat finish or at most satin or eggshell. Never use semi-gloss or gloss as these do not crack as well. As the top coat dries the cracks will appear. You do not have to do anything more to affect this procedure.

You may apply this coat with a brush or a sponge. If you have the equipment you may even spray this finish on the surface of your furniture. Remember, where the paint is applied heavier the cracks will be bigger. Conversely where the paint is applied thinly, the cracks will be smaller. Try your best to keep the application as uniform as possible. However, the variance of the size of the cracks sometimes adds to the overall character of the piece.

The brush will usually make the cracks a little bigger and in some cases longer. The sponge will help keep the cracks smaller and will give a nice worn effect to the paint also. I usually prefer the sponge if it helps in your decision.

crackle faux painting

Here in this photo you see the detail and the nice crackle faux painting effect you can have on furniture.

Important tip: As you will notice on the directions of the crackle medium can, once you cover an area with your top color don't go back over it. It will pull off any paint you applied and may prevent the crackle. Just try to give it a quick, even coat, let it dry, and you should be fine.

5. Since you have used a flat or eggshell topcoat, you will want to cover the nice crackle faux painting effect with a clear coat to protect it. Of course wait until the finish coat has dried before you do this. Then you can simply brush on a water based clear coat. You may want to check out our clear coat page for some added advice.

I hope these tips help you get exactly the look you want.

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