How to Crackle Paint Doors and Window Trim

My favorite door in our late 19th century home is an old exterior wood door that become enclosed as part of a mud room when the house was remodeled in 1910. Since it was no longer serving as an exterior door, the old varnish was coated with an oil based interior paint so that it blended with the rest of the home. Over time the white paint crackled due to fluctuations in temperature and moisture, resulting in a door rich in character. Crackle paint replicates the old crackle texture of weathered wood, and is a fabulous way to add interest to a country room. While some designers use it as a room accent by crackling a single cabinet or bookcase, crackle painting all the interior doors and wood trim in a room is also a fabulous effect. A little timid about giving this technique a try? Not to worry! The beauty with paint is that everything is reversible.

Behr products are the ones I use for the faux glazing and crackle paint techniques in our home and is widely available at most home improvement stores. The Behr store displays also carry a large selection of DIY instructional guides and recommended paint combinations which are invaluable tools for someone new to crackle paint.

Materials needed

To start this project, you will need quality brushes, gloves, paint tarp, stir sticks, and rags. Painting materials include a semi gloss interior paint for the base coat, contrast color top coat in a matte finish, and Behr’s Crackle #775. Behr also recommends a clear water based polyurethane to protect the surface once it has dried.

Prepping the area

Paint trim work can be tricky and uses a rather steady hand. To protect the walls of the room, mask the wall adjacent to the molding using painter’s blue masking paint. The floor should also be protected with plastic sheeting. Large hefty yard sacks will also work in a pinch.

Applying the crackle

Step 1: Brush the base coat onto the molding or door. Let dry at least 4 hours before proceeding to the next step.

Step 2: Apply a generous but even coat of Crackle over the painted molding using a brush or small roller. Keep in mind that how the Crackle is applied will affect the direction of the crackling.

Applying the Crackle in one direction using the brush means the top coat will crack in the direction of the brush stroke. Using a small roller brush will result in a more uniform crackling affect.

Step 3: Let the crackle dry for at least an hour but no longer than 7 days before the next step. If you can’t get to the top coat right away, it’s nice to know that you can save it for another day.

Step 4: Apply the top coat using a minimum of strokes. A light covering will result in smaller cracks, while a heavy top coat will result in larger cracks similar to my back door.

Step 5: Let the paint dry for 24 hours before sealing the finished molding with a clear coat.

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