How To Strip And Seal A Floor Like A Boss!
Strip and seal is a high quality process which needs to be carefully carried out to ensure protection and a long life for expensive flooring. Commercial buildings are exposed to very high foot traffic; along with equipment such as desks and furniture being moved around, cleaners trolleys, equipment and general wear, tear, and mess which gradually erodes the finish, shine, and overall look of the floor. If you don’t take care of your flooring it can cause irreparable damage and loss of shine and finish quite quickly, leaving you with a costly repair or replace job.
The right strip and seal process goes a long way to protecting flooring from damage, extending the life of the flooring and making it look like new again! Strip and seal also improves the maintenance and cleaning of the floor, saving you man hours on cleaners and delivering high shine and finish with minimal cleaning.
The most important step is choosing the right sealing chemicals and process for your floor. Ensure you choose the recommended sealing chemical for your chosen flooring, taking into account any any restrictions such as heritage or environmental limitations.
Clean Focus have pulled together a handy guide to strip and seal any commercial floor like a boss! Following these steps will achieve a transformation of your flooring whether you choose to go for a full strip and seal or maintain what you currently have with a cut back of the polish.
Products we used:
Research Products Bedrock
Research Products Glazer
Neturalex by Clean Plus
SabcoPolish mop &Oates wringer bucket
Buffing machine pad (Glomesh by Pall Mall )
Wet floor signs
Hard brush or broom
Mops for stripping
Wet floor signs
Wet vacuum or Autoscrubber
Before You Start
Get a couple of fresh mops. One for stripping and one for sealing. This eliminates any stains, marks, and debris from the process giving you maximum finish. Sealing cold floors (below 10˚C) can cause you problems. Avoid stripping and sealing when the weather gets cold, or ensure the building heating is at a comfortable temperature. This will give you the best result, however if you need to get the job done in the cold, make sure you administer very thin layers and spread the coats at least one hour apart.
How much sealer will you need? One litre of sealer will usually cover about 60 square metres of floor with one coat. A professional strip and seal process will use more sealer on the first coat and less for the second and third coats. Remember that porous floors will require more sealer as the liquid fills into the gaps. Hence the recommendation to use a base sealer like Bedrock from Research Products.
Step One – Stripping The Floors
Sweep and clear the floor of all dust and debris and remove any marks, stickers and gum.
Isolate the area so people don’t cross the floor. Arrange and communicate alternative routes for staff or anyone likely to be in the building at the time.
Avoid treading stripper onto other floor surfaces in the building by surrounding the area with flattened cardboard. This way you ‘tread off’ any stripper from your shoes and avoid messy footprints appearing in the building.
Grab a wringer bucket and mix with 12 litres of cold water. Then add 1¼ litres of Ultrastrip. You want to work towards a 1:10 ratio of stripper to water. You may need to strengthen the solution if your flooring has a thick coating of sealant to ensure an effective stripping process.
Dip your stripper mop into the bucket of solution and saturate the stripper onto the area. Don’t use the wringer part of the bucket here, the key is to get ample amounts of solution onto the area. If the area you are stripping is large, break it down into manageable sections.
The stripper solution needs to be left on the floor for about 10 minutes, this is where the stripper will begin to attack the sealer. During these ten minutes, use your mop to keep the stripper solution even across the area and to move solution on any patches that look like they might be drying. Use this time to also give any fixtures and fittings a clean with the stripping solution if old sealer has splashed and coated there from the last strip and seal.
Once your 10 -15 minutes is up, use the scrubber and black pads (vacuum off) to scrub the floor. To avoid solution being spread around by the electrical cord, start on the area nearest the powerpoint. Focus on the edges of the floor as this is where sealer tends to be thicker.
A great tip is to grab a coin and scrape the floor. You’ll instantly see if there is still old sealer on the floor and if you need to give the area another scrub. Once the area is clean, wet vacuum the stripper solution off the floor.
Finally pour cleaner water on the floor and wet vacuum the area. Then proceed to do a final mop with Ph neutral cleaner like Neutralex.
Step Two – Time to Apply the Base Coat
Don’t start step two until the floor is completely dry and don’t buff the floor.
Start with one coat of First Base. This needs to be done with a clean polish mop and a wringer bucket. If you don’t have these, a clean fringe mop and watering can will do. As soon as you pour the First Base spread the solution evenly with the mop ensuring you go right to the edges. The trick here is to lay the sealer as thinly as you can and ensure there are no pools of sealer.
Stay off the area until completely dry.
Once the first coat is completely dry and stopped feeling sticky and tacky, it’s time for the second coat. Touch the flooring with your hand if you aren’t sure.
When your floor is ready for its second coat, repeat the process with the Bedrock, but this time keep about 30cm away from the edges. You should apply the sealer at a 90 degree angle to the way the first coat was laid. This will give a more even finish.
Wait for the second coat to dry completely and be free of stickiness and tackiness. When you think the floor is dry enough, add another 15 minutes to be sure.
Once the area is completely dry, add the top sealer using a polish mop.
Now it’s time to add 3-4 coats of the Glazer making sure that each coat is completely dry before the next one goes on. Keep 30cm away from the edges on the first coat and right up to the edges on the second coat.
For finishing touches, wait 6 hours, or overnight to cure, then it’s time to buff the floor with Blue Ice pads and set the buffer to ultra-high. If you are using red pads set the buffer to medium speed.
Use hot water only to clean your mops, buckets and other equipment and let them dry. If you are planning on using mops soon, or for the next area of a large floorspace then place them in a clean black garbage bag and tie up so they stay wet for the next use.
A fortnight later the floor can be buffed. Preferably with Jackeroo Lite, Gorilla Lite, or Combo burnishing pads for best results. Pending on your brand 3M , Glomesh, Sabco your selected pad will differ.
Step Three – Applying Top Sealer With A Mop
Always use a clean fringe mop when applying top sealer and rinse new mops in water before you start to get rid of any loose fibres, dust and debris.
Grab a watering can and pour in the sealer. For an even pour the spout should be approx 8mm wide. A good tip is to use a finger of a rubber glove to cover the spout and cut to size.
Section off areas approx 3m by 6m. Pour a steady line down the centre of this section making the pour line about 80-100mm wide.
Quickly wet the fringe mop with some polish and then mop gently back and forth across the area while walking backwards. This will ensure an even spread of the sealer across the area. A good tip is to coat a ‘frame’ of the area and then use a figure eight movement to coat the whole floor evenly avoiding dry, or missed areas. Work right up to the edges.
Follow this process section by section until the whole floor has been coated evenly. Take care not to overlap, or double coat previous sections as this will create shiny streaks.
Leave to dry and you’ll have a strip and seal job done like no other!