The Differences Between Buffing and Burnishing

When cleaning pros talk about buffing and burnishing, they often mean the same thing. That’s what makes these two processes so confusing if you’re not already familiar with both.

In both processes, you do use a floor machine to remove the top layer of wax. So at a high level, you may actually say both processes are the same.

But when you dig down into the details of each, they do have some key differences. Those include:

1. The Speed of the Machine

Burnishing works at a much faster speed than buffing. The former’s increased speed can be used to actually give your floor a wet look, which goes over quite well with visitors unfamiliar with the process.

In the past, burnishing could get so aggressive it would actually leave a powdery residue on your floor. Cleaning pros today know how to account for that so it doesn’t happen.

To give your floor the wet look, burnishers also have far more complex engines that operate at higher speeds than buffers.

2. Both Machines Operate Differently

Buffers aren’t as heavy and challenging to operate as burnishers. A floor buffer simply looks like a vacuum with a larger body and wide handlebars.

Burnishers’ heavier weight helps them provide that wet look for your floor.

While buffers operate in a rotary fashion, going in circles from side to side, burnishers work in a straight line.

3. Buffing Doesn’t Offer as Impressive of a Final Look

Skeptical about the amazing final look you can get from a burnisher? Rent one out once and compare its work to that of a buffer.

While buffers do give you a clean glossy look, burnishers sometimes totally blow customers away. It probably depends on how easy you are to impress. But in general, most people will find a burnished look on their floor far more attractive.

4. Save Time and Money with Burnishing

You’d think that because you get a more desirable result with burnishing, that it would require a greater time and money investment. Strangely enough, it’s actually the opposite.

Burnishing takes not just a little, but way less time to do than buffing. That saves you time. And it also saves you money because you can use that labor time saved to do other work.

So if you haven’t understood burnishing, now you have a working knowledge of why it could make sense for you. Keep it in mind the next time you have to restore the look of one of your floors.

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