Using the floor buffer is an important skill that any wood flooring professional should master. Buffing the floor is the last step in sanding, and its purpose is to remove any imperfections so that the finished product will be smooth. Since the buffer is naturally rough, it has the tendency to place scratches on the floor if not used properly.
Now that you see how important it is to be skilled in the use of this equipment, let’s learn how you can be proficient with it.
Taking care of the equipment
To ensure that you can work safely, you need to take care of the equipment. Here are a few tips to make that happen:
- Make sure that you’re wearing eye protection and respiratory devices. Also, wear a long-sleeved top, closed shoes, and long pants. This will help you to avoid getting an allergic reaction from wood.
- Clean the buffer thoroughly. Uncleaned wood bits can cause scratches to the floor when the buffer is used.
- Don’t leave the buffer upright when not in use. The pad may be compressed and will cause the buffer to run unevenly.
How to hold and position the buffer
A buffer is a machine with a handle and motor which moves 175 RPM in a counter-clockwise direction. The height of your handle has an influence on the aggressiveness of the machine’s cut. Holding the handle a few inches below your belt buckle will result in a neutral cut. On the other hand, raising the handle will result in a more aggressive cut. The cutting area of the buffer is also reduced.
The position and movement of the buffer should also be looked at if you want to get the best results. Think of the buffer motor as a clock face and the buffer handle as the 6:00 position. The area between the 2:00 and 3:30 positions get the most aggressive cut, and the rest of the area feathers the cut.
The buffer should be moved at an egg-shaped motion. Doing this will ensure that the cut is aligned with the wood grain. Do a sweeping motion to get the same result. A swinging motion will cause scratches across the grain, making the wood look rougher.
Start using the machine in a corner that’s away from the light. This will allow you to introduce the abrasive disk in an area where the scratches are not too visible. Focus on sanding the entire perimeter first. Move from left to right while doing the egg-shaped motion. Sand the other parts of the floor, starting from one of the edges.
When you reach the opposite side of the room, turn 180 degrees and sand along the same path. Once you get back to your starting position, move a little bit to the left and then start sanding a new row. Repeat this until the entire floor is covered.
In case you need to replace the abrasive pad while in the middle of the room, start over from the edge. That way, you can get a more uniform cut for the floor.