Crackle Paint Effect

Updated December 12, 2017

Have you seen furniture that looks like it is centuries old with cracked but still classic paint? That is a technique called crackle painting. This is a painting effect that is done with different colours and on different materials, including walls and furniture. Crackle painting takes about two days to finish.


People typically use crackle painting for an antique look. There are different degrees of crackle painting that can make furniture and walls look worn and as though they have seen many years of history. Some crackle effects look like cracked porcelain, and others look like cracked paint on wood. Either way, your finished project will look unique.

How It Works

First you apply the base coat of paint. A latex paint is good to use because it will dry quicker than an oil based paint. The base paint is the colour that will show through the cracks, and it can be any colour you want. After that coat has dried, apply the crackle glaze. The type of glaze you use depends on the type of crackle you want on the finished product. It can be either porcelain or weathered. Apply two coats of the glaze. The last coat should be applied in vertical strokes if it is a wall, or should go with the wood grain of furniture. When the crackle glaze has dried, apply the final coat. This should be a flat interior paint, not glossy. The colour is once again your choice.

Typical Colors

A crackle effect can be used with only one colour of paint and have white showing through. This gives the wall or furniture a truly weathered, natural appearance. A classic weathered appearance also can be achieved with a dark base coat like navy blue or forest green and then applying a colour like eggshell white over it. For a fun, bright crackled piece, mix up the colours and use a bright colour, like gold, as the base colour and another bright colour, like rose, over it. This will not look natural, but it will be a bright, fun display of crackled furniture.

Types of Crackle Paint

The crackle glaze comes in different forms, just like the interior paint. Milk paint is a natural interior paint that is nontoxic and not harmful to the environment. It does not have the bold colours of latex or oil paints. Natural crackle paint works well with the qualities of milk paint and a few other water-based paints. It is has no odour and is also nontoxic.

Appearance Variations

The weathered appearance of crackle paint will make your finished product look like the paint has been weather worn over many years. Long cracks in it appear like the cracks in tree bark. On the other hand, a porcelain finish will have many small cracks scattered all over the piece and will look like aged, hand-painted porcelain. Make larger cracks by adding more of the crackle glaze before the final coat is applied. For smaller cracks, apply less glaze.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Natalie Saar began writing professionally at the age of 19. She majored in journalism and her writing has appeared in the magazine "Generation WHY" as well as "The Clause" newspaper. Saar graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a Bachelor of Arts in media and cultural studies.