Hiiiiiii guys! Anyone up for a little DIY project today? I sure hope so because this post is all about how to do a DIY vintage crackled paint effect that will make any piece look like a real deal antique. And you might be surprised to see that this fun, three step paint technique is done using glue. Yep. GLUE. Good old fashioned Elmer’s Glue is the secret ingredient here, along with a blow dryer. Sounds interesting, right?! Some of you may already be familiar with this process, but I’ve never tried it out for myself. Well a few weeks ago I decided to give it a whirl and I gotta admit–it took a lot of trial and error to make this work for me. I ended up doing three different pieces (the first two were failures!) in order to figure out how to get that vintage inspired crackled paint look I was going for. But I finally got the hang of it and I’m excited to show you how to do it, plus I’ll share a few tips I learned in the process. Now before I jump into it let me show you what the vintage crackled paint effect looks like just in case you’re not familiar with it:
Pretty nifty, huh? It’s definitely an antique/vintage inspired look, like something you’d see on an old piece of barn wood that’s been left out in the sun for years. I love how the paint looks like it’s actually cracked and weathered–imperfect like a true antique. Ok, now let me show you how to do it!
- Elmer’s Glue
- Paint Brush & Foam Brush
- Blow dryer
- Paint (I experimented with acrylic and chalk paint–I think chalk paint works better!)
- Something to paint**
**I think this technique works best on raw wood that has no other paint or staining on it. I tried three different pieces and this unfinished, wooden tray is what turned out the best, so that’s what I’ll share for this post. But I’ll talk a bit more about this in a bit.**
- The first step is using a foam brush to apply a thick coat of Elmer’s Glue over the piece you’re working on. It’s important to only work in small sections. DO NOT cover the whole piece at once. You want to go little by little, working in sections of maybe six inches at a time.
2. While it’s still wet and tacky, place a thick layer of paint directly over the glue. The thicker the paint, the bigger the cracks will be. A thin layer of paint will only make tiny, hairlines cracks that don’t look very good. Trust me, I learned the hard way!
3. Once the paint has been applied over the glue, immediately zap it with a blow dryer on high for about 10-15 seconds until you start to see the cracks show up. They start popping up right away and it’s actually really fun to watch them form! Keep going until the paint is fully dry. Then work your way around the piece, repeating the process as you go until it’s all covered in crackled paint.
And that’s it! All done. It literally takes just a few minutes to get this look and it’s so darn easy once you get the hang of it. After I was done painting the tray I went in with a piece of sandpaper to distress it a bit and give it even more of a vintage look. You know me, I have to distress ALL THE THINGS. This is also a good trick if any of your cracks didn’t turn out so great. Just sand them down and make that spot a bit more distressed.
And there ya have it! An easy, DIY vintage crackled paint effect done in minutes. This was actually a really fun project, but it did take a bit of trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. I tried this technique on two other pieces before I did this tray and neither one of them turned out well. First I tried it on my vintage corbels and that didn’t work at all because I was trying to go directly over old, chippy paint. Total fail. Then I tried this technique on a pair of black glossy candlesticks and that didn’t work either because of all the curves on the candlesticks (and the glossy paint didn’t seem to like the glue either). The cracks didn’t show up well with all the curves and it just looked like a hot mess! So here’s what I learned in my trial and error process:
- This works best on wood that is not already painted or stained with a glossy finish.
- Make sure to use a thick coat of glue and paint, otherwise you won’t get those large cracks that you want to see.
- This technique works best on flat pieces that don’t have a lot of cures, like the tray I used here. Or something like a bench, stool, or picture frame.
- Work in small sections and don’t try to do too much at once!
All right that’s it! I hope you give this fun painting technique a try and let me know if you have any questions. xo