How to Strip & Wax Vct Floors

The most common floor found in public buildings today is the vinyl composition tile (VCT) floor.

Stripping

Vinyl composition tile is used because it's economical to install and easy to maintain. It comes in an almost endless number of colors and designs. A VCT floor should always be waxed to protect the tile. Doing so will make the floor's appearance as shiny and clean-looking as possible. When the protective coating has worn off--or has become so scuffed and marked up that normal maintenance cannot help--it is time to strip and wax.

Fill a 35-quart mop bucket with 20 quarts of water; add 5 quarts floor stripper. Hot water will make the stripper act quicker than cold, but it will tend to dry quickly, making it necessary to put more stripper on the floor to make sure that the floor stays wet.

Use a cotton mop to saturate the entire area to be stripped with the stripping solution. The floor will become extremely slippery so wearing stripping booties is very important; they will also protect your shoes. Allow the solution time to dissolve the old wax; re-apply more stripping solution in any areas that appear to be drying out.

Place a black stripping pad on a floor buffer, and buff the entire floor to loosen the old wax from the tile. Work in small sections; keep the floor's surface wet. If possible, have an assistant keep the cord out of the stripping solution as much as possible, but always work with the electrical cord behind you.

Use the wet/dry vac to vacuum the stripper and old wax off the floor. Check the recovery tank frequently and empty as necessary. When all the old wax has been removed, rinse the mop bucket thoroughly. Use some fresh stripping solution to remove any wax that may be adhering to the wringer and bucket. Rinse again. Allow the floor to dry completely before waxing.

Waxing

Remove the wringer from the mop bucket; place a plastic trashcan liner inside the bucket. This will protect the mop bucket from getting a wax build-up on it. It will also make cleaning up easy.

Place a rayon or blended wet mop on a mop handle. The bigger the mop, the less time the job will take. However, don't use a mop that becomes too heavy. Place the wringer back on the mop bucket.

Place the mop in the bucket. Allow it to soak up the finish. Lift the mop into the wringer and press down to remove any excess wax. Do not wring out the mop because it will be too dry.

Put the wax down in sections no bigger that can be comfortably reached without stretching. Outline three edges of the section. Fill in the rest of the area. Work your way across the floor. Start a new row until the entire floor has a coat of new finish. Allow the floor to dry.

Repeat the process, adding additional coats. Most floors should have at least three coats, but a high traffic area can often use as many as six coats of wax.

Things You Will Need

  • Cotton mops
  • Mop bucket and wringer
  • Stripping solution
  • Stripping booties
  • Floor buffer
  • Black stripping pads
  • Wet/dry vac
  • Rayon or blended mops
  • Plastic trashcan liner
  • Floor finish (wax)

Tip

  • Wait at least twenty minutes after the wax has dried to apply another coat.

Warning

  • Turn off overhead fans to avoid getting dust in the new finish.

About the Author

Peggy Epstein is a freelance writer specializing in education and parenting. She has authored two books, "Great Ideas for Grandkids" and "Family Writes," and published more than 100 articles for various print and online publications. Epstein is also a former public school teacher with 25 years' experience. She received a Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction from the University of Missouri.