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What is a Floor Stripper?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Essentially, a floor stripper is a rotary driven floor machine that is powerful enough to remove any top layer from the floor surface. For example, it will remove old shellac and varnish from wood floors, returning the wood to a state where it can be treated with a different stain or varnish. The stripper will also remove paint from wood and cement floors, effectively rolling back time so the floors can be treated with a new medium of some sort.

Floor strippers today also often have the ability to also function as a floor buffer. Instead of removing the paint or stain on the floor, floor buffers simply bring out the shine of whatever finish is on the floor material. Floor machines that handle stripping, buffing, and even carpet shampooing are not that uncommon today.

The basic action of the floor stripper is to use the rotary brushes to gently work through the medium on the top of the floor material, without damaging the floor underneath. One of the more common applications is to remove wax and varnish buildup from a hard wood floor. Over time, the buildup can darken, leaving the floor looking dull and hiding the natural beauty. Using a floor stripper to sand through the buildup of varnish, the natural wood is revealed anew. At this juncture, the owner can clean off the residue from the stripping and apply a lighter stain and sealant that will enhance the look of the floor for many years to come.

Up until a few years ago, a floor stripper was generally thought of as a tool to maintain the floors in public buildings. Over time, some professional floor stripping services began to cultivate a residential clientele, offering their services on a per room basis. During the last couple of decades, the concept of the home floor stripper has made it possible for the do it yourself home owner to purchase a personal one to use around the house. Costing much less than the heavy-duty models used in public buildings, the home versions usually weighs less than forty pounds, can easily be moved around like a vacuum cleaner and often can handle several functions, including buffing and shampooing carpets.

The floor stripper is a much easier way to remove finishes from floors than using stripping compounds. Often, the compounds can be quite expensive, and may require multiple applications. Removal of the compound can also get quite messy in some cases. With a floor stripper, all you need is the right set of brushes, a power source, and a face mask to protect yourself from airborne contaminants during operation. Often, the project will take less time and certainly cost less money in the long run.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including HomeQuestionsAnswered, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By floorguy — On Sep 23, 2009

The term floor strippers can also refer to equipment that is used for pealing up flooring like vct, ceramic or tile. These units use a ramming or oscillating motion with a blade on the front to get under the flooring and pull it up. They can range from simple units you manually push to riding units that peal up large quantities of flooring in a short period of time. You can rent these units at www.floor-equipment-rentals.com or from your local rental store. Sunbelt rentals is also great resource for finding these machines locally. They have stores all over the United States

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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