How to Strip Wax (Acrylic Floor Finish) from a Floor
Stripping a floor is hard work, so it’s best to do a thorough job so you don’t have to come back anytime soon.
These instructions will work for stripping a VCT tile floor. If you are stripping a concrete floor, or epoxy terrazzo, you might need to alter your methods slightly.
FIGURE OUT HOW MANY COATS ARE ON THE FLOOR
Before you strip a floor, you need to know how many coats of acrylic floor coating (“wax”) are on it. If your floor maintenance team has a regular waxing and stripping schedule, this should be an easy question to answer.
If you are new to stripping this floor, or if the waxing and stripping schedule has been chaotic, the question of “How many coats do we need to strip off” might be harder to answer. That’s okay.
- Gather all the information you can about the floor maintenance schedule
- Examine the floor
- (Over)estimate how many coats are on the floor. It’s always better to overestimate than underestimate.
PREPARE THE STRIPPING AREA
You need to clear all furniture, shelving units, mobile displays, and walk-off mats from the area that will be stripped.
CLEAN THE FLOOR
The next step in stripping a floor is to clean the floor. You do not want any chemicals or grime left on the floor that will interfere with your stripping solution. Stripping involves a chemical reaction between the stripping solution and the “wax”. That reaction will be more effective if the floor is clean.
- Dust mop the floor.
- If the floors are visibly dirty, mop with hot water and your usual cleaner.
- If the floors are clean to the naked eye, you can just mop the floor with hot water, or autoscrub with hot water.
PREPARE YOUR COMMERCIAL STRIPPING SOLUTION
- Mix commercial stripping solution following the instructions precisely. Hotter the water, better the result. (We recommend using a scoop of Simix Multi-Surface Kitchen Degreaser in your stripping solution as a Stripping Boost to help it work more effectively. Learn more here.)
- Spread stripper on on floor.
- If you have ten coats or less of wax, allow 40 minutes of dwell time. If you have more than ten coats, allow it to dwell for 1.5 hours.
- Do not let the stripping solution dry. If the stripper appears to be drying out, run your autoscrubber every 20 minutes over the surface with full pressure, full water at medium speed with the gate up. Make sure someone follows you with a mop to spread the solution evenly back over the floor.
STRIP THE FLOOR
- Fill your autoscrubber with the hottest water you can.
- Install black stripping pad or stripping brush on your autoscrubber or floor buffer.
- Scrub and suck up the stripping solution. Make several passes.
- If there are still areas of wax, keep repeating the stripping process until you are 100% sure that all coats and residue are removed.
- Mix your cleaner with hot water in autoscrubber.
- Put the softer black stripping pad on your autoscrubber.
- Scrub the floors at high water, high pressure, and medium speed with the gate down.
- Keep scrubbing until water is virtually clear with no suds, and the floor is smooth to the touch.
NEXT: CHECK YOUR WORK
- Go over the floors with a clean damp mop.
- Use a fan to help floors dry.
- Make absolutely sure there is no floor finish residue. There should not be any dark or shiny spots along the edges.
WHAT IF YOU NEED TO RESTORE A FLOOR THAT IS OLD, HAS PINHOLES OR LIPPAGE?
- Put a clean 220 diamond on a propane or electric battery burnishing machine. Machine must have a splash guard.
- In a bucket, mix your cleaner with hot water..
- Get a mop and wet the floor.
- Go over the floor with your burnisher at medium speed.
- Keep burnishing until the floor feels smooth.