The difference between stripping and scrubbing is very important to understand. In my workshops, I express the general observation that if it costs $5.00 to strip and refinish a hard floor I can scrub and recoat for less than $1.00 in most cases. The reasons should be apparent. There is less labor and product involved in scrubbing when compared to stripping. Stripping is the complete removal of any finish on the floor by means of a harsh stripping solution and aggressive stripping pad. Scrubbing is the removal of one coat of dirty/damaged finish and application of one or two coats of finish to rebuild rather than fully replace. Of the two processes, scrubbing is considered to be more environmentally friendly since it is dumping less contaminants into the sanitary waste system. It is also less labor intensive since a floor can be scrubbed much faster than stripped.

You can use the same type machine (175-250 RPM) or auto-scrub unit for larger areas. You will use buckets/wringer combinations, cotton mops for application of scrubbing solution, pick up and rinsing, a floor finish mop (or system). Instead of a harsh stripper solution (pH of 9.5 – 13), you will use a neutral scrub solution (think pH of 7.5- 8.5) with good detergency qualities. Since the scrub solution is neutral you can use the auto-scrub machine to apply, scrub and pick up the solution thereby reducing labor time considerably. It is important to take the time to scrub the baseboards (think swivel brush and blue/red pad) making sure to remove any soils before any finish is applied. There is no need for neutralizer (a mild acid pH of 4-5) since the floor is not “hot” from any stripper residue.

Make sure you rinse thoroughly and allow sufficient time to dry. One important key is to carefully inspect the floor BEFORE applying any finish since you can ruin your work by applying finish over dirt or residue.

Your comments and feedback are always appreciated. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or