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How to strip and wax VCT floor- Video Instruction Included

Updated on May 14, 2013

How to strip wax on VCT tile

How to strip and wax VCT floor- Video Instruction Included

How to strip and wax Vinyl (VCT) floors

Supplies list

Stripper: Decide which type of stripper you want to use.

Regular stripper with high PH

Low odor stripper to minimize odor in the building.

Rinse Free stripper to minimize worry from thorough rinsing.

Floor neutralizer- Using regular stripper with high PH is recommended.

Finish Mop- Either Waxer Candy (White/Blue color) mop or Nylon Finish mop. Wax applicator- Micro fiber type applicator instead of Finish mop- Optional, but the best method.

Doodle Bug pad-Black for stripping. Doodle Bug pad holder and handle for edges and corners.

Scraper short handle and long handle.


Green 6"x 9" pads,

Mop and bucket wringers- 1each for stripper, 1each for rinsing, or more the better and easier.

Try using a large trash bag into the bucket and wringer for wax- it is easier.

Auto scrubber or a buffer (Floor Machine- Side to Side ).

Black stripping pads for auto scrubber or buffer. Next time try Hi-Pro Black pad- you might like it.

Latex Gloves Measuring cup for chemicals

MSDA sheets for chemicals Finish / Wax- There are different types of finish.

One for high speed burnishing another for low maintenance. Please check with local distributor to see which one is right one for your project.(if the low traffic location and do not need to burnish, high traffic and you will be burnishing everyday will be using different types of floor finish).

Dry/ Wet Vacuum or shop vacuum to pick up water

Floor squeegee: foam type works well

Air Mover / Air Blower/ Air Fan

Soft painters tape- only if needed as to tape off carpeted area or other places you would like to tape off.

Booties, if you want walk in with shoes after laying each layers of floor finish. Use booties or bare feet. Floor finish is still soft and your heavy shoe bottom could damage or leave marks.

Safety shoes- Working with chemicals on wet floors can be very dangerous. You must wear safety shoes while stripping and waxing.

Wet floor signs.

Caution tape to block off the area, if needed.

Instruction on Stripping and waxing

Step 1: Vacuum thoroughly or sweep well corners and edges- make sure to pick up all dust, hair, and etc. Note: Remove gum.

Step 2: Dilute stripping solution into a mop bucket as recommended by manufacturers. Note: If you want to do a faster job, dilute 50/50 or up to 75% stripper and 25% water.

Step 3: Apply Stripping solution onto the floor area that you will be stripping. Note: Apply only area that you would be able to handle with. Letting the solution sitting too long to dry off before reaching the other end of it will waste money and time. Note: Do not flood the floor with solution, but wet enough for solution to break down the old wax.

Step 4: Let the solution do the job of breaking down the old wax- leave it for about 10 to 15 minutes before scrubbing.

Step 5: If you have more than one person working- start scraping the edges and corners well with scrapers and doodle bug pads. Note: Do it thoroughly. Note: Also give attention the borders- Do you need to strip them down too?

Also to use splash guard on you floor buffer to prevent stripping solution splashing against the edges of walls. To clean this mess will be wasting of time.

Step 6: Start stripping with either auto scrubber or buffer with black pad to strip off the old wax. Note: Use a scraper to scrape the floor to see, if any old wax is coming out of the floor. If it does, stripping is not complete. Any leftover old wax not stripped properly will give a different appearance when you are done waxing the floor. Note: If old wax is very thick and having hard time stripping with black pads only, try scrapping off the old wax with a large size scrapper with a long handle first. Once, most of the wax is removed, run floor machine with a black pad to finish off removing the remainder of old wax.

Step 7: After old wax has been completely stripped, then vacuum the removed wax and stripping solution right away. Do not let it dry on the floor. Otherwise it will look dirty and will need to be re-stripped again.

Do not dump the old finish removed from the floor in your dry/wet vacuum into the kitchen sink. It could block the drain. Either filter it first and dump the harder waste separately.

Step 8: Thoroughly rinse floor with clean water several times or use floor neutralizer in the rinsing water. Note: Wipe clean the base boards at this time, if you have not taped off.

Step 9: Make sure to wear clean shoes without stripping solution or wear new booties. Do one final rinse with neutralizer.

Step 10: Let the floor dry. Note: Use Air Movers- Make sure not to face up too high to blow down dust from the ceiling or other areas. Use low to medium speed and let the floor dry completely before putting the first coat of wax. Note: This is good time to check the floor for any hair, dust and etc. If any, either sweep it off or vacuum thoroughly before laying the first coat of finish.

Step 11: Lay the first coat of finish- Note: Use a trash can liner in the mop bucket and pour the finish inside. Note: Make sure that mop bucket you are using has a clean wheels that will not leave any marks on the floor.

Note: Do not get the mop bucket wheels wet with finish. It will leave marks on the floor. If it does, wipe them off right away.

Note: Work from backside of the room to the exit door. Note: If working on a large area, divide into sections that will be easy for you lay the finish.

