Alligator crack

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A checkered crack pattern that resembles alligator scales. The grid most often occurs on thick varnishes or paints. It is often due to the drying and subsequent shrinkage of an outer surface while the inner material is still soft. Alligatoring can also occur when a high shrinkage coating adheres poorly to its substrate.

Synonyms and Related Terms

alligatoring; alligator crackle; traction crackle

Resources and Citations

  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Dictionary of Conservation Terms, European Union, 2003 Comment: synonym = traction crackle
  • Matte Paint: Its history and technology, analysis, properties and conservation treatment, Eric Hansen, Sue Walston, Mitchell Bishop (ed.), J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles, Vol. 30 of AATA, 1993

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