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What is Burnishing?: How to Keep Your Commercial Hard Floors Looking Great

What is Burnishing?: How to Keep Your Commercial Hard Floors Looking Great

Having floors with a robust shine is important to having a great-looking facility and happy guests. Many times, your guests, tenants, or the other people in your building associate the appearance of your floors with the overall health and cleanliness of your facility.

Commercial hard floors are coated with a floor finish that requires maintenance to make sure they keep their shiny, clean appearance.

Burnishing your floor finish is the best and most efficient way to restore a floor’s original shine. Floor burnishing can help you leave the right impression on your guests.

While daily cleaning will remove any dust, dirt, or other soils from the surface of your floors, burnishing will bring out the original shine of your floors.

Performing periodic burnishing can restore the appearance of your commercial hard floors, extend the amount of time between strip and waxes, and remove any scratches that may collect dirt that can become embedded in the finish.

In this article and video, we’ll review what burnishing is and how you can use a floor burnisher to maintain the shine of your commercial floors.

What is Burnishing?

Burnishing is a floor maintenance procedure that uses a floor burnisher to restore shine to the floor finish.

What is a Floor Burnisher?

511000000 - CERTO Speed Pro 1500 BurnisherA floor burnisher is a piece of powered janitorial equipment that is used to burnish a floor and bring out its shine.

Burnishers operate at speeds of 1,200-3,000 RPMs to achieve a robust, glossy shine in fewer passes.

What Are The Different Types Of Floor Burnishers?

There are many different types of floor burnishers.

Burnishers can come with specific features that can affect the way your team maintains your floors. Some features will enhance the shine your floors receive depending on the size of your facility and the desired cleaning results.

For example, floor burnishers can be either walk-behind or ride-on. Walk-behind burnishers require your cleaning staff to walk behind the machine to burnish your floors. Using a ride-on floor burnisher can shorten floor maintenance times and can be more effective in larger areas.

The way burnishers are powered can also differ. They can be powered by an electrical cord, propane, or battery.

While corded burnishers may be the most affordable option, they are limited in the amount of pressure they can provide to the burnishing pad.

When deciding on a burnisher for your facility, you want to choose a machine that can offer consistent, light pressure to smooth out and shine the top layer of the floor finish.

Propane-powered burnishers create the most downward pressure but are very limited in where they can be used. Burnishers that are powered by propane should only be used in well-ventilated areas or vacant buildings.

Battery-powered burnishers provide consistent pressure and reduce the amount of time needed to burnish a floor.

Floor burnishers can also have features like dust control and height adjustment that would affect how the burnisher is used.

Of course, these different features help increase productivity and provide added benefit, but like with any equipment, additional features mean higher floor burnisher costs.

How Does a Floor Burnisher Work? 

Floor burnishers drive straight and rotate the floor pad at high speeds.

The high-speed rotation of the burnishing pad lightly sands and creates heat through friction.

The friction combined with the heat of the burnishing pad softens the floor finish. This allows the machine to smooth over scratches and imperfections that could collect dirt and affect the look.

Everything you need to know about commercial floor burnishers including types, sizes, specs, & more!

Burnishing pads are used to shine the floor. The color pad you will use on the burnisher will depend on the hardness of the floor finish.

If you have a softer floor finish, use a harder floor pad and if you have a harder finish, use a softer floor pad for the best shine.

How Often Should You Burnish A Floor?

Floor Shine - GreenSome floor finish may require burnishing as a part of regular maintenance to preserve the shine of the floor.

High shine floor finishes will provide a very robust initial shine and create a clean appearance.

These floor finishes need to be burnished often to maintain their high shine look. There are some high shine floor finishes that require burnishing as often as every day to achieve the best appearance possible.

Other floor finishes that are designed to withstand heavy foot traffic and resist scuff marks can be maintained with little to no burnishing.

These floor finishes tend to be harder and are more durable to avoid being damaged easily by normal wear and tear. While harder floor finishes don’t achieve high shine, they can still be burnished to bring out their original shine.

