Remove Wax Buildup Old Hardwood Floors
Techniques in removing wax buildup on older wood floors will vary and depends largely on the amount actually used over the years. What also may be unknown is what types of cleaners have been used or if there may be an older finish under the wax.
My Handy Stripper Worked for Furniture
Most chemical type strippers will not work well with hardwood floors. Techniques in how to is another unknown non professionals should avoid. Taking care of that priceless antique you brought back to life is different from flooring. Floors that are gapped may not be successfully removed of all wax residue. Over the years wax gets pushed into crevices by constant reapplying and buffing. Any new finish applied eventually will come into contact with the older waxes, bubbling or pealing can occur. In situations like this it may prove better to stay with the current condition.
Testing. Why Remove The Wax?
Testing for finishes is as simple as applying some water droplets to the floor. If they bead up, your finish is wax. These types of floors are often a maintenance headache, requiring more care than that of newer oil and water based finishes. Remember your mother or grand mother who may have slid around on older floors by buffing with old socks on? It may have been great exercise, but was often tiring and labor some.
Many people today are turning to newer finishes on old floors that do not require hard work to maintain. However, the biggest obstacle is removing the old waxes first as any new finish will not bond properly.
Types Of Removal
For floors that haven't been coated heavily (some Bruce hardwoods fall into this category) odor free mineral spirits can be applied to a steel wool pad placed on the bottom of a floor buffer. If the floors are beveled, hand scraping will be required to remove buildup in crevices. Follow up cleaning is vital to make sure the residues have been removed. Many suggest a thorough floor cleaning with mineral sprits and clean rags at least twice.
Major Buildup - Prevent New Finish Failure
Larger heavily waxed floors may require very rough sanding with a drum sander. Professionals differ on what sanding grit should be used with some as low as 12. What also may be unknown is what was under the wax. Older shellac finishes may be under years of buildup.
For the best protection from contamination with waxes, all cracks and gaps should be trowel (photo above) filled during the sanding process. This creates closure where no contact with new finishes will occur.
Be Careful Of Miracle Hyped Products
If in doubt it doesn't hurt to call in a professional that has experience with older floor restoration. We do not recommend any easy solution type products unless thoroughly investigated. What may sound too good to be true may only prove to be a band aid, with further problems down the road.