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Floor Machine Pads 101

June 26, 2020 12:15 PM by Tennant Company

Posted in Cleaning Solutions Productivity Cleaning Challenges

colorful floor pads

Don’t walk all over your floors by treating them with the disrespect of using the wrong floor pad on them.

Let’s take a few moments for Floor Pads 101 — a breakdown and recap of some things you might know, but are good to be reminded of, when you are choosing floor pads.

Lesson #1: Think about the floor.

This one seems obvious, but this is Floor Machine Pads 101, after all. You should think about the floor that you’re about to work on when determining which floor pad you’re going to use. Are you looking to remove some of the wax? Strip all of the wax? Or are you just trying to take some of the dirt off?

Those questions are the perfect place to start. After you have answers to them, you’ll know if you’re looking for a pad that is designed for cleaning, scrubbing, stripping or buffing/polishing.

Chances are you already know the answer to those questions, but when you get caught up in just making sure that you get a job done, you can sometimes lose track of if you’re completing that job in the right way.



Lesson #2: Don’t just pick your favorite color.

When we told you we were living in the future of cleaning technology, we meant it. And one of the reasons is that products have gotten incredibly specialized thanks to advancements in technology. For floor pads, that means products that are expertly crafted for one specific task, whether cleaning, scrubbing, stripping or buffing/polishing  … we could go on, but we won’t.

Not only are pads specialized in these tasks, but they’re generally color-coded for which task they complete, across manufacturer. That means if you see a red floor pad, it’s generally designed for everyday cleaning and scrubbing to remove light soil and scuff marks with minimal impact to finish. Black and brown pads, on the other hand, are usually more aggressive and designed for heavy-duty scrubbing and buildup removal.

That’s why some people say the darker the pad, the more aggressive the impact on the floor will be. Everyday cleaning may call for the use of a less aggressive pad made of natural or synthetic fibers — red pads are usually polyester — while stripping may call for a darker color made with a coarser material. This guide can help you navigate the color code.

Lesson #3: Think about the machine.

Two common floor cleaning machines — floor machines/buffers and burnishers — appear alike. But their differences are important, and among the most important are the tasks they are designed for and the floor pads you use to complete them.

Floor machines are primarily designed for stripping and scrubbing hard floors to maintain the floor’s appearance. They’re also known as swing machines or side-by-sides because to scrub the floor, the operator swings the machine from side to side.

Cleaning, scrubbing, and stripping all call for floor machines, which generally operate at lower RPM than burnishers. And the floor pads you use with buffers are crafted to work perfectly at those RPM levels, which means you want to make sure you’re using the right machine with the right pads.

various floor pads used on floor machines, buffers and burnishers

Lesson #4: Pad life.

Hashtags aren’t really a big thing around here, but we feel like this is an important one to keep in mind: #PadLife. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that you should absolutely be concerned about the life of your floor pads. Even in the best of conditions with the most efficient and cautious use, floor buffer pads get beat up. They get worn. They get gummed up.

The great news is, there’s a whole other side to them. Literally. Just flip them over and it’s like you get two for the price of one. Floor pad life can be extended by making sure you’re aware of how the pad is wearing, and flipping it when it needs to be flipped.

Using pads only for their intended purpose will also extend pad life. Think about red pad — generally these are use on normally soiled floors. If you were to scrub a heavily soiled floor with a with a red pad, you could take a big chunk off its life.  You’d need a more aggressive pad to match the heavily soiled floor conditions.

One last point about pad life: Each of these lessons can help you extend not only pad life, but floor life. The cost of pads could be minuscule next to the money you save by keeping your floors clean and extending their life.

Connecting the right machine, the right surface, and the right pad can help create a clean, safe environment. Factor in that it can also save you and your team from hours of unnecessary cleaning and waxing, and you can see how choosing the right floor pad isn’t just a smart decision — it’s the only decision.


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