Burnishing Floors

I just finished a training session on burnishing floors and was surprised to see that most employees do not realize why they perform this task or what the difference is between buffing and burnishing. Even though both terms are sometimes used for the same process, there is a significant difference. While buffing is both the polishing and residual cleaning of the floor with a slower speed machine and a spray chemical, burnishing refers only to the polishing at higher speeds to create the maximum shine.

Most of the employees did feel they burnish to make the floors look shiny, but they don’t really understand what happens to the floor without this preventive maintenance.

  • More money will be spent on scrubbing, stripping and refinishing.
  • Floor finish will wear out a lot faster no matter how many coats of finish you have on it.
  • Appearance will suffer.
  • It makes your floors easier to keep clean because it smoothes out the scratches that catch the dirt. Once dirt settles in these scratches, it becomes more difficult for regular cleaning.

Burnishing is a very important process in floor care and it is important to do it properly.

Here are the proper steps to follow:

  1. Place your wet floor signs out.
  2. Dust mop the area you will be burnishing.
  3. Using a mop bucket, dilute your restorer according to the label instructions.
  4. Use a putty knife to remove any gum on the floor.
  5. Mop your restorer on the floor staying away from your baseboards about 1-2 inches. Some restorers may not be a cleaner and require you to mop first with a neutral cleaner. Also you may use the restorer in your automatic scrubber rather than a mop bucket.
  6. Choose the correct pad for your battery operated walk behind burnisher or your electric cord burnisher. (I recommend a walk behind for corridors. You cover more area and do not have to worry about the cord being in the way or becoming a safety hazard).
  7. Your pad choice is very important. You want to make sure you are utilizing a white, pink, beige, tan or hogs hair pad for high speed burnishing. Darker colored pads such as green, brown or black will damage your floors on this machine.
  8. Move up and down your corridor overlapping your previous pass by about 4-6 inches. This will ensure you cover the entire floor.
  9. After you complete your corridor, it is time to dust mop again, as burnishing creates powder that will spread along the floor. 
  10. Remove your wet floor caution signs from the work area.
  11. Remove your burnishing pad and begin the cleanup of your floor machine. 

Jim is the Project Manager for the Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center. Jim is responsible for training and sales of the GTC Product Line and is also the content manager for the Centers website. He has been with the Center since 2003 and has successfully implemented GTC in hundreds of businesses, schools and hospitals throughout the East coast. Prior to joining the Centers team, Jim was an Environmental Services Manager and Director for over 20 years at Holy Name, Overlook Hospital and Hackensack University Medical Center.

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