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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was my local Habitat ReStore and spotted a nice stack of solid maple flooring for $20. About 5"x1/2"x??" sizes. Something around 50 board feet.

Anyway, it'll be perfect for the table top I want to make but I need to strip the finish first. I tried "Citristrip Gel" to no avail. I've used the product before on paint but this clear coat seems extra resilient. I'd love to run it through the dimensional planer I don't have, but I don't have the planer I don't have.

Any suggestions on an aggressive clear coat stripper you have had success with in the past? That Citristrip literally just polished the surface...the bright side is they look really shinny now!:blink:


(Do they make any flooring the has an epoxy coating?)
 

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Flooring finish is TOUGH! It'll kill your planer blades you don't have faster than you can say "I just wasted $50 of planer blades on $50 worth of shorts and narrows" DAMHIK. It's likely a poly based finish. The citristrip and other green strippers aren't as potent as the noxious toxic stuff. It has to soak a long time to soften up the finish. I'd try some regular strength solvent, which for poly should be mineral spirits if I remember right. Let it sit on the surface as best you can and try to scrape it off. Otherwise...do you have a belt sander and a couple belts? Aggressive but it'd work, just make sure you have a good stearate impregnated belt cause it's gonna load up quick. If you have a good sand paper cleaner to clean your belt as you go that'd help. I forget what they are called but I use them on my sanding drums, the rubbery things. I'd put one in a vise and hit the belt sander over it a lot if you go that route to clear the belt of load-up.

All that being said, I've quit dealing with flooring personally for the reasons you are finding. I spend too much precious time trying to strip the finish that I could be woodworking. Just depends on your resources, time, and determination I guess. Good luck.
 

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You need an MC (methylene chloride) stripper. It's very toxic. You need to keep it wet on the surfaces until it can do it's thing. You can use a putty knife to remove finish soon as it start bubbling up. the strongest over the counter stipper I've used is 'Aircraft Stripper' in the blue qt can...available at HD. Follow the directions on the can for safety warnings and procedure. You could also use a heat gun in lieu of stripper.

As a final wash, use lacquer thinner, or acetone. You may get recommendations to use a power washer, but I would not do that.






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The world of pre finished hardwood flooring finishes is very high tech. They are using UV cured finishes that are done in a specialized machine and bear no resemblance to canned coatings you and I can get for ordinary woodworking finishes. They often contain some type of oxide, titanium is a common one, which stands up to foot traffic for many years, 50 yrs. with some. It's not easy to strip. Not all flooring has these types of finishes. Citrus strip hardly works with ordinary finishes, you need the stuff with Methyl ethyl chloride, 5F5, Zip strip, are some common brands. Doing this may not completely remove the finish, add in a lot of sanding and your $20 dollar wood isn't looking so inexpensive. The T&G flooring doesn't fit together tightly enough for gluing up a table top and residual finish may prevent glue from adhering. Everybody wants inexpensive, easy to use wood but it often has other costs and complications.
 

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As has been said, pre-finished flooring is coated with finishes that contain powdered metals (aluminum oxide generally) with two part clear binders. These finishes are formulated to be very tough, to resist scratches and be very chemical resistant. In most cases, store bought chemical paint removers will not work or work very slowly. Scraping the material off is generally not productive and will quickly dull planes and planer tools. Sandpaper will sometimes work but it is slow and quickly dulls the paper.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Haha!

Too good to be true, eh? Well bummer! I'm newer at this, can you tell? :)

Thanks for all the helpful replies. I'm glad to have you all as a reliable resource. I'll try some aircraft stripper if it's not too cost prohibitive. Otherwise, I'll just consider this a $20 lesson learned.



EDIT: If I'm going to work with methyl chloride I'd like to take appropriate safety precautions. Will PVC coated gloves be sufficient or does anyone know if this still will zip through those too? I know nitril is waaaaay out of the question.
 

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If the finish it giving you that much trouble, is it really worth it to try to strip it. Anyway no remover works well below 70 degrees so if it is cold where you are you might wait till spring to make the attempt. One of the strongest removers I've used is Kwick Kleen #125 remover. Unless they have changed their packaging practices it is only available in 5 gallon pails.

Several people have commented that running the wood through a planer will dull the blades because of the hardness and the aluminum oxide in the finish. I've tried to surface common latex wall paint off wood before and it wore the blades out too quick to be feasible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks, Steve. I gave it another go today, letting the Citristrip sit for 10 hours with literally zero penetration. Instead of attacking it with something more caustic I think I am just going to take the resounding advice of "move on." I'll be ordering stock from my local supplier tomorrow. Lesson learned, it's alright!
 

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I have one last suggestion - try using a Stanley #80 scraper. It's quick and easy for striping and even if it dulls after each board, the #80 is the easiest tool to sharpen.

Other then that - don't throw out that flooring. Use it to cover your bench - I use bamboo flooring on my workbench and I can glue projects, paint, stain or whatever and the dried up spills or oozing scrapes off very easily.
 

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Citristrip is a poor, slow acting paint stripper. It's primary object is to be "safe", not effective.

The most aggressive store bought stripper is one that contains the most methylene chloride. That's the active ingredient you want to look for on the label. If you are in a store that has different brands that contain methylene chloride, pick the one that weighs the most. MC is heavy and the higher the concentration, the more MC the brand will contain
 
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