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How to Use a Floor Burnisher

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There is more to maintaining vinyl composite tile, also known as VCT, than the yearly stripping and waxing. Facility managers like to see a high-gloss shine with no scuff marks. To achieve this, plan on using a floor burnisher to quickly and easily bring clean and polish the floor. A floor burnisher scrapes away scuff marks, dirt and a micro-thin layer of floor finish, leaving in its wake a smooth, high-gloss floor. Make certain the existing floor finish is designed to be burnished. Some floor finishes are designed only to be buffed by low-speed machines. How often depends on the amount of traffic the floor gets: Supermarkets should be done nightly, whereas an out-of-the-way hospital corridor can get by with once per week.

Dust mop the floor space to remove all loose dirt and debris, which can damage the floor if lodged under the spinning burnisher. Remove stuck-on debris, such as gum, before burnishing. If left on the floor, it can damage the burnishing pad. Plug the machine in an outlet away from where you will be working to avoid the cord bunching up.

Attach the appropriate burnishing pad for your floor. Check with the pad manufacturer to make sure that the pad you are using is safe for burnishing. If the pad is too aggressive, it will damage the floor when the burnisher is started. For instance, offers The Cure Super Soft floor pad for burnishing fresh floor finish or floors that are uneven, whereas the Blue Ace floor pad is for floors that are frequently burnished.

Start the machine by squeezing the handlebar grips. When the machine starts, do not attempt to “pull” it to one side or the other. A simple up and down motion is all that is needed. Lifting the handlebars will cause the machine to move to the right; conversely, lowering the handlebars will cause the machine to move to the left. A subtle, gentle motion is all that is needed. To make the machine move forward or backward, maintain the handlebar at a constant level to keep the machine stationary; then walk forward or backward. With a little practice, you will be able to control the machine to stop on a dime before zipping across the room to buff away an ugly scuff mark.

Move the machine forward by walking straight; turn around and walk back, overlapping the first path. While high-speed machines do not need to be “swung” from left to right, it is a good idea to burnish an area at the top and bottom of your path with a left to right motion. This gives you an area to turn the machine around with out staying in one area too long, which can damage the floor.


Place caution signs to block off the area while the burnishing machine is in operation. Dust mop the area after burnishing, as the process often leaves a light dust residue.


Do not allow the machine to remain stationary too long while the pad is spinning, as this may damage the floor.