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Floor Buffer vs. Floor Burnisher: How To Choose


Updated August 2, 2023


When it comes to floor maintenance, having the right equipment can make all the difference. Two popular options for achieving a polished and clean floor are floor buffers and floor burnishers.

While they may sound similar, these two tools have distinct features that cater to different needs. In this article, we'll delve into the world of floor care and explore the differences between floor buffers and floor burnishers. By the end, you'll have a clear understanding of each tool's advantages and be well-equipped to make an informed decision.

Which one should you go for? Let's break it down and compare the two options side by side.


1. Purpose and Function

When it comes to their primary function, floor buffers and floor burnishers have distinct purposes.

A floor buffer, also known as a rotary floor machine, is designed to scrub, clean, and polish various types of hard floors. It uses a rotating pad or brush to remove dirt, stains, and scuff marks from the floor surface. Floor buffers are great for routine maintenance and deep cleaning, leaving your floors looking shiny and rejuvenated.

On the other hand, floor burnishers are specifically designed to enhance the shine and appearance of already clean floors. They use high-speed rotations to create friction, which generates heat and brings out the floor's natural gloss. Floor burnishers are commonly used on hard floors, such as vinyl, marble, and concrete, to give them that extra sparkle.

2. Speed and Performance

When it comes to speed and performance, floor buffers and floor burnishers operate at different levels.

Floor buffers typically operate at lower speeds, usually ranging from 175 to 350 revolutions per minute (RPM). This slower speed allows them to effectively remove dirt and grime from the floor surface. They are ideal for heavy-duty cleaning tasks and can tackle stubborn stains with ease.

In contrast, floor burnishers are high-speed machines that can operate at speeds of 1,500 RPM or more. The higher speed enables them to create the desired glossy finish on clean floors. Floor burnishers are commonly used in commercial settings where maintaining a high level of shine is crucial.


3. Floor Types

The type of floor you have plays a significant role in determining whether a floor buffer or a floor burnisher is the right choice.

Floor buffers are versatile and can be used on a wide range of flooring materials, including hardwood, tile, laminate, and vinyl. They are also suitable for different floor conditions, such as scuffed, stained, or worn surfaces. Floor buffers are particularly useful when it comes to restoring shine to dull or damaged floors.

Floor burnishers are primarily used on floors that are already clean and in good condition. They work best on hard surfaces like marble, terrazzo, or concrete, where they can bring out the natural shine. It's important to note that using a floor burnisher on a dirty or uneven floor may result in suboptimal performance and could even cause damage.

4. Maintenance Requirements

Keeping your floor maintenance tools in good working condition is essential for extending their lifespan and ensuring optimal performance. Let's take a look at the maintenance requirements for floor buffers and floor burnishers.

Floor buffers generally require more maintenance compared to floor burnishers. Since they are used for heavy-duty cleaning tasks, the pads or brushes on the buffer may wear out more quickly and need regular replacement.

Additionally, the motor and other mechanical components of the floor buffer should be inspected and lubricated periodically to ensure smooth operation.

Floor burnishers typically have lower maintenance needs. Since they are used on clean floors for polishing purposes, the pads or burnishing pads tend to have a longer lifespan.

However, it's still important to regularly clean and inspect the burnishing pads for any debris or wear. Additionally, like floor buffers, the motor and other mechanical parts should be checked for proper functioning.

5. Size and Maneuverability

The size and maneuverability of floor buffers and floor burnishers can significantly impact their usability and effectiveness in different spaces.

Floor buffers are generally larger and heavier machines compared to floor burnishers. They require more physical effort to operate and maneuver. While this might make them more suitable for larger areas where efficiency is key, it can be challenging to navigate tight corners or smaller rooms with a floor buffer.

Floor burnishers are usually more compact and lightweight, allowing for easier maneuverability. Their smaller size makes them well-suited for smaller spaces or areas with obstacles. Whether you're working in a crowded retail store or a narrow hallway, a floor burnisher can easily reach corners and edges that may be difficult for a floor buffer to access.

6. Noise Level

Nobody wants their floor maintenance routine to disturb the peace and tranquility of their surroundings. Let's take a moment to compare the noise levels of floor buffers and floor burnishers.

Floor buffers tend to generate more noise due to their higher power and larger size. The rotating pads or brushes, coupled with the motor's operation, can create a significant amount of noise.

While it may not be a concern in industrial or commercial settings, it's worth considering if you plan to use the floor buffer in a residential or noise-sensitive environment.

Floor burnishers, being smaller and operating at higher speeds, generally produce less noise compared to floor buffers. This makes them a more favorable option for environments where noise reduction is important, such as hospitals, schools, or office buildings.


Frequently Asked Questions


Can I use a floor buffer instead of a floor burnisher?

While floor buffers can achieve a certain level of shine, they may not provide the same high-gloss finish as a floor burnisher. If you prioritize a sparkling appearance, a floor burnisher is the better choice. The right floor pad plays a significant role in achieving the desired results.




Are floor buffers suitable for all floor types?

Floor buffers are versatile and can be used on various flooring materials, but it's essential to check the manufacturer's guidelines to ensure compatibility with your specific floor type.

A floor pad on hard floor surfaces like stone or concrete may leave scratches if it's too abrasive, so always use the softest pad possible.




How often should I use a floor burnisher?

The frequency of using floor machines like a floor burnisher depends on the level of foot traffic and your desired level of shine. Generally, it's recommended to use a floor burnisher every few weeks or as needed to maintain the desired gloss.

Depending on floor maintenance procedures, it is possible to use a burnisher more often. However, keep in mind that too frequent use can damage the flooring.


Can I rent floor buffers or floor burnishers?

Yes, many equipment rental companies offer floor buffers and floor burnishers for short-term use. Renting can be a cost-effective solution, especially for occasional floor maintenance. A swing machine is another popular floor machine available for rent.


Can floor buffers or floor burnishers cause damage to my floors?

When used correctly and following the manufacturer's instructions, floor buffers, and floor burnishers should not cause damage to your floors. However, it's crucial to use the appropriate pads or burnishing pads for your floor type and ensure that the machine is in good working condition. Using excessive pressure or incorrect techniques can potentially lead to scratches or other damage.


Do I need any special training to operate a floor buffer or a floor burnisher?

While operating a floor buffer or a floor burnisher does not require extensive training, it's recommended to familiarize yourself with the machine's controls and safety guidelines. Taking a brief training session or reading the user manual can help you understand proper usage and safety precautions.

A floor buffing machine or floor burnisher can be a great addition to your floor maintenance program. After considering the various factors, such as size, speed, and noise level, you can make an informed decision about which machine is most appropriate for your needs.


Choosing between a floor buffer and a floor burnisher depends on your specific floor maintenance needs. If you're looking for a versatile tool that can handle deep cleaning and restoring the shine to various floor types, a floor buffer is an excellent choice. On the other hand, if you have clean floors and desire that high-gloss, professional finish, a floor burnisher is the way to go.

Remember to consider factors such as the floor type, desired level of shine, size of the area, and noise requirements when making your decision. Additionally, regular maintenance and proper usage will ensure the longevity and effectiveness of your chosen tool.

Don't compromise on quality when it comes to floor maintenance.

When it comes to floor maintenance, Mastercraft has got you covered. As a leading provider of high-quality floor care equipment, Mastercraft offers a range of floor buffers and floor burnishers designed to meet your specific needs. Whether you're a professional cleaner or a homeowner looking to revitalize your floors, Mastercraft has the tools to help you achieve outstanding results.

So, don't hesitate! Choose Mastercraft for all your floor maintenance needs. Experience the difference and let your floors shine like never before.