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Crackle Paint Technique

I've been wanting to make a huge distressed sign in our house for a while now, so I finally did it! I can't seem to get away from using sandpaper to rough up the painted surface (this is a technique I've always used since I started painting for a living), but this go-around I also incorporated a new technique: using white glue to create a crackle finish. It's really easy but can also be tricky, however, I'm pretty happy with how my distressed sign came out.

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Time: 1 Hours Cost: $13 Difficulty: Easy

-wood (Again, I was making a sign so I used a panel that was ¾”x12”x48” from Lowe’s. You can use this technique on wooden chairs, stools, tables, whatever it is you’re trying to give a distressed look to.)
-paint brushes (Wooster Pro and Purdy)
-Behr exterior flat paint (Colors: cozy cottage and a custom made indigo color)
-Elmer’s School Glue
Not pictured:
-hair dryer (optional)

STEP 1: Paint wood (optional)
You don't have to paint your wood surface if you don't want to, because I was going to be making a sign, I wanted my letters to be a vintage white, so I painted my wood panel Cozy Cottage white and let that dry first. Because I was making a sign, I cut out the words I wanted (I chose a Bible verse) with my Silhouette Cameo machine (it's basically a mini plotter that cuts vinyl among other functions) and applied them to my wood panel.

STEP 2: Apply white glue
Next, I took regular Elmer's glue (Rob has used this technique using wood glue which worked well also) and applied a thin coat in random places on my sign using a paint brush. I know you probably have Elmer's glue at home, but I love that they have different types of glue.

After I brushed on the glue, I let it dry just until it was still tacky. This is super important because if you don't let the glue dry enough, you'll just mix the overlay paint (next step) in with the glue and it won't looked cracked, but if you let it dry too long, you'll simply be painting over dried glue.

If you want a brush that won't leave bristles and streaks, I recommend using Purdy brushes or Wooster Pro. You can find a whole selection of them here.
STEP 3: Paint
While the white glue was still tacky, I brushed on a thick coat of acrylic paint. Then, to make the drying process quicker, I used a blow dryer to dry the paint.

Here is what the crackle should look like. I made the mistake of not applying a thick enough coat of paint on one half of my sign so I used sandpaper to distress it so that the whole thing looked equally distressed.
*OPTIONAL: I'm not really making this a step because not everyone will use this technique for making a sign but figured I'd throw in a picture of me removing my stencil so you could see the concept.
Rob wasn't crazy about the finished sign--he felt it needed something--so I plan to rub on some glaze to tone down the white and give it a more worn look. Overall though, I'm really happy with my huge sign and I'm in love with the font!

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Materials used for this project:

  • Wood (¾”x12”x48” panel)   (Lowe's)
  • Paint brushes (Wooster Pro and Purdy)   (on hand (from Home Depot))
  • Behr exterior flat paint   (on hand (from Home Depot))
See all materials
  • Denise
    Denise United Kingdom
    on Apr 2, 2017

    That's lovely. Definitely going to try that. Thank you for the post.

  • Gail
    Gail Neptune, NJ
    on Apr 2, 2017

    Love it! I've been wanting to make a sign, but don't have a silhouette. I'll need to research other methods for lettering.

  • Maude  LaFountain
    Maude LaFountain Kopperl, TX
    on Apr 2, 2017

    Oh that is really amazing and so pretty ...and I just happen to have a gallon of Elmers Glue and a Vinyl Cutting machine ....not a Silhouette Cameo...a big 24 inch Vinyl Cutter ... from US CUTTER.COM...I can cut small or large ....love it and it was pretty reasonable price ....anyway I love the Verse you have on yours thanks for the post

  • Ginger the farm gal
    Ginger the farm gal Corinth, MS
    on Apr 2, 2017

    You can also achieve the cracked look using Gloss over Satin Rustoleum spray paint..(or maybe it was satin over gloss)n e way found this out when doing my aluminum can flowers by trial and error.

  • Judy
    Judy Sacramento, CA
    on Apr 2, 2017

    Thank you. Love it.

Inspired? Will you try this project? Let the author know!