My Best Tips for using Dixie Belle Gator Hide

Here are my top tips for using Dixie Belle Gator Hide. Gator Hide is the most durable of the Dixie Belle clear coats, so using it is highly desirable, but can come with challenges. If you are struggling with Gator Hide, here are several ideas that can help achieve a flawless, streak free finish!

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1. Stir well with a stir stick, don’t just shake.

Gator hide and other clear coats can have particles that settle to the bottom, especially new containers or those that haven’t been used in a while. Use a stir stick and scrape the bottom, make sure it is integrated into the product

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2. Tint your Gator Hide with a bit of paint to darken it.

It doesn’t take much, a few drops of paint, stirred in well will help camouflage streaking.

3. Apply several very thin coats with light sanding in between.

Don’t try to apply your coats too thick at once. They will get streaky and uneven. More, thinner coats will yield better results.

4. If it is streaky going on, it will be streaky when dry, evenness is key.

Let your clear coat catch the light going on. Does it look streaky when wet? If so, that will NOT disappear as it dries. Use looongg, even strokes, in a continuous line all the way across your piece with an even hand to get consistent coverage.

5. Use a foam roller.

If you choose the application sponge, dampen before use, wring out any excess water, this will keep your sponge from absorbing as much gator hide and help reduce friction. I tend to use a damp brush because I can control the pressure of my brush better. But, if a soft hand isn’t your thing, try a foam roller to get even coverage.

6. Resist any urge to brush over imperfections.

Gator hide starts setting up quickly. As with any self leveling product, any marks you put in once set up has begun are less likely to level out. If you see imperfections in your coat, let them dry, lightly sand out, and add a new coat over top. They will virtually disappear.

7. Mist your surface with water before brushing on Gator Hide.

I’m talking VERY little water, a fine mist, just enough to help your brush glide. Gator Hide is water based so it is friendly to using minimal water in application.

8. If you are using over a transfer, be sure to burnish your transfer.

I use Gator Hide over transfers all the time with no issue. The key is to burnish your transfer, I use a Dixie Belle finishing pad, rub over ALL areas to make sure there are no air bubbles, etc. The clear coat getting in underneath the transfer through air bubbles is what can cause lifting

You can find some of my Favorite Redesign with Prima Products HERE!

9. If you are experiencing yellowing, clear coat is likely not your issue.

I see so often, people searching for clear coat that doesn’t yellow. If you are using a water based clear coat, and still experiencing yellowing, it is generally caused by 2 things. Either 1. Exposure to UV light or 2. Tannins bleeding through from under your paint.If you see yellowing, ask yourself 2 questions:

  1. Did I use a stain blocking primer like Dixie Belle Boss, Zinsser BIN, or Shellac under my paint?
  2. Is my piece kept under a window or in direct sunlight?

One of these is likely the reason for yellowing. ALWAYS use a stain blocking under your whites and light paint colors!

10. Temperature and humidity do matter!

Is it warm and muggy where you are? Your products can feel it too. You can move to a climate controlled space, wait until a cooler time of day, or use a bit of water to help. The same goes for the cold. Viscosity is reduced in cold weather. You can place your container in a bowl of warm water to help it return to its normal consistency.

11. Use another option to seal your paint before applying Gator Hide.

If you are still struggling to get streak free Gator Hide, try sealing your paint with Best Dang Wax or another clear coat, before gator hide. Raw paint tends to absorb clear coat quicker. This, combined with the fast set up of Gator Hide, can make it tough to get even coats. Sealing the paint with an easier clear coat, then going over top with the tough protection of Gator Hide might be the answer for you.

12. If you have a sprayer available, spray your Gator Hide!

Gator hide sprays BEAUTIFULLY! We don’t even dilute in our sprayer and this is a fool proof method to a streak free finish

Gator Hide is tough! It seals really well. You can find Dixie Belle Gator Hide and more HERE!

I hope these tips help you achieve a smooth top finish.


  1. I have learned so much from your videos. I’ve been painting and flipping for years and can always learn something new from you. Keep up the wonderful work you do! You really are an inspiration to all who paint.

  2. Brandy- Thank you for these great tips! I’m still pretty new to Gator Hide, haven’t had any problems yet, but these tips are really valuable to me!

  3. Thank you for the great tips Brandy. If you do use best dang wax before gator hide how long does wax need to cure before applying gator hide?

  4. Why does the Gator Hide tend to mess with my Wax? Has the wax not had time to dry? I waited a day, then I put a clear coat over it first, let it dry then used my Gator Hide no issue, but if I didn’t use a clear coat first it seemed to pull my wax off.

  5. You do amazing work! I have a question about Gator Hide Are you saying that you can use Gator Hide on top of another top coat…like a lacquer finish? I am having issues with a dining table showing water marks after 3 coats of the lacquer. I wanted to try this product On top of that finish to see if it would be stronger and resist water marks.

