Removing Old Lacquer Or Paint From Solid Brass Or Brass-Plate

Technical Procedures Disclaimer

Prior to inclusion in GSA’s library of procedures, documents are reviewed by one or more qualified preservation specialists for general consistency with the Secretary of Interior Standards for rehabilitating historic buildings as understood at the time the procedure is added to the library. All specifications require project-specific editing and professional judgement regarding the applicability of a procedure to a particular building, project or location. References to products and suppliers are to serve as a general guideline and do not constitute a federal endorsement or determination that a product or method is the best or most current alternative, remains available, or is compliant with current environmental regulations and safety standards. The library of procedures is intended to serve as a resource, not a substitute, for specification development by a qualified preservation professional.


We’ve reviewed these procedures for general consistency with federal standards for rehabilitating historic buildings and provide them only as a reference. Specifications should only be applied under the guidance of a qualified preservation professional who can assess the applicability of a procedure to a particular building, project or location. References to products and suppliers serve as general guidelines and do not constitute a federal endorsement nor a determination that a product or method is the best alternative or compliant with current environmental regulations and safety standards.



  1. This procedure includes guidance on cleaning and maintaining linoleum, asphalt, vinyl, vinyl-asbestos and rubber tile floors.
  2. The goal of floor maintenance is to arrest deterioration while preserving the historic appearance.



  1. The Proctor & Gamble Co.
    Cincinnati, OH


  1. For Damp Moping:
    1. Synthetic, non-ionic, neutral pH detergent such as "Joy", "Ivory Liquid" or "Orvus" (Procter & Gamble), or approved equal, using dilution as determined by tests on material to be cleaned.
    2. Soft cloths
  2. For Polishing:
    1. Non-buffable liquid wax
    2. Buffable water emulsion wax
    3. Emulsion paste-wax
      Liquid solvent-base wax


  1. Electric floor polisher
  2. Power buffing pads
  3. String mop
  4. Mop bucket with wringer
  5. Dust mop with treated pad to hold the dust rather than to scatter it, or vacuum cleaner
  6. Radiator brush to reach crevices
  7. 000 steel wool
  8. Hearth broom (to remove dust from hard to reach places)
  9. Dust pan
  10. Putty knife (to remove sticky material)



  1. Verification of conditions: Before beginning cleaning of floors, determine the type of tile used, and the type of polishing system used to maintain the existing finish. Identify whether the finish is a non-buffable polish, water emulsion polish, emulsion paste polish or a solvent-base polish.


  1. Protection: Furniture should be moved and protected as required. Do not use coverings which Surface Preparation: The floor should first be dry mopped or vacuumed thoroughly before cleaning.


