Buffing vs. Polishing for Commercial Floors

The Differences Between Polishing and Buffing a Floor… and When to Do Which

As a new business or office, you may be wondering about how you should go about cleaning your floors. In large spaces with many employees and customers or clients walking through, it might be needing a good sprucing up soon. We can help with that here at Mayfair Building Services.floor polishing vs buffing a floor

After cleaning your floors, it’s important to give them a good buffing or polishing at least once a month to keep them looking fresh. But what do these mean, and which method should you use? While either buffing or polishing will get the job done, there are clear differences between the two.

What is Floor Buffing?

Sometimes known as spray buffing, buffing uses a buffing machine that contains rotating pads, requiring it to move at a slower pace. Using a spray bottle, you spray the floor with a special solution that will fill in any nicks or cracks in the floor and get rid of smudges. Essentially, you are “buffing in” the solution and creating a nice, new shine.

Floor buffers usually come supplied with buffer pads that are specifically designed to take out any scuffs and other kinds of dirt or various markings. This helps to keep the floors looking their best and maintaining their sheen.

While spray buffing is the most commonly used method, there is also such a thing as dry buffing. Used with machines over 1000 RPM, dry buffing uses the mechanical action of the high speed to smooth the finish and remove marks without using any spray. You can also use this method after you’ve already buffed the floor once or twice with the spray solution. This way you can eliminate any excess spray that might’ve been left, which can leave the floor feeling tacky.

With both spray and dry buffing, the key is to move gently back and forth in a pendulum motion, lingering on scuff marks a bit longer. Make sure not to move the machine too quickly, as you want to allow enough time for proper buffing.

While cleaning should still be done beforehand, buffing is a great way to both clean and polish your floors simultaneously, as the machine contains cleansing bristles in the back. You can think of buffing as a sort of “exfoliation” for your floors.

What Does Floor Polishing Do?

Polishing, or burnishing, is similar to buffing, but not quite as commonly used in commercial cleaning. A polishing machine operates at a much faster pace than a buffing machine. With polishing, you’re basically taking off the top layer of the floor to create an even surface and bring back its glassy shine. 

Just like a buffer, a floor polisher creates a smooth surface on the floor that makes it look cleaner and brand new. But with polishing, the quality of the floor material might actually change a bit more, as an extra substance is added on top to protect it. Polishing tends to give more of that glossy, wet look, so at times, polishing is done after buffing to achieve more of that effect.

It’s also extra important that you prep and do a total clean—dust mop or sweep and then wet mop—before polishing your floor.

Which is better – Polishing a Floor or Buffing a Floor?

Either polishing or buffing is a great way to clean your commercial floors and keep them in top shape. They can even be used interchangeably, as well. On a larger industrial scale, both can get rid of chips and other imperfections, and both require specialized machines and care – particularly on floors with delicate material.

With that being said, polishing uses a heavier process to clear away the bumps and chips. Therefore, if you find that your floors just need a little touch up on some scuffs, buffing might be your best option. It can also depend on the type of flooring you have. Wood or laminate floors can be easily polished, while concrete floors are best cleaned with a concrete floor buffer and a concrete sealer to help improve their lifetime.

However, if you are still unsure which method is best, it’s always better to consult a commercial cleaning professional first so that your floors can last for their optimal time and don’t get accidentally damaged in any way.

If you are looking for a one-time, daily, weekly or monthly clean for your floors or anything else, look no further than our team at Mayfair Building Services. We offer expert janitorial services and eco-friendly cleaning solutions to keep your workplace both squeaky clean and environmentally conscious. Our whole crew is not only trained, certified and specialized in a wide variety of cleaning techniques, but also bonded and insured as well.

If you’re in the greater Vancouver area and need a floor or carpet clean or an all-over deep clean, we can help! Contact us at Mayfair Building Services today to get started and talk with one of our friendly and knowledgeable staff members.