How to Choose the Right Floor Pads


Owning the right equipment is only a part of a successful cleaning program. Selecting the best floor pads to use with your equipment is another crucial decision. In this article, we’re going to review the different types of floor pads available and help you sort through your options to find the best pad for your situation.

Pads have a specific function

Floor pad manufacturers design their floor pads with a specific function in mind. These functions are buffing, scrubbing, stripping, and burnishing. In the cleaning industry, floor pads are typically color-coded, with lighter colors representing less aggressive pads and darker colors representing more aggressive pads.

Buffing Pads

Buffing pads are the least aggressive types of floor pads. Use these pads to remove scuffs and marks and bring some gloss back to the floor finish. Floor machines, aka “swing machines,” are typically used with these types of pads. From least aggressive to most aggressive, floor buffing pad colors are generally white, tan, or red.

Scrubbing and Cleaning Pads

The words scrubbing and cleaning seem to have the same meaning, but there is a difference to a floor pad manufacturer. Pads designated for cleaning are less aggressive. Cleaning pads remove light soil and contaminants from the floor. A scrubbing pad is more aggressive and can remove black heel marks and layers of floor finish. Scrubbing pads remove more dirt from the floor, better preparing the floor for burnishing. Both floor scrubbers and floor machines can use cleaning and scrubbing pads.  Cleaning pads have lighter colors, like white, red, and pink. Scrubbing pads have darker colors and are typically dark green or dark blue.

Stripping Pads

Stripping pads are very aggressive and chemically resistant pads. They are made from stiff polymer fibers and can also include abrasive grit or diamonds. Stripper pads also have an open weave with significant gaps between the fibers to allow emulsified floor finish to absorb into the pad without clogging. These pads are designed to withstand degradation from floor stripper chemicals. Floor stripper chemicals contain solvents, ammonia, caustic agents, and other chemicals designed to dissolve floor finish. Stripping pads are typically very dark in color. Standard colors are dark brown, dark maroon, and black.

Chemical-Free Stripping Pads

In the past few years, pads designed to remove floor finish without chemicals grew in popularity. Pads like these are used to improve the appearance of high-traffic areas through periodic maintenance. This technique is a low-cost alternative to chemically stripping and recoating the entire floor.

NSS’s Ecostrip Pad uses a high-durability diamond coating that allows floor finish removal with any floor scrubber. RELATED ARTICLE: Restoring Worn Floor Finish Quickly

Burnishing Pads

Burnishing pads, pads which are designed to endure the forces created by a high-speed burnisher, are another category of floor pads. Burnishing pads are used on clean floors to increase the gloss level of the floor. Like floor scrubbing pads, different burnishing pads provide different levels of aggressiveness. As a general rule, less aggressive pads are recommended for softer floor finishes. Lighter-colored pads are typically less aggressive. However, manufacturers are less consistent with burnishing pad colors, so it’s best to check the pad’s description rather than rely solely on the color of the pad. More aggressive pads contain a blend of synthetic (polyester) fibers and natural (hog hair) fibers. Often, pads containing natural fibers are called “hair pads.”

Comparing Pads Between Manufacturers

Many manufacturers make floor pads. Because of some variations in colors and product names, finding equivalent floor pads between manufacturers can be difficult. Americo Manufacturing has a convenient floor pad cross-reference chart on their website. Click this link to visit Americo’s resources page.

Testing Out a New Pad

Finding the best pad for your application can require some testing. As with any new cleaning process, try new pads in an out-of-view area. If you’re unhappy with the results, it is better if the test area is away from the building’s high visibility areas.

Distributors and manufacturer representatives are great resources to help sort through your options. Feel free to contact your local NSS Regional Manager about which pad is best for your application. If you would like us to contact you, click this link and fill out the form. One of our local experts will contact you soon.


All of your cleaning equipment, chemicals, and pads, need to work together to give the best result, and it can take some testing to find the right combination. Manufacturers and distributors can help remove some of the guesswork from pad selection, so reach out to them for advice. Once you have your process dialed in, you will save time and money by getting the best possible cleaning result.

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