Looking for an easy way to transform a thrift store table? Here’s a simple DIY on how to create a crackle finish for your table with glue.

crackle finish project

I know this looks like a table.

It’s got four legs and a top and it looks like it’s fluent in furniture.

But really?

It’s just a project waiting to happen.

This is the table from our family room. In full-circle news, it used to be a dark orange-brown color which I didn’t like.

So I painted it white and put it in the family room.

But it always seemed too white to me.

I wanted a little more character.

So we took all the paint off of it and then it looked like this.

crackle finish on top of table before picture


Except the wood was super orangey (maybe from all that dark brown orangy stain) and we didn’t really seal it properly and I turned into someone that I never thought I would be.

A member of the coaster police.

I would start breaking out in hives if someone put a drink on the table.

And no matter how hard I tried.

No matter how many coasters I added, inevitably there were stains.

And myself and the table and the general population of this house were a little miserable.

So I decided to paint the table again.


Have you followed this entire furniture drama? I can hear what you are thinking. YOU HAVE JUST COME FULL FURNITURE CIRCLE.

But this time I wanted to go all character on the table so I created a crackle finish with glue.

Want to know how I did it?

Oh, good.

Me, too.

crackle finish on table after

Before we get started, here’s a picture of the crackled tabletop in the room.

You can see how the crackle finish gives it so much character.

crackle finish with gray paint

And here’s a close-up of the crackle finish on the tabletop.

It’s really such an easy finish.

I’ve been doing it for years and anyone can do it.

All you need is a little glue.

crackle finish on coffee table

DIY farmhouse table with crackle finish


piece of furniture




1. Lightly sand

You want to lightly sand the surface of the table.

This gets rid of any raised parts on the surface, but it also prepares the table for the glue and the paint.

I also want to introduce an important concept here about crackle. When you crackle there are two layers. The first layer is the part that you want to SHOW THROUGH the crackle and the second part is the color you want to have CRACKLE on it.

For example, I wanted the wood to show through the crackle, so I didn’t use a first coat. If I wanted white to show through the gray I would have painted it white first before adding the crackle layer.

Does that make sense?

create a crackle finish for your table with glue

2. Start by glumping on the glue for the base of the crackle finish

This is just regular Elmer’s glue.

The kind you used to put in your backpack in elementary school.

I just opened the bottle, poured it on and glumped it.

3. Brush in one direction

When brushing the glue (and the paint) you want to make sure you are brushing in ONLY ONE DIRECTION.

I’m not sure why or how, but it just works better.

Your crackles will be so much cuter if you brush one way.

4. Brush glue only where you want it to crackle

This is super important to remember.

You don’t want to cover the entire table—just the parts where you want the crackle color to show through.

Here’s my table covered in glue.

Here’s where I added a little bit of glue to the legs to have a small crackle there.

The more glue you add, the bigger the crackle.

The less glue?

The less crackle.

5. Paint top coat for the crackle finish

Wait until the glue ALMOST dries before you paint.

You want your glue to be slightly tacky.

Then you’ll want to add your top coat.

Again, make sure you brush it in only one direction. I painted this with Sherwin-Williams Mindful Gray.

Let dry.

6. Lightly sand

I like to add a little sanding when I crackle.

It’s like the glue does most of the work, but a little sanding gives it even more character.

Here are the legs after they were crackled and sanded with 220 grit sandpaper.

crackle finish on table in family room

Here’s the finished table in the space.

I started taking pictures of the table, but somewhere along the way I got fascinated with the pumpkins and took a zillion pictures of them.

I couldn’t help it.

I hadn’t seen them in 12 months.

Fall is going to be amazing this year.

I can feel it in the air.

My crackled glue table is ready.

My football stadium seat is ready.

My dough bowl is ready.

Are you ready?

Oh, good.

Me, too.


PS If you are looking for some ideas to decorate your coffee table now that you’ve finished crackling it?

