How to Strip, Seal and Wax a Tiled Floor
To strip, seal and wax a floor you have to be systematic and detailed and follow all of the proper procedures to get a nice result. If you don’t have time to properly concentrate on the job, then hire a professional. Though no particular part of the job is overly difficult, taking shortcuts or rushing will produce poor results.
Some specialized equipment will be required to do the job, specifically a slow speed floor machine and a wet/dry vac. These can be rented from the larger hardware stores or tool rental shops. Other supplies required include scrub pads for the scrubber (preferably black), a dust mop, several cotton or rayon blend mops, finish mops, a small cleaning brush, a putty knife, garbage bags, floor fans, some extra rags, 3 buckets, a plastic dustpan and a rubber or foam floor squeegee; the floor product required includes stripper, neutralizer, sealer , and floor finish. Also have personal protective equipment including rubber gloves, safety glasses and booties. To mark off the area if other people are going to be around, have wet floor signs or caution tape.
Now proceed through the following steps.
- Gather and organize all the supplies.
- Remove furniture, rugs, and smaller items from the area to be worked on.
- Sweep and/or vacuum as necessary the area.
- Test the stripper in an inconspicuous area. VA Tile and standard linoleum will be fine, but some older or specialty type lino may not withstand stripping. Regular strippers have a high pH; select a rinse free stripper to minimize the worry of thorough rinsing.
- Start in a corner farthest from your exit and work toward that exit.
- Fill one of the three buckets with the floor finish diluted to specifications, and put the scrubbers scrapers and other tools into the other 2 buckets.
- Bring all of this equipment to the corner of the area your are going to start from.
- Use the mop to cover a 2 feet by 4 feet area with the stripper. Cover the area thoroughly without flooding it (use enough stripper needed to break down the old wax). If you are using a floor scrubber you can do an area 10 feet by 10 feet.
- Let the stripper sit according to instructions, then use the floor pads to scrape away wax buildup (with a doodlebug and fitted piece of floor pad for a small area, or full pad and floor machine for the larger area); while scrubbing the first area, apply the stripper to a 2nd area and let it soak to be ready when you finish the first area.
- Use the small cleaning brush for nooks and crannies, the putty knife where scraping is necessary.
- Vac up, or squeegee the wax and stripper residue into the dustpan and deposit in the third bucket; use a mop and rags to soak up any excess residue that the squeegee or vacuuming misses. Use a scraper to test areas to make sure that the stripping is complete (leftover wax will otherwise produce an uneven finished appearance).
- Continue this process until the whole area has been stripped. Don’t let the stripper dry before you can get to it because this can make it difficult to remove. Wet vac the old wax and stripping solution right away (don’t dispose of this material into a sink as it could plug the drain – pour it through a filter first)
- Rinse the floor with clean water to remove any more stripper. Do a final rinse with neutralizer.
- Let the floor dry thoroughly. Apply floor fans and air movement to speed up the process (put on low to medium speed so as not to blow ceiling dust, etc . around). Do a final check of the floor with clean footwear or new booties to sweep or vac off any debris, hair, dust, etc.
- Good products are available that seal and finish floors in one step. Typically 3 coats is a good balance. Line an available mop bucket with a heavier gauge garbage bag to poor the finish into – make sure the wheels of the mop bucket are clean and don’t get wet with finish that will leave marks. Don’t use too much floor finish to help avoid ‘wax buildup’, especially in corners and along edges. With a clean mop (can be microfiber) try using figure 8 circular motions for the applications. Try to lay smooth coatings without drippings. If your application is leaving bubbles then you are putting too much down. Missed areas on the first coat can be covered on later coats. Let areas completely dry between coatings (20-40 minutes, always quicker with air movement – don’t blow air directly close on an area that could case distortions or ripples in the wax on the floor). After the 2nd coat, walk on with socks and booties only and not hard soles that may leave marks on the finish.
- Let cure overnight. For a nicer finish, burnish the floor with a high speed floor machine.
- If you have to redo an area, tape off that small area so that you can just focus on that area.
- When cleaning daily use a neutral cleaner to protect the floor finish from being taken off.