Choosing the right surface preparation machines and tools

Surface preparation is critical in the restoration of a floor and mistakes at this stage can have catastrophic consequences for the finished result. The key is knowing how to choose the right surface preparation equipment. 

Elias Garcia Martinez’s painting of Jesus has hung in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church in Borja, Spain for over 100 years. While professional conservators limit their touch ups to missing or damaged spots, the lady who tried to restore this painting made the mistake of cleaning the entire canvas before painting over it.

The artwork is now destroyed. Don’t let this be the case with your surface preparation job. Use the most appropriate equipment to make sure your work is of the highest possible standard.

Everything has its place
The amateur conservator should have kept the bleach in the bathroom and the paint on the canvas. Likewise, surface preparation contractors must choose equipment that is most suited to the job in hand.

For example, your choice of floor stripper should depend on the type of goods that you most commonly remove. Removing hard goods such as hardwood floor and ceramic tiles requires a stripper with a high torque at the expense of high speed. On the other hand, contractors that often remove soft goods such as carpet and linoleum can get away with faster strippers that have less torque.

A similar consideration applies to surface grinders, which fall into one of two categories— rotary and planetary—depending on the configuration of discs on their bases. Rotary grinders are gear driven, which gives them a high horse power and weight and makes them suitable for aggressive jobs. Planetary grinders are belt driven and lighter than rotary grinders. They are useful for less aggressive jobs such as smoothing out concrete or preparing a floor for an epoxy coating.

Regardless of the application, surface preparation work produces silica dust, which can cause breathing problems if inhaled. Contractors must protect themselves and others by purchasing machines that comes with or can be fitted to a dust collector.

See the bigger picture
Be sure to look beyond the surface, to the surrounding site. A large site is often best tackled with a ride-on machine. However, if the site is above ground, check the pounds per square inch of the machine. If the floor will not handle the weight, opt for a walk-behind machine, which will be much lighter.

If you’re going to use a walk-behind or propane-powered ride-on machine, check the power supply on-site. If an extension cable is needed, use a twelve gauge cable to get the best performance from the machine. It’s also essential to get the correct length of cable to avoid voltage dropping at the machine, as this can lead to overheating and tripping. If you’re struggling, contact a reliable supplier for advice on cable length.

A consideration often overlooked when choosing a surface preparation machine is the coating that will be laid down after the preparation. For instance, say you are replacing ceramic tiles with new tiles—we recommend stripping away the old tiling and using polycrystalline diamond (PCD) on the bottom of a grinder, to ensure all remains of thinset are removed, which is crucial for a high standard of finish. However, PCDs can leave visible scratches on the surface so is not recommended if a thinset is to be laid back down.

Less is more
A workman is only as good as his tools and a stripper is only as good as its blade. Short blades, such as National Flooring Equipment’s one-inch model, make strippers more productive. This is especially important where the bond between the coating and the concrete is extremely strong, such as with vinyl composition tile (VCT) and adhesive re-scrape.

Short blades are so effective because they exert more pressure per square inch than a longer blade. With a longer blade, the machine must be pushed more slowly because more surface is being displaced and the blade gets blunt much more quickly due to excessive pressure on the blade’s edge.

National Flooring Equipment offers strippers with a dual lift feature. This means that, using controls at your fingertips, you can alter the pitch and angle of the blade in two places, without manually adjusting the front end of the machine. Getting the pitch and angle of the blade correct is essential for productive surface preparation that results in a high-quality finish.

The full package
Choosing the right machinery is critical for surface preparation contractors. However, to stay one step ahead of your competitors, you must complement your handiwork with outstanding customer service.

National Flooring Equipment’s regional sales managers, each with many years of experience in surface preparation, provide continued customer support after a sale and tailored machine training. The company excels at introducing innovative technologies that help it stay ahead of industry changes.

While Elias Garcia Martinez’s painting of Jesus has risen to fame since its disastrous restoration, its magnificence has entirely vanished. Make sure you use the right equipment so that your work is of a high standard, unlike that of the amateur conservator.

To find out more about the machines that National Flooring Equipment has on offer, visit the company’s website https://www.nationalequipment.com/.

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Scott Coffey is the regional sales manager at surface preparation expert at the National Flooring Equipment.

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