How to Paint a Crackle Finish on Furniture
Bypass the flea market and go straight to a faux-aged finish
Vintage-furniture hounds spend years tracking down painted pieces that have just the right patina, its cracked layers of color just oozing with charm. You can shortcut that journey with contrasting shades of flat latex paint and a special medium that comes out of the can as a milky liquid, goes on clear, and shrinks and cracks the paint color layered on top of it, revealing glimpses of the base shade. Crackle medium ages furniture right before your eyes. Which means you can create your own version of a piece's history, with colors of your choosing, whether you're aging one that's actually old or not.
Paint: Sweet Pea (base coat) and Autumn Purple (top coat)
To artificially age the kitchen island shown here, decorative painter Ingrid Leess started by priming it, then brushing on a coat of flat lime green. The following day, she applied a thick layer of crackle medium, using a clean brush and taking care not to overwork it and dry it out. She let it dry for an hour (the medium must cure for 1 to 4 hours to work), then used a clean, dry brush to add a coat of purple. Soon after, it began to shrink, revealing bits of green—and faux history—beneath. A protective clear coat is an option, but here an unvarnished finish reinforces the worn look.