D.I.Y. Crackle Paint: Cabinet Makeover

crackle paint frontI tried for so long to come up with a catchy name for this post, but nothing doing! So I stuck with a nice factual description of what I’m about to show you. Sorry, I know that’s boring. ;)

Today’s post is about how I made over my fish tank cabinet. I’ve had my fish tank for years now, it was a birthday present from my parents when I was younger, and I just love it. Unfortunately, it has been looking a little down at heel lately – some of the black finish was flaking off, and it just looked a little scruffy. It sits right by our front door, so I thought a little D.I.Y. experimentation was in order to jazz it up.


The idea for a crackle-paint finish came from Mario actually – he saw it in a book a few months ago, and I’ve been wanting to try it ever since. Of course, living in Australia, everything crafty is expensive and hard to get, so instead of grabbing the first over-priced crackle medium I could find, I did a little research online.

Turns out, you can make your own crackle medium using that most wondrous of things – PVA (wood/craft/white glue), alongside some standard acrylic paint. To say that I was sceptical about whether this would work is an understatement. The nice girl who helped me out with paint at Bunnings looked at me with pity in her eyes that said: ‘You’ll be back here tomorrow, shelling out your hard-earned cash for some expensive crackle medium’. But I was determined.

The first step was to spray paint my cabinet gold, as this was the colour I wanted to show through the crackled paint. It looked so good in gold that I was tempted to leave it like that!

The next two steps need to be done fairly close together, so make sure you have all your elements prepared. I slapped on a generous layer of PVA over the (dried) spray paint, then waited between 1 and 5 minutes before applying the black paint. This is the tricky part. It’s important to put a thick, smooth layer of paint over the glue, so that you can’t see any gold underneath, but it is important to not go back over sections you have already done. This will interfere with the crackling. Just try to be as quick, thick and smooth as you can, whilst not panicking! Easy!

I found it easiest to do small sections at a time – the glue and paint tend to drip, so vertical sections worked well.

Finally, stand back and take deep breaths as you wait for the cracks to appear. This is nerve wracking. Don’t worry – they will appear. Use a hair dryer if you are impatient like me. :)

crackle paint1

I experimented a bit with the thickness of the glue and paint, and the amount of time I left the glue to dry before applying the paint. The general rule I seemed to find was that the thicker and wetter the glue, the larger cracks that appeared. It took a while to find my perfect crackle effect, so I left the front of the cabinet to last. :)


Finally, I spray painted the top and bottom pieces of wood on the cabinet, as well as the details on the front. I bought a couple of cute new door handles too, and spray painted them to match. I felt like that last step really brought out the detail of the crackle finish.


I wasn’t sure how I felt about the finished product at first – I wondered if it was a bit ‘too much’. I’ve had a few months to get used to it now though, and it’s really grown on me. I am so pleased with how the D.I.Y. crackle finish turned out, and it literally only cost me a few dollars. I can’t wait to try it on something else – perhaps a frame. :)

7 thoughts on “D.I.Y. Crackle Paint: Cabinet Makeover

  1. Mario says:

    Can I just say fish tanks can tend to get a little boring and lose their special touch… but what you have done makes this fish tank a real eye catcher as soon as you walk into our house or just as you leave it ! A pofessional, vintage feel all at a budget cost. How can you go wrong !
    As always another great indea from icandotht.com
    Amazing work babe :)

  2. Jacinta says:

    It reminds me of buried treasure chest! (except a cabinet) What a great effect and PVA; who knew? How resourceful and what a great outcome. It’s perfect! Great Job! :)

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