Faux Crackle Painting Technique

If you want to give your furniture new life, painting it can do this. Of course, you can paint just about anything, but if you want to created a faux effect, you had better follow the steps of doing so correctly, or your efforts will be for naught. I decided I wanted to make some old, worthless furniture look like white antique furniture worthy of my new guest bedroom. But I had only done faux finishes on walls and those attempts never came out quite as well as I had hoped.
I did a few searches online only to find little about doing a faux crackle finish. But one article I did find led to me buying Valspar Weathered Crackle Glaze. Here is what I did to achieve what I think is a pretty darn good job on my bedroom set:

YOU WILL NEED:

  • 3" or 4" roller
  • A good 2 1/2" nylon bristle paint brush
  • Roller pan
  • Cleaned bicycle chain or an old sock with nuts, bolts and screws (if distressing)
  • (2) cans Valspar Flat acrylic paint in your choice of colors (you will need 2 colors - base coat and top coat)
    Be sure to choose colors that compliment each other and look natural. I chose to use a very light blue for my base coat, and then an antique white for the top. The result was very nice. For a more dramatic look, choose bolder, more contrasting colors. For more subtlety, use colors that are only a few shades off from one another.
  • (1) container Valspar Weathered Crackle Glaze
  • (1) can Valspar Clear Coat
  1. SAND your furniture well - especially if there is a protective coating such as poly or clear coat on it - your base paint won't adhere well to these mediums. When you're done sanding, be sure to thoroughly clean each piece so that it is clean and has no dust particles on it. I use a Murphy's Oil and water solution to really clean all wood surfaces.
  2. DISTRESS. If you don't want the old, beat up look to your furniture, skip this part. But if you want the furniture to look like it has gone through a few kids, moves and generations, you can take a clean chain, or throw a handful of nuts, bolts and flat-ended screws into an old sock. Have FUN! Beat your furniture with your weapon of choice - and try to 'beat' it where it would naturally have gotten wear - corners that would have been bumped by vacuums, desktops that would have had things dropped on them, etc.
  3. BASE COAT. Remember, this technique is based on using the Valspar Weather Crackle medium, so these steps are important for making this product work. Using a flat latex base in the color of your choice, paint your furniture. Allow the base coat to dry completely, I recommend overnight.
  4. CRACKLE GLAZE. Important: Only apply crackle glaze to FLAT surfaces that you are can paint over within 1 to 4 hours. If you are not able to paint over the crackle glaze in this time period, do not start this step. Apply crackle glaze evenly (and somewhat generously) to all flat surfaces (meaning, do not apply to vertical surfaces!). It is best to apply with a small roller, but use a brush for ornate areas or spindles (such as on headboards or chairs). Only do one side of a spindle - you will do the other sides later.
  5. TOP COAT. Allow the crackle glaze to dry for 1 to 4 hours. Once it has dried, you need to apply your top coat quickly. This is the most difficult step of the process, so follow these instructions well! You MUST use a FLAT paint for this coat or it will NOT crackle!! I recommend using a wide brush for applying the top coat. Once you start applying, you cannot go over what you have already painted! Using heavy amounts of paint, swiftly apply the top coat in single strokes going the same direction. If you're quick, you can dip your brush and start at the very end of your last stroke for full coverage. You'll soon see that speed and efficiency are key in this step. Within 15 to 30 seconds you will begin to see the top coat crackle and the bottom coat show through. If you get clumps from going over the same area too much or going the opposite direction, don't fret too much - when everything is dry you can sand these areas a bit. But in my experience, as long as you do your best to minimize the clumps, they take on part of the effect of the aged antique look and blend in.
  6. To cover all sides of your piece you must allow each surface area to dry completely, then repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have covered all areas. If you do not do these steps so that each side is flat, you will get "slipping" of the paint. Essentially, the glaze allows the paint to slip apart, creating cracks. If you apply the glaze and top coat to a vertical surface, the top coat will simply slide off, and you get a result that is less than desirable. I learned this the hard way, and ended up sanding off the large blob of paint that gathered at the bottom of the side of my bed stand, and afterwards touched it up with another light application of top coat. Now I am doing my dresser, and doing each side face up for a flat surface and better result.
  7. SAND. Once your paint is dry, go over any rough spots, or clumps with medium fine sandpaper. (If you need to, you can touch up any undesirable spots with the top coat again, and use to your discretion). Then, take your sandpaper to corners, edges and areas that receive normal wear. Sand through in small areas to the wood, and you will get a natural worn look. Of course, this is a step done to your preference. Some people don't want worn furniture, so if you fall into this category, don't sand too much.
  8. WIPE Down the furniture to remove any sanding dust.
  9. APPLY CLEAR COAT. Valspar has a clear coat that is sold specifically for faux finishes. It dries clear and protects your work of art.

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