Floor polishing made easy

1st of June 2021
Floor polishing made easy
Floor polishing made easy

Does the task of floor polishing necessarily need to be a complex and time-consuming one? Ann Laffeaty talks to manufacturers about the difficulties involved in polishing a floor – and finds out about the equipment that that can help to ease the burden.

Floor polishing comes with plenty of caveats from the experts. If you make a mistake you may find yourself having to start all over again. If you use the wrong method you will run the risk of damaging the floor. And if you polish too infrequently the floor will begin to look so unsightly that it may be past saving.

But does it have to be this way? Can a hard floor surface be successfully polished both quickly and easily – and by an operative who has had little or no previous floor polishing experience?
Unfortunately the answer is generally no, according to IPC’s floorcare product manager Paolo Bassanini. “Floor polishing requires time, methodology and professionalism – plus a certain level of expertise,” he said. “And there is such a wide range of manual equipment, mechanical floor polishers and floor cleaning products available on the market that you need to choose carefully, otherwise you may end up with an unsatisfactory result or by damaging the floor.”

A regular maintenance regime will help to reduce polishing time while also improving the result, he adds.

Condition of floor

“The condition of the floor will determine the most effective method to use - whether manual or mechanical -  as well as how intensive the floor polishing task will need to be,” he says.

A machine will produce the best results, according to Bassanini. IPC offers a range of single disc floor polishing machines operating at either high or low speeds as well as a choice of accessories and pads for use on hard, resilient, sanded and parquet floors. IPC machines are said to feature ergonomic handles to make them easy to manoeuvre even in furnished environments, while particular attention has been given to weight distribution and vibration dampening for enhanced operator comfort, according to Bassanini.

The complexity of the polishing task also heavily depends on the location of the floor in question, he says. “Let’s take for example the floors of a school, office, restaurant or community area,” he said. “These types of floors experience a high level of traffic which means they will become dirty, grimy and dull over time - even if they have been regularly vacuumed, cleaned and mopped.

“Instead of replacing the floor, what is needed here is a complete professional cleaning and polishing job that will ensure the removal of dirt, scuff marks and all signs of wear.”

Kärcher’s floorcare product manager Christian Mrowka agrees that floor polishing tends to be a time-consuming task – and one that may need to repeated up to six times a year.

“There are many steps involved in achieving a high-gloss shine,” he said. “And it can be very complicated depending on the type of flooring involved, the condition it is in and the polishing method used. The methodology, machine choice, accessories and chemicals will all be determined by the type and condition of the floor.”

According to Mrowka, customers tend to consider factors such as speed and productivity when choosing a floor polishing system. “However, other factors such as user safety, performance and price are also very important,” he adds. “If you rush the polishing process it could permanently damage the floor, or it could produce uneven results which would lead to the need for unnecessary extra work.”

Some customers focus mainly on price, he adds – a policy he deems to be risky. “Lower quality products will be less productive and achieve poorer results,” according to Mrowka.

The Kärcher BDP 50/2000 RS stand-on polishing machine is claimed to offer higher levels of productivity and enhanced comfort in use while the Kärcher BDP 50/1500 C Ep operates at ultra-high speeds of 1500 rpm. This model is said to be easy to manoeuvre due to a central auxiliary impeller, while the  simple controls are claimed to ensure intuitive handling.

Damage potential

According to Mrowka, floors made from stone, marble and granite – particularly those bearing marks or stains - are among the most complex to polish. “These types of surfaces often require special attention,” he said. “A great deal of damage can be incurred if the wrong chemicals are applied to the floor or if the machine is used incorrectly.”

Factors such as stains, marks and dullness can also increase the complexity of the task, he adds. “Operators need to be able to deal with such issues,” he said. “The accurate identification of the stain is key if the operator is going to be able to select the right chemical. All stains have very different characteristics – and an acid-based stain needs to be treated quite differently to a protein-based or solvent stain, for example.”

Anyone taking on the task of floor polishing should be able to correctly identity a floor’s composition and be trained in the safe use of machinery, he says. “They also need comprehensive training in chemical dosing practices,” he said. “And should be taught how they can achieve better results quickly and with reduced effort - while also preventing the floor from remaining out of action for any longer than necessary.”

While technically complex, there is no need for floor polishing to be physically difficult, according to Mrowka. “The latest stripping agents, floor pads, machines and floor finishes are all designed to improve productivity, performance, ergonomics and comfort,” he said. “Selecting the right polishing method, machine, accessories and chemicals will ensure great results along with high productivity and operator comfort. And there’s no need to use a big, heavy machine.”

Good results are achievable with the use of light, ergonomic machines combined with well-chosen accessories and chemicals, he says, adding that the fastest and most ergonomic results will be produced with a polishing machine operating at 1,500 revolutions or more.

The recent increase in labour costs has highlighted the importance of productivity - and there are new products coming out to address this, he says. “New stripping agents, pads, machines and finishes are frequently being launched to improve productivity and reduce the total cost of the floor polishing process,” he said. “These new products are able to achieve faster and more consistent results along with a good quality finish in a shorter timeframe. And they put the focus firmly on ergonomics, productivity and total cost reduction.”

Trained staff

Floor polishing is only difficult and time-consuming when executed with the wrong equipment, according to Filmop’s export area manager Paolo Scapinello. “The use of functional and easy-to-use tools can make a big difference in simplifying the operation,” he said.

According to Scapinello, floor polishing needs to be carried out by trained personnel in order to achieve the best results. However, he claims Filmop’s own polishing systems require little operator training and describes them as intuitive, ergonomic and user-friendly.

Unlike Mrowka he advocates the use of manual equipment. “The use of heavy machinery will potentially lead to fatigue,” he says. “Manual tools, on the other hand, allow polishing to be carried out efficiently and will enable the operator to cover even those hard-to-reach areas that may be missed by machinery.”

Bending and stretching on the part of the operator should not be required when using ergonomic equipment, he says. “In the long term, cleaning operations that include extreme bending, repeated stretching and weight-handling can cause the development of work-related illnesses,” says Scapinello.

So, is there any way to make the task of floor polishing a quicker and easier one? Yes - but only with the right equipment, says Scapinello. “In order to be able to polish quickly and effortlessly, operators need to be supplied with well-designed, user-friendly tools,” he said.

IPC’s Paolo Bassanini believes single disc machines are the answer. “With the movement of the brush or pad these are able to scrub, smooth and polish a floor with a single pass,” he said. “And using a machine can increase the lifespan of your floor while reducing the time spent working on it and achieving a high shine.”

And Kärcher’s Christian Mrowka claims a combination of the right polishing method, machinery, accessories and chemicals is crucial. “Selecting the right machine and accessories will ensure a higher level of productivity, better ergonomics and improved performance,” he said. “And it will also prove more comfortable for the operator and remove the need for a big, heavy machine.”


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