Q. The senior custodians were trained to burnish between each applied coat of finish on vinyl tile. Time has been over the established five (5) year strip cycle and now the current crew is trying to remove the old finish with great difficulty. They have, 10 times, applied stripper, allowed 5 to 8 minutes of dwell time, agitated, scrapped, and wet vacuumed, and the finish remains. Time is running out to complete this task, for the students return in a few weeks and reservations wants this room back on line right away? What suggestions do you have to speed up this process?
A. If there is a heavy build-up of floor finish and it has been burnished repeatedly, you may need to apply the stripper much heavier (fullest concentration applied with a heavy coat), and allow 15-20 minutes for the contact or dwell time. It takes longer than 5-8 minutes for complete penetration. A heavier coat is required to prevent premature drying of the stripper. Then, use a buildup removal pad not only on the machine, but for your edge scrubbing pads. Use a machine or autoscrubber that can apply close to 100 pounds pad pressure. A light-weight machine will be ineffective.
If this is not successful, you could try a 100 mesh screen used to sand wood floors. You place it under a worn-out strip pad and only run the machine where the floor is wet with stripper. If you run it dry, you will destroy the floor and it will have to be replaced. (Yes, that is my disclaimer; and you have already voided the warranty, if there is one).
Here is one last option, since you are running out of time. After all that you have achieved, perhaps the floor is smooth and even enough for recoating. Determining this is a fine art. Once you have it stripped, but some discoloration remains, apply a heavy rinse coat of clear water. Now, perform an intense inspection. Look at the floor’s appearance all over.
Does the rinse coat mask the discoloration (a 100% blend)? Is there any build-up that protrudes above the water line? If not, this means that the floor is 100% level when looking at it wet. The finish coats will provide the same appearance, blending light discoloration in and providing an even look.
Never apply floor finish over a discolored floor or a floor with uneven splotches. Sometimes you can apply finish to a bare floor that does not appear fully stripped, but still passes the first rinse test explained above. I hope that the build-up removal pad, heavier machine, and extra stripper dwell time will solve your problem.
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