A Commercial Floor Stripper Buyer's Guide: Costs, Types, and Purchasing Advice
Available in a wide variety of sizes and speeds, commercial floor strippers keep floors looking great by removing the buildup of wax, sealant, dirt, grime, and more. With so many floor stripper styles available, you need to understand your needs, as well as the abilities of each model in meeting them.
Most commercial floor strippers also function as buffers, eliminating the need to purchase and maintain two machines.
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What Do Commercial Floor Strippers Do?
Floor strippers remove a variety of substances from a variety of flooring types. Their most common uses include:
- Removing floor wax, residue, and paint from cement floors
- Removing wax, dirt, and grime from stone flooring
- Removing wax and other finishing products from tile
- Removing wax and varnish from wood flooring
As stated above, most floor strippers today also double as buffers/polishers; you only need to change the pad and reset the machine function.
Most people have two main reasons for using a floor stripper/buffer. The first is maintaining your flooring's appearance. The second is promoting safety, especially for concrete flooring in a warehouse or similar environment, where cracks and holes present a danger to your workers.
What to Look for in a Commercial Floor Stripper
Of course, you do not have to buy a floor stripper that also works as a floor buffer. Most people choose a dual function unit as a money-saving device because they need both types of machines. However, you may only need a unit that strips your floors. It all depends on your individual needs.
In any case, you want to look at a variety of factors when purchasing a commercial floor stripper, as each affects the machine's cost, both to purchase and maintain.
The first item most people need to consider is their budget. You can find a floor stripper for as little as $400, or you can spend close to $30,000 for the ultra-powerful, riding models. When choosing, look carefully at your budget as well as the area of flooring you need to clear, as a smaller model may save you money at the outset, but cost you in labor and maintenance, especially if you try to do too much with too little machine.
Also look at power options. Floor strippers are available in electric (plug-in), battery-operated, and fuel-powered (typically propane). Generally speaking, plug-in models are cheaper, but also have less oomph than their battery- and fuel-powered counterparts do. Battery operated units are probably the most popular, as they offer greater power at a lower price than fuel, and without the cord hassles of electric. Typically, fuel-powered units are reserved for heavy duty, industrial applications.
Finally, if operating in a large area with significant square footage, consider an automatic machine instead of a push type. Most of the larger units are automatic, but many of the smaller, electric units are push. If stripping only a few thousand square feet of flooring, this is okay. Working over a large area, however, quickly wears out the operator and significantly increases labor time.
How Much Does a Floor Stripper Cost?
Expect to pay anywhere between $500 and $5,000 for the average floor stripper. A large riding model powered with propane that doubles as a floor burnisher sets you back significantly more, but on average, you're looking at $500 to $5,000.
- An electric, corded, 1.5 HP, automatic stripper/buffer averages $700
- A battery-powered, 1.5 HP, walk-behind, automatic averages $2,800
- A battery-powered combo machine with 25,000 square feet/hour capability averages $3,500
- A propane-powered, walk-behind averages between $6,300 and $7,400
In addition to the machine, you also need pads, brushes, and solution. Your machine may come with a starter pack of these supplies (check with your vendor), but you will eventually need to replace them.
- A case of floor stripper pads averages between $25 and $75
- A brush for a propane unit averages around $400
- A gallon of floor stripper solution averages between $5 and $25
Operating a Commercial Floor Stripper
First, check with your vendor to see if they offer any kind of training with purchase, especially if your operator is new to the task, or if you are upgrading to a more powerful machine.
If this is your first time using a commercial floor stripper, be patient and take your time. Some people compare operating a floor stripper to riding a mechanical bull (or even a real one). The larger ones, especially, are challenging when you first begin, as they tend to buck and are difficult to control. It becomes easier with time and practice.
Should I Buy, Rent, or Lease a Floor Stripper?
One of the decisions you need to make is whether to buy, rent, or lease this equipment. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer as to which option is best for your business. Unless, of course, you use one of these machines rarely. In that case, renting is almost always the best option. In the end, though, each option has its pros and cons; understanding those and your business's needs helps ensure you make the right choice.
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Why Should You Buy a Floor Stripper?
If you run a large facility or commercial cleaning company and regularly perform floor maintenance, purchasing a floor stripper is likely your best option. Though it has a greater upfront cost than either renting or leasing, over time, buying offers substantial savings. This is especially true when compared to the cost of renting your cleaning equipment, as you can often buy a machine for the same price as five or six rentals.
In the long run, buying is also cheaper than leasing. What's more, when you own the equipment, you have the ability to sell it and recoup some of your costs. Owning the machine also puts you in control of maintenance and repairs. To some, this item belongs in the "cons" column, but for many, the ability to do what they want with the machine, including maintenance and repairs, is one of the benefits of ownership. If something goes wrong, they don't want to wait for the leasing company to fix it.
Another financial benefit is the ability to claim the cost to purchase and maintain your floor stripper as a business expense when filing your taxes.
Purchasing also allows you greater flexibility in choosing the right machine for your business, instead of being hampered by the available stock of a leasing company or rental agency. Finally, one of the bigger reasons people choose to lease – the ability to replace equipment as it becomes outdated – doesn't apply to floor strippers. Cleaning equipment does not become obsolete due to technological advances.
Why Should You Rent a Floor Stripper?
For businesses without a regular need for a floor stripper, purchasing one is an unnecessary financial burden. If you only use the machine a few times a year, renting is much more cost effective. You have no maintenance or repair worries, and you don't need to bother with storage. In fact, buying a floor stripper that sits idle the majority of the time is likely to lead to maintenance problems.
Many businesses choose to rent cleaning equipment when they aren't yet sure of how much machine they need, or even if they prefer to handle cleaning in-house or would rather outsource it. Renting allows you to "try before you buy" and discover exactly what this task entails.
Finally, startups face a wide variety of equipment costs while at the same time feeling the lack of ready cash. When prioritizing new business expenses, cleaning equipment takes a back seat to standard office equipment, such as phone systems, computers, and copiers.
Why Should You Lease a Floor Stripper?
Many businesses feel that leasing offers the best of both worlds. It has the low upfront costs of renting, not to mention none of the maintenance headaches, but at a significantly lower price. Leasing a floor stripper means that you aren't tying up precious capital, but still allows you to meet your facility maintenance needs.
The top reason businesses choose leasing over buying is to preserve working capital and improve their bottom line. Lease payments are a business expense, not a financial liability. This improves the business's financial reports, making it more attractive to investors, which is vital for companies looking for an infusion of capital.
A lease comes with a much lower upfront cost than buying does, improves cash flow, and makes budgeting for the monthly expense easy. You also usually get to claim your lease expense on your taxes (only your accountant knows for sure).
You may also be able to afford a more advanced, powerful model through leasing than you could buying the machine outright, since you don't have to produce a large lump sum. Another financial benefit is savings on routine maintenance and repairs, which are the responsibility of the leasing company. Finally, if your business needs change, such as moving to a larger facility, your lease usually allows you to upgrade your equipment.
Look carefully at your options, as well as your business needs, when deciding whether to buy, rent, or lease a floor stripper.