A faster, smoother project begins with the right piece of equipment.
When you’re refinishing a floor or repairing a surface, a great result starts with the right machine. Surface preparation equipment can help you remove previous flooring quickly and effectively, grind or sand the top layer of the surface to remove any adhesive or imperfections and clean debris and dirt from the surface. No matter what your flooring project, surface preparation tools and equipment help ensure a surface is ready to receive a fresh layer of flooring or shine like new.
Learn about eight common types of surface preparation equipment and the projects they can help you execute.
Don’t let the name fool you: A tile stripper can be used to pull up tile, linoleum, carpet and other flooring secured with adhesives. Tile strippers are self-propelled, guided by an operator who walks behind. They’re designed to be used for smaller projects.
Most tile strippers have an oscillating blade that performs adhesive removal you would otherwise do manually with a chisel and hammer. For hard-to-remove flooring, such as ceramic tile, consider a hammer tile stripper, which uses direct impact force instead of an oscillating blade.
A floor scraper, used to remove flooring ranging from tile to linoleum to wood, can help you prepare a large surface quickly. Floor scrapers have an angled blade. The angle can be adjusted, giving your more control.
- Walk-behind floor scrapers are electrically powered and guided by an operator. They’re small enough to fit through standard doorways and light enough to fit in elevators.
- Ride-on floor scrapers are powered by battery or propane and are handy for the largest projects, such as refinishing the floor in a commercial warehouse. They are too large to fit through most elevators and doorways.
A concrete grinder is used to remove adhesives or imperfections from the surface of a concrete floor. These machines can also be used to finish polished-concrete floors. Horizontal discs carry cutting accessories that remove about one-eighth of an inch of concrete per pass.
When choosing a concrete grinder, consider:
- Surface area: Concrete grinders with one disc are suitable for jobs with a surface area of less than 1,000 square feet. For larger jobs, choose a dual-disc grinder.
- RPMs: Low-RPM concrete grinders, which spin at about 600 revolutions per minute or less, are suitable for removing the top layer of concrete. Turbo machines, with RPMs as high as 1,500, are suitable for exposed aggregate projects.
- Desired finish: A single or dual-disc concrete grinder is suitable for preparing a surface, but if you want a finished polished-concrete look, choose a planetary grinder, which has three discs.
Used on hardwood floors, sanders remove adhesives and other debris as well as sealants such as polyurethane, exposing the wood to be refinished. You’ll need to choose between a drum sander and an orbital sander.
- Drum sanders, also known as belt sanders, remove multiple levels of wood using a piece of heavy-duty sandpaper that spins around a drum. They’re meant for warped floors or wood with deep gashes.
- Orbital sanders, also known as jitterbug sanders, use sandpaper attached to an oscillating plate. They’re best for floors that need a light sanding and have only minor imperfections.
After you’ve prepped the surface, you need to clear any debris left behind. Sweepers spray water on the surface and use brushes to scrub away dirt and sweep debris onto a conveyor belt for deposit into a holding receptacle.
Sweepers range in size from lightweight compact models for fast jobs to higher-capacity models that can cover large areas quickly. There are three types:
- Ride-on sweepers are motorized vehicles driven by an operator. Typically gas powered, they are best for cleaning large surfaces such as floors in hospitals, warehouses and retail and office spaces.
- Walk-behind sweepers, also called pedestrian or trailing sweepers, are pushed by an operator and are electric or battery powered. They are often used for sweeping commercial outdoor and indoor surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways and hallway flooring.
- Handheld sweepers are battery-powered portable devices with a long handle for small jobs such as cleaning dust from carpets and floors. Hand-held magnetic sweepers can pick up nails, screws or other metal debris.
Floor scrubbers and polishers
To clean and buff large areas of flooring quickly, look no further than a floor scrubber or polisher. These walk-behind or ride-on machines can maneuver around curves and deep-clean a variety of floor surfaces such as those found in shopping malls and other commercial buildings.
- Floor scrubbers dispense a cleaning solution and water, scrub the surface with a pad or brush and vacuum leftover dirt and liquid into a storage tank. Floor scrubbers also dry the floor as they clean. They are best for removing light debris.
- Floor polishers are stand-up machines that use a rugged planetary gear system for polishing, stripping, sanding, screening, buffing or bonnet cleaning (a carpet cleaning process). Polishers are used to clean a variety of floor surfaces such as hardwood, laminate, tile, linoleum and concrete.
A pressure washer, also called a power washer, is a mechanical sprayer that uses high-pressure water to blast tough stains, dirt, paint and other materials from surfaces.
Power washers are available in gas or electric models with a range of options and nozzles for different tasks. Make sure the one you choose has the right features and power capacity to get the job done safely and efficiently. Learn about how to choose a pressure washer before you rent one.
Some messes are too big or heavy for an ordinary home vacuum. Shop vacs are portable, heavy-duty vacuums with long hoses and powerful suction to clean up nails, concrete dust and other debris left behind from coring, cutting and grinding. Wet/dry models can suck up liquid and wet debris with minor adjustments.
Shop vacs are available in a range of sizes, from small, lightweight models like this 3.5- gallon HEPA backpack vacuum to large industrial machines like this wet/dry vacuum with a 55-gallon waste tank.
The right machine can make a world of difference when finishing a floor, repairing a surface or cleaning sidewalks, driveways and floors. Look for quality surface preparation equipment for a faster, smoother project experience.