Q. What is the best way to strip old finish/dirt from VCT edges around a room? Deck brushes and small-edge scrubbers don't work effectively. Would razor scraping or light sanding using a screen work? Whatever we do doesn't seem to work optimally.
A. One option is using an orbital scrubber. Perhaps you could rent an oscillating scrubber from a janitorial supply store. With a rectangular head, it has the advantage of being able to sit right over the buildup and be pushed snug up to the baseboard. Some units come with weights, allowing the unit to tip the scales at 165 pounds. A buildup removal pad will then maximize the aggression level.
You would apply properly diluted stripper, allow contact time, and then position the machine along the baseboard, waiting for it to grind off the buildup. Continue until progress is no longer achieved. Then, squeegee the wasted slurry and repeat up to four times until the buildup is completely removed.
If this does not work, scraping might be the only solution. However, don't use a household razor blade scraper, as that would provide inferior results. Instead, use a 4-inch, heavy-duty blade with a 14-inch padded handle. Apply the strongest dilution of stripper (according to label) and allow 15 minutes of contact time. If the stripper begins to dry, reapply prior to scraping.
Be extra careful not to gouge or dig the scraper into the tile. You don't want to leave permanent scratches. The goal is to scrape off the buildup without ruining the floor. Rubber gloves, eye protection, and knee pads are recommended.
If you are working edges the same time you strip the floor, make sure the floor machine or autoscrubber has already been moved over the area to improve traction and walking safety. After scraping, remove the slurry and chunks of dried-on finish with a squeegee.
A floor pad holder with a brown pad on a pole is also helpful to clean and remove buildup from the edges. Squeegee the area and inspect. Mop the edge with clean mop water and observe the results, as this is how it will appear after applying four coats of finish. When the results appear suitable, machine strip or manually scrub the edges one more time. No matter how you do it, the job is labor-intensive.
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