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What is Strip & Floor Finish or Strip & Wax?

A Strip & Floor Finish or Strip & Wax is the process of removing old layers of wax and dirt from the floor, preparing it to be coated with new layers of finish. Performing a strip and finish is time-consuming and expensive, but when performed properly it can revive your floor's appearance and protect them from future damage.

Common Mistakes Janitorial Companies Make When Stripping and Waxing Your Hard Floors


1. Floor Is Not Compatible with Chemical

Floor strippers are extremely corrosive and can leave behind residue and damage floors if the floor substrate is not tolerant of the stripper being used.

Each floor substrate is different and will need to be compatible with the stripping product being used in order to not damage the floor.

For example, certain surfaces like granite, marble, linoleum, LVT (luxury vinyl tile) can be damaged by some floor stripping chemicals where VCT (vinyl composition tile) may not.

Strip & Wax or Strip & Floor Finish
Strip and Wax

2. Improper Chemical Dilution

Floor strippers must be properly diluted with water before being used.

A common mistake custodial staff make involves assuming that “stronger” is always better. This is not the case with floor strippers. If the floor stripper is not diluted properly, it will be ineffective. It will not act faster or “better” by being diluted “stronger”, but rather make the stripping more difficult.

Improperly diluted chemicals can harm floors. For example, using too much chemical can permanently bleach floors.

On the other hand, too much water and too little chemical will be ineffective. If the chemical is overly diluted, the floor stripper will not work effectively and will require your staff to repeat floor stripping procedures.

The proper chemical dilution is also important for the health and safety of building occupants. The wrong chemical dilution can create caustic fumes and unhealthy amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Additionally, improperly diluted chemicals increase the risk of chemical burns and other related injuries.

3. Not Enough Dwell Time

Without adequate dwell time, the stripping chemical will not have enough time to penetrate the top layers of floor finish making it harder to remove finish.

Commercial floor strippers which are not used with the proper dwell time and removal process will not effectively remove finish, ultimately taking your staff longer to do the job and requiring more labor.

In most cases, the stripper needs to dwell for 10-15 minutes BEFORE any physical agitation (using a swing machine or auto scrubber) is applied but may vary by manufacturer.


4. Floor Dries Before Chemical is Removed

On the other hand, if the stripper is left for too long and is allowed to dry, it has its own range of negative effects.

The most common reason floor stripper dries before being removed is because it is applied too thin. Floor stripper should be liberally applied to the area. If you notice that the stripper is beginning to dry before the recommended dwell time is achieved, it is important to add more.

An additional reason floor stripper dries before removal is because staff is attempting to cover too large of an area. As a result, the floor stripper is spread too far and too thin, allowing it to dry very quickly.

If the floor stripper dries on the floor, it can cause damage to the floor, and it will require additional steps to remove.

Strip and Wax

5. Chemical Remains on Floor after Rinsing

The final step of stripping the finish from the floor requires rinsing the floor to remove all the slurry from the floor. There should be no chemical or other residue left on the floor after rinsing. This step is critical to the success of finishing procedures. If any residue remains on the floor, it can result in floor damage and a range of other problems.

If staff applies finish before removing all residue, they will likely have trouble getting the finish to properly adhere to the floor. If this happens, staff will have to re-strip and finish the floor.

Leaving stripper and other residues behind can also cause the finish to yellow.

The best way to avoid these problems is to thoroughly rinse the floor.

Strip & Floor Finish
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