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Burnisher Buyer’s Guide

What is burnishing for?

Burnishing is a key step in many floor maintenance programs. Choosing the right burnisher for your floor care program can be confusing. One of the questions that we often get is how to differentiate low speed “buffers” from high speed burnishers. Here are a few visible features that differentiate the two.

  • High Speed Burnishers have 2 sets of wheels on independent axles – low speed buffers only have one set of wheels and one axle.
  • High Speed Burnishers have motors that sit back closer to the rear or handle of the machine while low speed buffers have motors that are centered in the middle of the circular deck.
  • High Speed Burnishers have pad drivers that are bolted on and not removable while low speed buffers have interchangeable accessories including pad drivers and brushes that simply twist off.

Head of Floor Burnisher

How should I use each burnisher?

There are big differences in the way that we use the 2 types of machines. High speed burnishers can only be used for dry work, polishing flooring surfaces that have a wax finish. Low speed buffers can be used in a variety of jobs including scrubbing, stripping and low speed polishing. They can even be used to scrub carpets. Why buy a burnisher instead? Because nothing beats a high speed burnisher for polishing waxed floors. The super-high speed (1000 RPM’s or higher) motion polishes and burnishes the finish to a high gloss on concrete and commercial vinyl tile floors and prolongs the life of the floor as well as maintaining a clean appearance. Low speed units don’t yield nearly as high of a shine.

Options within the high speed burnisher category:

Cord Electric

This is the most common and popular option. It is inexpensive, simple and convenient. The cord electric units tend to be the lowest speed of the high speed burnishers making them the best choice for multiple users of varying skill levels.

Battery Operated

Battery operated units are convenient for locations that have fixed shelving or other items to work around that you don’t want a cord wrapping around, or places where you don’t have access to outlets. The down sides are that once your battery runs down, you’ll need to charge for about double the run time and of course you’ll need to replace the batteries – sometimes yearly.


Propane units are the very fastest spinning of the units and don’t have a run time cap nor a cord to rely on. The reason they aren’t the most popular (despite these obvious advantages) is that many facilities have regulations regarding the use of propane powered equipment. Also, at the super-high speeds they run at, they really are best used by professionals with lots of experience.

Dust Control

Some units offer a dust collection system to reduce the dust left behind by burnishing. This is a great option for locations with users who may suffer from respiratory conditions such as schools, hospitals and clinics.


With all of these choices, we’re confident that you’ll find the perfect fit for your job or situation. For more help on selecting the best for your team, call our team at 1-888-722-5508, we’ll be happy to assist you.

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