Orbital floor machines reduce or eliminate the need for chemicals used in the stripping process.

“Orbital floor machines increase the effectiveness of mechanical cleaning, so that compensates for the removal of the chemical reaction,” says Schneringer. “In other words, with previous technologies you had a certain mechanical action that was augmented by using chemicals. Because the orbital machine increases the mechanical action you can now decrease the chemistry required to do the same cleaning function.”

Stripping a floor without chemicals saves end users the added expense of purchasing stripping solution and supports green initiatives.

“There’s also a safety component, because you don’t have to work around the chemical, and you don’t have to dispose of the stripper solution,” says Schneringer.

Instead of chemicals, custodians use water and achieve the same results.

“Water is actually a natural surfactant, but in the case of removing finish, the water provides a place for the finish to go to,” says Schneringer. “So once you remove it from the floor you suspend it in the water.”

However, other distributors say using water isn’t always necessary. Dan Houle, president of Regent Supply in Edmonton, Canada, recommends using a vacuum attachment for the orbital machine and a maroon surface prep pad.

“When you hook a backpack vacuum to the machine it sucks up any dust it’s making and takes off the finish,” he says. “You probably have to go over it two or three times, depending on the amount of finish on the floor. You can use water, but it makes more of a mess.”

In addition, when stripping wood floors, such as those found in gyms, orbital floor cleaning machines are best used without chemicals or water. One of the models Tipton sells has been outfitted with a ride-along vacuum assembly for dust-free operation.

“It’s a great advantage because if you’re going chemical-free or dry sometimes you get into some pretty labor-intensive efforts in dust recovery,” he says. “It can become more costly than the job itself.”

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