For construction companies, equipment rental firms and floor installers, the benefits of owning a floor scraper are straightforward. A good floor scraper does the work of five to 10 workers, significantly minimizing the time spent on floor removal and the overall project timeline. It also frees up workers for other tasks.
Because of the wide range of jobs and site conditions a contractor works on, choosing the right equipment can be difficult, but there are a few simple things to consider when purchasing a floor scraper. The first is that bigger doesn’t always mean better. A larger and heavier machine will not necessarily deliver better quality and efficiency; that’s something only good design engineering will achieve. However, there are a few size and weight considerations to keep in mind.
Size and weight
One of the key factors to consider when choosing a floor scraper is the environment you will use it in. Typically, in a large space, such as a warehouse or a parking lot, a ride-on scraper is the most efficient choice and the most comfortable option for the operator. When working in smaller spaces with breakout rooms, such as schools, hospitals or office buildings, a walk-behind scraper is usually more convenient.
Contractors should also take into account the accessibility of the space. If a floor removal job is above ground level and there is no elevator, a ride-on scraper may not be an option because of its size and weight. Instead, a walk-behind scraper that can be transported between floors is the better option. If a project involves floor removal on different levels of the building, contractors should always check the size and weight limits of elevators and ensure the chosen floor scraper complies. This is yet another reason to choose a lighter and more agile scraper than simply going for the biggest machine available.
The choice of floor scraper also depends on whether a contractor is preparing for a project that involves inside or outside work and on the availability of power sources on site.
For outside floor removal projects, such as sports tracks, bridges or car parks, contractors can choose a propane-powered scraper that doesn’t need recharging and requires minimal time for fuel changes. Propane-powered equipment enables operators to run the floor scrapers for up to four hours on a single tank, which means contractors can work longer days and finish projects quicker. The equipment also tends to have slightly higher horsepower motors than battery-powered models, but the noticeable difference is minimal. Emissions from the floor scraper are less of a concern when outside, though the increased noise may be an issue on some sites.
For indoor floor removal, contractors should always choose a battery-powered scraper because it has zero emissions and the electric motor is quieter. An effective battery-powered scraper should have a short charging time, a long running cycle and use a standard plug socket. National Flooring Equipment ensures all its battery-powered machines come with the relevant chargers and adaptors, according to where in the world they are going to be used.
Battery technology and battery life play an important part in how quickly an operator can complete a floor removal job. The choice of battery chemistry can drastically affect the discharge profile during use. Many manufacturers use wet cell batteries—unsealed batteries that use a liquid solvent electrolyte—meaning that the battery will deliver full power for the first portion of its run time, before dropping to a lower discharge rate until depletion. This effectively means that the machine slows down throughout the day, which can cause significant delays on a project.
In this situation, it is often better to purchase a scraper with a consistent battery life of four hours and plan your project accordingly, than to be disappointed by an inconsistent ‘all day’ machine.
An efficient battery technology for floor scrapers is Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM), originally used in military aircrafts and vehicles to reduce weight and improve reliability. AGM has very low internal resistance, delivers high currents on demand and offers a long service life. These batteries ensure faster charge rates and are lighter than other battery technologies often used in floor scrapers. AGM batteries also have better vibration resistance because of their sandwich construction, which makes them ideal for high-impact equipment such as scrapers.
The power output of an AGM battery remains constant until the battery charge reaches 10%. This means the floor scraper will operate at the same speed, with the same power for 90% of the battery cycle, whereas machines using less efficient battery technology will slow down much earlier. When an AGM battery-powered machine slows down, the operator knows it needs recharging as soon as possible.
Pitch and variable speed
A common misconception is that materials that are difficult to remove require larger, heavier floor scrapers. In reality, each floor is different so every job requires a distinctive approach. This is where machine versatility becomes even more important.
Being able to adapt the pitch and angle of the scraper blade as well as the scraper speed results in a more effective floor removal process overall. Some scrapers are more like ramming tools that use force to remove flooring. This technique is often unsuitable and can create problems for the operator, the scraper and the floor underneath the material that is being removed.
National Flooring Equipment’s floor scrapers can change the pitch and angle of the blade, allowing the operator to insert the blade underneath the floor material, change the angle and then effortlessly lift the material off the floor. By combining this variable pitch feature with National Flooring Equipment’s patented shank blades with carbide tips designed for ceramic removal and thin set re-scraping, contractors can speed up the removal of difficult materials like ceramic tiles, wooden floors or parquet.
A scraper that can remove different materials usually has variable speed options for different types of flooring. For example, ceramic tiles fixed with epoxy mortar are notoriously difficult to remove, but by slowing down the scraper, the operator can remove the tiles effectively without damaging the material underneath. Variable speed can also be an asset in less challenging jobs, such as soft floors, when increasing the equipment’s speed enables the operator to finalize a job quicker.
The bottom line for many contractors is finding a floor scraper they can use in as many jobs as possible. For contractors prioritizing versatility above everything else, a machine such as the 6280HD Gladiator might be a good choice because it works well on both hard and soft goods. This walk-behind scraper can operate with either a sharp thin blade to remove laminate, luxury vinyl flooring and other soft floors, or a shank blade with carbide tip ideal for wooden floors, ceramic tiles, parquet or other hard materials. (For more information, visit nationalequipment.com.)
At the end of the day, a contractor achieves return on investment on a scraper by minimizing the labor cost and time spent on each job. This is why the initial cost of a floor scraper should not be the final factor when making a purchasing decision. Instead, the design engineering and versatility of the equipment are what really make a difference in the long term. Ultimately, it is these two things that will save contractors money.