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Stripping & Waxing Vinyl Composition Tile

Friday October 24, 2008
Article Word Count:944 Comments (3) Permalink

Stripping off old wax and laying down new wax on hard surfaces, such as vinyl composition tile, is not as complex as many people believe. In this article you'll find helpful terms and step-by-step instructions that can guide you through the entire process. Before beginning the following steps, you'll need to gather:

• Broom
• Mop (with extra mop head)
• Scrubbing pads
• Small scrub brush (for tight corners)
• Bucket
• Old rags
• Putty knife
• Commercially-prepared wax stripper

Note: Those who have never stripped or waxed a floor before may find the following steps moderately difficult.

1st Step
Prior to stripping and waxing your floors, you need to assess what needs to be done. This could involve doing some research on your specific floor type - which you can do right here at The ultimate goal is to make your floors shine, which can be hard to do if you're not familiar with what your floors need.

After you've gotten this out of the way, it's time to inspect your floors for scuffs (i.e. from shoes or furniture legs) and spill marks. You'll also need to determine how dull your floors are. You can do this by examining your floors from various angles. A shiny floor will reflect lights while a dull one will not. Even if you think your floors are shiny, you may want to carry out the following steps to further enhance their sheen.

2nd Step
You'll need to decide what furniture will need to be removed from the area. Heavy furniture that you don't plan on moving around, such as couches and TV stands, do not need to be moved.

Once all of the necessary furniture pieces have been removed, dust-mop the floor to get rid of dust and debris. When waxing, you'll want to apply an even flow of wax to the surface to avoid discoloration. Furniture, rugs, mats and carpet runners should not be returned to their original spots until after the stripping and waxing process is complete and the floors are dry.

3rd Step
After steps 1 and 2 have been completed, you can move on to the floor stripping process. Thanks to present-day stripping pads, waxes and chemicals, not all floors have to be stripped in order to be adequately shined.

The term "stripping" refers to the removal of the old floor finish. In many cases, stripping may not be necessary. Scuffs and stains can be removed simply by cleaning the floor. Cleaning rather stripping is a better option for your floors in the long run.

If you decide to strip your floors, remember to only use floor stripper in a well-ventilated area. Also, wear rubber gloves as wax strippers are harsh and can cause skin irritation. Most importantly, before applying the stripper to the entire floor surface, test it out on an inconspicuous area first.

If you have a lot of floor surface to clean, you may want to consider cleaning them with an automatic scrubber. Many janitorial stores have automatic scrubbers for rent. Another option for cleaning your floors is a low-speed buffer that you can rent from most local hardware stores. When using either of these cleaning machines, make sure you combine the floor cleaner mix with water according to the cleaner's specifications.

Apply the floor cleaner mix and water to the floor with a mop. The goal is to saturate the entire surface of the vinyl composition tile so you can let the chemicals soak in. Once the floor is adequately saturated, scrub the floor with a low speed buffer and moderate strip pad. When using an automatic scrubber, don't turn on the wet vacuum until after you've gone over the floors a few times with the mop. You want to make sure that the floors are thoroughly cleaned. The wet vacuum can help extract excess dirty water.

4th Step
After the floor cleaner mix has been applied to your floors and has time to dry, your floors will appear dull. At this time, check your floors for stains or scuff marks. Once the inspection is complete, apply clean water with a clean mop head to your hard floor surface. This process is called "rinsing." Follow through with steps 3 and 4 to ensure that all of chemicals and floor cleaners are removed and your floors are as clean as can be.

5th Step
Once the floors have dried from Step 4, dust-mop the floor for any debris that may have been left behind. After this is done, you're ready to wax your floors!

Picking the right floor wax is half the battle. There are several types of wax currently on the market; make sure that you choose one that is safe for the type of floor your have. When applying wax, begin in the far corner of the room. Apply the wax thinly with a new and/or clean mop-head. Work in small sections so as to avoid missing any floor areas.

For best results, try to apply 2-3 coats of fresh wax evenly to your floors. Make sure that you give every coat enough time to dry (usually this is about 45 minutes). Tip: When applying the second coat, try to apply it in the opposite direction to the first coat. For example, if you did horizontal strokes the first time, do vertical the next.

Once the last coat is applied and has time to dry, you can replace all furniture and rugs. To maximize your freshly waxed VCT floors, consider purchasing a floor cleaner that is safe for waxed surfaces. Contact the floor wax manufacturer to make sure you get a floor cleaner that's compatible.


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Comments (3)

Talkback – Leave a commentThere are 3 comments

I'm in VCT floor stripping hell as we speak. I am the "Housecleaner" at a local church and my tenure began last year. The previous maintenance man was there 10 years and stripped the floors ONCE!!! Yet he recoated them at least twice a year. I found myself having to soak it with stripper at full strength though it said to dilute 1:8 with water. It made the process much easier. I was on my knees with a scraper, scraping up this black slime, slapping it in a bucket, mopping it up and squeegying it dry. This is not a fun job at all.
June 28 2012
Lots of great tips here. Thanks for this article.
November 3 2008
Thanks for the in depth information. It's also important to note that not all vinyl floors should be waxed to begin with. This could void the warranty. Always be sure to check with the manufacturer.
October 30 2008
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