The New Year is a time for new beginnings. For many organizations, especially hospitals and life science laboratories, this fresh start begins with the floor, specifically stripping and waxing it to keep it safe, clean, healthy, and compliant. Doing the job right can also reduce labor and product costs and extend the life of floors. Yet, while many people and even commercial cleaning services companies talk about the need to strip and wax floors, not all know what it entails or how to ensure the job is done right.
“Many times people think stripping the floor means removing the top layer of wax or even just cleaning it before reapplying wax,” says Luis Ramirez, CEO and founder of Shine Facility Services, San Francisco, CA. “This is called a scrub and recoat, which should be performed for floors with average foot traffic every six months to a year. A full strip and wax requires removing all the layers of wax. If this is done correctly, and regular floor maintenance has been followed, including scrubbing and recoating in the suggested time frame, then full-scale stripping and waxing only need to be done every two to three years.”
By “all the layers,” Ramirez refers to the three to five coats of wax that should have been applied the last time the floor was completely stripped and waxed. If this deep strip isn’t done, the final finish will suffer.
“If you don’t perform a deep strip and only clean or remove the top layer of wax and apply more wax to the surface each time, you will see different shades in the finish. It won’t look as pristine, and it won’t last. The top coat will evaporate and erode, leaving imperfections in the finish. It will also be easier for scratches and scuff marks to mar the surface, ruining the overall look much quicker.”
Facts and Misconceptions
“People often wonder why certain floors need to be waxed,” says Ramirez. “It is because most surfaces, including vinyl composite tile (VCT), have little-to-no natural slip resistance. The slip resistance comes from the floor wax, which usually adds a coefficient of friction between 0.5 and 0.76 and makes the floor glossy. Another misconception is that the shinier the floor, the more slippery it is. It’s the opposite. Shinier floors have more slip resistance because the finish has a higher DCOF [Dynamic Coefficient of Friction].”
DCOF is the a measure of slip resistance. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) considers a DCOF rating of greater or equal to 0.42 to be safe for both residential and commercial use.
Below, Ramirez outlines the steps to strip and wax floors properly.
Deep stripping a floor requires removing all levels of wax down to the surface. Before applying stripper, however, the floor should be thoroughly cleaned to remove all loose dust and debris that can make stripping it more difficult. The stripping solution is applied, and heavy gauge floor pads are used. At Shine, we are extremely environment-conscious and use green-certified products wherever possible. This includes floor pads certified by Green Seal, attesting to their ability to be used with water-based solutions and their durability, which means sending fewer pads to landfills. Some floors, especially those previously not stripped and waxed correctly, may require additional stripping.
Once all the old wax has been removed, the bare floor must be sealed with a sealer to fill in any cracks or crevices, including those between tiles. Without this step, the final finish will be unattractive and, worse, uneven, posing a potential safety hazard.
Once the floor has been sealed, three to five coats of wax with ANSI-approved slip resistance should be applied following all product recommendations. The higher number of coats is recommended to help create a hard, durable finish. It also helps save money in the long run by making the finish last longer between deep stripping and waxing.
Once the wax has hardened, a finisher should be applied for added protection against scrapes, scuffs, and other marks. Finally, the floor should be buffed using an automated buffer to remove any residual dirt and dust and let the floor really shine.
When the stripping and waxing project is complete, proper floor maintenance should be followed, which includes mopping the surface at least once a week and scrubbing to remove and reapply the top layer of wax every six months to one year, depending on floor traffic. If this process is followed, in most cases, removing all layers of wax is only necessary once every three years.
Stripping and Waxing Experience You Can Trust
Are you in the San Francisco Bay area and need a commercial cleaning services provider with expertise in stripping and waxing floors? We invite you to discover the Shine difference! Browse our website or contact us today for more information or a quote.