Floor Stripper and Floor Finish Basics

If you’d like to offer floor care services for resilient tile in your cleaning business, you need to know some of the terminology in order to understand how the chemicals work. Following are some of the characteristics for floor strippers and finishes, as well as definitions of some of the terminology you need to know.

Characteristics of Floor Strippers:

* The purpose of floor stripping chemicals is to dissolve the existing floor finish, so it can be removed without harming the flooring.

* Floor strippers have a high pH, usually between 10 to 14. High pH chemicals are on the alkaline side of the pH scale.

* Most floor strippers contain high levels of VOC’s (anywhere from 10% to 30%), which can be harmful to the environment. There are now “greener” alternative floor strippers, which contain lower levels of VOC’s (as little as 6%), if you’d like to offer green floor care services.

* Strippers are created to work with a floor cleaning system, so you want to use a stripper that is designed to work with a particular floor finish.

Characteristics of Floor Finishes:

* Floor finish is a liquid applied to a clean floor in thin layers, in order to protect it from damage and daily use. Floor finishes are used on floors that are not harmed by water, such as VCT (vinyl composition tile).

* Floor finish is primarily made up of polymers, waxes, solvents, plasticizers, and surfactants.

* Floor finishes are created to work with a floor cleaning system, so you want to use a floor finish that is designed to work with a particular line of daily cleaners, burnishing chemicals, and floor strippers.


* pH Scale – Determines the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. The scale ranges from 0 to 14. At the 0 to 6 end of the scale is where solutions are acidic. At the 8 to 14 end of the scale is where solutions are alkaline. Pure water has a pH of 7, which is neutral.

* VOC (volatile organic compound) – Organic chemicals that produce vapors that can be harmful to the environment.

* Solids – What is left on the floor surface after the floor finish cures. Usually expressed as a percentage of weight. The higher the percentage, the more coating that is left on the floor after it dries. However, keep in mind that a higher solid content does not necessarily mean the finish has better durability or gloss.

* Polymer – Synthetic compounds of usually high molecular weight. The solids content of the floor finish usually contains 50% polymer – this is what forms the film on the floor, and is what gives the finish its durability and shine.

* Wax Emulsions – Wax consists of anywhere from 5 – 20% of the floor finish, and is what enables the floor to be “buffed”. Synthetic waxes have now replaced natural waxes because of their slip resistance, black mark resistance, and durability.

* Plasticizers – Substances added to floor finish to keep it soft and pliable. Plasticizers allow the chemicals to work together to form a film without flaws and imperfections. They also help the finish to be impact resistant.

* Surfactants – Used to increase the contact of two or more materials, sometimes known as wettability. This allows the floor finish to be spread more easily onto the floor.

Visit your local janitorial supply house for more information on the product lines they carry. Again, do not use a stripper from one product line and a finish from another line, etc. Floor care products are designed to work together as a floor care system. There are many lines to choose from so ask lots of questions of your supplier before choosing a line to use.

Copyright (c) 2007 The Janitorial Store