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How to Create a Faux Antique Paint Finish: Antiquing Techniques for Crafters

Updated on October 20, 2015

There are several methods for creating an antique look for your painted projects including the two most popular: the crackle paint finishes and antiquing. Here we will discuss the basics of antiquing. Antiquing gives the item that old, worn look that's so popular on ceramics, furniture and brass fixtures. This is a surprisingly simple technique which can add character and an elegant air to your project.

The Art of the Painted Finish for Furniture & Decoration: Antiquing, Lacquering, Gilding & The Great Impersonators
The Art of the Painted Finish for Furniture & Decoration: Antiquing, Lacquering, Gilding & The Great Impersonators

Like this how-to for an antiqued painted finish? Check out this book for even more awesome techniques in fully-illustrated glory.


First, you'll need to select the color of paint you'll use for the antiquing. For most projects, this is a dark metallic gold or bronze, though some projects look great with solid black or brown paints.

Play around with the possibilities a bit -- basically, any color that's darker than the one that the piece is painted will do. Colors like black, dark brown and dark green offer a convincing age patina, but using the same color as the piece but a few shades darker can create a stunning faded look for the overall piece.

If possible, try this technique with a piece of scrap that's painted or stained the same color as the larger piece you'd like to antique. This helps reduce the potential damage if you find out that you don't like the chosen color after all, something goes horribly wrong with the type of finish, or some other such disaster that really isn't terribly likely, you want to chance it? Generally, you'll want to be sure that the antiquing paint is the same type of paint as the base coat for a similar finish and durability.

Supplies you'll need for an antiqued paint finish

Let's get started. You'll need a wide paintbrush, paint for both the base coat and the antiquing coat, and several paper towels. The size of the project and the amount of antiquing you need to do will determine how many paper towels will be needed, but be sure that you have plenty on hand. If you have oil-based paint, you will also need a clear oil base to thin the paint as it will need to flow easily - do not use paint thinners for this as the paint thinner could damage the base coat. Water-based paints will need only a little bit of water.

And here we go, step by step:

  1. Paint your item with the base coat or coats. Make sure that the base color or colors are exactly as you want them to be and let the paint dry thoroughly. Once your base is completely dry (the time will vary, if in doubt consult the label for the manufacturer's time estimate) you're ready to prepare the paint for antiquing. Some types of crafts may require a light matte coating before antiquing, an all-purpose spray-on coat works well for this as it only needs to prevent any excess staining of the base coat of paint.
  2. Start with a good-sized dollop of paint in a small dish - you won't be able to use a flat pallet for this one. Mix in some water or clear oil base until the paint flows easily and just barely sticks to the sides of the dish when it's sloshed. The consistency should be similar to whipping cream.
  3. Wet the brush with water and tap the excess water off. With a wet brush, apply a generous layer of the prepared antiquing paint over a portion of your project. Make sure the paint covers the portion completely and gets well into any cracks.
  4. Wipe the section off with a dry paper towel, making sure all flat areas are thoroughly wiped. Do not push the paper towel into cracks to completely remove the paint, just wipe over the top of them to soak up any excess paint that could run.
  5. Repeat for the entire project, doing a small portion at a time so that the paint doesn't dry before you have a chance to wipe it away.

This technique works well for unpainted wood as well. Make sure you're using a water-based paint as the varnish could pull away from oil-based paints. Apply the antiquing coat in between coats of varnish, again taking care that the paint is completely dry before varnishing over the top of it.

Thank you for taking the time to read my hub, and I hope that it has been helpful to you. Would you also like a how-to for crackle painting that involves cheap, readily available materials and none of that really expensive crackle medium? If so, please leave me a comment and I'll get that hub in the works. Do you know some tips and tricks I haven't mentioned? Feel free to share those too -- the more the merrier.


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    • wychic profile image

      Rebecca Mikulin 8 years ago from Sheridan, Wyoming

      Thanks :D, I've always enjoyed doing how-tos and commentary on things I know well, as well as reviews on books, movies, and products. I'm also always open to suggestions on what else I could add to the bunch that people might like to know about :).

    • Haunty profile image

      Haunty 8 years ago from Hungary

      Very good work, wychic. Thank you.