Case Study: Hardwood Floor Cleaning in Orange, CA

How one homeowner, in the city of Orange, got into trouble by waxing their wood floor - a wax removal case study

By Larry Sanders

This particular job came our way via one of our referral partners. Nick from Nicholas Hardwood Floors went to give an estimate to a potential client in the city of Orange for a wood floor re-finishing job. What Nick found upon closer examination of the wood floor was a very thick coating on top of the wood floors factory finish. This coating makes it hard to evaluate what the actual condition of the wood floor underneath really is. These are the kind of jobs that Nick will refer to us.

And by the way if you are looking for someone to sand, screen and/or re-coat your wood floors, look no further then Nick. Kelly, one of his happy clients who reviewed him on Yelp, aptly named him "The Floor Whisperer". You can reach Nick as follows; 714-842-0459 or check out his Yelp page. Make sure you tell him that Zerorez® sent you.

Floor inspection uncovers the ugly truth

So after Nick referred this particular job to Zerorez, I (Larry Sanders, operations manager) was called to go and inspect this wood floor in Orange for a possible wax strip job. And just to clarify, "wax stripping" is the term used in our profession to refer to the removal of topical finishes off of flooring surfaces. It used to primarily refer to commercial vinyl floors that would need to be stripped and waxed. However a host of homeowner products, readily available to the consuming end user, have made the stripping (removal) more common on wood floors, stone and even tiled surfaces in residential settings.

What's hiding under your kitchen sink?

When meeting with a homeowner the first question I always ask in these situations is, "what products have you been using to maintain your wood floor"? In this case the homeowner admitted to an entire line-up of products applied through the years. And as luck would have it, unused portions of several of the products still resided in a cabinet underneath the kitchen sink. Mop & Glow, Orange Glow, and one other product that I had never heard of. These products are acrylic waxes that have no place being applied on top of a polyurethane or aluminum oxide finished wood floor. By the way, there is a blog we've written on this subject and you can find it at:

Stuck with a thick layer of gunk…….now what?

As we'd established earlier, the challenge on this particular job was a thick layer of after-market wax that had been applied on top of the factory finish of this wood floor. This thick layer was making it impossible to re-finish or sand and re-coat without first removing the layer of heavy build-up. The kitchen and dining room combined were only 150 Sq. Ft. And even though it was a relatively small area, it still came with big challenges.

Do I need to refinish my wood floor?

This particular client, who's home is in the city of Orange, had originally called Nick from Nick Hardwood Flooring to get a quote on a full wood floor refinishing. In their mind that's what their floor needed because of all the scratches and damage that they saw on their floor. When in fact a lot of what they were seeing was in the surface of the wax build-up and not actually damage to their wood floor itself.

Scratches in the wax and not the wood

What we found after we were able to remove all the wax build-up, there was nowhere near as much damage to the wood itself as they had believed there was. This is because once you layer on coat after coat of wax you start to scratch the wax top coat and not the wood floor itself.

Once we had established the fact that this floor had a thick layer of wax buildup, and the homeowner got on the same page to correct the situation it was time to get to work. Following is a quick recap of the steps it took to get this floor looking like (almost) new again.

What did it take to fix this floor?

  1. Apply wax stripper - light application as to not saturate the floor with moisture.
  2. Agitate - using tools to help the stripper to penetrate and break-up the wax.
  3. Vacuum wax away - using a squeegee tool.
  4. Repeat 1, 2, 3 - this depends on the severity of the build-up. In this particular case, due to the many applications of the wax, we had to repeat the process more then once.
  5. Rinse with alkaline cleaner - this step assures the complete removal of the wax and also removes any residue left behind from the wax stripping agent.
  6. Rinse with alkaline water and microfiber buff - this finishing step really makes the floor 'pop'.

We do not need to repeat steps 1,2, and 3 on all wood floor strip jobs, but this particular floor had a huge amount of build-up, not only on the wood floor surface, but also in the joints and crevices. As a precautionary measure due to the risk of getting the wood floor to wet, we instead will repeat steps.

This client realized at the end of this process that their wood floor didn't need to be sanded or even screened. The polyurethane factory applied finish had withstood the test of time and was still in excellent condition. This was a case of another happy Zerorez client. If you found this information helpful or believe you may have similar issues, please don't hesitate to contact us. Larry Sanders from Zerorez at 866-937-6739 or


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