Alligator Skin Furniture Flip

I recently did a dresser makeover that had what is known as, The Alligator Skin Technic. Apparently this was a big thing in the early 90’s and earlier.
I, for one, am SO glad it’s a fad of days gone by!!!! If you do furniture makeovers, you know we would rather pull our own teeth than have to strip a piece lol!! Well, fortunately for me, I’m part of a wonderful painters sharing forum on Facebook and some of the ladies in the group, had dealt with this outdated alligator skin furniture technic. There IS a simple way!!!

Are you ready for this? Use a simple kitchen degreaser!!!!! Just spray it on, let it set about 30 minutes, go back with a bucket of water and, start washing it off. I used my paint scraper too and it was a lot easier to just slide the whole sticky mess off. You may think (like I did) why not just sand it off?? Well, I attempted to do that first and it swirls into a bubblegum like mess. But, I’m happy to say, I survived it and all is well.

Finished Result

Finished Result

That’s a very old mirror and, if it were mine, I would replace it but, this is what the owner wanted. This is what it looked like, in case you’re not sure of the Alligator Technic, in which I speak of.

Alligator/Crocodile Technic!

Alligator/Crocodile Technic!


Bare wood

Bare wood

As you may see in the above photo, there were some areas that still have the roughness from the alligator skin furniture technic. That is OK, I used them to my advantage, when distressing & making it look chippy.

Dresser Makeover

I stained some wood embellishments and added silver/gold/champagne paint, from Hobby Lobby, to bring out the design and help them match the knobs.

That’s my Jack Russell’s hiny you see lol. Her name is Roxie and she is always there with a helping hand….ahem…paw.

I'm glad I was able to leave the top, natural wood

I’m glad I was able to leave the top, natural wood

I finished it all of with a protective coat of Old Town Paints Clear Finish and the color is their Stormy Seas. It looks a little brighter blue, in the photo, than it actually is. It’s more of a green/blue.

So, if you see a piece, covered in horrid varnish bubbles (aka Alligator Technic) don’t be afraid to buy it to makeover. It really isn’t that much of a pain, if you use a degreaser to remove it.

Happy Painting Y’all ~ Dawn


  1. says

    You mean to tell me someone actually intentionally made the varnish/poly into an alligator finish??? What were they thinking! (I’m sure in 20 years our children will be thinking the same about the penchant to make everything look worn.)

    I, too, love old mirrors. Glad they kept it.

    • says

      LOL…yes, apparently it was a pretty big thing. I sure am glad it’s not now. All I could think of was, this is a dust collector lol. I could see it just attaching to every single bubble!

  2. Renee Schuhmacher says

    I saw your post on the blog Furniture Flippin’. So glad to see this! My first piece was shellacked. After sitting in a garage for almost 40 years the finish on the sides was flaking. What wasn’t flaking looked similar to the alligator finish. I tried sanding it as well and it turned into a gummy icky mess. So frustrating! Now thanks to you I’ll know what to do next time. Thanks so much!


  1. […] pretty positive he knew about it.  It just never ever came up in conversation.  But, thanks to Dawn of Sun Baked Treasures I now know that my $ 5 dresser I purchased this past summer has an alligatored finish significantly […]

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