    • If the lacquer is fully cured, should be fine. Gator hide will resist water to a degree, but standing water, left for time will damage even the most durable finishes

  6. I am trying to use Gator Hide over Dixie Belle’s Caviar Paint. It came out very streaky after one coat. I am afraid to sand because the black color seems to get faded (kind of dusty looking). not sure what to do next.

  7. Hi Brandy,
    I am loving all of your videos and am truly inspired. I love your Dusty Blue dresser and will be using a similar technique with a vintage mirror frame and a masonite board to replace the broken mirror. I’m using the Prima transfer used on this dresser and the colors you used in this gorgeous piece. The masonite will warp if not primedWill the DB paint work over KILZ oil base primer or pigmented shellac? I just don’t know which primer would be best. I know I can use latex paint over KILZ primer but not sure about a mineral (chalk) paint. Thanks for any info.

    • Yes, it will work. I’ve applied over shellac and shellac based primer like zinnser BIN with no issues. I recommend you let it dry 72 hours before applying the paint

  8. Ugh, I tried Gator Hide for the first time. I have a set of matching side tables, first one came out very streaky and then I read this article and the second came out better, but still not the finish I was hoping for. I also had the additional problem that my table tops are surrounded on three sides, so i couldn’t get a consistent long stroke. I also sanded through areas of the paint trying to get rid of lumps and ridges. Are the other clear top coats more forgiving and self leveling? I have used wax and Polyacrylic, Gator Hide goes on much like the polyacrylic in my opinion.

  9. This is really helpful Brandy. The weather here has been bouncing from warm to rainy. It seemed m paint was more difficult to get a smooth finish, or was dragging more instead of going on smooth. As a beginner I couldn’t figure out why. What would you think about using a couple coats of the satin clear coat, sanding between, then followed by a couple thin coats of Gator to get added durability. Do you think that would give me the smoothest yet durable finish? It seems the finish scrapes easily when moving something on it lightly. Any suggestions on what to dust with that won’t damage the finish? Water & microfiber, furniture polish, ??
    Love your work…practical & durable yet totally artistic in design.

    • Yes, using satin then gator hide definitely makes it easier, shouldn’t need more than a damp cloth to dust. Finishes take 30 days to fully cure and harden

  10. Hi, I made a mistake on the top of my buffet I’m doing and already put a coat of gator hide on it. I would like to start top over. Can I paint over the gator hide??

  11. Hi Brandy, how soon after final coat of Clear Coat and/or Gator Hide final coat can a table top be used. I have completed my first project (nightstand) came out very nice. Used Coffee Bean with satin Clear Coat. I understand the top coats take 30 days to cure, but when can items be placed on them without damaging the finish? My next project is a dining table using Espresso No Pain Gel with a Gator Hide top coat. Testing the Espresso with Gator Hide top coat first on a small side table. Your videos are very helpful. Thank you.

    • You can use them gently as soon as it is dry to the touch. I send them home with customers and advise gentle use for the first 30 days. They are prone to scratch if you slide things on it, etc.

  12. This is BRILLIANT! Thank you so much for this advice.
    I have a question. Can you use Best Dang Wax over Gator Hide to get that softer look/appearance or, in the case of my current project, brown wax for that aged patina?
    Thanks, Brandy. You are truly an inspiration.

  13. Hi, I used gator hide on a table and it is fully cured. A client asked me to change the paint color on the table. Can I still paint over the gator hide? If not, what is the best way to remove the gator hide? It is a chalk painted table. Thanks!

  14. Hi Brandy, I love your work. I was wondering what type/brand of sprayer you use for your gator hide? Thank you in advance.

  15. Hi Brandy,
    This is a very helpful post.
    I’m brand-new to Gator Hide and I want to re-finish a surface that I previously waxed. Can I go directly over it with Gator Hide or do I need to sand the surface first or use a solvent to remove the wax before I apply the Gator Hide? Thanks!

    • Was it dixie belle wax or another brand? Dixie belle waxes are water based so you can clear coat over top. That is not the case with other brands

      • Hi Brandy, thanks for your response.
        No, I didn’t use Dixie Belle wax, I used A.S. dark wax, which I rubbed over a black/gold crackle finish. I like the look of it, but instead of wax I should have sealed it with something more permanent and durable. Now I’m conflicted; do I live with it or do I re-do it?

  16. Hi Brandy, I just finished applying 2coats of Dixie Belle paint on 80 year old Maple drop leaf table and chairs. I’m wondering how would be the easiest way to apply Gator hide to the carved legs? I’m thinking that I should use a tool for the top.( it’s so big) Thanks for you advice!!

  17. Hello ..I’ve painted my bathroom tiles with another paint but I would like to seal them ..I saw a video using gator hide ..can I just sponge roller this over the tiles? And they will be water repellent?
    Thank so much

  18. Thanks so much Brandy! Suggesting a foam roller was a game changer for me! So perfect! How long should I wait to apply a second coat of gator hide?

  19. I painted my kitchen table white and want to use Gator Hide on it. Would you still suggest adding a few small drops of paint to the GH to minimize streaking? Thanks.

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