How to Make Furniture Look Old With Crackled Paint

Updated February 21, 2017

Crackled paint is a technique of making paintable surfaces, such as furniture, look old as if the paint is cracking and peeling, to give the surface old world character. The furniture is first painted with a dark colour, then glazed with a thick crackle medium and finally topped with a lighter colour. As the top colour dries the paint cracks and splits showing the darker colour beneath. An acrylic top coat is usually applied to protect the effect once the paint is fully dried in order to keep the crackled pieces from peeling and to keep moisture from damaging the effect. The final effect is one of old world charm or a shabby chic look that makes the furniture itself distinctive and unusual.

Sand the surface of the furniture to be crackle painted with fine grit sand paper if necessary to strip away any peeling old paint or rust, then clean the furniture surface thoroughly with a sponge and water so the paint and crackle glaze adhere properly.

Fill any pits in wood furniture with wood filler and apply a wood sealer before continuing with the crackle painting technique; apply metal primer to metal furniture before continuing; sand plastic furniture with fine grit sand paper before applying the base paint and crackle glaze.

Apply the dark coloured flat base coat to the furniture's surface with a paint brush or foam roller and allow it to dry completely. Apply a second coat to cement or masonry furniture, wood and plastic furniture and allow it to dry completely before continuing.

Cover the furniture in a thick coat of the crackle glaze using a foam brush. Allow the glaze to dry completely, or over night if possible.

Paint the lighter coloured top coat of paint over the dried glaze with a brush and allow it to dry completely. The crackle effect is achieved as the top colour dries, thus a thick top coat results in larger cracks, a thinner coat in finer crackling.

Seal the furniture by apply an even coat of clear, acrylic sealer to protect the new crackle finish.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Fine grit sand paper
  • Wood filler
  • Wood sealer
  • Metal primer
  • Flat, dark paint
  • Paint brush/foam roller
  • Crackle glaze
  • Foam brush
  • Lighter second paint colour
  • Paint brush
  • Acrylic top coat
  • Acrylic paint brush
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About the Author

An attorney for more than 18 years, Jennifer Williams has served the Florida Judiciary as supervising attorney for research and drafting, and as appointed special master. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Jacksonville University, law degree from NSU's Shepard-Broad Law Center and certificates in environmental law and Native American rights from Tulsa University Law.