How to strip and seal a floor like a professional

The benefits of applying a high quality floor sealer system to a floor are both the protection and the enhancement of what is a valuable asset. Floors are exposed to unrelenting abrasion from foot and trolley traffic, spillages and dirt which, without protection, can cause dulling of the floor surface and even wear it away.

Once coated with a suitable sealer, the floor is protected from these threats. Furthermore, the surface becomes easy to clean with soil readily washed away, the colours of the floor are enhanced and the floor will have a higher and more even shine. By implementing a full protection system using complimentary sealers and maintenance products, this protection and enhancement will last indefinitely.

The following is a guide for stripping and sealing floors to achieve the best result. If you are looking to cut back polish without performing a full strip, please refer to the previous guide: Seven tips for extending the life of your sealed floor.

Floor Types: Terrazzo, marble, agglomerate marble, limestone and sadler tile.

Products to use:

Sealing Equipment:

  • Polish mop & wringer bucket – or – Polish fringe mop & watering can
  • Buffing machine pad
  • Wet floor signs

Stripping Equipment:

  • Dustmop or broom
  • Stripper mop
  • Scraper
  • Black handpads
  • Wet floor signs
  • Rotary scrubbing machine black pad
  • Cardboard
  • Rinse mops
  • Wringer bucket
  • Wet vacuum or Autoscrubber

Please Note:

  • Always use a fresh mop for both stripping and sealing.
  • First Base must be used so the film will bond to the floor and not flake off.
  • Avoid sealing very cold floors (below 9˚C). If you must seal a cold floor, lay very thin coats at least one hour apart.
  • Coverage: On average, one litre of sealer will cover 55 square metres of floor (one coat only). In practice, the first coat will require more sealer, and the last coats will require less. Porous floors will take more sealer.

1. Strip Floors

  1. Sweep the floor to remove any rubbish.
  2. Scrape off any chewing gum and labels.
  3. Erect ‘wet floor’ signs and barricades to keep people off the floor.
  4. Place a large piece of cardboard on the floor next to the area being stripped. When you walk off the area with stripper on your shoes, step onto the cardboard to dry off your shoes. This will prevent ‘footprints’ appearing all over the floor.
  5. Using a wringer bucket with 12 litres of cold water in it, add 1¼ litres of Ultrastrip (5 cups). This is a 1:10 solution. If the floor has a thick coating, use double this amount (1:5 solution).
  6. Dip a stripper mop (old or used mops are OK) into the bucket of solution. Remove mop from bucket without wringing and let stripper pour all over floor. Repeat this process until the entire area is covered with a thick coating of stripper solution.
  7. If stripping a large area, divide floor into easy to manage sections and strip one section at a time.
  8. Leave the stripper on the floor for ten minutes, giving time to attack the sealer. Spread it with the mop if it dries or runs – always keep the floor evenly wet. During this time scrub the feet of shelves and fittings to remove old sealer and dirt.
  9. When time is up, scrub the floor with a scrubber (turn vacuum off) and black pads. Scrub the whole floor, starting at the point nearest to the power point if using an electric machine. Spend longer scrubbing the edges because the sealer will be thicker there.
  10. Test the floor by wiping the stripper aside and scraping with a coin to see if all old sealer film has been removed. If not, keep scrubbing.
  11. Wet vacuum all the stripper slurry up off the floor.
  12. Pour cleaner water all over the floor then vacuum this up to rinse the floor.

2. Applying a base coat

  1. Let the floor completely dry.
  2. DO NOT buff the floor. Put up barriers to keep people off the floor being polished.
  3. Mop on one coat of FIRST BASE. This can be done with a clean polish mop and wringer bucket (which is best) or a clean fringe mop and watering can. Spread the pour line as soon as possible after pouring. Lay the sealer up to the edges. Lay sealer as thinly as possible – never in pools as it will take a long time to cure. Do not walk on floor until it is dry.
  4. Let the first coat dry. It must not only be dry but also tack free, or not sticky, before laying the second coat. Test by placing your hand on the floor. Wait an extra 10 minutes after it is touch-dry before laying the next coat. On very porous floors, it is advisable to allow at least one hour for the first coat to dry properly.
  5. Mop on a second coat of First Base, but this time stay 30cm (12 inches) away from edges, along walls and furniture. The second coat, if being applied with the bucket and mop, should be laid at 90 degrees to the way the first coat was laid.
  6. Again, let the First Base dry until it is not sticky to touch, then give it 10 minutes more time.

