Q. Should you use stripper to remove factory seal on new VCT?
A. Most VCT manufacturers discourage the use of stripper and a strip pad on new installations. Stripper will weaken new adhesive and the black pad will dull the appearance with microscopic scratches. Armstrong suggests mopping off their Fast Start Factory Finish and then applying finish. Being somewhat of a perfectionist, I have never found this to be satisfactory. Years ago I used a neutral floor cleaner on 30,000 sq. ft of new VCT followed by 4 coats of finish. Evidently there was enough remaining factory seal that was not compatible with the finish I applied. Three months later it all peeled off. Guess who ate the costs of that mistake.
My recommendation would be to machine scrub with a heavy duty floor cleaner and a hog’s hair beige pad or similar. Green, blue or red pads also work, but red can leave colored burn marks when heeling the machine. You want to clean all adhesive (with mild solvent or razor blade pulled toward you) and make sure black marks and scratches are removed before applying the finish. A Doodlebug and scraper will help detail edges where you often find installer pencil marks.
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