Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How to Use Crackle Paint - The Be All End All Guide?

Though not for everyone, crackle paint is really popular and has been for the past couple of years.  There are many products on the market, with different applications for different surfaces from different brands.  I hope to show you how to use crackle paint by showcasing some ideas and providing more information on several types of crackle paint.  I did a lot of research, so I really hope I help someone out there!  This is a HUGE post with lots of information, feel free to bookmark or come back if it's too overwhelming!
While trying to decide how to write this how-to tutorial, I was considering dividing the products based on application.  Most crackle products are two step processes, but some are a one stop shop and others require three steps.  Generally, the crackle is achieved by having a top coat dry faster than the base coat, causing the top to 'crack' and show the bottom color.  I was also considering dividing into categories of home decor vs. papercrafting, but instead I will just list the recommended materials each paint is designed to be used on.  Unless otherwise stated,
thinner paint application = small, fine cracks; while thicker paint application = large cracks.

Deco Art makes a thick crackle paint that comes in 10 oz. jars in 10 colors.  It is very thick and opaque, best applied with a palette knife.  It must be used on a primed/sealed surface, recommended for the following: ceramic bisque, foam core, MDF, papier mache, terra cotta, wall board, and wood.  It can be mixed with other colors, and Deco Art also makes glazes to accent the cracks if you wish.  This is a one step process.

Martha Stewart Living makes a Crackle Specialty Finish, similar to Deco Arts' 10 oz jar.  Carried by Home Depot, it's available in 5 colors - Oat, Redwod, Sandbar, Weeping Willow, and Paintable White.  Also similarly, the surface must be primed (Martha Stewart makes a Primer/Sealer).  Recommended surfaces are cabinet doors, mantles, picture frames and other home decor accents (primarily wood).  The speciality finish line also carries glazes.  A one step process.

Valspar carries a line of Crackle spray paints available at Lowe's and Michael's with a slightly different twist.  These products are designed to have mix n match bases and top coats.  The base coat colors are White, Brown, Gold, and Black.  The top coat colors are Lily White, Cream, Gold, Cinnabar, Hunter Green, and Black.  Start wtih Valspar Premium Primer, then spray on your choice of base coat once dry.  After the base coat is dry (approx. 1 hour), spray with your choice of top coat.  1 top coat for small cracks, 2-3 for large cracks, and 4-5 for extra large cracks.  Top coat will dry within 24 hours, then seal with Valspar Premium Clear.  Recommended surfaces are china, glass, papier mache, ceramic, stone, metal, terra cotta, and wood - indoor use only.

Valspar Crackle Paint - Weathered and Porcelain

Valspar also carries brush/roller paint, available at Lowe's.  Color options are next to limitless, but the base must be in a satin finish and the top coat must be flat.  There have two options regarding crackle type.  "Weathered" is large cracks, while "Porcelain" is fine cracks.  There are two separate products representing this, as well as application; i.e., roller for weathered, and brush for porcelain.  Glazes are available to top the crackle as well as a clear protectant.  Both are three step processes.  Although not specifically mentioned, seems to be primarily designed for wood and interior walls.

Rustoleum American Accents brand carries a kit style product called Crackle Creations.  The color options are Venetian White (light brown cracks on white background), Antiqued Ivory (black cracks on ivory background), Williamsburg Black (white cracks on black background), and Nantucket Blue (ivory cracks on blue background).  Recommended on wood, metal, plaster, masonry, and unglazed ceramic.  Can be used outdoors if finished product is sealed.  A two step process.

Krylon makes a rather flexible crackle medium that is designed to be used as a base, paired with your choice of these color acrylic latex enamels (18 chioces) as a top coat.  Surface must be primed.  Also a wide variety of recommended surfaces: wood, metal, wicker, wrought iron, glass, craft foam, plaster, ceramic, fabric, and papier mache.  Dries to touch in 3 hours.  Two step process.


Delta Ceramcoat makes a series of products called Painter's Helper, of which the two step process for Fine Crackle Finish is included.  I contacted Delta because I couldn't find out any information on their website about this product that I already owned.  I was informed that it has been replaced with a one step process product called Aged Crackle Medium (shown on right).  It is a three step process that starts with a base coat of any Ceramcoat Acrylic or Gleam Metallic paint of your choice (they have a very wide choice of colors shown here).  Once the paint dries thoroughly, apply the Aged Crackle Medium generously, but do not let dry completely (up to 45 minutes or until tacky to the touch).  Lastly, fully load your brush with a different color Ceramcoat Acrylic Paint (this layer may not be a Metallic), and gently apply it on top of the Crackle Medium.  Be careful not to disturb the crackle; cracks will begin to appear as the acrylic topcoat dries.  Your brush size and stroke length determine size and number of cracks.  Allow to dry overnight for all cracks to form.  Protect project with a coat of Delta Ceramcoat Varnish.  Recommended surfaces include wood, papier mache, metal, and other porous surfaces.

