Hard flooring can be hard to care for, no pun intended. Durable coatings such as epoxy and wax protect your floors from various threats, but they don'’t last forever. As these coatings wear down, the time grows closer to when they need to be replaced. Before applying a new seal, however, the previous one must be completely removed – a process known as floor stripping. Not too long ago, floor care professionals used a number of abrasive chemicals to aid with this process, such as the solvents 2-butoxyethanol and ethanolamine. In recent years, however, more and more flooring contractors have begun to use non-chemical means for stripping floors.
Chemical free floor stripping, or “orbital scrubbing,” is worth your consideration for multiple reasons. Not only does this method save you on chemical costs – it can also help you provide a more eco-friendly and safe environment for all occupants without sacrificing quality. In this blog, we’ll go over everything you should know about chemical free floor stripping, including how it works and its main benefits.
As its name suggests, chemical free floor stripping is floor stripping without the chemicals. This basic description doesn’t tell us much about what the process actually involves, of course. The alternative name for this process (orbital scrubbing) provides a good place to start for understanding how it works. The primary actors here are abrasive retangular pads that attach to orbital floor machines. These rough pads physically grind down existing floor coatings without any chemical intervention (though water is used) – the heat and friction are enough to pulverize the previous finish. In a way, chemical free floor stripping is a lot like high-powered sanding. Flooring contractors will slowly move the orbital machine over the designated areas to carefully remove all layers of finish, as well as whatever may be trapped between the floor and finish. As the pad and water strips away the coating and any underlying dirt, the machine’s vacuum sucks up the debris for easy cleanup.
Chemical free floor stripping has grown in popularity across the floor care industry, but what are the specific reasons for this? We’ll answer this question by breaking down the benefits of orbital scrubbing.
Facilities across all industries are always seeking ways to cut costs and maximize efficiency. Replacing traditional floor stripping methods with chemical free floor stripping is one way to achieve these goals. In the past, floor stripping was one of the most expensive and labor-intensive types of commercial floor maintenance one could invest in. The cost of chemical strippers alone can be daunting, but more costly is the labor required to properly apply these chemicals and ensure safety. It also generally takes more time to strip your floors with chemicals than it does to do so via orbital scrubbing. Though most floor stripping chemicals only require a dwell time of about 5-10 minutes, failing to properly dilute the chemicals can result in numerous problems and waste hours in total.
Chemical free floor stripping, on the other hand, can be done in less time with far less prep work or room for error. Commercial flooring contractors who adopt this method don’t have to charge their clients for expensive chemicals, either. The orbital machine and scrubbing pads are the primary tools used for this process, and they’re relatively cheap to rent by comparison, especially when you consider how efficiently they operate.
Not only can orbital scrubbing bolster your bottom line – it can also help you achieve a safer, fresher environment. The use of any corrosive chemical inside your facility is inherently hazardous. Those who fail to wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) near chemicals may suffer from burns and other injuries. Beyond these immediate concerns, many chemicals can also toxify the air and create unpleasant odors via volatile organic compounds (VOCs). And as mentioned earlier, improper dilution, mixing, selection, and/or application of chemicals can damage surfaces and lead to other issues that require immediate addressing.
Implementing chemical free floor stripping in your facility helps you avoid these various health and safety concerns. Steering clear of stripping chemicals will help you prevent chemical related workplace injuries, achieve and maintain better indoor air quality (IAQ), avoid horrible odors, and more.
Many companies have started paying more attention to their carbon footprint, looking for ways to do their part and protect their environment. Some of this push to “go green” is, admittedly, reputational – as more and more customers express their care and concern for the planet, businesses know that they must follow suit to stay in their audience’s good graces. That said, making eco-friendly adjustments is also the right thing to do. Switching to chemical free floor stripping is a simple but effective way to earn some “green” points with your people while actually making a difference. The aforementioned solvents that are often used for standard floor stripping aren’t great for the environment, and it takes less energy to strip your floors via orbital machine scrubbing than it does via chemical removal. Also, while you’re looking for ways to make your facility more eco-friendly, you might consider using eco-friendly commercial floor wax and other coatings.
Chemical free floor stripping/orbital scrubbing is an increasingly popular, cost-effective, safe, and sustainable way to remove previous finishes from your hard flooring before applying new coatings. The Budd Group prefers this method of floor stripping for all the reasons expressed here. In all that we do, we’re committed to providing our clients with environmentally friendly solutions that also cut costs and increase quality. To learn more about our services and values, give us a call today at 800-221-8158!
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