Crackle Finish Furniture & More

How to Crackle Finish Furniture and Other Large Projects

Have you had fun crackling small craft projects? It’s quick, easy and adds a perfect aged patina to painted wood and other painted surfaces. Before you take your crackle game to the next level and try to crackle finish furniture or other large surfaces, there are some important things you should know.

Crackle Finish Furniture

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Media to Create Crackle Finishes

Crackle Finish Furniture to Small Crafts Like This Ornament

I’ve had success creating a crackle finish on small craft projects like Christmas ornaments with DecoArt Weathered Wood Crackling Medium. Just let the crackle medium dry until tacky (per product directions). Crackling media for crafts need only 20 to 60 minutes to tack up. But that’s simply not enough time to do larger pieces like crackle finish furniture.

When you want to crackle finish furniture or other large objects, head to the paint department rather than the craft aisle. There you will find paint crackling glazes with much longer set-up times. Typically you have a window of one and four hours in which to apply one smooth coat of the top color after applying the crackle glaze.

The basic process is the same to crackle finish furniture as it is for small crafts:

  1. Apply one or two thin coats of satin or matte acrylic/latex base color and let dry completely;
  2. Working quickly, apply one smooth even coat of crackling glaze — do not overwork;
  3. Let glaze dry until just a little tacky;
  4. Working quickly, apply one thin even coat of matte acrylic/latex contrasting color paint — do not overwork;
  5. The topcoat will begin crackling almost immediately as the glue in the crackle medium continues to shrink and dry;
  6. Let dry completely;
  7. You can antique, shade or paint over the dry, crackled surface before sealing or seal the piece with a light coat of matte spray and then antique, shade or paint on the sealed surface. The final seal should be quite heavy.

Special Techniques to Crackle Finish Furniture and Other Large Projects

Crackle Finish Furniture: White Over Gold

These techniques may help achieve best results on small projects as well but are essential to crackle finish furniture and other large projects.

  • Use a synthetic — not natural — bristle brush or a paint roller.
  • Apply crackle medium with a brush for large elongated cracks.
  • Apply crackle medium with a natural sea sponge for fine webbed cracks.

These techniques are unique to larger crackle finish projects.

  • Let base coat dry overnight before applying crackle glaze.
  • Let project cure 72 hours before distressing, antiquing and/or sealing.

Other Tips to Crackle Finish Furniture and Other Large Projects

You’ll find lots of great crackle ideas at Valspar.

Be sure to avoid going over and over same area. Do an area thoroughly, and move on. Do not go back and try to fix. If you do go over an area where the paint has already begun to crackle, you’ll create sticky globs of paint that lift and smear. You can camouflage any unsatisfactory areas later with finishing touches like distressing.

Read the crackle glaze product directions for drying time. If you allow the glaze to dry longer than the window indicated — usually four hours, you will need to reapply.

Thank you for visiting and for your thoughtful comments.

Finally, here are more Decoupage & Special Finish ideas.

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About Eileen Bergen


  1. I painted crackle medium on my wooden coffee table prior to top coat but it’s gone flakey! Do I rub it off or paint top coat over it?

    • Eileen Bergen says:

      Hi Robena,

      I’d say just put the top coat on and see what happens. It might not work or the flaky surface might be rougher than you want. But it might be fine and then you’re done. If you’re not happy, you’ll have to sand it off and start over.

      How to decide? If you have an idea of why the medium is flaking off, you’ll have a better idea of whether to sand it all off right away. Was the surface properly prepared and grease-free. Was the crackle medium old or an off brand (that is, not good quality)? Did you wait until the medium got tacky but before it hardened.

      I hope this helps. I’d love to know how you resolve the problem.

      • Thank you for your reply! I have come to the conclusion that it takes only half hour to dry completely not the 6 hours I was expecting.

        Also that it will not work with metallic paint as the top coat! I now have to sand it off, will paint the top coat again and if necessary I will lightly sponge gold over the finished article!

        Thank you.

        • Eileen Bergen says:

          Hi Robena,

          I had a light bulb moment when you mentioned metallic paint. It sounds that you figured it out on your own. But just in case, the rule is metallic paint won’t crackle so you can’t use it as your top coat. However, you can use it for the base coat and let the metallic look show through the cracks.

          See Crackle Finish TroubleshootingCrackle Finish TroubleshootingCrackle Finish Troubleshooting for more information.

  2. jny_jeanpretty says:

    You always amaze me with the variety of fascinating things I learn from you! Things I never understood before I visited you! Thanks for this new one–I love it! jean xox

  3. Wonderful information Eileen! I’m going to have to try applying the crackle medium with a sponge for that web like crackling design.. i think thats what i have been trying to achieve all along and never thought to use a sponge…. thanks so much for this… I’ve never tried to crackle a large piece but i may have to give it a try in the new house… Hugs! deb

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