Part Five: Floor Finishing – To Strip Or Not To Strip

by Compass Cleaning Solutions • June 15, 2016
Compass Cleaning Solutions

In the not so recent past you may have been told by a commercial cleaning company that your floors need to be stripped every three months or twice a year or some such thing. I’m sorry, but in most cases this is just bad advice and is designed to generate more floor business for the cleaning company. In the past finishes were not as durable and would yellow quickly, which required constant removal and replacement to maintain a nice shine and color. Today this is not necessary. A regular maintenance program that utilizes the newer and harder polymer based finishes requires only a limited amount of finish to be scrubbed off and replaced. It is more cost effective and will protect your floors for a much longer period.

The environmental problems with frequent stripping of floor finishes are well documented but there are two key issues. First, the stripping agent used is a toxic solvent that must be disposed of properly. Unfortunately, the ‘slurry’ that is created from this process is very often just dumped improperly, which can cause all kinds of environmental dangers. Today there are ‘dry’ alternatives that will allow for a top layer of dirty finish to be removed and disposed of safely. Insist on having your office cleaning service show you how they plan on refinishing your floors before allowing them to start.

Second, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) are emitted while you are removing the finish using stripping agents and while the workers are in an enclosed area. It is not only unhealthy for those doing the work but the latent VOC’s left to linger in the building can be harmful to the tenants as well. Again, a safer alternative might be one of the various ‘dry’ methods. As a consumer ask about the process.

Our recommendation is to evaluate the usage of your building and slowly increase the amount of refinishing only as necessary. We also recommend you insist on your Janitorial cleaning service using flat mop closed-application systems which reduce waste. And as we have said in previous articles, reducing waste reduces the raw materials used in the manufacturing of products which is good for the environment. The added advantage to you the client is that your floor job will look better and be more consistent throughout the building than using traditional mop and bucket processes. It also will give you a more even wear which means the floor finish will last longer.

You, the client, are in control. Ask why the floors need to be stripped as often as recommended. Ask what processes and equipment will be used to scrub and refinish the floor. By asking the questions you will have a much better result both for you and the environment.