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Choosing the right floorcare machine

Laying a floor is often a costly undertaking and it is important that it is actively maintained. 

This Gopher Chooser Guide helps you with the selection of an appropriate floor care machinery so that you can keep your floor clean and in a good condition. This Chooser Guide can also be downloaded in PDF format at the foot of this page.

If in doubt about which is the correct floorcare machine to use, please seek guidance from us.

What is a floorcare machine?

In essence a floor machine is a mechanical aid to cleaning and polishing a floor, with the key advantage that large floor areas can be cleaned and polished in a very short time, and certainly a fraction of that which would be required by manual effort.

Types of floorcare machine

There are a number of distinct types of floor machine, with a range of different uses. They can be referred to by a variety of alternative names, which can be very confusing to the layman. The following list provides a quick overview of the principal types, and covers most floorcare requirements.

Scrubber driers (also known as scrubbers)

The purpose of a scrubber drier is to clean a floor by removing all dirt residues that have built up over a period of time.

Typically, a scrubber drier is fitted with rotating brushes or rotary floor pads which together with water and an appropriate floor cleaner literally ‘scrub’ the floor. The brushes are often self-levelling, allowing for uneven floors. The scrubbed residue is collected by a system of squeegees, and sometimes a vacuum, which is transferred to a holding tank, which is then subsequently emptied. The key advantage of this type of machine is that it dries the floor as well as cleaning it. This means the minimum of disruption and downtime in addition reducing the risk of accidents due to slipping on a wet floor.

There are two main types of scrubber driers:

  • The manual, pedestrian or ‘walk behind’ version, which is either mains or battery operated, where the operator manually guides the machine; and
  • The ‘ride-on’ machine, which is battery driven, where the operator sits on the machine drives it around the floor to carry out the cleaning.

Within both types there is significant variation, with varying levels of capability and sophistication, and cost.

Floor polisher (also known as a rotary, disc, buffing or burnishing machine)

By far the most common floorcare machine found in smaller working environments is the floor polisher, which is often also referred to as a rotary, disc, buffing or burnishing machine.

A floor polisher essentially operates using mostly one or sometimes two rotating disks to which floor pads are attached, and the friction caused by the pads rotating against the floor either cleans the floor by removing the surface dirt or polishes it, depending on the task to which it is applied. The type of action carried out depends essentially on the nature of the floor pad and the floorcare chemical which has been initially been applied to the floor.

There are two main types of floor polishing machine: 

  • Manually, pedestrian mains operated floor polishing machines with either one or two disks, of which the single disc variety is generally the most common in environments with smaller floor areas to maintain; and
  • ‘Ride-on’ battery operated floor machines, sometimes incorporating a scrubber drier element within them.

Within both types there is significant variation, with varying levels of capability and sophistication, and cost.

Factors to consider when choosing a floorcare machine

There is a wide variety of floorcare machines available on the market and the choice can be bewildering. We set out the key factors you should consider when buying a floorcare machine. It is always advisable to consult with us before you purchase a machine.

The task

What do you require the machine for? Are you mostly concerned about keeping your floor clean, or maintaining the polished appearance, or both? You may be able to successfully combine both tasks with a low cost, single disc floor polisher.


How large is the floor area to be cleaned? Other things being equal, the larger the area and the quicker the cleaning time required, the larger and more powerful the machine?


How dirty does the floor become? Is it a high traffic environment? What type of floor surface is it? Is the floor prone to marking and staining?  For example, wood, concrete and even marble can be cleaned with a polishing machine, once the appropriate pad or brush is fitted.

Area configuration

How regular is the area to be cleaned? Areas with a high degree of irregularity – recesses, corners, obstacles, etc. – require a machine with ease of manoeuverability, possibly favouring a single disc floor polishing machine.

The operator

Some thought should also be given to the operator. The balance and stability of a machine is important to reduce operator fatigue and ensure consistent cleaning. The noise and vibration levels from the machine when in operation should also be taken into account. A single disc floor polishing machine will score well on all these criteria, especially if the correct operator training is provided.


PDF DocumentChoosing the right floorcare machine 


Disclaimer:  Every precaution has been taken to ensure that the information and advice given in this Gopher Chooser Guide is accurate and reflects current best practice. If you in any doubt on any matter in relation to the information or advice given then you should always take further professional advice. No responsibility for loss occasioned by any corporate body or individual acting or refraining from action as a result of using any material contained within any Chooser Guide shown on this site can be accepted by Gopher Supplies or its associated companies.

Version Update: January 2012


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