How To Chemically Strip Wood Floors:

You may find that your wood floor has been sanded to many times in the past, and now is too thin to be sanded again. OR there may be a case that absolutely forbids you to make even a spec of dust (for health reasons or protecting electronic equipment) during the refinishing job, but still, you have to remove all the old finish to do a good job. This article will show you how to use safe, but effective chemicals, to refinish your wood floors.

There are lots of circumstances that make sanding of a wooden floor undesirable. I first ran into one of these when I was asked to refinish a floor in a church.

This job was to refinish the floor area called the sanctuary and the choir stall floors, about 600 sq. ft. The organ pipes were right above this and if the floors were to be sanded and finished the pipes would have to be covered, at great cost. Even covering the pipes would not assure their safety from the sanding dust, and the estimated cost for cleaning the would run into the many thousands of dollars.

I was the only flooring contractor who suggested the floors be chemically stripped instead. I had just finished such a job for one of the church’s prominent members and my services came highly recommended. My experience with woodwork stripping included doing about 4 months of work for a friend spaced over several years. I single-handedly stripped about 500-sq. ft. of wainscoting, staircase paneling, banisters, baseboards, door and window surrounds, mantelpieces, and paneled doors. Believe me after tackling all this intricate work stripping a floor is easy. I priced the church job at $4 per sq. ft. As I was the only viable proposal, I won the contract to strip and finish the floor with 4 coats of polyurethane. It was here that I developed the multi-stage foolproof method. And as of this writing I have chemically stripped over 5,000 square feet of hardwood floor. This still remains a small but essential part of my business.

I had figured the cost of material to be about $1.25 per sq. ft. (the finish being about only 25 cents of that). The rest of the cost would be labor and hopefully profit

Here are the steps that I suggest:

1. Determine if your floor can benefit from chemical stripping rather than sanding, is it too thin to be sanded again? Are there large gray areas that won’t come clean with the stripping process? You may have to strip the floor first and then sand out the gray spots. Based on the cost of material is your floor worth refinishing this way or would you be better off replacing the floor altogether?

2. Go over the whole floor and set all nails below the surface of the wood, but don’t fill them. You can do any repairs now, and sand them flush to make the stripping go easier.