Brief History of Flooring Machines

Bakery-10Electric powered floor cleaning machines were first introduced in the early 1900s, right around the same time vacuum cleaners came out. The first floor machines were known as divided-weight machines. With these machines, the bulk of the weight of the machine was on its rear wheels, which remained on the floor during operation. The buffer rolled in a push-pull fashion over the floor for both scrubbing and polishing.

The brushes used on these early machines were made of vegetable fibers that had been used for centuries as floor scrubbers and also for polishing. To polish wood floors, carnauba wax would be applied to the floor, and then polished to a shine by going back and forth over the floor with the buffer.

These early divided-weight machines were slow and heavy to push but not heavy enough to put sufficient pressure on the brush. They did not clean terribly well and proved difficult for most people to maneuver. The major benefits for the user were that the machines were faster and less strenuous to use than polishing a floor by hand.

It didn’t take long for the machine manufacturers to realize that more pressure on the brush was necessary to properly scrub and polish floors. This led to the birth of the swing machine, which centered its weight on the brush; the rear wheels lifted off the floor during operation.

At first, users had a difficult time using them. More often than not, a cleaning professional’s first time on a swing buffer was more like riding a wild bull at a rodeo. These machines seemed to have a mind of their own, and if the nearest wall was where they wanted to go, only training and skill could stop them.

The first high speed and variable speed machines were introduced around the late 1950s. An operator could adjust these machines to rotate at 175 to 350 rpm. During the 1960s, chemical manufacturers began introducing new types of floor finishes that produced a higher gloss shine if polished by a faster rotating floor machine.  The finish could also be spray- buffed which helped maintain the shine and the floor’s appearance for a longer period of time.

Floor cleaning technology continued to advance; the longer a floor looked good in between cleanings and refinishing, the better. By the 1970s, rotation speeds of 750 to 1,000 rpm were common. Because of the higher rpms, some floor finishes fractured or were otherwise damaged, and often pads would quickly degrade. Improved floor pads were introduced, and new finishes produced an even higher-gloss shine. Ultimately, the pad and chemical manufacturers introduced products that would hold up well with electric machines producing 1,500 to 2,000 rpm.

These machines and technology continue to advance to this day. Centaur utilizes the latest models and technology to offer top of the line floor machines, brushes, and accessories to give your floors the care they need with minimal work.

Share This