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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey folks, I’m new here, found this forum as I’ve been fighting with a school building for almost three weeks on a job that would normally have taken a week or so, and I need advice. I was contracted to strip and wax all of the classroom floors, and after speaking to a facility manager from the school system they have no records of the floors ever having been stripped. The current wing of the school was built in the 90’s. There’s been 2-4 coats of wax added about every 2 years or so for as long as the manager could remember, they’d use a cleaning solution and green cleaning pad on the buffer, then slap more wax down. I’ll attach pictures of what I’m dealing with, but for a description I’m literally having to take a scraper to the floor in these rooms, removing multiple gallons of semi-congealed wax from these rooms. The current rooms are extremely small at about 420sq foot per room, and I’m getting 3-4 gallons of congealed wax up, not to mention the standard slurry. Has anyone else run into this kind of thing before, and is there any advice you can offer? Im already losing money on the job, just interested in getting it done right and more quickly now.
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See my post that I just posted and it shares my finish application technique

I can help and I know EXACTLY what you're dealing with. I work in schools full-time. There are probably like 30+ coats of finish on those floors. I'll be honest, I dread doing strips because of the very problem you're having.

Depending on the stripping solution you're using, you're going to have to make it strong. For example, I use a 2:1 ratio. I let the solution dwell for 30 minutes and reapply so it doesn't have a chance to congeal all the way. I then work from 6-12 inches out with a black stripping pad and do that first because it's the path of least resistance.

I then work on the edges. I hate to say it, but you're going to end up doing quite a bit of scraping. With the amount of finish build-up on school floors, it's extremely important to keep the floors wet enough to prevent the congealing.

As we scrape, we use a broom and dust pan to get rid of what we scrape off the floor. We usually have to repeat this process 3 times on one floor. It's time consuming and I know what you're going through, BELIEVE ME!!!

Up your dilution ratio and increase your dwell time, keeping an eye on it throughout, to not let it dry up. Get rid of the scraped finish as soon as you can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It’s absolutely been a nightmare. I’m on the third phase of the project, the second phase was only a small set of rooms, about 6500sq/ft total, and I got just over a hundred gallons of congealed wax slurry up, that’s not including what was vacuumed up after the buffing. The cycle we’ve had to start using is 2:1 ratio solution, 30 minute dwell time as you said, then scraping the floors with razor scrapers, sucking the congealed crap up with a shop vac, then sometimes scraping again before sloshing the solution back out and buffing with a burgundy pad, usually only getting about 900sq/ft out of one side before it’s so saturated with wax that it’s worthless, then a second buff with a black pad. Finally another recovery vac run and a couple of hours scraping the edges. These tiles are so uneven it’s a nightmare regardless. I bid the job from the plans I was sent, grand total of 2 weeks and about 300 man hours. I’m about 3-4 days from done, just over a month in, and have paid out well over 500 man hours. 170 gallons of stripping solution, 20 burgundy and 15 black stripping pads.
 

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I'm sorry to hear you're going through this. I'm 7 years in working on floors in schools.

From the sounds of it, you're doing all the right things as far as ratio mix and dwell time. I've learned (with floors not properly maintained) to scrape first and then use pads.

Knowing what I know after working on school floors, they probably wouldn't accept my bid if I owned my own company. I know the labor and materials involved and I always assume triple the amount of time at face value.

I just got done doing a hall that was broken into 3 sections. All was as well as could be on the first 2 sections. The last section which was about 75 feet took a day and a half to complete. It took 4 applications of stripping solution to get to the raw floor.

Get the widest and sharpest scraper possible and do that first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It’s definitely been a good lesson. I’m trying to pin some extra time and such on the school system, since they obviously knew how bad it was and didn’t want to deal with it themselves, but it’s government, so I don’t expect much. It’s not make or break for me at least, and I’ll go into the next knowing much better what to expect. Also will bid accordingly 😂 they’ll probably just hire some other clueless Schmuck next time though. Just a vicious cycle it seems. Normally my crews are working through about 2500 sq/ft daily, we’ve barely been averaging 800 on this job, and that’s working 11 hour days lol. It’s wild to me that people can get away with just slapping more layers down year after year.
 

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It blows my mind too! My personal problem is, I have a conscience. I can't in good faith, keep wronging the wrong. If I do something, I do it the correct way because I have respect for the next person doing the job and I don't want shit work being attached to my name. Even though I don't own the buildings I work in, I work ON THEM like I own them. That's the right way!!! You're a business owner, I'm sure you can respect that.

It's a lot of work to correct years of doing things incorrectly. 99% of people go- "I don't care, it ain't gonna be me re-doing it in 2 years". Bad mentality!
 
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