Go to a kitchen and bath retail outlet. Somewhere you will see a set of cabinets that has a crackle finish. The finish is conversion varnish. How is that done? What products and procedures are available to us regular finishers who are not connected with big factories? Big factories get custom-formulated materials to work with.
M. L. Campbell is coming out with a crackle for their conversion topcoats. ICA makes their SC Crackly (Screpolante) series special effects material. Since this is ICA, I am assuming that this product is for use with their polyester or polyurethane topcoats.
Star Finishing advises doing a crackle in conventional lacquer, nd then topcoating with conversion varnish. This hybrid approach sounds the easiest. Is this what the kitchen and bath cabinet companies are doing?
From contributor D:
I have made numerous antique systems for some of my customers using both the Chemcraft and Valspar Wood Coatings crackle lacquers. Basically simple, the key is to spray the crackle lacquer as evenly as possible. The more you put on, the bigger the crack; the less you put on, the smaller. Let the crackle lacquer flash off, then put on your conversion varnish or NC. If you have never done this before, it is best to practice on scrap wood. Then practice some more, then some more, until you are comfortable enough to do the big job.
1. Prep substrate.
2. Lay down your basecoat/primer.
3. Allow basecoat to flash off or allow to dry longer, depending on how you want the crackle to look.
You can add a glaze on the crackle lacquer to give it an antique look. You can also color the basecoat and the crackle lacquer to give it different looks. I need to stress the importance of practicing on scrap wood.