How To Burnish A Floor

To burnish a floor, you’ll need:


  • Spartan HDQ NeutralFloor Burnisher
  • Mop & Bucket / Autoscrubber
  • Dust Mop / Vacuum

Cleaning Supplies:

  • Neutral Floor Cleaner
  • Floor Finish Restorer

To burnish the commercial floors in your facility, follow the steps below:

  1. Prep The Floor
  2. Dust Mop or Vacuum the Floor
  3. Clean the Floor With a Mop & Bucket or Autoscrubber
  4. Burnish the Floor
  5. Clean Any Leftover Dust From The Floors

1. Prep The Floor

Before you can burnish a floor, you should make sure the area is clear.

First, close any entrances to the area being burnished so none of your guests accidentally walk onto your floor.

Then, you should move any objects or furniture that might get in the way of the burnisher during the maintenance procedure.

2. Dust Mop or Vacuum the Area

If you’re using a dust mop, you should run the dust mop over the entire floor area.

Pro Tip: Do not lift the dust mop from the surface of the floor and avoid shaking the dust mop. Shaking the dust mop can cause particles to become airborne.

The floors can also be vacuumed to remove any dust, dirt, and debris that is on the surface of your floors.

3. Clean The Floor With a Mop & Bucket or Autoscrubber

Once your floors have been dust mopped or vacuumed, your janitorial staff should clean the floors with either a microfiber flat mop or an autoscrubber.

Pro Tip: Using floor finish restorer once a week with your autoscrubber or mop and bucket will add polymers back onto the floor finish for a better shine.

Commercial hard floors need to be cleaned before they’re burnished to avoid burnishing dirt into the floor finish. Since burnishing softens the floor finish, any dirt on the floors will become embedded into the finish on the floor, dulling the appearance.

Using a microfiber mop will reduce the amount of water needed to mop your floors and shorten the time needed for your floors to dry.

An autoscrubber is the best way to clean your commercial hard floors. Autoscrubbers clean, scrub and dry your floors in one pass, so your cleaning team can complete cleaning in less time.

Be sure to put down a wet floor sign so that anyone entering the area knows the floor is wet.

4. Burnish The Floor

When the floor is fully dry, your staff should use your floor burnisher to restore the shine to your floors.

First, attach the proper burnishing pad to your floor burnisher.

Everything you need to know about commercial floor burnishers including types, sizes, specs, & more!

Burnishing pads are light-colored to avoid the pad color being transferred from the pad to the floor. The right burnishing pad for your commercial hard floors depends on the hardness of the floor finish.

Pro Tip: Floor buffer can also use lighter-colored pads for some procedures. These pads are different than the pads used for burnishing. If the wrong pad is used to burnish your floors, the color of the pad may be transferred to your floors, and layers of floor finish may be removed.

The type of floor finish that’s applied to your floors will determine which pad you decide to use on your burnisher. If the finish on your floors is softer, use a harder burnishing pad and use a softer burnishing pad for a harder floor finish.

Start the burnisher with the pad not touching the floor. Once the floor burnisher has been started, lower the pad onto the floor and begin to move the burnisher over your floor in a straight line.

Overlap each pass by about two inches to create an even shine.

Be careful not to hold your burnisher over the same spot for an extended amount of time. Burnishers create heat and staying in the same spot can cause your burnishing pad to overheat.

5. Clean Any Leftover Dust From The Floors

Since burnishing is a dry procedure, sometimes there can be dust leftover. If your floor burnisher has dust control, you can skip this step.

To remove this dust, your staff can use a dust mop or a vacuum.

At this point, you should notice that your floor finish has restored its optimal shine and appearance.

Pro Tip: If you’re unable to achieve the desired shine after burnishing, it may be time to perform a scrub and recoat.

Final Thoughts

Burnishing your floors is great for restoring the original shine of your floors without needing to perform a full strip and wax or scrub and recoat.

If your floor finish appears to be dull or has scratches on the surface, using a floor burnisher may be enough to restore the shine.

Using a floor burnisher as part of your regular commercial floor maintenance program will extend the life of your commercial floors and remove scratches that would cause embedded dirt.

Imperial Dade locations have a wide variety of janitorial floor cleaning equipment that can help you maintain a shiny appearance for your commercial floors.

Whether you’re located in the United States, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, or Canada you can contact a specialist today for a review of your commercial floor cleaning and maintenance program to determine if you will benefit from burnishing your floors.

Everything you need to know about commercial floor burnishers including types, sizes, specs, & more!

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