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topic 0409

How to make wrinkle paint

A discussion started in 1996 and continuing through 2017.
Add your Q. or A. to restore it to the "Current Topics" discussions.


Q. Hi -

I am looking for a commercially available additive or a recipe for one which I can use to convert standard oil-based enamel paint into a coating which will produce a "wrinkle" finish when dry. My requirement stems from a current project of restoring vintage military electronics equipment. The metal cases are finished with a wrinkle paint, Olive Drab in color. I know that wrinkle paint is currently available, but not in this color.

I understand that the mechanism for obtaining this finish is the rapid drying of the paint surface relative to the under layer. This causes the surface to wrinkle up and produce the desired texture.

It has been suggested that I simply use an available wrinkle color and then lightly overspray with the appropriate top color, however I would use this method only as a last resort, since I would like the restoration to be as close to original as possible. Using an additive with commercially available paint would permit me to obtain the correct color match and then convert the paint to the wrinkle type via the additive.

Thanks for any help you can give me.

Bill Henn

Black Wrinkle Paint

Black Wrinkle Paint

Red Wrinkle Paint


Q. Hi Bill Henn! I don't have anything to add yet, but I'm on the same search of wrinkle paint "inner workings" in order to restore old family photographic lenses and equipment. I'll appreciate if I can participate on this "quest". Thanks, Marcos

Marcos Brandao
- Brasilia, Brazil


A. Don't wrinkle your face! Help is on the way wrinkle wonderers. There are a number of ways to create a wrinkle finish. It depends on how wrinkled you wish to go.

First, you can prime and then spray with a commercially available products that produces a sandstone effect that is subsequently finished over with a final color.

Secondly, one may use a suede catalyst in a polyurethane final coat.

Lastly,there is a product in the automotive painting industry that is called rocker chutes. This is added to a spraying system in varying degrees for effect. The trick is to test the effect on scrap pieces with the distance away from the surface you're spraying. Further away will give you more "splatter to the matter".

Kindest regards!

Mike Dywan
- Phoenix, Arizona


A. I accidentally found a way to produce a beautiful wrinkle finish using the cheapest spray paint I could find.

After I cleaned the part by sandblasting, I had to give it about 6 coats of paint to get it to look half decent. This was a direct result of buying CHEAP paint. I let it dry for about half an hour, then baked it in an oven at 125 °C for about 2 hours. When I took it out, it had the greatest wrinkle finish on it I had ever seen!

At first I was disappointed in it, but then decided to do the rest of the parts I was painting that color the same way. Worked great for me!

Jim VanAlstyne


Q. I am looking for a good wrinkle finish too. Talked to a supplier last year. They said they use silicone to help the wrinkle. This is not a crinkle or spatter finish but more like excessive orange peel effect.

I need a good black and a dove gray. The product now available does not work as well.

My application is old telescope restorations.

Has anyone come up with a fix?

Marshall Musser


Q. Hi Wrinkle Fans,

I too am looking for the magic wrinkle recipe. I restore old electronic equipment, particularly old General Radio Corp. test equipment. Their early black and dark gray finishes have an unusual quality, not a fine wrinkle, but large irregular flat areas about a tenth of an inch in diameter, with lower height lines separating them. Hard to describe, but not a fine wrinkle. I believe it was chemical, since the wrinkle extends around the edges of the panels. It wouldn't if they used a texture screen or mechanical means. How how how did they do this. Since they used this finish from the '30s to the '60s or later, it couldn't have been any great secret. An additive? Baking? Some special spray technique? Help!

Conrad Hoffman
- Canandaigua, New York


Q. I too am looking to find a good resource of wrinkle paint. I can find black, brown or grey, but I'm looking for Ferrari red to finish some automotive under-hood items. I know that powder coating companies can do this in almost any color you want, but they charge an arm and a leg for it. There has to be a formula or something out there.

Micajah Smithson
- Laguna Niguel, California


A. I called a paint company and talked to a chemist. He said that Tung Oil [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] encourages wrinkling because the mid-layer of paint does not dry as fast as the top. Wrinkling is caused by uneven drying between the substrate, mid, and outer layer of the paint film.

Mark Peterson
- San Diego, California


thumbs up signWhen I was living in the states I restored a 67 Datsun Roadster. The dash need repainting and I found a spray paint the wrinkled to produce the original effect. I wish I could remember the name of the product as it was a few years ago. I recently wanted the effect for another hobby and have not been able to find anything except blank looks from the local auto stores.

Joe Alferoff
- Newport, South Wales


A. I bought a wrinkle finish at pep boys; it says wrinkle finish and is only available in black, but I wish it were available in red

Daniel Andrews
- California


A. I have used a very nice wrinkle finish paint in the past that was manufactured by a company in Milwaukee, WI. I used it for painting fiberglass gunstocks. One of the colors that they sold was Olive drab used for camo! You might want to contact Brownells, Inc =>
who specialize in gunsmith supplies. You might also try some of the gunstock companies like McMillan or Browns of California.

Perry Hughey
Huntsville, Alabama


A. First to Conrad Hoffman of Canandaigua, NY, the finish you're describing sounds like a hammertone finish which can be obtained at most hardware stores that sell spray paint.

For those of you looking to wrinkle finish anything metal, I've done quite a bit of wrinkle finish on many types of objects and in a variety of colors. I'm an automotive restorer/painter dealing in vintage/classic/cars/racecars.

Here's an outline, you spray the wrinkle finish first, get good coverage and after it takes a "set" have the top coat color of your choice ready, and spray it on top. Do not wait for the wrinkle finish to "wrinkle dry" to spray the top coat color - if you do, it won't look right.

Ernie Layacan
- San Francisco, California


Q. I am restoring several aftermarket automotive heaters and have been looking for wrinkle finish paint in colors other than black. An article in an old Peterson publication mentioned wrinkle finish paint but I have been unable to locate this company. It is possible the company has gone out of business or sold to another company and the name has disappeared. The article indicated that about half a dozen colors were available.

David Ledo
- St Paul, Minnesota


A. In the old days wrinkle finishes were made from Tung Oil [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] and a specific blend of metal based driers containing cobalt, manganese and zinc. This is still the best way to get this finish. If you can't get the exact color you want from your supplier you should buy the paint and take it to a industrial paint supplier. The paint could be tinted to most any color using enamel grade tint paste. To get other wrinkle finishes is a hit and miss operation usually based on the luck of getting just the right film thickness and drying conditions to cause the surface to dry at a different rate than the center of the film. One could contact a chemical company and ask for a sample of a tung oil alkyd. Thin that material with mineral spirits [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] and have it tinted to the required color. Wrinkle away fans...

Steve Nisewander
Eugene, Oregon


A. Wrinkle finish (black) is available in spray cans. I bought some at a store who specializes in obsolete parts for MG - Triumph and other British sports cars. When I was looking for this product a local drugstore had a product to add to the paint but it seemed quite fuzzy to do. Hope this info will help. Maserati still uses red wrinkle finish to paint some engine parts.

Jean de Barsy
- Antwerp, Belgium


A. I too had a hard time finding a wrinkle paint. I finally asked the local body shop for it and they made a phone call and had it delivered to me the next day. I now have 6 spray cans of Jet Black Wrinkle Finish. I don't know yet how well it works or if it is available in different colors. It exists because I am looking at a can of it right now. I fabricate radio consoles and mounts for my fleet of police vehicles.

Terry Daubenspeck
- Carson, Washington

February 26, 2012

Q. To Terry D: you state you have six cans of krinkle paint but you don't know if it works. What is the name of the company that is shown on said cans??

Tom Smith
- Broadview Hts., Ohio

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