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Friday, August 22, 2014

Question

I am currently working in a 40 year old hospital that has been closed. We are stripping and refinishing the floors. Even with a 15 min dwell time and mixing the Thunder Hawk Products Thunder Hot stripper in a 2 parts cold water to 1 part stripper, we have to go over the floors at least 3 times to remove all the old finish. Plus, we are unable to get rid of the stripper slurry. We are doing this in this order. 1. Lay stripper and wait for 15 min 2. Scrub with a black scrub pad on a 1250 rpm buffer 3. Squeegee to a central point and wet vac up 4. Clean water rinse and rescrub with clean black pad 5. Squeegee to central point 6. Mop 3 times with clean water 7. Then, we go back and are still scraping 1/16" of finish. We have done this for two days in a row and still have 1/16 - 1/8" of finish left.


Answer

You are the victim of someone who spent years putting down finish without ever stripping it off. One application of stripper solution will only soften so much finish before it is spent and can do no more chemically. We've all had this happen and there is little you can do but strip three or four times, whatever it takes to get down to the tile.
I suggest you use HOT water for mixing the solution. Mix according to the directions on the pail. More concentrated stripper is not necessarily better, just wasteful. 1250 rpm is too fast for stripping. It throws slurry all over the place. Use a 175 rpm standard rotary. Work in small sections so the stripper is controlled. Keep your pads clean, which will be hard to do when they load up with so much loose finish.
Don't waste time rinsing between strips. Put down the solution, work it in, let it set, scrub again, wet vac it off (or squeegee to a central local and vac) and repeat until the bare tile shows up. Edges and corners will need a lot of scraping.
Stay with it unless you are going to lose money on the job, which seems very likely. If that is the case, it is time to explain the situation (that this is not a "normal" strip job) to the owners and ask what they want you to do. The additional time and material will cost them x more dollars. Don't get victimized the second time.
This is not floor refinishing, it is tile restoration and that always takes more time and money.
I'm not sure what you mean by "Plus we are unable to get rid of the stripper slurry." If you cannot dilute it enough to get it to flow down a drain into a sanitary sewer, you can bury it in soil away from natural water courses.

Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Editor
lekrafft@juno.com