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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Question

I am a domestic cleaner with no commercial cleaning experience. My employer has instructed me to strip and re-polish a hardwood dance floor. Because I have no knowledge at all about doing this task, I am not happy about attempting it. I do not have any crew members who work with me. The only equipment I have is a back pack vac, a mop, and an old buffer. I am very nervous about attempting this task. I have been told I will be fine to just go by the instructions on the products. Am I right to be wary of attempting this task?


Answer

You may have good reason to be nervous. It depends on what is meant by “strip and re-polish”.
Stripping refers to removable finishes, such as acrylics and true waxes. Most hardwood floors are sealed with polyurethane finishes that are removable only with special solvents or sanding. Neither of these latter operations is within your realm of experience. Say no, if that is what is meant.
However, your employer’s terminology may be imprecise. I suspect he means to clean and re-polish with some sort of wax. Bruce and others make true floor waxes that are applied to the cleaned hardwood finish and buffed out with the floor machine. This is done to restore appearance and protect the harder finish underneath so as to avoid frequent sanding, staining and refinishing with poly.
If light mopping, applying a wood floor wax, and buffing it are the needed operations, you can certainly do it, assuming you know how to run the buffer. Just follow the instructions and use the correct buffing pads.
Refuse to do any wet stripping or sanding operation to remove old, yellowed wax. Only an experienced floor technician should use a stripper solution or attempt sanding a hardwood floor. Standing water is the enemy of wood floors. Tell your employer, you will not take responsibility for ruining a hardwood dance floor. Besides, you don’t even have a wet vac.
Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Associate Editor
lekrafft@juno.com