There are many different types of floor cleaning machines available, but which one is right for your business? We take an in-depth look into the various machines and their benefits. Each has its own pros and cons and which style you purchase will depend on the type of job at hand, as well as the layout and type of premises you’ll be carrying out the cleaning in.
Some of the key features you’ll be looking for are capacity, weight, RPM (rotations per minute), ease of use, cleaning solution tanks (or just water) and any optional extras and accessories.
These are designed for the specific tasks for which they are named. They are lightweight units similar in style to upright vacuum cleaners and work by means of a rotating disk with padding that buffs the floor as you push the unit. These are ideally suited for the maintenance of areas with high shine flooring and are of particular benefit in public areas such as entranceways and receptions.
Many models will buff and polish as standard but also have the option of fitting a scrubbing brush to the disc for extra dirt and stain removal. They can be fitted with a water tank that allows for scrubbing with a diluted cleaning solution.
They have no system for collecting dirty water as you clean – this is a basic unit for a specific purpose and wouldn’t usually be suitable for very dirty flooring.
Scrubbers and floor polisher machines come in a variety of speeds – slower RPMs are useful for scrubbing, while faster RPM is most suitable for floor buffing and polishing, so choose carefully to ensure the machine is up to the task. If you’ll be carrying out a variety of duties, you should look for models that allow you to switch to lower RPMs for scrubbing.
Scrubber/polishers are lightweight and easily manoeuvrable, which makes them suitable for use by most individuals. They also have simple to use control systems and, because they are lightweight, are easier to store than larger machines. However, they have smaller head units than other machines so may not be suited to buffing and polishing large areas.
Upright floorcare machines
These look similar to scrubber/polishers in that they are upright cleaning machines. However, although lighter than industrial machines, they are heavier than scrubber/polishers and are usually suited to a wider variety of uses.
They are more durable and longer lasting than scrubber/polishers too and so are more suited to continuous use. These styles offer a wide array of removable discs for a variety of uses. Some models will allow for attachments to carry out ‘scarifying’, which is an aggressive way of removing impacted dirt using sharp edges to remove dirt and soil by means of a chiselling action. You can also replace the disc with polyscrub (a durable, resilient material), nyloscrub (suitable for delicate surfaces such as wood) or union mix brushes (natural fibre and ideal for stone, marble, tile and hardwood floors).
They also come with a large tank for spray buffing or scrubbing as standard and some models can be retrofitted with additional vacuum units that allow operatives to vacuum while they polish, lifting up debris as they work.
Discs and heads on these machines are large, meaning they can cover larger areas in a shorter time but latest models are also lightweight so you don’t sacrifice manoeuvrability.
RPMs can be easily adjusted for a variety of tasks including polishing and scrubbing. Some newer models incorporate a feature called ATC (Automatic Torque Control) which will continuously monitor the operational load and boost torque as needed to automatically balance performance.
For industrial and heavy-duty cleaning, there’s also the choice of floor scrubbers and dryers. These heavyweight machines usually have a large, stainless steel chassis with high capacity fluid tanks. They are powerful, with larger motors than the other styles of floorcare machines but are also easy to manoeuvre, although their bulk may make them unsuitable for narrow spaces.
These machines offer full wet cleaning and scrubbing, with semi-parabolic floor nozzles that deliver water or cleaning product directly to the floor where the disc will scrub and polish. Powerful vacuums have incredible wet pick-up capabilities meaning the floor is basically completely dried as you pass over it. This makes them useful for areas where you need as little downtime as possible.
Scrubber/dryers range in size/capacity and as those increase, the disc heads have a greater surface area too. Top-end models have massive 60-litre tanks and wide scrubbing heads, meaning they cover a large area in a very efficient time and can handle very dirty or stained flooring without emptying and refilling the tank.
You also have a choice between mains-operated or battery-powered machines depending on your requirements. Battery-operated models need to be charged overnight and batteries usually roughly have a 2-year lifespan before needing to be replaced, but the ability to dispense with cords may suit the area you’re working in.
Ride on machines
The absolute upper end of floorcare machines is the ride on machine. With a built-in seat and steering wheel, these are used for very large industrial areas where it would be impractical to expect an operator to manually push a machine around.
Due to their massive motors, they can get through large areas quickly and they also put full control of the machine in the hands of the operator – all settings including cleaning speeds, brush speeds, water flow and the chemical mix can be controlled by the driver.
You can also programme presets which allow different settings to be stored in memory and recalled at the push of a button. A host of RPM settings and replaceable brush heads as well as a massive 120l capacity tank and the option to store additional battery packs on board means these machines are suited to very large industrial areas including factories, laboratories, warehouses and more.
Be absolutely sure you need this kind of heavy-duty operation though, as ride-on machines can cost as much as 10 times the average scrubber/dryer and, because they are more complex machines, will require a lot more maintenance. Make sure you ask about servicing and aftercare packages for all machines, but particularly these.
Consideration when purchasing a floorcare machine
Consider the type of flooring you have. Each kind of floor will require different brush heads. Machines or brushes designed to clean concrete will be too abrasive for other materials and will damage your flooring.
Disc-attachment style machines are usually better for vinyl or laminated wood flooring.
Think about the traffic in the area you are cleaning – premises with high traffic will probably need chemical cleaning as opposed to just water, and this will be particularly so in areas with construction or outdoor work, as dirt will be regularly tracked in.
Some machines will only allow you to use water while others will have the option of chemical mixes, so be sure to check this before you buy.
It’s worth noting that scrubbers are usually easy to handle, machines that buff and polish can be tricky to control. The best model for the job should allow you to manoeuvre the machine with only a firm grip on the handle.
Areas with high traffic will also require a machine that doesn’t leave you with long drying times. In that case, your choice will be a machine that doesn’t use water or products (and sacrifice overall cleanliness) or opting for the more expensive scrubber/dryer, which will get through the area quicker and dry the floor as it goes.
The size of the area is a consideration too – cheaper machines will have smaller discs, meaning that it will take longer to get through areas. This may be ideal for some smaller office spaces or cramped working. However, for large areas, particularly retail or warehousing, it will be completely impractical to use these machines. Opt instead for a model with a wide disc and a more powerful motor – operatives will cover larger areas faster.
Hopefully the information above has helped in your choosing of a floor cleaning machine. If you still require more assistance on choosing the right model, speak to one of our team members, who can provide further guidance on purchasing the correct type for your needs.