In this article, industry manufacturers answer common questions asked by building service contractors.

How do you remove urethane finish from floors so that it can be maintained with conventional floor finish? 

First we should clarify what a urethane finish is. Urethane, now available in both water- and oil-based varieties, is a very tough finish. It is often used on cement and wood floors, and along with its durability and helping to protect the floor, some types of urethane finishes will also provide a high-gloss or semigloss shine, giving the floor a very pleasing appearance.

Removing urethane can be a bit more difficult than typical floor finishes. If a water-based urethane has been applied to a cement or VCT floor, it likely can be removed by stripping the floor, similar to stripping a VCT or similar hard-surface floor. Be sure the work area is well ventilated, and wear protective gear such as gloves and safety glasses. Urethane can produce potentially harmful fumes when applied and removed.

If the urethane is oil based, it likely will require the use of strippers designed specifically for removing oil-based urethane. These strippers will contain a solvent that helps dissolve the urethane for easier removal.

In both cases, either a conventional or cylindrical floor machine can be used. However, because of the deeper penetration of a cylindrical machine, it may be able to help remove the urethane faster and more effectively.
— Jolynn Kennedy, marketing director, Tornado Industries, West Chicago, Ill.

Most urethane finishes are thin so they are fairly easily removed. The most popular methods are either sanding with a rotary sander or removal with a chemical stripper.
— Scott Keller, vertical market manager–commercial buildings, Bob Abrams, product manager, Brian Simmons, product manager, Clarke, Plymouth, Minn.

Chemical-free strip pads such as a maroon pad can be used either wet or dry to mechanically abrade the urethane, but these pads will not remove it from the pores of the floor.
— Juliana Mazziero, marketing coordinator, Americo Manufacturing Co., Inc., Acworth, Ga.