The Best Surface Prep Equipment For Your Flooring Project

A faster, smoother project begins with the right piece of equipment.

When you’re refinishing a floor or repairing a surface, a great result starts with the right equipment choice. The best-suited machine will help you remove previous flooring quickly and effectively and grind or sand the top layer of the surface to remove any adhesive or imperfections. This ensures the area is ready to receive a new layer of flooring, or to shine on its own.

Learn more about four common types of surface prep equipment and the projects they can help you execute.

Tile stripper

Don’t let the name fool you. A tile stripper can be used to pull up tile, linoleum, carpet and other flooring secured with adhesives. Tile strippers are self-propelled, guided by an operator who walks behind. They’re designed to be used for smaller projects.

Most tile strippers have an oscillating blade that performs adhesive removal you would otherwise do manually with a chisel and hammer. For hard-to-remove flooring, such as ceramic tile, consider a hammer tile stripper, which uses direct impact force instead of an oscillating blade.

Floor scraper

A floor scraper, used to remove flooring ranging from tile to linoleum to wood, can help you prepare a large surface quickly. Floor scrapers have an angled blade. The angle can be adjusted, giving your more control.

  • Walk-behind floor scrapers are electrically powered and guided by an operator. They’re small enough to fit through standard doorways and light enough to fit in elevators.
  • Ride-on floor scrapers are powered by battery or propane and are handy for the largest projects, such as refinishing the floor in a commercial warehouse. They are too large to fit through most elevators and doorways.

Concrete grinders

A concrete grinder is used to remove adhesives or imperfections from the surface of a concrete floor. These machines can also be used to finish polished-concrete floors. Horizontal discs carry cutting accessories that remove about one-eighth of an inch of concrete per pass.

When choosing a concrete grinder, consider:

  • Surface area: Concrete grinders with one disc are suitable for jobs with a surface area of less than 1,000 square feet. For larger jobs, choose a dual-disc grinder.
  • RPMs: Low-RPM concrete grinders, which spin at about 600 revolutions per minute or less, are suitable for removing the top layer of concrete. Turbo machines, with RPMs as high as 1,500, are suitable for exposed aggregate projects.
  • Desired finish: A single or dual-disc concrete grinder is suitable for preparing a surface, but if you want a finished polished-concrete look, choose a planetary grinder, which has three discs.


Used on hardwood floors, sanders remove adhesives and other debris as well as sealants such as polyurethane, exposing the wood to be refinished. You’ll need to choose between a drum sander and an orbital sander.

  • Drum sanders, also known as belt sanders, remove multiple levels of wood using a piece of heavy-duty sandpaper that spins around a drum. They’re meant for warped floors or wood with deep gashes.
  • Orbital sanders, also known as jitterbug sanders, use sandpaper attached to an oscillating plate. They’re best for floors that need a light sanding and have only minor imperfections.

Explore the surface prep equipment offered by United Rentals or call us at 833.426.1188 for help with choosing equipment for your project.

Was this article helpful?