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As Seen In Paint & Wallcovering Contractor- March/April 2003
All It's Crackled Up to Be
Article written by Greg Frohnapfel and John Catalanotto

All It's Crackled Up to Be!
Spaccature cuts a few decades off the aging process

Cracking, or alligatoring, of painted and varnished surfaces is as old as, well, paint! This process happens naturally over centuries. Substrates like wood, canvas, or plaster will expand and contract at slightly different rates than their coatings. Since oils, alkyds, shellacs, and lacquers tend to be harder and more brittle than their water-based equivalents, over time they will start to show cracking.

Spaccature (spack-ah-TOUR-ay), Italian for "cracks in plaster" is everything it's cracked up to be, ranging from old to new looks. This high-end designer finish is ideal for flat walls and suitable for furniture and wide moldings. You can create numerous color combinations, including metallic grounds, with tinted spatula coats, and you can overglaze for added depth and protection.

To speed the alligatoring process by decades, a water-based "glue," or crackle medium, is used as a barrier between the crack color (basecoat) and the topcoat. Topcoat application tools have the greatest effect on the final crack pattern. Sponges, rollers, and sprayers tend to produce a concentric crack pattern. By contrast, brushes cause an elongation of the platelets (the sections between the cracks), yielding a "weathered wood: appearance. Thicker topcoat application will produce larger platelets, regardless of the tool.

ProFaux's Spaccature may look like other typical crackle finishes, but it's unique in several ways. Unlike ordinary paint crackles, it has a uniformly granulated surface texture which is both dimensional and, most importantly to the painting contractor, controllable.

Perhaps the biggest downfall of most crackle techniques is the craftsman's inability to get consistent results. Even for the professional decorative artist, these finishes are usually so unpredictable that most crackle projects are approached with cautious skepticism. Traditional water-based crackle mediums are quick to "wet out" as soon as a latex topcoat is applied. While watching the topcoat magically crackle within seconds may be immediately gratifying, it can also be frustrating when working on larger vertical wall and furniture surfaces. As the newly formed platelets begin to slide downward, they can bunch up, causing unwanted folds and unsightly gaps in the basecoat color. Repairs are possible, but are time-consuming and generally cut into the job profits.

ProFaux Crackle Medium is unique in its slow wetting, giving the decorative artist plenty of time to apply flat latex paint or ProFaux's Sandstone and Pro-Venetian Plaster products by brush, roller, or blue steel spatula.

Using the ProFaux Sandstone gives added texture and dimension, since these products are sandier and thicker than ordinary latex paint. They are also also tintable with latex paint or universal colorants, ranging from pastel to midtone hues.

To create even richer finishes, Spaccature can be embellished with tinted glazes or metallic waxes, producing ancient to modern looks.

Here's Spaccature Step-by-Step!

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