Ask the Building Maintenance Experts
Solutions for Your Toughest Problems

ICAN  Q & A  Home

Sunday, November 29, 2015


We have tile floors throughout the building where I work and the floors are looking awful in the halls, where much traffic occurs, as well as under lunch tables where the tile is mopped numerous times daily.We have it on our weekly/monthly nightly cleaning that the floors are to be buffed once a month, but I have been informed that this should occur weekly (yes/no?). I have questions about the difference between burnishing and buffing; I honestly know nothing about either. We have approximately 80 families that enter our building and 80 children in the building 5 days a week. What should our monthly floor cleaning be like? Buffing or burnishing and how often?


Based on your description and estimated traffic, it would be unlikely that a reasonable shine and uniform appearance would last longer than two weeks. Weekly burnishing would be ideal; but if the budget prohibits, then twice a month would be a major improvement.
There are a few things that will prolong floor appearances such as: adequate entry matting (a minimum of 5 feet, or 12-15 feet if possible) that is vacuumed daily, thorough dust mopping once a day or more often, and using a mild detergent or disinfectant accurately diluted that does not soften the floor finish.
You mentioned challenges under the tables. Have you considered protective nylon or felt chair and table leg tips?
Buffing is generally achieved by using a standard speed 175-300 rpm floor machine and a white or red pad. The normal gloss level that is achievable is perhaps an 80%. Burnishing requires a high speed machine (normally 1200 rpm +) and a burnishing pad such as beige, gray, or hair impregnated. The shine or gloss level should result in an ultra high shine with the proper floor finish, assuming sufficient coats of finish remain on the floor (normally 4-5). Burnishing produces a slight temperature rise which is believed to harden the floor finish, making it more durable and able to hold the shine longer.
However, burnishing is not an end-all. Once the gloss begins to degrade, a thorough scrub and re-coat will be necessary. It would be common for a building of your description for this to be required 2-4 times a year. Normally two coats of floor finish must be applied after the deep scrub. The cleaner used should be a typical floor cleaner and not a floor finish stripper. The goal is apply finish away from the edges where no traffic has occurred, so a resulting edge buildup is curtailed.

Gary Clipperton
National Pro Clean
(719) 598-5112