Janitorial Programs & Solutions

High Speed Burnishing VS. Low Speed Buffing

16 March 2017

BurnishingFloor care professionals are often judging their floors by the amount of “shine”. The amount of gloss on the floor is often a subjective measurement of how clean and how well the floor is being maintained. Why does the floor shine? Gloss is merely an optical illusion produced by light reflecting off of the solids on the floor finish. This is why higher solid percentages will yield higher gloss levels.

However, solid counts are not the only factor that contribute to gloss.

No matter which floor finish you use, regular maintenance is required to keep up the gloss level. This is because over time, as people walk on the floor, the floor’s smoothness wears out and the peaks and valleys arrive.

Peaks & Valleys

In order to smooth the peaks and valleys out, we need to choose one of two methods – burnishing OR buffing. The main difference between the two is speed. Buffing is a low speed process (175rpm – 350rpm) whereas burnishing is a high speed process (1200rpm – 3500rpm). Buffing requires the use of a spray buff liquid and a soft white pad. The user will spray the buffing solution onto the floor, and “buff” it in until they cannot see it any longer. When we buff, we are adding polymer (solids in floor finish) to the floor in an effort to raise the valleys and shorten the peaks. The pros to buffing are instant gratification. We can immediately see the gloss level increase. The cons are twofold. One, we need to use more chemical (spray buff solution). Two, it takes longer.

Burnishing, on the other hand, has gained in popularity over the past 10-15 years mainly because of it’s lower cost, and less chemical use. When we burnish, we are sanding (for lack of a better term) the peaks down by using ultra high speed machines and pads. This process can be done with no chemicals at all. Many of the burnishers today have dust collection technology to save time and money.

Verdict: Burnishing increases the life and appearance of the floor as well as costs less.

Next: Floor Finish: Hard vs Soft

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