Most finished flooring materials will need to be replaced at one time or another. Unless the material is granite, terrazzo or a similar hard substance, the flooring will not last forever. Years or decades of foot traffic, rolling carts, pallet movers and fork lifts take their toll on vinyl, linoleum and other flooring materials.
Usually, only the finished flooring will need to be replaced, provided the underlying subfloor is structurally sound. In addition to the flooring, the adhesive will also need to be removed, whether it is glue, mortar or another substance. This is because a clean, smooth surface is necessary to lay new flooring.
In these cases, professional flooring installers will remove the top layer by scraping it from the subfloor. A sharp, flat blade is forced between the subfloor and the finished flooring. Forward motion is used to raise the top flooring and break the adhesion. If done by hand, the installer may have the blade attached to a metal rod and hammer the rod, forcing the blade to move forward.
The problem with scraping is that it is very labor intensive if done by hand. A small area such as a residential hallway may be done by hand, but for a commercial or industrial building with a large square footage, the hand process is far too time consuming.
To lower labor costs and increase productivity, professionals use a special floor scraping machine. A floor scraper machine uses electrical or petrol power to operate a blade, letting the machine do the work of forcing the blade under the flooring and braking adhesion. Floor scraping machines come in a variety of sizes to suit the job at hand:
• A walk behind machine is used for small and medium sized flooring jobs. It is normally powered by 240V electricity and larger models are self propelled. The scraping blade is situated at the front of the machine and is curved like a snow plow. The curve in the blade keeps the broken material from accumulating in front of the scraper. They can be either self propelled or push models;
• For larger jobs, ride on scrapers are available. These scrapers are normally powered by petrol or liquid propane, are self propelled and carry a much larger blade than the walk behind types. Quality models will have between 25 to over 50 horsepower;
• For smaller jobs and areas that are too tight to maneuver a larger machine, most dealers carry a variety of hand held power scrapers. They operate in similar fashion to the other machines. The blade will usually vibrate or oscillate like a power chisel. Quality models can be powered electrically. Higher powered models are often designed with pneumatic power, operated through the use of an air compressor.
As these machines are expensive, many professionals choose to rent or lease them from a machinery dealer. As time is money on a flooring job and additional labour can be expensive, the rental cost outweighs hiring extra workers to scrape flooring by hand. Renting from a dealer also allows the professional to choose the right machine for the job.
In addition, workers will not become physically spent in tearing off existing flooring and will have more energy to install the new material. This in turn results in faster install times and a better quality job.