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Guide to stripping and waxing floor (procedure, pictures, videos, pricing)

Updated on June 10, 2014

Article overview

This guide is written for building service contractors and customers and includes information on stripping and waxing procedures, products, equipment and pricing. I also included pictures and videos which show the process of floor cleaning in action. Comments and questions are welcomed. 

stripping floor
stripping floor | Source
vacuuming dirty solution from the floor
vacuuming dirty solution from the floor | Source


When stripping and waxing floor (VCT, vinyl, terrazzo, linoleum) you have to go through a list of necessary steps in the following order.

- Clearing the area of furniture and obstructions. Make sure all things that can be moved are moved. Some items like refrigerators, vending machines and large office equipment can not be moved. Make sure the customer knows that. Also computers usually stay in place. Don't unplug them, push the cords closer to the walls or tape them to the walls. Never try to push heavy items because you can scratch the floor. For moving heavy items use dollies.

- Setting a safety perimeter. Place caution signs, caution tape and other items in order to keep people away from your working area. Put tape on the carpet and other type of flooring that adjoins your working area. This way your stripping solution and other chemicals don't end up on nearby flooring and don't damage them.

- Removing dry soil. Sweep, vacuum or dust mop the floor and remove any litter from the floor.

- Preparing equipment. Prepare bucket with stripper, bucket with neutralizer or vinegar, assemble wet vac, put defoamer in the wet vac, bring mops, scrapers, pads, place pad holder on the floor scrubber, place black pads on the pad holder etc.

- Applying stripper to the floor. Flood the stripper on the area that you will be cleaning. Don't use new mops for applying floor stripper. Put enough stripper to cover the part of the floor you will be working with. Let the stripper dwell for 10-15 minutes.

- Stripping the floor.Use 175 rpm machine to strip the floor. Move machine in left-right directon, use overlapping passes to make sure you haven't missed any area. While one person is stripping the floor, the other one should do the detail cleaning, which is cleaning edges and baseboards with the help of baseboards stripper, doodle bug pads and scrapers. If you see any rust spots on the floor you should also remove them with scrapers during the detail cleaning.

- Vacuuming dirty solution. After you have stripped one area, use wet vacuum to vacuum all dirty solution. Don't wait with vacuuming because the solution may dry and you will have to strip again.

- Double check and repeat. After you have vaccumed the solution check if all wax has been stripped. If you see that there is wax on the floor, repeat the previous steps. You may have to do it a few times before the floor is completely clear of wax.

- Neutralizing. Rinse the floor with a clean water and a clean mop. Add floor neutralizer or vinegar to the water. Make sure to wipe down edges and baseboards too.

- Drying. Use air fans to dry the floor and prepare it for waxing. Don't face the fans to the ceiling because this can make the dust from the ceiling land on the floor. Also you can go over the floor with a backpack vacuum to make sure there is no dust and hair on the floor.

- Applying floor finish. Apply the first coat of the floor finish. Rayon mop works just fine for that. While putting the first coat, apply floor finish to the floor and to the baseboards. Work from entrance to the exit. Wait till the floor dries and apply additional coat. Repeat the procedure. When applying additional coats, make them thin, it will improve the appearance of the floor.

- Cleaning up. When you are done with waxing the floor, clean all your equipment. Make sure you don't forget anything on the job site.

Products and Equipment

When stripping and waxing the floor you will need a lot of equipment and here is what we take with us on every job:

- Floor scrubber (175 rpm) with a tank, pad holder and black pads

- Doodlebug scrubbing pads (we prefer brown, I know that some people use black or blue ones), doodle bug pad holder and handle

- Wet vacuum and defoamer so you don't ruin your wet vac, hose and wand. I personally recommend a wet vac that has 4 wheels because it is much more stable on the floor. I heard other cleaners saying that a wet vac with 3 wheels is not that stable and has much bigger chances to turn over. You don't want that and you don't want your solution to end up on the floor again.

- Air fan

- Backpack vacuum (not necessary)

- Dust mop with a handle, broom and dustpan

- 3 buckets (for stripping, neutralizing, waxing), 2 wringers, 3 mops (stripping, neutralizing, waxing), 3 mop handles

- Chemicals (floor stripper, baseboard stripper, neutralizer or vinegar, defoamer, floor finish). As far as floor finish we tried a couple products and here is what I can tell you. Spartan Trendsetter is not the best one there, Hillyard Explorer is pretty good wax, Johnson Vectra is a great product to work with but on the top of our list is Johnson HiMileage.

- Big scraper, small scraper, extra blades for scrapers

- Caution signs, caution tape, ducktape

- Heavy duty extension cords

- Anti-Slip shoes

- Gloves

- Towels

- Trash bags

- First Aid Kit

- MSDS sheets


A lot of customers and service providers ask what is the average pricing for stripping and waxing the floor. Nationally prices average between 45 and 60 cents per sq.ft.

