What Is the Meaning of Stripping Floors?

Audra Bianca

Stripping floors is a technical term used in the janitorial and sanitation industry to describe removing the finish of a hard floor. This multi-step process uses conventional stripping methods, such as slurry stripping.

The type of floor determines whether stripping is appropriate.

Removing the top finish from the floor is an important prerequisite for refinishing the floor, which makes it more even and safer for foot traffic.


Stripping floors refers to variations of the same basic process. Using your hands and a mop or a floor stripping machine, remove the top finish of the floor. Johnny Terrell describes a new technique in Cleaning and Maintenance Magazine Online; he uses an auto-scrubber to dry strip the floor as an alternative to slurry stripping. Terrell explains that the top finish becomes a pulverized powder that you can sweep up and remove.

Commercial Strippers

One example of stripping a floor comes from the July/August 2002 edition of Old House Journal. When you want to restore a marble floor in an older home's entryway (such as one from the 19th century), you must remove the top wax, which probably has years of residue from foot traffic. When you buy commercial strippers consisting of alkaline or another solution, you can apply them to the floor using a bucket and a mop. The stripper performs the first step of breaking up the wax, and the second step involves buffing the floor with a buffing machine to break up the top layer even more.


Schedule the floor-stripping task when a building or home isn't in use. Sometimes, you must close a facility or perform the task at night or over a weekend. If humans and animals inhale some stripping agents used in floor stripping, they might experience ill health effects, such as burning of the nose, throat and respiratory system. Also, applying strippers creates a slip-and-fall hazard in areas with high foot traffic.

User Safety

Applying a floor stripper requires prior knowledge of the manufacturer's product label and printed instructions. Check the label for protective equipment warnings, such as the need to wear a face mask and protective gloves. Other warnings might include diluting the agent with a certain amount of water and preventing the stripping agent from mixing with other chemicals. For example, AmSan's floor stripper contains the ingredient potassium hydroxide. According to the NIOSH's Recommendations for Chemical Protective Clothing and AmSan's Material Safety Data Sheet, avoid skin contact with this chemical because it is corrosive, meaning it will burn your skin.