Floor Stripping and Waxing

No matter how many times you show someone how to strip and wax a floor or how long a custodial staffer has stripped and waxed a floor in the past, the simple rule of thumb, as a supervisor, is to start from the beginning when teaching your custodial staff how to strip and wax a floor, otherwise you risk important steps getting missed or forgotten. New people do not have a clue and experienced staff sometimes have dangerous shortcuts that make getting the job done right, risky.

Stripping and waxing a floor made of VCT tile or Terrazzo requires the same simple component steps:
1) Always begin by reading the label of the chemical products you are using, to determine dilution ratios and the exact equipment required to do the job.

2) Bring all the tools for the job to the area to be stripped and waxed. (Buckets, water source, mop handles, mop head frames, rayon applicator mop heads, application mop bucket, wax, stripper, neutralizer, razor blade stick (razor blades), roto, auto scrubber, wet/dry vacuum, dust mop, scrubber pads, stripper pads, doodle bug pads (pad holder) and medium looped cotton mop heads).

3) Set up all temporary barriers to prevent interruptions or accidental injury to staff or passers-by. (Rope off or mark off area).

4) Wear all safety equipment: Gloves, goggles, and/or rubber shoes/boots.

5) Mix a proper and safe stripper solution according to dilution ratios. Prep floor by scraping all gum spots and marks off floor with 4′ razor blade stick.

6) Dust mop the area twice to ensure area is free of lose dirt.

7) Auto scrub the area to secondarily ensure the floor is free of loose dirt and debris, using a blue pad to deep scrub and loosen finish surface.

8) Apply stripper, properly diluted by warm to hot water. Do not allow stripper to dry completely. Roto off old finish with a black stripping pad to release finish from contact surface. Do this step as often as is required to remove the old finish (changing stripping pads as needed). Remove stripper and wax residue with wet vac. If using a mop bucket for stripper, line the bucket with a trash liner if you intend to ever use the bucket for anything other than stripper again.

9) After stripping the floor, rinse the floor with Neutralizer to remove the chemical activity of any remaining wax or stripper. Remove Neutralizer and stripping residue with wet vac. If you do not remove all the stripper or fully neutralize it, you will find the wax peeling up after it has been applied.

10) Rinse the Neutralized floor twice with clean water. Remove residue with wet vac. Inspect the floor to ensure all stripping has been completed. If necessary, repeat stripping process or neutralize further to remove excess stripper.

11) Allow area to dry completely following the stripping and neutralizing process (usually at least 15 minutes depending upon interior humidity).

12) Pour Wax into Wax Applicator Bucket. If a mop bucket, line the bucket with a trash can liner, if you intend to use this mop bucket for anything but floor wax again.

13) Dip rayon wax applicator mop head into wax. Attempt to dip applicator into bucket, getting the wax to coat the head, but not to be absorbed too heavily. You will apply the wax using a “figure 8 motion” on the floor, while maintaining sight of what areas the wax has been evenly applied to. Do not pour wax onto floor and then mop. Each coat should be applied thinly and evenly. To address seams, always overlap from one row to the next , quickly, before the previous pass begins to set up, otherwise the floor will streak.

14) Wait at least 45 minutes (depending upon wax label instructions and humidity) before applying additional coats. To test an area, use your fingers to see if the area is still tacky or not? If still tacky, the floor will imprint when you walk on it. Footprints do not disappear under more wax coats, nor do marks on the floor that are waxed over. Do not wax dirt into the floor, as it will remain until the next time you strip it.

15) Apply additional coats as needed, while waiting the appropriate amount of time in between each coat for drying time. (Standard floors need at least 4-5 coats). Remember not to wax yourselves into a corner from which you cannot exit without walking on the waxed floor.

16) When waxing, the sides of the floor next to the walls should only receive 2 coats, because few people walk on the floor right up against the wall.

17) Wash all equipment thoroughly after use, as stripper and wax could both permanently affect your ability to use mopheads, buckets, or pads again in the future. This can best often be done while waiting for a floor area to dry.

18) If burnishing the floor between coats of wax, so as to harden the finish, the upper top coats should not be burnished, so that you will get the gloss finish most require. Burnishing is primarily done on the base coat or bottom wax coat layers, because it hardens the wax coat, thereby providing better protection to the floor surface.

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