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Choosing Between Burnishers and Buffers

August 14, 2019 9:30 AM by Tennant Company



To the untrained eye, a buffer and a burnisher look almost identical and perform similar jobs. In truth, the machines are very different and confusing the two could be disastrous for your floor care routine.

So what is the difference between a buffer and a burnisher? Read on to find out.

What is a Buffer?

A buffer performs two primary functions: stripping and scrubbing hard floors to maintain a floor’s appearance. The machine is comprised of a motor and a large, round, pad driver that's attached to a handle. A floor pad, oftentimes red in color, spins on the floor during operation. The pad must be periodically flipped/changed as it wears. To scrub the floor, the operator moves the buffer from side to side, which leads some people to call the machine a side-by-side. Other names for a buffer include floor machine, a swing machine, low speed or a stick machine.

Most buffers operate at relatively low speeds of 175 revolutions per minute. However, some buffers are available at speeds up to around 400 rpm (often called dual speed machines) and can offer a light shine to a floor. A buffer results in a cleaner scrubbed appearance to a hard floor.

What is a Burnisher?

Burnishers look similar to buffers. Most spin at between 1,500 and 2,500 revolutions per minute. A burnisher has one primary function: to make hard floors extremely shiny, also known as the "wet look." Burnishers can be used after buffing a floor to produce the maximum amount of shine.

The operator moves a standard burnisher forward and backward, not side to side like a buffer. And since the motor spins the burnisher head much faster, floors can be polished to a high sheen. A “buffer” does not really polish a floor. Some models, like Tennant's B10 Ride-On version or B5 / B7 Walk-Behind Burnisher models, are capable of polishing large amounts of square footage quickly. However, unlike a buffer, some dust may be generated during the burnishing process. A dust-control model will help mitigate this side effect.

Buffers and burnishers are each highly effective tools to include in floor cleaning routines. To determine the best option for your building's needs, contact your Tennant sales representative today.


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