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Crackle Painting: Popular Faux Finishing Technique

The rise of popularity of a decorating style known as "shabby chic" has brought a corresponding rise in the faux finishing technique called crackle painting, or crackling. Crackling is a great way to add a worn look to furniture, and it's not especially difficult to achieve some pretty spectacular results.

You'll get your best results by using base coats and top coats of contrasting colors. Typically, the base coat is darker than the top one, but that's not always the case. You can get some great-looking results either way if you take your time and experiment on a practice board before you begin your project.

How to Crackle Paint

Generally you'll want to prime an unfinished wood surface first, since painting directly over unfinished wood may discolor your paint, making the results unpredictable. Then either brush or roll on your base coat, depending on the size of the surface you're working on. Allow the base coat to dry completely before beginning to apply your crackling glaze.

The crackling glaze will give your surface a wet appearance at first as you apply it rather thickly, moving your brush in one direction only across the surface. The actual thickness of the coat will depend upon the look you're trying to achieve. The thicker your crackling coat, the larger your cracks are going to become. If you only want small, fine cracks, apply the crackling glaze sparingly.

One nice thing about the crackling technique is that you'll only have to allow the crackling glaze to dry for an hour or so before you can begin applying the top coat. The main thing to remember here is to apply the top coat by brushing it on in the opposite direction from the way you applied the crackling glaze.

Apply the top coat completely, using uniform strokes. The idea is to make it look as if the piece you're working on has been painted and repainted a number of times over a number of years. When it's all dry, the piece should look like it's been around for a long time, even if it's brand new. If you've done a good job, no one will be able to tell.

After your top coat has dried completely, your work is complete! The only thing left to do is to sit back and let your friends admire and comment on the "aged" piece of furniture you've just created. If you don't want to tell them it's not as old as they think it is, no one says you have to. Just smile and know that you've successfully accomplished your goal.

crackle painted faux desk

Faux Flip desk faux painted over crackle finish

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