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Floor Polish Removal Can Save a Hardwood Floor

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Mar 18, 2021

The cleaning products aisles at grocery and home improvement stores the world over showcase countless products that claim to improve the appearance of hardwood floors. From the shelves, they beckon homeowners with flashy claims, like “refreshes hardwood,” “new floor in a bottle,” or “professional results.”

What homeowners who are enticed by these propositions don’t know is that using floor polish is like cracking your knuckles: it feels good at first, but once you start, you can’t stop, and—eventually—you regret forming the bad habit.

The Problem

Most of these polish products contain acrylic and stick to the floor really well when dried. Due to low-quality solids and weak chemical bonds within the formulas, however, the new layer of polish rapidly becomes hazy, scuffed, and sticky. So, what do most homeowners do? They apply more polish to their floor to improve its appearance, beginning a vicious cycle that repeats until it dawns on them—usually many coats later—that their hardwoods now need professional help.

In steps a hardwood floor professional, who likely recommends:

  • Sanding and refinishing in the case of solid or engineered wood floors that are sandable ($$).
  • Tearing out and replacing textured, handscraped, or engineered wood floors that are too thin to be sanded. ($$$) 

What if we told you that there is another option, and that under the acrylic mess, there could be a perfectly good wood floor in need of simple a recoat or nothing at all?

The Solution

Contrary to misguided advice on the web, the answer is not vinegar, ammonia, or abrasive powders, all of which can cause etching in the wood’s surface, harm finish, and take years off a wood floor’s life. The solution, we humbly submit, is Basic Coatings® Dissolver, a product that is specifically formulated to quickly and easily remove acrylic-based polishes while still being gentle on  hardwood floors. 

How does it work?

A proprietary blend of solvents, such as benzyl alcohol and glycol ethers, work in conjunction with alkaline organic compounds, like Monoethanolamine (or MEA), to act as a lock-and-key mechanism with acrylic floor polish’s cross-linking. This action results in the “unlocking” of polymer chains and allows the plastic film to be emulsified back into the stripping solution, which can then be picked up in a liquid form. 

How is it used?

Before using this product, the presence of acrylic should be confirmed by testing a small spot in an inconspicuous area using an acrylic test kit or a drop of Dissolver (a bluish white dot where the solution was applied indicates a positive result for acyclic).   

Then, removing the polish is just a matter of following the steps below.

  1. Careful not to over wet the floor, apply Dissolver diluted with water at the ratio specified in the directions on the label. A pump-up garden sprayer works well for this task, and it is best to work in a small area to start, say 5’ x 5’. 
  2. Allow the solution to dwell on the surface for a few minutes, then agitate. A buffer with a white scrubbing pad is ideal.
  3. Then, pick up the solution with the emulsified polish. It is important to not let the solution dry before this step is completed. We recommend using a Basic Coatings Dirt Dragon™ Wood Floor Scrubber for this part of the process. On occasion, it might be necessary to repeat the Dissolver application.
  4. Finally, clean with Basic Coatings Squeaky™ Cleaner to neutralize the chemicals in Dissolver that make the removal possible. At this point, the floor can be recoated if needed using TyKote® Bonding Agent and any Basic Coatings finish.

Want to see more visuals? Click here to watch a 3-minute video that outlines the floor polish removal process.

Acrylic buildup is seriously unsightly, but with the right tools, it’s a relatively easy and inexpensive problem to fix. If you’re a homeowner, please reference our contractor locator for a list of local professionals who can provide an estimate to rescue your hardwoods using Dissolver. To request a local Basic Coatings certified contractor contact you with more information about their services and pricing, please fill out the form here.

If you’re a contractor or distributor interested in learning more about these products or processes, please contact your Basic Coatings regional manager or fill out the form here.