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Floor Stripping

Removing floor finishes is perhaps one of the most labour-intensive and hazardous of maintenance operations, placing both cleaning personnel and occupants at risk. Furthermore, frequent stripping can cause health, safety, and environmental impacts through the use and disposal of products.

The objective of a green floor maintenance program is to minimise the frequency of stripping/removing and maximise the longevity of coatings. In some cases, newer equipment that relies on special floor pads, high-speed oscillations, or wet orbital sander technology enables stripping floors without harsh chemicals, or in some cases, without the use of chemicals at all.

For chemical-based stripping, the cleaning staff should:

Prepare the area

Prepare the area. Place “Floor Hazard” signs at entrances to the area being stripped. Move or work around heavy furniture or equipment that cannot be moved. Sweep the floor with a treated dust mop or vacuum. Remove gum, tape, and other foreign matter with a scraper, taking care not to mar or scratch the surface of the floor.

Prepare the equipment

Assemble two mop heads and handles. Label one “Strip Mop.” Label the other “Rinse Mop.” Assemble two mop buckets and wringers, labelling one “Strip Bucket” and the other “Rinse Bucket.” Place a black or high-productivity stripping pad on the rotary floor machine. Fill the Strip Bucket with a solution of floor stripper (see Products Section and Appendices) following the manufacturer’s recommendations for dilution rates and water temperature. Fill the Rinse Bucket with clean, cold water. Add a small amount of a neutral pH cleaner following the manufacturer’s recommendations for dilution rates. Equip a wet vacuum with a floor squeegee tool. Place the equipment in the area where the work will begin.

Apply stripping solution

Apply stripping solution to the floor, using the Strip Mop and Strip Bucket. Dip the mop in stripping solution. Lift the mop and allow excess stripper to drain back into the bucket. Fan out the mop head on the floor and initially apply stripping solution along the edges. Continue applying the solution in other areas using an arc motion from right to left, covering the area between the edges. Apply sufficient solution to thoroughly wet the floor, but do not flood it. Do not allow the solution to dry on the floor. Immediately wipe off splashes from walls, baseboards, glass partitions, etc. with a damp cloth. Allow the solution to remain on the floor 5–10 minutes. Re-apply as necessary to keep the floor wet.

Scrub the floor

Scrub the floor with the rotary floor machine and stripping pad. Overlap the strokes made by the machine. Again, keep the floor wet, re-applying the solution as necessary.

Remove the stripping solution

Remove the stripping solution from the floor with the wet vacuum and floor squeegee tool. Examine the floor for complete finish removal. Re-strip any areas that have finish remaining on them.

Rinse the floor

Apply rinse solution using the Rinse Mop and Rinse Bucket. Apply sufficient water to thoroughly wet the floor, but do not flood it. Remove the rinse solution from the floor using the wet vacuum and floor squeegee tool.

Damp mop the floor

Damp mop the floor with clean water. Empty the Rinse Bucket and refill it with clean water. Rinse the Rinse Mop with clean water, and use it to damp mop the floor. Remove floor hazard signs only when the floor is completely dry.

Note: An automatic scrubbing machine or auto scrubber, which applies cleaning and rinse solutions, scrubs, and vacuums/squeegees away soiled solutions, can be used in place of manual or rotary scrubber methods.

Action Items

  • Notify occupants beforehand if a strip-out is scheduled.
  • Select the least toxic products available (see Products Section and Appendices). Mix and use products according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Use the appropriate personal protective equipment. Gloves, goggles, and non-slip footwear may be required. Aprons and respirators may be necessary depending on products and methods selected.
  • Ventilate both during and after stripping.

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