Applying a Chip-Through Finish

Wax or petroleum jelly applied in spots will break adhesion and allow the topcoat to chip off, exposing the undercoat. November 26, 2007

I have been trying to replicate a finishing technique for a customer for a couple weeks now, and I am stuck. It is a "chipped look" that adds a lot of character to the piece. I tried top coating with Matador and excess catalyst, hoping that it would become brittle and break when struck, but this method didn't work. Any suggestions?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor G:
I suggest you look in the Knowledge Base, as there are many archived posts about this very thing. Here's one of 'em...

Color Burn-through

From the original questioner:
Thanks, but I am not interested in burning through. We do that on a large majority of our pieces. The chipped finish is similar in the respect that you see the base color when wearing through with sanding, but if you look closely, they actually chip through the top coat to expose the base color. How do you make the top coat brittle enough to chip away and expose the coloured base coat? Obviously when doing this, you need to limit adhesion to the underlying coats!

From contributor B:
You might want to try this on a sample door, but do your underlying color (which I assume is a brownish stain) and topcoat with CV. Wait a day or two, then come back on top with a pre-cat pigmented color. Let this dry and then take a tool to knock off chips in different areas. I have never tried this, but I know you will have bad adhesion between the clear CV and the pigmented pre-cat, and this will chip like you want. Also, you might be able to do that with an acrylic latex color coat. But your CV is the culprit to which adhesion is based upon. That's my take. Someone else got another one?

From contributor R:
Try crayon, chap-stick or even Vaseline between coats. Apply in spots. The finish will wrinkle and then just peel it off.

From contributor W:
I agree with contributor R. I've even seen rubber cement used in spots between coats. Anything to resist adhesion in areas you want to chip off.

From contributor D:
I have accomplished this finish for years. Contributor R is spot on with his advice, however, for the chips you are seeking, I would use paste wax, Vaseline, or hot glue. These can be applied in spots without rubbing. I use an assortment of tools to apply - fingers, Q-tips, brushes, etc.

From the original questioner:
Wow! I appreciate the help from everybody. I will be in the booth tomorrow trying it out.