3. Applying the top sealer using a polish mop (see below for applying polish with a fringe mop)

  1. Mop on two coats of 3D-Gloss, allowing each coat to dry before laying the next. Keep 30cm from edges, except for the last coat which should go up to the edges.
  2. Give the floor six hours or more to cure, then buff the floor with Jaguar, Blue Ice or Champagne pads (on ultrahigh speed buffer) or red pads (on medium-speed buffer).
  3. Clean mops, pads and buckets with hot water and hang them up to dry. If fringes are to be used again soon, place them in a clean black garbage bag and seal the end so the fringe will stay wet until next time it is used.
  4. After 1-2 weeks, the floor can be buffed with Jackeroo Lite, Gorilla Lite or Combo Burnishing pads.
  5. After 1 week, scrub the floor with Florprep at 1 in 80 with red pads, rinse and let dry. Then apply 2 more coats of topcoat (3D-Gloss or 2020 Gloss). Next day, resume normal maintenance but use the softer Jaguar, Blue Ice or Champagne pads for buffing for 1 more week.

Applying the top sealer using a fringe mop

  1. Rinse new fringe mops in water before use. Always use a clean fringe mop in good condition. Avoid fringe mops
    that are old and shedding fibres as these will be visible in the film.
  2. Pour the sealer into a clean watering can. The spout should be reduced in size to a hole about 8mm wide (using a
    plug or the finger of a rubber glove with a hole in it).
  3. Work on areas about 2 metres wide and 6 metres long. Pour a line of sealer onto the floor down the centre of this
    work area. The pour-line should be about 80 – 100mm wide.
  4. Immediately take up the fringe mop applicator and wet the fringe with some polish then wipe the applicator back
    and forth across the floor area, walking backwards as you go. This will spread the sealer from the pour-line right
    across the floor. Use a figure-eight motion of over-lapping strokes with the applicator. Make sure every part of the
    floor is coated: avoid leaving any bare streaks.
  5. Move to the next 2m x 6m area and repeat the process until the whole floor has been coated.
  6. Be careful not to overlap the new coat onto the previous area as this will make shiny streaks. Run the applicator
    along the sides first to frame the wet area and then fill in.

 

Seven tips for extending the life of your sealed floor

Falling dust, dirt and spillages, compounded with the punishment from foot and trolley traffic mean that floors often require the most amount of cleaning activity. Without the protection of a quality sealer system, non-resilient hard floors will wear out faster, reducing the life of this valuable asset and making it look shabby, detracting from the overall appearance of the area.

Good preparation and thorough maintenance of sealed floors will save money and ensure a higher, more uniform standard of appearance. While there is no denying that correctly maintaining a flooring system requires time, reducing the number of strip and seals needed and extending the lifetime of the floor, ultimately reduces expenses.

These seven tips have been designed to ensure you can consistently maintain a beautiful, durable floor care system, while protecting the flooring investment.

1. Use a double action cleaner & resealer detergent daily

The daily use of double action cleaner and resealer detergents such as Agar’s Sympol and Scrub & Shine will continually replenish floor sealer, reducing or eliminating the need to reseal, saving both time and money. A great combination to clean and maintain floors is to alternate daily use of Sympol and Autoscrub.

Sympol –
Cleans floors and applies floor polish in one step
Helps replenish the floor’s coating of polish
Yields a super-glossy shine
Maintains a constant film thickness on the floor eliminating costl stripping and resealing procedures
Very glossy with tremendous depth of shine
Resists black-marking and dirt pickup and prevents powder problems

Scrub & Shine –
Powerful detergent for polished floors
Two in one action: cleans the floor and replenishes
Step down from Sympol in terms of resealing ability but still yields a glossy shine
Affordably priced, similar to floor cleaners
Reduces the frequency required for resealing
Resists black-marking and dirt pick-up and prevents powder problems

2. Use the correct detergent at the right dilution rate

Sealed floors should be autoscrubbed or mopped daily using the correct detergent and dilution rate to help extend the life of the sealer. Good daily cleaning is required to remove soil residue, preventing it from becoming embedded in the sealer film, which can lead to discolouration of the film. If daily cleaning and buffing is not an option, it is better to clean the floors rather than to buff, as buffing will push dirt into the sealer.

The wrong detergent can be too harsh and prematurely strip the sealer, while the wrong dilution rate can cause unnecessary waste and sticky or slippery floors.

