The polymer is a major ingredient of the finish formulation.  The polymer is the main building block responsible for forming the floor polish film (what’s left on the floor when it dries).  Consequently, the inherent properties of the polymer determine, to a large degree, the ultimate gloss, hardness, toughness, scuff resistance, mark resistance, scratch resistance, soil resistance, water resistance, detergent resistance, removability, powder resistance, and slip resistance.

The second major component of high speed finish, “synthetic wax,” is also a polymer, although of entirely different composition.  The name “wax,” which is commonly used to describe this material, is a holdover from old technology.  Most formulations now contain polymeric substitute with “waxy” characteristics.  This characteristic is the primary difference between tough polymeric binder and the much softer synthetic “wax.”  

The primary function of “wax” in the formulation is to provide a level of lubricity to the finish film.  This lubricity translates into buffability, as it used to be practiced with low speed machines and brushes.  The higher the amount of this ingredient in the formulation, the more buffable the finish.  On the other hand, wax makes the film soft and hence makes the floor polish film much more susceptible to scuffing and dirt pickup.

The third component is actually a combination of a number of liquid ingredients to facilitate formation of a film during the drying process.  In a sense, these materials could be regarded as solvents for the polymer.There are two basic classes of these solvents, coalescents and plasticizers.  

Coalescents are solvents that evaporate shortly after the film is formed on the   floor.  Plasticizers, on the other hand, are much less volatile and stay in the film much longer.  In fact, many stay during most of the life of the floor finish.  Both ingredients soften the polish film, but for a different period of time.  A highly volatile coalescent will evaporate relatively quickly and leave the film hard, while a plasticizer will stay in the film and keep the film soft.  

Some manufacturers make combination cleaner/polishes that let you clean and polish a floor in one step.  These products usually contain a detergent and either a plastic material or natural wax.  First you loosen the dirt by mopping the floor with the cleaner/polish.  The mop picks up some of the dirt.  You do not rinse the floor; you simply buff the film that remains on the floor until it shines.  

You can use this one-step method to keep a floor very shiny without frequent stripping and refinishing.  

Your comments and questions are always welcome.  I hope to hear from you soon.  Until then, keep it clean…


Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678.314.2171 or