5 Mistakes to Avoid When Stripping and Finishing a Floor

City Wide Facility Solutions
Published on February 1, 2023

Even with diligent cleaning, vacuuming, and scrubbing by custodial staff, commercial flooring is eventually going to experience damage. High foot traffic, especially in the winter months, will cause the finish on your facility’s hard floors to wear down, allowing dirt and grime to accumulate over time. Floors will deteriorate to the point when nothing but a strip and wax will restore the floor to its original look.

The only way to restore a commercial hard floor which has floor finish on it is to strip off all the old finish and put down new finish. A strip and wax should be scheduled for your facility at least once or twice a year to keep your floors looking their best. This service is nuanced and includes many specific steps.

Here are 5 common mistakes to avoid when stripping and finishing a floor:

  1. Stripping chemical is not compatible with the floor

The chemical used to strip a floor is corrosive in nature because it needs to be able to strip away the old floor’s finish. If it is used on flooring intolerant of the chemical, it can cause permanent damage.

Certain surfaces such as linoleum, granite, and other materials are not compatible with standard floor stripping chemicals. It is imperative you understand your flooring type before scheduling a strip and wax for your facility. City Wide Facility Solutions makes it our business to understand information like this about your facility so we can schedule the services you need.

  1. Improper dilution used when stripping

Inexperienced technicians may try to hasten the stripping process by using more of the chemical than is needed. More is certainly not better in this case because proper floor stripper dilution requires the right amount of water in order to properly strip and remove the old finish from the floor.

Using too much chemical and not enough water can permanently bleach floors or damage the flooring material. If the technician makes the mistake the other way by using too much water and not enough striping chemical, then the application will be ineffective. It is important to always use the proper dilution recommended by the chemical manufacturer.

  1. Dwell time mistakes

After the stripping chemical is applied to a flooring area, it requires a certain amount of time to emulsify the old finish. This is called “dwell time.” If the stripping technician fails to allow the proper dwell time for the stripping agent, the chemical will not work effectively.

Problems occur when the technician attempts to use an auto scrubbing machine to remove the floor finish before the proper dwell time. The proper dwell time is typically 10-15 minutes after application. And if this is not followed, old finish may be left behind and the process must be completed again to properly remove the lingering wax.

  1. Allowing the stripping solution to dry on the floor

It is important to never allow the stripping solution to dry on the floor because it can cause damage. There are a few reasons why stripping solutions are allowed to dry by mistake:

  • Technician attempted to strip too large an area
  • Technician applied the striping solution too thin

Stripping solution should be applied liberally in a small area at a time to avoid allowing the solution to dry before agitating. If too large an area is covered at once or not enough solution is used, the chemicals may dry, damaging the floor or requiring you start the process over again.

  1. Residue left behind

If the commercial floor is not properly rinsed before applying the new finish, a residue will be left behind. This residue will appear under the new finish, causing a cloudy look. The only way to remove this residue is to start the strip and wax process completely over again.

This is why it is imperative to only hire experience stripping and finishing services for your facility. City Wide only contracts with specialist vendors, so you do not need to worry about vetting. In addition to strip and wax, we can also assist you with janitorial services, exterior painting, commercial cleaning, and over 20 additional facility services.