One of our most recent furniture painting projects involved staining, crackling, sponge painting and gold accents. This incredibly elaborate antique chest, cabinet or armoire (I’m not even sure what to call it) was a really fun project. It involved lots of steps and a lot of tedious hand work, which I’ll share in detail below. It turned out awesome, if I do say so myself, so all the hard work was well worth it.
The armoire was stained by smoke, you can really see how much it had been yellowed in the photograph to the right which was taken out in the sun. In order to prep it for paint it required lots, and lots of scrubbing. before.-sanding-to-paint-furniture
Prep work:
Clean! We mixed Tri-sodium Phosphate, commonly called TSP, with hot water. When used in powder form 2 tablespoons should be mixed per every half gallon of hot water. Using that solution we scrubbed and scrubbed until the piece came clean.
Sand! Next we used 220 grit sandpaper to scuff up the surface a bit. Many people believe you need to completely remove the old finish on furniture before painting it, but that is not true. The surface must be dull and no longer shinny. As long as it is clean and free of debris, grease and dust, you can safely paint over an existing finish. Don’t sand until your arm feels like it is going to fall off. Just lightly sand to create a tooth for the paint to adhere to.

Prime! We don’t always prime, but because this piece was so badly stained with cigarette smoke we Knew priming was a must. I prefer to use water based products whenever I can, but because nicotine is a water soluble stain, so an oil based product is absolutely neccessary. I use a spray gun for most of the painting that I do and I never put oil based products in my gun. The clean up is a nightmare that I don’t want to deal with, plus it usually stinks!

For this project I purchased a spray can of Kilz oil based primer. I applied one good coat of primer and let it dry over night.Then I tossed the empty can in the trash. No clean up, yipee!


Prep work done. Now what?

Stain! Using Minwax stain in Dark Walnut we stained this entire piece. Using a saturated rag we wiped the entire piece with the dark stain, leaving it on pretty heavy in all of the carved details and recessed areas. We allowed the stain to dry for a few days before taking the next step.




Lightly sand! We lightly sanded the stain so our next layer would stick well. We used 220 grit sand paper then wiped it with a clean damp cloth to remove the dust.

Crackle! We used a product called Faux Creations from Sherwin Williams. It was applied with a 2 inch synthetic bristle brush. The entire piece was covered in an even, thin layer of the stuff. Before applying the top coat there is an hour of down time. Don’t let this product sit for longer than 4 hours or it will not do its’ job properly and you will have waisted your time and the product.




Paint! A top coat can be applied with a brush for large, heavy cracks. Because we wanted a ton of tiny, fine cracks we used a sea sponge to apply the top coat. I prefer using a sponge over a brush because I feel like I can get better coverage. I also feel like it is easier to control. With a brush you have to be very careful. If you go over the same spot more than once you will scrape the paint off in chunks and ruin the crackle finish. It’s also easy to get runs and big blobs of cracks that slide off your piece when using a paint brush.

We used another Sherwin Williams product for the top coat. The paint color is called Medici Ivory. It’s a beautiful soft white. I think it looks like linen.

A few spots were hard to get at with the sponge, mainly in the 90 degree angles. I waited for the top coat to completely dry and then came back with a tiny brush to stipple a bit of white paint into the areas where I had missed.






Tagged with: FurniturePaintingRefinish

4 Responses to Furniture painting technique- crackle & antique gold

  1. Lydia says:

    Hi There

    I love the transformation of this!

    We are launching a new portal website called Antiques Boutique where you can show off your vintage, art, chic, antiques, decorative items and more.

    Can’t wait to see more.

    Lydia x

  2. Deana says:

    Thanks Lydia, I’ll be sure to check it out.

  3. eileen borkovich says:

    Love your furniture! I wish I lived near you to visit your store. I just followed this technique on an old mahogany couch table, it looks great! Have you ever re-stained over the final crackle? am considering to achieve a little darker finish take care Eileen

  4. Deana says:

    Hi Eileen, Yes. I have stained over crackled and it looks really cool!

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