Difference Between Polishing, Scrubbing, Buffing, and Burnishing a Floor

In this guide, you are going to learn the difference between polishing, scrubbing, buffing, and burnishing a floor. Reading this guide will give you a solid overview as to what those terms mean, and as to how those processes affect your floors.

Floor Cleaning

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What Does It Mean To Polish A Floor?

To polish a floor, means to polish the surface of that floor and to make it look far smoother, and shinier, than it previously did.

When you polish a floor, you are moving across the surface of that floor and you are removing the various bumps and chipped sections of the floor’s surface. This allows you to remove any of the aesthetic qualities that you don’t like, so that way the floor looks just as it did when it was new. Then, when the floor polishing process has finished, it looks nice and shiny.


What Does It Mean To Scrub A Floor?

To scrub a floor, means to rub and brush the surface of a floor, so that you can remove things like dirt and grime from it.

For floors that are especially dirty, scrubbing them is the best possible choice. The reason for this is that, when you scrub a floor, you are often using a brush that has been designed to loosen up and remove things like dirt and grime. This allows the dirt and grime that’s on that floor to be loosened up and removed from the floor, ensuring that it looks far nicer than it previously did.


On an aesthetic level, scrubbing a floor makes the floor look much nicer, since it doesn’t have dirt or grime on it. But, it also enhances the strength of the floor, since it’s no longer bogged down by dirt and grime.

What Does It Mean To Buff A Floor?

To buff a floor, means to polish the overall surface of the floor and to remove the gunk and dirt that has been built-up. In many ways, the process is quite similar to that of polishing a floor.


While floor buffing is similar to floor polishing, there’s one major difference. This difference is the fact that floor buffing is a much slower process, which allows for a more precise clean. But, along with that, floor buffing doesn’t produce the same level of shininess that floor polishing does, even though floor buffing does lead to a much cleaner floor.

What Does It Mean To Burnish A Floor?

To burnish a floor, means to create a much smoother, cleaner, and shinier surface on a floor. It is very similar to polishing a floor.

While burnishing a floor, the top layer of the floor is thoroughly cleaned and smoothed out. This leads to a cleaner surface that looks smoother. But, along with that, burnishing involves using powerful brushes that remove gunk and dirt from the floor’s surface.


Related Floor Polishing/Scrubbing Articles

Buying Guides
Best Floor Polishing/Buffing Machines
Best Floor Buffers for Hardwood/Stone/Marble Floors

Single Reviews
Oreck Commercial ORB550MC Commercial Orbiter Floor Machine

Comparison Articles
Boss Cleaning Equipment vs Bissell Hercules
Oreck Orbiter vs Ewbank EP170

Info Articles
What’s the Difference Between a Floor Polisher and a Floor Buffer?
Difference Between Polishing, Scrubbing, Buffing, and Burnishing a Floor


In the end, each one of the processes outlined is great for keeping your floor looking nice and clean!

Overall Recommended Floor Cleaning Machines
Floor BufferBudget OptionCommercial
Oreck Commercial ORB550MC Commercial Orbiter Floor MachineBISSELL Spinwave Powered Hardwood Floor Mop and Cleaner, Green SpinwaveBISSELL BigGreen Commercial Easy Motion Floor Machine, Industrial Orbiter, Buffer, Polisher, BGEM9000
Oreck ORB550MCBissell SpinwaveBissell BGEM9000
 • Floor Buffer/Scrubber/Polisher
 • 1 Pad
 • 24 Pounds
 • 50 ft. Power Cord
 • Floor Scrubber
 • 2 Pads
 • 9.5 Pounds
 • 22 ft. Power Cord
 • Floor Buffer/Scrubber/Polisher
 • 1 Pad
 • 27 Pounds
 • 30 ft. Power Cord

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