Easy Steps to Create a Crackle Furniture Finish

Posted by on Feb 19, 2019

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Like vintage wine, furniture with cracked paint seems to be more impressive. But you don’t need to wait decades for those cracks to appear. If you have patience, you can give an entire piece of furniture a crackle finish or just sections to create contrasting textures. Crafters with a bit of patience can create the finish with hide glue and several layers of paint. Many companies like Real Milk Paint also create crackle finish. We’ll explain how both approaches work.

Hide Glue Approach

In the above video, George Vondriska from the Woodworkers Guild of America explains the three steps needed to create a crackle finish. 


1. BASE COAT: Paint on the color you want appear between the “cracks” of the top coat. If you want the cracks to look natural you may want to choose black. A lot of refinishers opt for white, which makes the texture easier to see. One finished with the base coat, let it completely dry.  

2. HIDE GLUE: Cover the base coat with a thin layer of hide glue. Let it dry. It can take as much as 12 hours for this layer to completely solidify. It’s possible to dilute the hide glue and create different types of crackle. Usually the more you dilute it, the bigger the cracks, but you’ll have to experiment to see.  

3. CONTRASTING COAT: Paint on the top coat, keeping in mind that you don’t want to make it too thick. As it dries the crackling will appear.

Crackle Finish

If you want to be assured you get a stylish finish on the first try, many companies, like Real Milk Paint, create a crackle finish. The steps are similar to using hide glue, with the glue step replaced by the crackle finish.  


1. BASE COAT: In Real Milk Paint’s example, the refinisher uses red for a base coat, which creates a molten-like texture when contrasted with a black top coat. 

2. CRACKLE FINISH: For small cracks, Real Milk Paint recommends one coat of the finish. For big cracks, add a thick coat of crackle finish, wait two hours and add another coat of the crackle finish. 

3. CONTRASTING COAT: After the finish dries, paint the contrasting paint and allow to dry. Compared with the example from the Woodworkers Guild of America, the cracks from Real Milk Paint’s finish appear a bit deeper from the use of extra crackle finish. 

 4. TOPCOAT: When the contrasting paint is dry, Real Milk Paint recommends sealing the look with an oil base topcoat such as pure tung oil, varnish or lacquer. Without a topcoat, the paint may deteriorate or get ruined by water.



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