But in order to estimate the price you always need to consider many additional factors:

1) Size of the job (the bigger the job, the smaller the price per sq ft). When it comes to stripping and waxing the floor in a small room such as restroom, the price may go up to $ 100 per room. There are many reasons to that. You can not do a lot of work by floor scrubber because the size of the room doesn't let you use the floor scrubber efficiently. Therefore you have to use doodlebug pads and scrapers in order to remove the floor finish from the corners, edges and around toilet.

2) Preparation time. You always need to estimate how much time you need in order to prepare for the job. If your account is on the first floor it takes less time to bring your equipment there than bringing the equipment to the 10th floor. Also if you have to strip/wax the hallway that has carpet on the sides, you need to tape off the carpeted area to make sure no solution ends up on the carpet. This requires additional time.

3) Wax buildup. When there is a lot of wax on the floor you may have to strip it a few times, therefore additional products and labor have to be used.

4) Moving furniture. If you have to move the furniture (tables, chairs, mats etc) before/after the job, the price is usually higher up to 20 %.

5) Stripping and waxing baseboards. When you are required to strip and wax baseboards it's also reflected in the price which becomes higher.

6) Edge work. The more edges in the room, the more time you have to spend using doodlebugs and scrapers in order to remove wax from them and pricing goes up.

7) Number of finish coats. The more coats you put on the floor, the higher the price.

8) Type of floor (new/old). It's usually easy to strip the new floor therefore the prices are lower for stripping new floor.

9) Staining of the floor. If there are a lot of stains on the floor like rust or if there are a lot of deep scratches additional time is needed to scrape them off with scrapers.

10) Fixtures to work around. If there are a lot of fixtures that are staying in the room during stripping/waxing, you have to spend additional time working around them and the pricing increases.

11) Location of the job. You have to take into the account where is the area you will be waxing. Sometimes it's on the first floor just near the entrance. So you just unload the equipment from your car and you can get started. But sometimes you job can be on the 10th floor and you will have to spend a lot of time travelling back and forth before you can get all your equipment from the car to your job. You always need to count that in your pricing.

12) Location of janitor closet. During the stripping/waxing job you will have to travel from your working area to the janitor closet very often in order to get water, empty wet vacuum etc. Where is the janitor closet located? If it's far from your working area you will spend a lot of time just moving back and forth.

13) Number of electric outlets in the floor. If there are a lot of electric outlets in the floor you will need to tape them so the stripping solution/water doesn't get there. It requires additional time and brings the prices up.

Check this and more videos from Misco products in order to gain more information about stripping and waxing equipment and techniques

Video from Misco Products on equipment

This is not how you should strip the floor )))

Final word

I hope you found this HUB informative. If you need more information on stripping and waxing services, commercial cleaning and office cleaning services feel free to ask me questions in the comment section. Alpha Cleaning Company provides commercial cleaning services to the commercial buildings located in:

Addison, Algonquin, Arlington Heights, Aurora, Bartlett, Barrington, Barrington Hills, Batavia, Bellwood, Bensenville, Berwyn, Bloomingdale, Bolingbrook, Bridgeview, Broadview, Brookfield, Buffalo Grove, Burr Ridge, Carol Stream, Carpentersville, Chicago, Chicago Ridge, Clarendon Hills, Countryside, Crystal Lake, Darien, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Downers Grove, Dundee, East Dundee, Elgin, Elk Grove Village, Elmhurst, Elmwood Park, Evanston, Forest Park, Franklin Park, Geneva, Glencoe, Glen Ellyn, Glendale Heights, Glenview, Hanover Park, Hardwood Heights, Hickory Hills, Highland Park, Highwood, Hillside, Hinsdale, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, Itasca, Justice, La Grange Park, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Lake in the Hills, Lake Zurich, Lakewood, Lemont, Libertyville, Lincolnshire, Lincolnwood, Lisle, Lockport, Lombard, Long Grove, Maywood, Medinah, Melrose Park, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Mundelein, Naperville, Niles, North Aurora, North Barrington, North Chicago, Northfield, North Riverside, Norridge, Northbrook, Northlake, Oak Brook, Oak Brook Terrace, Oak Lawn, Oak Park, Palatine, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, River Forest, River Grove, Riverside, Rolling Meadows, Roselle, Rosemont, Round Lake, Round Lake Beach, Saint Charles, Schaumburg, Schiller Park, Skokie, South Barrington, South Elgin, Sticney, Stone Park, Streamwood, Summit, Vernon Hills, Villa Park, Warrenville, Wauconda, West Chicago, West Dundee, Westchester, Westmont, Wheaton, Wheeling, IL, Willowbrook, IL, Windfield, IL, Winnetka, IL, Wood Dale, IL, Woodridge, IL 


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    • profile image

      d Lavoie 2 years ago

      Very helpful thanks for product info and tips

    • profile image

      Cody 3 years ago

      when you strip and wax stairs... how much do you charge for it.

    • profile image

      alphacleaning 6 years ago

      Hello Team Clean, I'm glad you found it helpful.

    • profile image

      Team Clean 6 years ago

      Great info, very well put together and tremendously helpful.