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How to Make a Crackle Paint Finish Photo Backdrop

Crackle Paint (red is always a good color)

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CC BY 2.0

Pine Fence Section


A Crackle paint finish is one way to quickly make any wooden surface like it was old and had been exposed to the elements for a long time. They are great for use as photographic backdrops since the crackle effect ads and air of age, nostalgia and interest as well as giving the piece some character.

The best thing about making one of these crackle paint backdrops is that they can be easily done and are ready to be used in your photography within two days after starting.

First you need the wood surface and I like to use wooden fence kits readily available at Home Depot or Loews for about $79.00 per section or pine (better deal) from about $49.00 each section. They are usually in 6 by 8 foot sections and this size is perfect for a single backdrop.

You can also use reclaimed wood like from wood pallets or individual planks also called dog ear fence pickets from about $1.59 each. I like the pine ones since their original color is lighter and lends itself better for painting.

Finished product...looks great!

CC BY 2.0

CC BY 2.0

CC BY 2.0

CC BY 2.0

You can use a shortcut in time by using contrasting shades of flat latex paint and a special medium that comes out of its container looking like milk, it goes on clear, and shrinks and cracks the paint color placed on top of it, revealing bits of the base color.

Note: white wood glue is said to work just as well as the crackling medium but at a much cheaper price plus much more easier to find.

The base paint and the final paint should be contrasting colors. I like to use browns or blacks for the base and lime greens for the final coat, although barn reds look really good too. However you can use any color that fits your taste.

It would be good to research what colors were typically used if the wood surface or section had been painted several years ago but this is simply a suggestion.

Crackle medium simulates aging in wood in a matter of hours instead of years like it will normally happen if wood were left on its own and allowed to be ravaged by time and the weather.

This means you can create your own version 
of a piece's history, with colors of your choosing, whether you are working with old or new wood surface.

There are basically three main ingredients and they are a latex based base color paint which is used to paint the un-painted wood surface first.

This is the color that will peak through the crackled paint finish.

A clear solution called weathered crackle glaze which is applied like a paint to the surface which was previously painted with the base color and finally the latex based non glossy or matte paint finish.

The final paint must be non glossy since glossy paint will not react with the crackled medium.

The base color can be applied with a roller for quicker results but the final paint coat should be done with a brush for a heavier crackled look.

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The base paint and the crackle medium can be applied liberally but the final coat of paint should be a light one. Putting too much paint tends to produce less crackling.

Kind of pretend you are applying the paint once you have brushed two previous times and begun to run out of paint left on the brush.

They best thing is to dip the brush in the paint and takes off any excess by rubbing the brush against the interior of the paint can at least once or twice.

You should begin to see the crackling develop within minutes and once everything is completely dry you can safety handle it and begin using it for your photo projects.

Make sure that if you buy individual planks that you attache the entire section by nailing to wood beams across the top and bottom half of the entire section.

But don't worry, you can use both sides of the wood section by painting each side in a different color scheme.

Also great is that this project can be done on heavy cloth type materials like muslin or painter's tarp or basically any heavy type cloth and it also works (in my opinion not as good as with wood) on metal surfaces.

As if making your own crackled wood photo backdrop wasn't enough, this medium can be used on almost anything and the list of DIY home craft projects is almost endless.

Just use your imagination and if it can be painted then it can be used towards a crackle finish project.

  • Faux Painting with Crackle effect
    Depending on your application technique, you can create a weathered crackle look reminiscent of delicate porcelain or with more dramatic detail for loads of character.

© 2015 Luis E Gonzalez


Luis E Gonzalez (author) from Miami, Florida on July 03, 2015:

DzyMsLizzy: Thank. I'm glad you liked it

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on July 02, 2015:

This sounds like a great project. I know I have used a similar crackle medium on some of my ceramic pieces; particularly the little carousel horses--makes them look more antique.

Voted up ++ shared and pinned.

Luis E Gonzalez (author) from Miami, Florida on July 02, 2015:

teaches12345: Thank you.

Glad that you liked it.

Dianna Mendez on July 02, 2015:

Very interesting technique. I'm sure readers will find this helpful as instruction for a photo backdrop.

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