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Maintaining brilliant hard floors is vital to the appearance of your facility. Many times, floors are the first thing people notice when they enter your facility and are one of the key criteria they use when judging its cleanliness.

There are two ways to restore the look of your commercial hard floors. The first is a scrub and recoat, and the second is a strip and wax, sometimes referred to as a strip and wax.

While both can be effective, they’re not interchangeable procedures.

Stripping and waxing is time-consuming and expensive. It requires you and your staff to fully remove all of the floor finish from your floor before applying a new finish. In some cases, you can use a simple scrub and recoat to restore your floor’s shine instead.

A scrub and recoat removes just the top layer of finish, allowing you to put down a fresh, new coat to achieve a brilliant shine without removing all of the finish.

Understanding when you and your staff should be performing a scrub and recoat rather than a strip and wax, or vice versa is vital. It can save you labor hours, lots of money, and allow you to achieve the desired look of your commercial hard floors.

Below, we’ll review how to identify which procedure you and your staff should perform to restore the look of your floors.

When to Perform a Scrub and Recoat 

In most cases, a scrub and recoat should be performed before stripping and waxing.

It is a less intensive procedure that requires less time, money, and resources. However, a scrub and recoat is only effective when routinely performed as a periodic procedure.

Periodic or interim floor care is done when foot traffic has caused a noticeable level of wear and tear on your floor finish.  Apply Finish

It is recommended that in a facility with average foot traffic, a scrub and recoat is done at least once every six months.

The level of traffic, desired look, budget, and available resources will play a role in how often a floor is scrubbed and recoated.

In facilities with areas of high traffic, procedures may need to be completed quarterly (4x a year). Similarly, if you desire high shine floors, more frequent scrub and recoats will be necessary.

At some point, a floor will need extra attention to restore its shine, even if you have been performing consistent periodic maintenance. This is when a strip and wax comes in.

Stripping and waxing is a restorative floor care procedure. Restorative floor care is used to restore and revive your floor when the damage is greater than what can be fixed with a scrub and recoat.

Keep in mind, that if you have not performed a scrub and recoat in the last 6-12 months, it is recommended that you start fresh with a full strip and finish. It is likely that you will need to remove more than just the top layer of finish to restore your floor’s brilliance.

When to Strip and Wax Floors 

A strip and wax should be performed at least once a year if no periodic scrub and recoat have been performed during the year.

To determine if you need to strip and wax more or less frequently there are a variety of factors.

Below we’ll review what steps you should take to understand if it is time to strip and wax your resilient hard floors.

Frequency of Maintenance 

Scrubbing and recoating is the prelude to stripping and waxing.

If you have been routinely scrubbing and recoating your floors, you can likely extend the time between stripping and waxing to greater than 12 months. Small Scrubber in Dorm

However, this may not always be the case. Depending on your unique budget, goals, and resources, you may need to strip and wax floors more or less often. For example, if you desire high shine floors, you may need to strip and wax more often.

If you and your Team have not been adhering to a regular maintenance schedule, or you are unsure of when your Team last scrubbed and recoated your floors, we do not recommend delaying a strip and wax for more than 12 months (1 year). Fully stripping and waxing will allow you to start new, helping you to determine an accurate maintenance schedule for the future.


Like stated above, a scrub and recoat will only be able to restore a floor’s brilliance up to a certain number of times.

You’ll know that it is time for a full strip and wax if you can see dirt and impurities in your floor finish.

How to Pick the Best Floor Finish

When contaminants are embedded in your finish, it will be difficult to restore the look with a scrub and recoat.

Another way you’ll be able to tell it’s time to full strip and wax is if your floor is shiny, but does not look clean. Shiny, “dirty” floors occur when a new coat of finish is applied on top of an old finish that was not properly scrubbed beforehand. Should this be the case, a strip and wax should be performed.

Desired Shine Level

Depending on your business’s wants, you may desire a high shine level or high DOI.

“DOI” means Distinctiveness of Image. It is a term used to measure the brilliance of your floors.  The clearer and more defined the reflection of an object on the surface of your floor is, the better brilliance or DOI.

The goals of each facility are different. You may want extremely brilliant, distinctive floors, while others may just want the floor to be well maintained. The level of desired shine will impact when and how often you should strip and wax your floors.

For high shine, high DOI floors, you will need to perform a strip and finish more often. This will also require more frequent periodic maintenance.

Level of Finish Left on the Floor

The amount of finish left on your floor will also help determine if it is time for a strip and wax.

You may be wondering how you are supposed to tell how much finish remains on your floor, especially if you weren’t the last person to put down a new coat.

The simplest way to find out is using the key test.

Using a key, scratch through the finish in a high traffic area. If little to no finish comes up, then it is time to strip and wax your floors.

If there is a good amount of finish on the key you can simply perform a scrub and recoat to restore your floor’s appearance.

It is critical to maintain a healthy level of finish on your floors. Floor finish is designed to protect your resilient flooring against the accumulation of dirt, scratches, spills, and other effects of foot traffic.

Without adequate finish, your flooring can be permanently damaged. If you are not sure of the level of finish even after the key test, perform a strip and wax.

Budget & Resources

The typical strip and finish process takes about 4-5 hours but will vary based on the size of the area and staff allocated to the job. Given the time it takes, as well as resources it may not be feasible for you to strip and finish as frequently as you would like.

As a result, a scrub and recoat can be effective if a proper maintenance schedule has been followed, and there is enough finish on the floor.

Final Thoughts

Maintaining your commercial hard floors is important. Picking the right floor care procedure can be difficult, but with the understanding of the factors above you should be able to identify when you should scrub and recoat vs strip and wax.

Remember, scrub & recoat is a periodic maintenance procedure designed to help protect your commercial floor from damages, restore floor shine, and reduce the need for costly stripping and finishing procedures.

On the other hand, stripping and waxing is very labor-intensive, requiring lots of time and money but is used to restore your floor.

If you can achieve the same results by scrubbing and recoating which is a quicker, easier procedure, your staff will be able to be redeployed to other cleaning and maintenance tasks.

Imperial Dade locations have the knowledge to help you keep your commercial hard floors looking their best.

If you’re located in the United States, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, or Canada, and you are not sure whether you need to perform a scrub and recoat versus a strip and wax, let a specialist perform a free virtual or on-site visit to help you determine when your cleaning staff should be performing each. Reach out today!

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