Stripping a floor can be a grueling task with just a few coats of wax down, but anyone who has ever had the displeasure of running their swing arm into the section to be stripped and your equipment coming to a complete stop knows a hard days, even weeks, work. If you’ve found yourself in this situation you may have stumbled on to 20 years of employees simply giving there floor a quick wash and a half dozen coats of wax. You’ve probably gone through a few cases of scrubbing pads and frustratingly popped your electrical breakers more than a few times. Ive been there, too many times, and have learned a thing or two to help make this process a little less time consuming and a lot less of a headache.
What you will need:
- Safety Glasses
- Wet floor Signs
- Slip resistant shoes
- 14in wide floor surface scraper (1 for each person working)
- Floor Stripper
- A swing arm floor scrubber with a 20″ base
- A few cases of 20″ round black pads (more or less depending on the area your stripping)
- Plastic Lining (I used Cheap trash bags)
- Duct Tape
- Two mop buckets for stripper, Three mop buckets for rinse water. A mop for each.
- A good wet vac.
- A broom and a dustpan.
- A garbage can, it will be easier if its on wheels.
First you must prepare yourself and the area. Be sure to use the proper personal protection equipment. The chemical used to strip the floor is very corrosive, safety glasses are a must. When the floor stripper is applied to the floor it becomes extremely slippery, like walking on wet ice, so it is important to wear slip resistant shoes. I used a pair of slip-on from shoes for crews.
It is important to tape off any areas that you do not want stripped. A good way to accomplish this is to tape off where you want to stop and than tape down plastic liners to avoid splashes. You will be flooding the area to be stripped so it is a good idea to ball up some of the rags and place them under the liners you taped down to create a barrier. You will also want to place wet floor signs around the perimeter of the work area. You will want to dilute the floor stripper with water in your stripper mop buckets. Dilution for a heavy wax build up is 50/50. You will also need to fill your rinse buckets with water.
A team of 3-4 is ideal for a well oiled process. One person to refill buckets and scrape edges, one person to suck up with the wet-vac and scrape edges, and two people to scrape the main floor and operate the swing arms. Two experienced and hardworking individuals can successfully complete the process as well.
To begin the process the first thing you must do is flood a large area with the stripping solution. This is the opposite of a normal strip, in which you want to do small sections at a time. With a heavy wax buildup it is perfectly fine to do as large of a section as you can handle because once the bulk of the wax buildup is removed you can do a final strip in smaller sections.
You must let the stripper sit for about 15 minutes. At this point you will use the large 14in scrappers to scrape up the wax. It should peel up in thick layers. It helps if you all scrape in the same direction and push the wax and liquid onto your next section. Sweep up the piles of wax and suck up the liquid with the wet-vac. Flood the area again with stripper and let it sit for 15 more minutes. Than you will need to do another round of scraping. Once again sweep up the wax and suck up the liquid.
It is now time to do a test run with your swing arm and black pad. Flood the scraped area once more and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. This time run the swing armr like you would on a normal strip job. Don’t be afraid to go over it a couple times, if your pad seems to clog up flip it and keep going. When scrubbing is complete one person should suck up all the liquid while another begins to re-flood with plain water. The plain water will then need to be sucked up. Flood it one more time with plain water and suck it up again. Than do a final rinse. Let it dry to see your progress. If wax still remains on the floor you should include a third round of scraping to the rest of the areas.
If the area dries and you are mostly down to bare tile than you are ready to move on to the next section. Once the entire area is done touch up any areas with wax still on it. Be sure to rinse the floor a few times to ensure the floor is neutralized before applying wax.
- Be sure to scrape edges and corners very well, all edges and corners should match the job you did on the main floor.
- It is important to keep the floor surface wet during stripping. If it seems like it is drying up on you flood it with either more stripper or plain water.
- It is important to thoroughly rinse the floor, left over residue or dried stripper can cause imperfections in your wax job.
- Once you start stripping an area you cannot stop in the middle. If you feel this project may be too overwhelming for you it is a good idea too call a professional.