Recommended detergents for cleaning sealed floors –
Autoscrub –
Low-foaming to suit autoscrubbing
Packed with powerful grease cutting agents
Specially formulated to be gentle on sealer
Attacks dirt and soilage rapidly
Designed for cleaning floors coated with Agar sealers
pH-7 –
Neutral detergent
GECA licenced – environmentally preferable
Removes all soil and spillages
Recommended for use on alkali-sensitive surfaces such as terrazzo, marble or ceramic tiles
Concentrated, cost-effective option

Dilution Rates –
Quite simply, always follow the dilution rate available on the product label and Product Data Sheet.

Too strong –
Wastes product
Residue creates sticky floors
Floor resoils faster
Too weak –
May not remove all the soil
Floors can go dark and discolour
May get slippery because of soil residue

3. Choose the right pads for cleaning and buffing

Autoscrubbers make light work of cleaning large areas daily but it is important to use the correct pads to ensure floor
polish is not wearing away. As a rule, always use the softest pad that gets the job done.

Slow speed Autoscrubbing
Use a Red (Spray Buff), Tan (Polishing) or White (Super Polish) floor pad.
High speed polishing with gas or electric buffing machine
Use Moose, Jackaroo or Jackaroo Lite pads. One pass with the buffer will restore a brilliant gloss and remove marks
from the previous day’s traffic.
Uneven floor systems
Linoleum and rubber floors with slip resistant tread can be difficult to clean using floor pads, instead opt for Autoscrub
brushes, as they will get into the groves and provide a much better clean.

4. Cut back and clean up prior to applying additional layers

Cutting back is gentler on the floor substrate than stripping because the floor is not exposed directly to strong chemicals, saving wear and tear over the long term. Cutting back floor polish with Agar’s Florprep gently removes the top layer of floor sealer, taking with it any embedded dirt and discoloured sealer. Re-sealing provides a quicker
alternative to stripping floors, yet reveals similar glossy results on those which are well maintained. Dilute Florprep 1:20 – 1:30 and clean using the blue autoscrubber pads.

Florprep
Removes dirt and discoloured floor polish
Fast and effective
Gently removes top layer, easy to control
Low-foaming and free-rinsing

5. Save a failing finish

When floor polish begins to fail and the process of stripping and sealing is on the close horizon, adding in a base coat after cutting back can return the floor to good condition for the interim. To do this, simply clean and cut back the floor with Florprep (using 1:20 and green autoscrubber pads), then add one coat of First Base or Granoseal depending on the floor type. This will fuse the old layers of sealer together with the new layers, creating strength and hiding blemishes in the old sealer. Reseal the floors as usual.

First Base
Superior base-coat sealer
Gives floors a clear, protective coating
Shields floors from traffic, spillages and weathering
Water-based, odourless, non-flammable and environmentally responsible
Excellent adhesion
Suitable for interior and exterior applications

Granoseal
Glossy, clear sealer
Extra-strong adhesion to marble, granite, terrazzo, slate, concrete and all types of stone floors
Effective when normal sealers just flake off

6. Focus on the high traffic areas

Sealer wears away in proportion with the level of traffic and cleaning/buffing intensity. For this reason, high traffic areas require more attention and should be the focus of cleaning and buffing with an emphasis on re-coating regularly and always ahead of time. Limit the amount of re-coating of low traffic areas and edges, otherwise the film may build up because there is not the traffic to wear it down. Excessive build up may cause headaches when its time to strip. Once you have cleaned and cutback your floors using Florprep, reseal using a product such as 3D Gloss with a focus on the high traffic areas. Depending on the level of sealer required, use one – two coats of sealer over the high traffic areas and finish with one – two more coats over the whole floor. This will help maintain a consistent, beautiful finish.

3D Gloss
Super-glossy sealer finish for vinyl, timber and stone
Fast cure-rate for use in supermarkets
Buffs up easily under UHS buffing machines
Provides crystal-clear, dazzling gloss
Non-slip in dry conditions
Stays shiny for longer because of its high scratch repair
Re-coats well because scratches have been buffed out
Responds to both gas and electric buffing machines

7. Do the job right, the first time

Preparation, attention to detail and quality products will create a beautiful, durable floor finish which will provide both protection and enhancement to what is a valuable asset. Floors are exposed to unrelenting abrasion from foot and trolley traffic, spillages from a vast array of substances and even dirt and sand that enters from outside. Without protection, the abrasion combined with attack by aggressive soils will
cause dulling, increase surface porosity and wear the floor away.

To find about precision floor stripping and sealing plus insider tips, watch out for Agar’s next article “How to strip and seal floors like a professional”.

If you have any questions, require further information or would like to get some more information on the products covered in this article, please feel free to contact Agar on 1800 301 302 or email sales@agar.com.au.