  1. Dry Cleaning: Dry cleaning should be done daily. Dry cleaning methods may be used on all tile types to which this procedure applies.
    1. Sweep floor with a treated dust mop (coated floors only), or vacuum.
    2. NOTE: Treated mops should not be used on marble, terrazzo, fabric or fiber mats as they may cause discoloration of the material, so be careful if these materials are used on nearby surfaces, either as a floor material or wall covering.
      1. Cleaning should be planned to require as few steps as possible. If the area to be swept is less than 8' wide, push the mop in parallel paths the full length of the room, stopping only to use a radiator brush or putty knife.
      2. When the space to be cleaned is wider than 8', swing the mop in an arc taking in an area as wide as comfortable for the arm reach of the operator. The mop should be lifted from the floor only to transfer the accumulated dust to a dust pile.
  2. Damp Mopping: Damp mopping may be used to clean spillages and accidents on floors finished with a buffable water emulsion polish or a solvent-base polish.
    1. Wet string mop with clean water only, no detergent. Wring nearly dry.
    2. Start mopping by drawing the mop close to but not touching, the baseboard. Work back parallel to the baseboard using long continuous side to side strokes and keeping the mop heel on the floor and the strands spread. The mop should be turned after each four strokes.
    3. Rinse after eight strokes, changing the water when you can no longer see the bottom of the pail.
    4. Do not touch the baseboard, furniture or rugs with the mop. Work around furniture legs and in room corners by holding the mop strings in the hand.
    5. If clear water damp mopping does not satisfactorily remove dirt embedded in the finish, consider damp mopping with a neutral detergent and warm water followed by a clear water rinse. This is a three phase operation.
      1. Apply cleaning solution with a slightly wet mop.
      2. Rinse mop in clean, clear water and pick up dirty cleaning solution with slightly wet mop.
      3. Dry floor by wiping with the mop wrung as dry as possible.
    6. Buff finish as directed below under Polishing:
  3. Wet Mopping/Scrubbing:
    1. NOTE: Wet mopping is not generally recommended for tile floors because the large amounts of water and cleaning solution required can seep through the seams between the tiles and loosen the adhesive.
    2. CAUTION: The surface of linoleum and asphalt tile, and to a lesser degree, vinyl-asbestos tiles, is especially vulnerable to deterioration by absorption of moisture. Wet-mop only as necessary to remove stubborn dirt or to strip old finish from non-buffable or water emulsion buffable polishes. Do not allow solution to soak floor any longer than necessary.
    3. CAUTION: Do not use harsh soaps, ammonia or alkaline products such as soda or borax on linoleum. These will oxidize the oil in the floor material and cause it to deteriorate.
    4. Make up a cleaning solution using a concentration of detergent as recommended by the manufacturer.
    5. Wet string mop with cleaning solution and lightly press out excess solution, retaining as much solution as the mop will hold without dripping a stream.
    6. Mop an area about ten feet square. Allow to soak for a two to three minutes if stripping Rub the mop back and forth as necessary to loosen the dirt, or scrub with a power floor machine and scrub brushes or nylon web disks.
    7. Use a squeegee and/or rags to take up dirty cleaning solution. Change solution as it becomes dirty.
    8. Rinse area immediately with clean, clear water using a clean, damp (not wet) mop. Dunk rinsing mop often and change rinse water as it begins to get dirty.
    9. Continue cleaning as above, approximately ten square feet at a time, until the entire floor is clean.
    10. Apply appropriate polish and buff as directed below.
  4. Polishing:
    1. NOTE: Do not use penetrating sealer on any of these tile types which are in good condition. Badly worn asphalt, linoleum or vinyl-asbestos tile only may be sealed with a penetrating sealer to extend serviceability.
    2. After dry or damp mop cleaning, if finish is still dull, apply a single, light top coat of acceptable polish as directed by manufacturer. Use one of the following
      1. Non-buffable wax: May be used on asphalt, linoleum, rubber, vinyl-asbestos and vinyl tile.
      2. Buffable, water emulsion wax: May be used on asphalt, linoleum, rubber, vinyl-asbestos and vinyl tile.
        1. After weekly damp mopping, machine buff to achieve desired gloss.
        2. Patch high traffic areas with a light coat of wax, followed by machine buffing.
        3. To strip, use wax remover as recommended by wax manufacturer.
      3. Emulsion paste wax: May be used on linoleum vinyl-asbestos and vinyl tile.
        NOTE: Do not use on rubber tile floors as the solvent will soften the rubber.
        1. Place a small amount of paste wax on a clean cloth. Wipe it over the floor leaving a thin and even coating. It is not necessary to go right to the baseboards because the buffing operation will spread the wax to the edges of the room in every place except the inside corners. Wax may also be applied with power buffer.
        2. Power buff using clean pads to achieve desired gloss.
        3. After polishing, sweep the floor to pick up stray wax grains that are loose on the floor.
        4. Wash all equipment before the wax hardens.
        5. Reapply thin coats as necessary in high traffic areas, buffing after each coat.
        6. Paste waxed floors are stripped with a coarse cloth saturated in turpentine or mineral spirits and hard rubbing with a piece of 000 steel wool or 000 steel wool pads and a power buffer. Change cloths and steel wool when they are clogged with old wax. Work in a well ventilated room.
        7. CAUTION: Observe safety rules as both the turpentine and the wax are flammable, and the fumes can trip an ionization smoke detection system. The soiled cloths must be stored in a metal safety container to guard against spontaneous combustion.
      4. Liquid solvent wax: May be used on linoleum tile.
        1. NOTE: Do not use on rubber tile floors as the solvent will soften the rubber.
        2. Apply thin coat of wax with a soft cloth. Allow to soak two to three minutes. Wipe up with same cloth while still wet.
        3. Allow to dry for fifteen to twenty-five minutes. Buff with power buffer.
        4. For spot cleaning or wax removal, apply a heavy coat of wax and allow it to soak two to three minutes. Rub with 000 steel wool and wipe up excess.
        5. Allow to dry and buff as for paste wax above.
        6. For heavy traffic areas recoat and buff as required.
        7. For badly worn areas of rubber or vinyl tile, polish with 000 steel wool, vacuum, and polish again with 000 steel wool.
        8. To restoring the finish of old linoleum, saturate a clean cloth with boiled linseed oil and wipe a thin layer onto the surface. Allow to penetrate the surface for at least several hours.