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How to Get Crackle Effect on Paint – DIY Technique for Beginners

Crackle paint is one of the most extraordinary techniques to make a piece of furniture or an artifact look classic or vintage. It can make a dull item look exquisite. Many interior designers use this finishing technique to make the interiors of a house look aged or classic. However, many designers charge a hefty amount of money for their skills, and it becomes difficult to fulfil our dreams of giving our homes a vintage look. But the good news is that one does not have to be a professional painter or artist to crackle paint since anybody can effortlessly create it by following a few simple steps. Here is a detailed step-by-step guide about how to do crackle paint. Read on to make the most elegant piece of artwork using the best crackle paint technique.

Materials and Tools Required for Cracking Paint Effect

You don’t need to own expensive materials or tools to crackle paint since most of the items required are cost-effective and can be found in a store in your vicinity. Here are a few types of equipment you will require to create a beautiful finish using this unique art form:

  • Latex or acrylic paint
  • Crackle medium or glue  
  • Paintbrushes
  • A damp cloth
  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Hairdryer
  • Paint roller (optional)
  • Semi-Gloss

How to Crackle Paint Finish on Wood or Other Surfaces?

Take all the required tools mentioned above and know how to make latex or acrylic paint crackle perfectly from the below-detailed procedure.

Step 1: Select a piece of item

Select an item of your choice. Even though you can crackle paint any surface like concrete, metal, or stone, it looks more realistic and attractive if done on a wooden surface. Therefore, use an appropriate item to make it look more classic.

Step 2: Sand the chosen item

Once you choose the item you would like to crackle paint, sand it using 150-grit sandpaper or a finer one. Although it is not necessary to rub sandpaper against the item you have chosen, it is advised to smoothen the surface especially, if it is wooden. Smoothening the wooden surface will make it easier for you to coat it.

wood sanding image

Step 3: Wipe the item using a damp cloth

Wipe all the areas of the item you’d like to paint using a damp cloth, and make sure you use warm water to dampen your cloth to make sure that the surface is free of sand dust.

Wiping wood using damp cloth image

Step 4: Apply a primer to the surface

Once you are done with wiping, coat the surface you are going to paint with a thin primer. Although it is an optional step, it will smoothen the item (mainly wooden) and give it a professional look. Primer is also used to protect wooden items from damage and makes them last longer. Therefore, you should consider applying the best paint primer to the wooden surface.

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Step 5: Paint the item using a base color

Paint the surface using a color of your choice. Use latex paint or semi-gloss to paint the base to make the cracks look bright and glittery. However, if you do not wish to use semi-gloss, you can go for chalk or acrylic paint. Paint the targeted surfaces well and let them dry overnight.

applying color on wood image

Step 6: Apply crackle medium or glue onto the base coat

After the base coat is fully dried, brush a crackle medium or glue onto the surface of the item. You can buy a crackle medium from a nearby craft store, or you can use wood glue for brushing the surface. If you use glue to paint the surface, make sure to use a hairdryer on the glued surface to dry up a little. Keep the hairdryer on a moderate level so that the wet glue does not bubble up and ruin the cracks. However, if you use a crackle medium, you can quickly proceed to the next step. Another thing you should keep in mind is that you should keep the coating uneven to make the item look more aged.

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Step 7: Paint the glued surface with a contrasting color

After the glue is dried up a little, paint it with a color that contrasts with the base color to make it look more eye-catching. Also, remember the glue should not dry completely because the cracks will not appear if you do so. Now, use latex or acrylic, or chalk paint to paint the surface. Let the surface dry for up to 2 hours after you paint. After the glue under the coat dries, it shrinks up the acrylic paint giving the surface the desired vintage look.

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Crackle Paint Mistakes & Tips to Avoid

  • On vertical surfaces, eliminate an extremely thick topcoat to avoid sagging.
  • Avoid wiping too hard using the wet rag as it disturbs the crackle medium underneath.
  • Don’t touch the final paint immediately. Wait till the paint (not the glue) gets dry completely.


1. What to add to the paint to make it crackle?

Ans: You can add a crackle medium to make your item look more crackled. Glue can also give effective results if you do not dry it too much or too little. Make sure to balance the dryness of the glue properly to get the desired results.

2. What kind of paint should one use for crackle glaze?

Ans: For crackle glaze painting, you must use flat paint to make the crackle appear more attractive and make sure to use a semi-gloss in the base coat to make the crackle glaze.

3. How to choose the best crackle paint color combinations?

Ans: Use two high contrasting colors for the best effect. However, the color combinations do not have to be opposite of each other.

4. What kind of paint should I use to crackle paint?

Ans: You can use latex or acrylic paint for the top coating and semi-gloss for the bottom coating.


Hope you found this guide helpful regarding DIY crackle paint. Sometimes, you do not achieve the desired results in one go. Therefore, you should try these steps on a wooden plank first to get a practical idea as to how this works so that when you try it on an expensive item, you get the perfect crackle finish.