Industrial floor buffers, or polishers, well deserve their reputation for being difficult to operate, clumsy, bulky and unwieldy. Even experts agree that they may take time to master. The average industrial-strength buffer operates at a rate of 1,500 rpms (rotations per minute) or more, and attains full speed within seconds of being turned on. Take into account the natural human tendency to meet sudden force with equal or greater force (a mistake in this case), and you have the makings of an accident waiting to happen. In spite of this, industrial floor buffers are unmatched in their ability to impart a mirror-like shine to hard-surfaced floors. This fact alone makes it worthwhile to learn how to operate one of these machines with skill and confidence. A gentle, light touch will make all the difference between success and injury.

Things You Will Need
  • Vacuum

  • Medium weight work gloves (recommended)

  • Work belt

  • Floor polish in a squeeze or spray bottle

  • Industrial floor buffer/polisher and pads

Step 1.

Place the unplugged floor buffer near an electrical outlet in the far corner of the room. Use a vacuum cleaner to vacuum the entire surface of the floor thoroughly. Debris left on the floor can make controlling the buffer more difficult.

Step 2.

Put on the work gloves. These will enable you to maintain a better grip on the handles of the machine.

Step 3.

Fasten the work belt around your waist and attach the spray bottle containing the floor polish to one of the loops.

Step 4.

Plug the cord of the floor buffer into the electrical outlet. Grasp the handles and turn on the machine. Be ready to control the machine in case it tries to move abruptly to one side or the other. Keep the handles at the level of your waist. Raising your hands moves the floor buffer to the right. Lowering your hands moves it to the left. Use tiny movements to direct the machine. Once you feel comfortable, squeeze or spray a small amount of floor polish onto the floor in two or three spots in front of you.

Step 5.

Use small, sweeping side-to-side movements as you roll over the polish on the floor. Gradually move forward a few steps at a time, adding more polish as you go. Continue until the entire floor has been polished to a deep sheen. Turn off the industrial floor buffer, coil the electrical cord and put the machine away.


Learning to operate an industrial floor buffer is not easy, but it can be done with patience, practice, and a light, steady hand. If you find yourself losing control, shut off the machine immediately, regain composure and start again. Ask for assistance whenever necessary.


Overcorrecting can cause the machine to lurch violently, and could knock you off of your feet. Remember that small movements will give you greater control. The more heavy-handed you are, the more the floor buffer will seem to behave with a mind of its own. Take several moments to familiarize yourself with the handling of the type of floor buffer that you will be using.