Here are 21 simple, easy coffee table decorating ideas.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Michele @ Thistledown Domestic Creations Michele @ Thistledown Domestic Creations

    Oh, my goodness! I was just thinking about doing this with a table, but wasn't sure if it was still a "thing"! I'm so glad you shared this fantastic project because it inspired me to crackle finish my table. I cracked some other pieces about 20 years ago and loved it! Thanks for sharing, sweet friend!

  2. Image for Joanna Joanna

    WOW! What a cool project! I will definitely have to try this...Thanks for sharing! P.S. Love the wooden pieces that look like flowers in your white vase. Where did you find them??

  3. Image for David David

    This look super cool! I didn't know about this technique. After painting and sanding did you seal it with anything or does the paint provide enough of a seal that the glue doesn't soften on hot days or when something rests on it for too long?

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      David, Great question! I didn't seal mine---mostly because I'm lazy and I don't mind if it "ages" a little more by itself. :) Overtime it definitely "hardens" into place. If you want the surface to remain perfect---you would need to seal it with a clear acrylic sealer! Happy day! karianne

  4. Image for Jenn Jenn

    I did not know of this method!!! When you said crackle, I was thinking about the old school crackle that was super popular about 20 years ago that was a bit too crackly! I like this! I will definitely try this method!

  5. Image for Marlene Stephenson Marlene Stephenson

    It looks fabulous! You did a wonderful finish and i love it. I still have some decorating to do but, Oklahoma is finally cooling down and i am in the mood and you have given me a boost. I now need a surface to try this, thanks and have a blessed day.


    Love the table!!!! I could feel your angst..... AND love that you fell in love with your pumpkins again (I agree it has been 12 months!!!!!!)

  7. Image for maureen maureen

    Love that idea! I also love how you explain it and then tangent off to the pumpkins. That's how I think as well. School starts next Tuesday and the first football game is Friday night. Fall is officially here! Enjoy!

  8. Image for Laura Harrie Laura Harrie

    KariAnne, another amazing job! Now I am looking around the house to find something to do over with a crackle look! Now all your followers are running to the store to buy more glue! Thanks for the idea.

  9. Image for Sue Sue

    Hi Karianne!! I loved this project! I love it when you take something you found along the side of the road or hidden in the dusty corner of a thrift shop, and make it into a beloved family member. After your five easy steps to going blue and white lesson, I have been heading that way myself.. Only I seem to be going more blue, with white- and some red. With fall coming, I think I am going to try some orange. I love good old real orange pumpkins. But, here in upstate NY, we try to make summer last just as long as possible, because shortly it will be 20 below with 50 mph winds and 6 foot high drifts. Thank you again., for having fun with decorating and letting us all know it is okay to try something that sounds crazy. Remember, I painted my bedroom curtains.!

  10. Image for Debra Matcovich Debra Matcovich

    Hi, the table came out great. Maybe you can give me the incentive to do my table. It’s a very cool trunk style gold color wood distressed table I bought in Domain many years ago. Last year the gold is out and the neutral is in with the ext of the table. I bought the paint, but I’m afraid to do it. I paint everything, and yes, this table scares me. I need a push.

  11. Image for Barbara Ann Sandoval Barbara Ann Sandoval

    I have a oval oak, orangey mirror that is literally sitting outside because I couldn't decide on a color.. I like this technique. I'm going to try it this weekend and take it to a vintage market the following weekend. 🤞 I think it will sell..

  12. Image for Rebecca Kwit Rebecca Kwit

    I love this. I did a desk in crackle years ago. It was a disaster! I'm going to try again. Did you seal the table with anything?

  13. Image for Alice Hanson Alice Hanson

    KariAnne, Great tutorial! I have used glue for years. Did you put a seal on after the paint? Love your blog! Smiles, Alice

  14. Image for Connie Connie

    KariAnne, do you have new sofas in your family room or did you slipcover the old one?. I like the technique you used on the coffee table - it looks great. I love the big bread bowl with all those unique pumpkins you have been collecting over the years.

  15. Image for Carrie Carrie

    What can I add that hasn't already been said???? This is simply beautiful. Are you still an active member of the coaster police??? :)


    Love the new look. I must try this crackle method!! Also could you please provide source of your rug? Love that too!

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