A.Michael Purser, a second-generation wood-flooring contractor in Atlanta, responds: There are a lot of reasons a floor finish might not bond during a recoat. But based on your comments about the carpeting and your description of the area where the delaminating of the coating is occurring (in high-traffic regions), I am willing to put good money on the likelihood that some type of contaminant — probably paste or acrylic wax — was on the floor. This would have been a natural alternative for the previous owner to have chosen for a high-traffic area to restore the luster before giving up and going to carpeting. The reason the finish you applied is delaminating now is that it cannot properly bond to the old finish.
Unfortunately, waxes of any type are very difficult to detect without some knowledge of what to look for or how to test for their presence. For example, rubbing a cloth dampened with mineral spirits onto a section of flooring is one method I use to find paste wax. To find acrylic waxes, I'll use either alcohol or a mild ammonia solution, both of...
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