In a prior article, we started to define “stripping” which is the complete removal of any finish (think seal/wax) from a hard floor surface. We noted that not all hard floors should have finish applied to them and there may be variations in how to proceed based on what product was applied, as well as tools/chemicals appropriate for the task at hand.

It is important that if you are inexperienced in stripping hard floors that you consult with your distributor (or chemical manufacturer) to take advantage of his/her expertise in this area. We will be considering stripping a VCT (vinyl composite tile) floor that has been maintained and is due for the finish to be removed and replaced.

The following steps are suggestive only and may vary due to specific factors in your situation:

• Gather your supplies including wet floor/caution signs, safety shoes, appropriate PPEs (personal protective equipment), sufficient stripper (mixing directions on label), black stripping pads, low speed (175-250 RPM) floor machine or auto-scrub unit (for larger areas), wet vacuum with pick up head, 3 mop bucket/wringer combinations, cotton or blended mops identified for stripping only, cotton or blended mops for rinsing only, at least one or more finish mop (or systems) for applying finish once floor has been stripped.

• Be sure floor has been swept, furniture removed, doors blocked off, gum removed before proceeding.

• Apply stripper solution from mop bucket (or applicator system). Do not use the auto-scrub unit to apply stripper. It should only be used for stripping and pick up.

• Apply stripper solution to test area and allow recommended time (usually 5 minutes) for product to emulsify finish resulting is a gummy slurry that must not be allowed to dry before removal. Caution since the floor can be very slippery during this time.

• Using floor machine and appropriate stripping pad, strip the area allowing the machine time to work generating a residue that should be removed before it dries.

• Carefully inspect floor to determine if all finish has been removed. If so, proceed to other areas. If not, either re-strip floor or change stripper solution mix until the right balance is found.

We will look at other tips in a future article.

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