Ranger makes a product called Crackle Accents through Inkssentials, a 2 oz. one step crackle medium.  This is somewhat similar to their Glossy Accents, although there are some differences.  The main differences are that the Crackle Accents is much thicker, dries much slower, and is NOT recommended for paper or cardstock.  Whereas Glossy Accents flows easily out the bottle, Crackle requires much more pressure in my opinion.  Glossy dries in an hour, Crackle takes several hours to cure.  Glossy can be used on paper to give it a pre-made embellishment look, while Crackle will curl paper because it is too thin to handle the weight.  Recommended for various surfaces including chipboard, jewelry pieces, stickers, and more (the website says it can be used on cardstock, I would try a very thin application).  Dries to a transparent, hard, glossy finish.

Ranger makes another product with Tim Holtz called Distress Crackle Paint, designed to match the Distress line of Inks, Stains, and Stickles.  A brush is inside the cap for easy one-step application from the 1.1 oz. bottle.  The color shown above, 'Rock Candy', is clear; and there are currently 24 opaque colors and 3 metallics (the metallics take longer to dry).  Recommended surfaces include paper and cardstock (keep application very light as paper easily curls), chipboard, papier mache, and more.  Once cracks start to appear on their own, a heat tool may be used to speed up the process (but not with the metallics as they will bubble).  Dries to a hard, glossy finish.


You may have noticed that none of the above products mention any recommended use on Styrofoam.  I was curious about this, so I contacted my go-to gal on all things Styrofoam - Sharon from Crafts n Coffee.  She said any of the brush on acrylic products would work, such as DecoArt or Martha.  To achieve smoother application, gesso could be applied or even a thin coat of spackling.  She also brought to my attention a product called MagiKote, designed by DecoArt specifically for Styrofoam for that smooth look.  Decoupaging the Styrofoam prior to adding your crackle product would also work.  Note - do not use spray crackle products with Styrofoam, as they contain solvents that will melt the foam.  [Thanks Sharon!]


Now for some examples!
I only had the Delta Ceramcoat Painter's Helper Crackle Finish, Inksesstials Crackle Accents, and Tim Holtz Distress Crackle Paint on hand, so I hope you will forgive my lack of paycheck providing the other types of crackle products.

Sorry I don't have a close-up, but the gold area in this frame was covered in random areas with the Delta Crackle Finish.  It's easy to use and provided this project with a fine crackle.  For more on this frame, go here.

Here is an example of the Inkssentials Crackle Accents, used on the tag area of this card.

A closeup showing how much it curled (actually this is after I panicked slightly and tried to bend it back down.  Which is why you will see on the left where the crackle is lifting off the paper).  This was my first time using it, I'm not quite a fan yet.  The bottle was hard for me to squeeze {weak}.  Maybe it's because I like Glossy Accents so much that I felt this didn't match up.

This is using Tim Holtz Distress Crackle Paint.  The color is Tarnished Brass, one of the metallics that doesn't exist in the Distress Ink line.  Here it is shown on chipboard letters.

A close-up.  Excellent crackle!

I hope you enjoyed learning an overwhelming amount a little bit more about crackle paints and the many kinds that are out there.  Have you tried anything with crackle paint?  Which kind?  How did it turn out?

I'd love if you become a follower over on the right sidebar ---->  so you won't miss all the fun coming up!  I've got tutorials, project ideas, and finally getting some mosaics together - don't miss it!

I'd love some comments too, they really make my day and I appreciate every single one of them!


  1. Like your examples!I don't do the same crafts as you (primarily tie dye and crochet) but I live in east Tn and always good to see a crafter in our area!

  2. @jackie-tn

    Hi Jackie,

    Glad you like them! I would love to tie dye and crochet, but don't know how to do either. Where in east TN are you? I'm on the western side of Knoxville :-)

  3. Fantastic reveiw, thanks for show us all stuff type for crackle effect, bookmarked!

  4. Who knew there were SO MANY different kinds of crackle paint?!?! I love how you've shown examples. Exciting stuff...thanks for stopping by.


  5. @Mabel

    Glad you found it useful! :-)

  6. @Mistylynn

    Thanks for stopping, I post primarily about papercrafting, but lots of random crafts too. Glad you came by! :-)

  7. Oh wow, you sure did lots of research for this post and it was quite informative. Now I want to use crackle paint! :)

  8. @Debbie aka Mrs. DP3

    That's great Debbie! What do you plan to use the crackle paint on, and what kind do you think you will use?

  9. Awesome! I'm wanting to try a crackle finish on a piece of furniture but every time I've tried projects before, I've not been happy with the results. I knew the only way I'd try again was with a spray product, but the only one I'd ever seen was rustoleum. Unfortunately, because it's a kit, you can't mix & match the base/top color combo. I can't wait to check out the valspar one, it's just what I want, a gold base with a black top.

  10. @B @ Time To Start Over

    Hi B, Isn't it annoying when a project doesn't work out as planned? I hope the Valspar will work for you. Best of luck!


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