Five Common Mistakes in Hard Floor Stripping and Refinishing
Stripping hard floors is a process that most professionals have to master in their respective trade. Time-consuming and laborious, it provides an excellent opportunity for damage to be inflicted on the floor itself, adding to the possibility of costing you more money in replacement or repair costs. While many components are involved when stripping down hardwood floors, seven common mistakes are made with each method. By learning what these mistakes are and how to avoid them, your hard floor stripping will go off without a hitch.
1) Not Preparing the Surface Enough
Preparation is one of the most critical parts of the whole hard floor stripping and refinishing process. It's not just about ensuring that there isn't any dirt or debris on the floor, although that is very important. It goes beyond just cleaning and getting rid of all small particles on the surface; you also have to think about how old your finish is and what condition it's in. Depending on this information, you'll want to use a different type of stripper at first because some are better for removing different finishes.
Your preparation should also include applying an appropriate sealer depending on how much traffic your floor gets after stripping and refinishing. Flooring that doesn't get a lot of foot traffic should have a more durable sealer applied, while areas that get a lot of foot traffic might need to have a less durable sealer applied to be refinished more quickly.
2) Using a too-aggressive stripping agent
When you start to strip floor finishes, there are several chemicals available. You can use lye or caustic soda to remove lacquer and paint without causing damage to the wood beneath. For water-based coatings, glycol ethers can be used safely. However, the only way to remove solvent-based coatings such as varnish is with a paint and varnish remover. Although these stripping agents are available in different concentration grades, you must be careful not to use one that is too strong. If they're not diluted appropriately and used cautiously, they can cause severe damage.
3) Using the wrong stripping agent for the coating
Although some stripping agents can remove solvent-based finishes, it's also essential to know what type of finish your floor has, so you can choose the right chemical for the job. For example, if you have an engineered wood floor with an oil-modified urethane finish, using a standard varnish remover could strip away both the top layer of finish and the hardboard wear layer, leaving the floor bare.
4) Not knowing how many strippers to use
Strippers are available in different concentrations, so you must carefully measure out what's needed for your job. If you use too little or dilute it too much, you'll have to go over the surface again after allowing sufficient time for it to work. Doing this can damage the wood beneath if care isn't taken. Also, never mix two chemicals without first checking that they don't react - that could also cause damage to your flooring.
5) Leaving strippers on too long
You must follow the manufacturer's guidelines for how long to leave stripping agents on before starting to scrub them in. Allowing the finish to remain on the surface for too long gives solvent-based finishes too much time to dissolve and soften, making them easy targets for wear and tear during this stage of removal. At best, leaving solvent-based varnish on the surface too long will only damage the hardboard wear layer, but, at worst, it can degrade the adhesive that's holding down your parquet flooring.