According to research by Shawbrook Bank, the average UK homeowner has five unfinished DIY jobs in their home at any one time. Lack of skills, time or money can delay work at home, but as the study suggests, we’re happy to live with an unfinished wall or floor for a while. The same cannot be said for professional contractors, who must consider how to complete jobs quickly and cost effectively.
When walking into a building, how often do you look at the floor first? While it’s not always the most visually interesting part of the space, the floor is integral to the structure.
Hard goods, such as tile and wood flooring are popular in many residential and commercial spaces. Both offer durability and resistance, meaning that, if properly prepared, the covering will need little maintenance during its lifespan. To effectively prepare the surface, contractors must remove the existing floor and adhesive, prepare the substrate and lay the new coating.
While contractors invest in advanced machinery to improve productivity in other areas of construction, we often find that they still try to remove hardwood manually. Labour, therefore, is often one of the most expensive elements of floor preparation — it can take up to five workers multiple days to replace a floor in an industrial or commercial space.
Investing in machinery reduces strain on the team while also minimizing labour costs, helping contractors complete the job more efficiently. This is particularly true for hard goods such as wood, laminate flooring and ceramic tiles, where the tough covering is directly applied to concrete using strong adhesives. Floor strippers can remove the floor covering and adhesive easily — but with so many models on the market, which is the best to use?
Walk-behinds and ride-ons are the two main types of floor removal equipment. The size of the project, accessibility and power availability will often dictate the size of the machine. These differ by international region. In the UK, for example, industrial, commercial and residential buildings are often smaller than in the US, and lifts and transport have stricter weight restrictions. As a result, walk-behind strippers appear to be the more popular of the two in the UK, whereas ride-on strippers are preferred in the US.
While these smaller strippers can effectively remove materials in above ground jobs or tighter spaces, such as residential areas, it is not the best option for every application. If contractors regularly work on medium to large jobs removing heavy duty materials, it will take a long time to complete the work using a walk-behind stripper, increasing project time.
Ride-on strippers are built for large scale applications — they can cover up to 4,000 square ft an hour. The weight of the machine also directs more pressure to the material being removed, increasing production rates when removing heavy duty materials such as wood and tile. If contractors are reluctant to invest in a larger machine, because of factors such as the higher up-front costs or reduced versatility, they can consider rental. Consulting with a surface preparation equipment expert enables contractors to find the best machinery for each project and see the benefits of machinery before making an investment.
Even when we have the best intentions to finish a DIY project, barriers such as time, money and skills can stop us from getting the work done. Contractors cannot be afforded the same luxury in surface preparation, facing pressure to deliver projects as quickly as possible to reduce downtime and costs. By assessing the job site and existing flooring material, contractors can select the best machine for the job.