SANDING away the dirt on vinyl flooring

Valerie EmmerichApril 2, 2013

This is kind of a strange question/idea. . . . We've lived in our condo for almost 14 years, along with a 70s style kitchen that I've tried to make the best of without redoing the whole thing. (Definitely not in the budget!) But the vinyl floor is the bane of my life. It has these little pits and grooves in it and over time, all the dirt has settled quite comfortably in the pits and grooves.

So, once, I said to my husband (who works in a hardware store and knows a fair amount about these kinds of things), "Why can't we just sand off a very thin layer of the floor, leaving behind a like-new, clean surface?" He said it wouldn't work, although he tends to be a naysayer when he doesn't want to deal with something or bother to look it up on the internet :-)

Today I took some sandpaper (it was in a drawer - no idea what grade it was) and sanded over some yellowish stains that haven't come off any other way. Presto - gone! Then I found a couple of small, especially dirty areas and sanded a little - not as much as I would for real, but just to see if my theory could work. It seemed to work.

So my idea is to use an orbital sander (too hard to control one of those floor sanders) and, well, like I said, sand off a thin layer of this disgusting vinyl sheeting floor. Does anyone have any thoughts, pro or con, about this idea? Can you foresee any problems? I'm truly at my wits end about this floor. Thanks!!

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Much like a car finish is buffed... It might work but I'd be worried about doing permanent damage to the floor and make it more prone to staining in the future if you sand through the wear layer. You'll likely loose any gloss too.

Years ago I had a vinyl floor that was very dirty. I tried all kinds of things, including using a ScotchBrite pad on a sander. Nothing worked. Then I bought some commercial floor stripper. Worked like a charm!

Here is a link that might be useful: 3M Floor Stripper

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 7:48AM
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You are going to wish you never did that. You are removing the finish and now everything is going to stick to that floor, stop it.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 12:34PM
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Valerie Emmerich

Thanks for the tip about the 3M stripper! Do we need some kind of special equipment to use this, or just a mop and/or what-have-you? Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 1:38PM
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Have you tried a steam mop? We made the old vinyl in a past rental home look like new with a steam mop, go over it slowly it gets out all the dirt.

Vinyl has a protective layer on top if you sand that off you will end up with a very dirty, stained floor, fast.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 11:29PM
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There isn't any special equipment required for the 3M stripper. Do understand that it's not cheap and you'll likely have more than you'll ever need. You might also consider checking with a local janitorial supply house for other alternatives.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 9:43AM
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Vinyl floors are available for as little as 49 cents a square foot. Even that modern cheap vinyl is head and shoulders above the vinyl that you are dealing with. And it will actually be cheaper to replace what you have rather than trying expensive products to make what you have acceptible. It will be the best option for both short term and long term costs and maintainence.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 9:56AM
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Before doing anything drastic, get on your hands and knees with a scrub brush, a rag, an old towel, and 2 buckets. One bucket with cleaner, one bucket of water to rinse, towel to dry. I like Mr. Clean for my floors. If that doesn't work try Dawn dish detergent (cuts grease).

I just did this in my foyer and could not believe how dirty the water was. I usually just damp mop, but once in a while you do need to scrub.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 8:36AM
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