Note: Lay edges and catch corners first. Note: Trying number 8, side ways shape (Ribbon shape) for laying the finish without lifting the mop head works well or use microfiber flat mop applicator is the better way to apply floor finish. Try it, if you have not tried yet. Please look for another cleaning instructions from us "How to apply floor finish with microfiber flat mop applicator". There is a video instructions for it.

Note: Lay finish with a nice and smooth coat. Note: Finish on the mop should be squeezed gently enough, so that you do not have drippings of finish all over the floor.

Note: From 2nd coat, make it little thinner, if it is leaving too much tiny bubbles on the floor when you are laying the wax.

Note: While you are laying the finish and see hair or dirt on the floor- pick it up with you finger carefully before going over with finish. Once, hair or dirt is under finish, it will take much work to remove it and fix the area.

Note: Watch out for the side borders If ok to wax, wax up to two inches high (if customer requests). Note: If you miss some spots on your first coat, don't worry, you will cover them on your second or third coat.

Note: If you want to try something new, try micro fiber all purpose mop for waxing. Many manufacturers are coming up with micro fiber waxing system these days. So, check with your local distributors and see what they might have for you.

Step 12: Let the finish dry completely- It could take any where from 20-40 minutes depending on humidity, wind, air-conditioned room, etc. Note: If you use Air Movers/Fan, it will dry much faster.

Note: Do not put too close to the finish that you just laid with high speed. Finish will dry off - wavy. Position it three to four feet away from the finish and start at low speed. Gradually increase the speed as needed.

Note: Do not put air mover facing the high ceiling or upper side, it might blow down the dust from it and settle it on the finish.

Step 13 Check the finish to make sure it is dry enough for next coat of finish. Note: Does it look wet? Does it feel sticky on the palm of you hand? Does it leave finger prints on the finish? If any above is yes- floor is not ready yet to walk on. Note: From second coat, walk only with either bare feet or socks. Aggressive design of the sole will create marks on the finish.

Step 14: Third and more coats :Repeat Step 12. Make sure floor is dry enough to walk on it. Walk only with bare feet or socks. If you are laying more coats. Note: Manufactures normally recommend 100% of finish Solid contents. Example: If the finish you are using has 25% Solid content, then you should be laying 4 coats or more.

Step 15: Let the floor dry and do not let anyone walk on it at least 3 to 4 hours. Note: You may buff/ burnish the floor after 24 hours after you laid the finish. Note: When daily mopping, must use only neutral cleaner, otherwise finish will disappear very fast.

Step 16: You are done for this job. Recommendations Do not rush ! Do all the steps properly and thoroughly. When you rush things, you will encounter problems. When the job is done right- you save time and money!

You must wear safety shoes while doing the stripping. The floor can be very slippery and falls can cause bodily injury. Please take full precaution at all times.

Common Problems?

Bubbles in the finished job?

Probably, you might have rushed on your rinsing and did not rinse thoroughly. If your stripping solution Ph was high and the floor was not rinsed well, this will leave residue behind and it will not mix well with the finish and will create bubbles in it as it dries.

Another cause could be some of the finish might have dropped from the mop when carrying it from the mop bucket Other causes could be using the mop that picked up the solution when mopping off stripping solution and using the same mop for laying the finish.

Another cause could be using the same mop bucket for stripping and waxing without cleaning the bucket thoroughly between these two steps.

Lumpy areas on the corners, edges or scattered areas on the floor?

Probably, you might have rushed and left big puddle of lumps of finish on the comers, edges, or even in the middle of the floor. Or you are using the regular mop head for laying the finish, instead of using finish mop head. Solution?

If it is a large area- you might have to strip the floor and redo it again. If is a small area- Tape the area off 4 square and work inside of the square.

Strip off the affected area and follow the steps laid out above and do it right this time. Note: Use soft/not too strong painter's tape for this. Other tapes will either remove the finish or will affect the finish when you try to remove the tape.

Are you doing a large area?

If you are stripping a large area. Use auto scrubber. If you are waxing a large area. Consider use microfiber mopping system with built in dispensing container, backpack floor finish applicator or Ultra Tracts wide area solution applicator.

Note: Are you stripping a VCT floor which has very thick finish from the past? Suggestion: Try to scrape the old wax as it melts down with heavy duty scraper first and then scrub it with black pad with a floor machine.

New notes as of 5/24/12. Since we posted this instruction page, there have been some new updates on other methods to top scrub or stripping.

If you are working on a large area, top scrubbing is recommended instead of stripping. You can use walk behind or rider scrubber with proper pad to do this.

You can also try new square scrubber from Square Scrub to get your work done safely, efficiently and fast.

Note: If you have a colored VCT tile (such as black or dark brown), please do not use black pad for stripping the floor. It could scratch and damage the floor and hard to fix it. Please do light top scrub and re-coat with a red pad.

Was it helpful?

Watch video instruction on "How to strip and wax".

Watch video instruction on "How to apply finish with microfiber applicator".


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    • ekinternet profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      Don't wear black socks and walk after laying the first coat of wax. If not completely dry, your black socks will leave black lints on your foot prints.

      Walk either bare feet or white socks is ok.

    • profile image

      office cleaning Chicago 

      9 years ago

      Great guide to stripping and waxing VCT. This video also shows the process from beginning to the end:


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