Create A Distressed Crackled Paint Finish!

Create A Distressed Crackled Paint Finish!

Holy Shutters Batman! That’s a lot of shutters! This post will teach you how to create a distressed crackled paint finish like we created for our client on these shutters, continue reading to see how we did it!


We recently refinished these new brown wooden shutters in a funky green colour and made the paint look old, worn and cracked.

You can create your own cracked & distressed paint finish, just follow these easy steps. Keep in mind that the end result is very distressed looking so you do not need to get your paint perfect, in fact added texture and brush strokes will just enhance the effect!

1. Basecoat (Optional):

For these shutters we used a crackle medium that splits your paint to show the underneath surface. In our case we were starting with a brown stained wood so when our paint split we saw brown wood. If you want a different colour than what your projects starts as you will need to start with a basecoat. For example, if we wanted white to show beneath our cracked paint we would have started by painting everything white first. If you are painting or staining a basecoat allow your paint/stain to completely dry before moving on.

2. Crackle: There are lots of crackle mediums to choose from, for this project we chose Fissure Size. From the Wood Icing Line.Fissure Size is a crackle medium that works with paint but is also strong enough to split plasters or embossing products likeWood Icing Textura Paste.


Using a 2” Chip Brush, we randomly brushed on patches of Fissure Size. Wherever you apply Fissure Size your paint will crack. Check out the video clip right below to see us apply it to our shutters. It is clear but slightly shiny which is helpful so you can see where you have applied it. Wait for your Fissure size to completely dry before moving on to the next step.  You can tell its dry when you touch it and it’s no longer wet, sticky and nothing comes off on your fingers. This may take a few hours if you have applied it thickly.

Tip: Long brush strokes create long cracks, short choppy brush strokes create random short cracks. The thicker you apply Fissure Size the larger your cracks will appear.



3. Paint: Did you notice the funky avocado green paint we used for this project? Of course it is Chalk Paint™ by Annie Sloan in a custom colour we made just for this project. Love it? Here’s how you create it.

Mix equal parts of Olive Chalk Paint™ and English Yellow Chalk Paint™ by pouring together and stirring. Keep stirring until the two colours completely blend together. When working on a big project it’s a great idea to measure as you are mixing just in case you run out of paint and need to make some more. It’s a good thing we measured because we did have to make more!

You can use any brush you like to apply your paint, but be sure to use one large enough to hold lots of paint. We love to use ourAnnie Sloan Oval Brush because it holds so much paint and is just lovely to paint with. It is best not to overwork the paint when applying overtop of crackle mediums. Brushing back and forth too many times can cause the Fissure Size to lift as you are adding moisture back into it. Just dip your brush into your paint, and apply a generous coat of paint in a nice long stroke. You can go back and forth a little but remember you are better to lay down your paint and move on to the next section. The goal is to only have to do one coat of paint, especially over the areas you have applied your Fissure Size. Watch as we apply our awesome avocado green to these shutters, you’ll see that there is excellent coverage even in one coat. There’s a time-lapse at of this video which shows the paint cracking as it dries so be sure to watch the whole clip!


Tip: After your paint has completely dried and cracks have formed, you can come back and add a second layer of paint to the areas in between the crackled patches to make them more solid if you need to. You can work to blend the solid patches and crackles when you get to distressing which just happens to be the next step. We applied a second coat on ours but did NOT apply the second coat over the cracked areas. Wait for paint to completely dry before moving on to distressing.

4. Distress: Distressing is a technique which basically means wearing away the paint to make it look old or worn. Chalk Paint™ by Annie Sloan is the best paint for distressed finishes because it is soft and all natural. It is easily manipulated and wear away, especially when it is fresh! You can use sandpaper (220 grit is a good choice) to distress your project but that does create a lot of dust. We had a ton of shutters to distress and did not want a dusty green mess at The Paint Bar so we went with wet distressing. Before you seal your Chalk Paint™ you can use water to reconstitute the paint and “wash” it away. When your paint is fresh this will work quite easily. As it has time to sit and cure it will bond to your surface and actually become quite hard (which is a good thing), so wet distressing works best the same day or a couple days after you have applied your paint.

Grab your kitchen sponge, the one with sponge on one side and textured scrubbing pad on the other. You’ll also need a small bucket of warm water and some gloves are a good idea because it can get messy! Put on your gloves, soak your sponge in the warm water and then squeeze it out so that it is no longer dripping wet but still feels damp. Start by rubbing the yellow side along the edges of your piece in a long sweeping motion. If the paint does not start to wear after a couple of passes flip your sponge to the scrubby side as it is more aggressive. Check out the video below to see wet distressing. As your sponge gets covered in paint dip in your bucket of water to rinse. You’ll want to change out your water as it starts to get opaque from all the paint you are washing out of your sponges.


Tip: Because we’ve had our share of oops! moments, we know that you might accidentally wear away too much paint. No biggie, just allow any water from the wet distressing to dry and then go ahead and add some paint to that spot. Your secret’s safe with us.

5. Seal: After all that work we wanted to protect our finish because these shutters are being installed in a public place. You could choose to leave as is knowing that the finish may continue to wear and age over time which is really cool for a distressed finish like this. We chose to use General Finishes High Performance Top Coat in Flat for this project. We picked this because we liked the look of the flat top coat and it is a durable sealer that would help protect the finish in a public space. Using a slightly glossy finish is also a great option as it would look like old lead paint that was shiny. Dip your brush in sealer and apply a couple of thin coats allowing to completely dry between layers. Large flat surfaces could be rolled but we brushed as there were so many tiny slats and pieces.

Tip: Using a good quality brush designed for topcoats really does make a difference. Artisan Enhancements Top Coat brush is awesome! It has two types of hair, shorter natural bristle hair designed to hold onto a lot of product and longer silkier synthetic bristles that allow the Top Coat to glide off the bristles smoothly.

Let’s recap, check out our video to see the transformation from start to finish!

Stop by our store and chat with one of our Artists to learn more about this project! Thanks for checking out our blog, please comment below with any questions or inspirations of your own! If you’d like to check out our finished shutters you can out stop by PZA Parlour on MacLeod Trail in Calgary Opening Early 2016 (soon)

Happy Distressing & Crackling!


Like this blog post? Share it!