How to Strip and Polish Vinyl Flooring

Categories // Tips and Tricks, Hard Floor Cleaning, Domestic Cleaning

How to Strip and Polish Vinyl Flooring

Areas where Vinyl Flooring is laid
Vinyl flooring in sheet format is a favourite choice for large commercial buildings such as schools and community halls due to its cost, ease of maintenance and durability.

Modern versions of Vinyl flooring are also very popular and brands like Karndean and Amtico take pride of place in many homes.

Regular Vinyl Floor Cleaning

All types of Vinyl flooring require periodic maintenance in the form of re-application of the seal or polish that protects the flooring from wear and damage. When the flooring is newly laid it will often be sealed to enhance and protect it.

Regular Vinyl floor cleaning entails the sweeping or vacuuming of the flooring to remove light dusts followed by mopping using a neutral detergent to remove light soiling.


Manufactures of flooring such as Amtico and Karndean produce their own brand products for regular cleaning as well as products for stripping off old coatings. They also supply the polish or sealer to finish the floor.

Those products are sold in small quantities and are mainly suitable for home use only. For commercial size areas you would be better advised to visit a janitorial store for products in larger quantities. They are usually a lot better value than the small brand named products for the domestic market.

Soiling and Wear

Soiled Vinyl Flooring

Even with regular cleaning the surface will eventually start to wear and soiling can become trapped in the tiny surface scratches that appear with everyday use. The seal or polish on the surface eventually starts to degrade and break down and a combination of these factors will cause the surface to appear dirty and worn.

Floor Polish Stripping

It is very important to remove any old surface coating prior to the application of any new coating. Failure to do this will only store up problems for the future and ultimately undermine the performance of the polish or seal that is applied.

In cases where this procedure has been ignored the task of stripping off the old coatings should be left to a professional floor cleaning company as attempts to strip of multiple layers of polish or seal will require the use of industrial cleaning equipment and products.

The first step to removing the old polish is mixing an amount of the chemical (floor polish remover) with water and dispersing it over the floor area. The mixture will usually require at least fifteen minutes before it starts to react and work on breaking down the surface coating. During this time it is important to ensure the mixture is kept from drying out. You can replenish by adding more mixture as required.

The floor polish stripping process is dependent upon the number of previous coats of polish or seal that need to be removed. Most stripping products (floor polish remover) will break down approximately three coats per application. If purchasing the remover from a janitorial supplier you may be able to purchase a heavy duty floor polish remover, this will break down more coats per application and could save time and labour.

Stripping a polished Vinyl Floor

Deep Cleaning Vinyl Flooring

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Once the surface coating has been broken down and removed the floor will then require deep cleaning to remove the soiling and grime that becomes embedded and trapped in the worn surface of the vinyl.  

Add a cleaning chemical to a warm or hot water; it can then be mopped onto the floor surface. The chemical and the hot water will help to break down the soiling, however the process will also require agitation to loosen the embedded soiling.

Agitation can either be achieved with the use of a course nylon scouring pad placed under the mop, special pads can be purchased for this purpose that fit flat mop systems. For commercial size areas it is best to use a rotary floor scrubbing machine fitted with a medium or course grade pad.

Once the floor has been cleaned and all the soiling loosened the floor will require mopping to remove the soiled surface slurry and residue. It is good practice to mop the floor over several times with fresh water to ensure the surface is clean and any chemical reside is neutralised.

When cleaning commercial floors the slurry can be extracted using a wet pick up vacuum prior to the neutralisation.

Vinyl Floor Stripped & Polished

Vinyl Floor Polishing

Prior to applying any floor polish ensure the floor is dry and free of any surface contaminates. The floor polish should be poured into a receptacle, a professional window cleaning bucket is a good tool as most sizes of flat mops can be dipped into the bucket with ease.

Pour a little of the polish into the bucket, just enough so the flat mop head can be partly submerged into the polish/seal. Rubber gloves should be used to avoid contact with the product and your skin.

Using a fresh clean and dry flat mop cover dip the mop into the polish and then remove any excess polish from the pad by running it along the edge of the bucket. The excess will drain back into the bucket and the flat mop pad should hold enough polish without it dripping all over the floor.

Working left to right across the room ensure the floor is covered evenly with polish. Then move backwards and work in the opposite direction right to left. As you work ensure the working edge of the polish is always kept wet. As you progress if you notice a small section has been missed, do not step back onto the wet or drying polish. If you can reach the area without treading on the polish you can touch the section in with the flat mop, if not you can cover it with the second coat.

Leave the polish for around half an hour under normal room temperature to dry before applying a second coat. The second coat should then be applied working across the direction of the first coat to ensure the surface receives an even application.