Surface preparation projects are enormous undertakings and, before a new floor can be laid, contractors must remove all remnants of the old material. Any sheet vinyl, linoleum, bonded carpet, woodblock, or tile must be dislodged and disposed of. Selecting the right tool for the job is key, because making the wrong choice could extend project timelines and boost costs significantly.

The choice of floor scraperwhether a ride-on or a walk-behind machine—is critical, but it’s easy to overlook the blade, or shank. It’s a common misconception that scraper is delivered ready to go. In most cases, a scraper comes with a blade holder, but without a blade. The blade is vital for cutting and removing old flooring material, debris, or residual adhesive, leaving a smooth substrate ready for a new covering, so contractors must select one before commencing work.

Every floor scraper comes equipped with a blade holder. However, while some equipment suppliers may provide sample blades, usually the machine will not come with the blade inserted. Often, contractors will need to choose an appropriate blade and insert it themselves once the machine is on the job site and in position.

Selecting a blade or shank type requires careful consideration of the machine and project’s needs—often, project success depends on tooling choice.


Depending on the current floor’s condition, material, and the surrounding space, the choice of scraper and blade type will be critical to the job’s speed and efficiency. While the wrong blade will still remove the material to an extent, this can introduce risks. The wrong blade could easily snap if the material is too hard, or it could cause the scraper to bounce up—causing damage to its front end and potentially harming the operator.

A heavy-duty blade is a common choice because these come in standard dimensions and can be inserted into both ride-on and walk-behind scrapers. While these are still effective in many applications, contractors now have a broader range of blade types to choose from.

One option is a wing-tipped blade, which is angled and can score the floor in cross sections as it goes over the material. These are another popular choice among contractors because of their versatility: they are suitable for softer materials including PVC, linoleum, carpet tiles, soft cork, and cushion-backed surfaces.

A third option is a guillotine blade, a specialist tool that we’ve developed at National Flooring Equipment. The main difference compared with standard heavy-duty blades is that a guillotine is angled and comes with an edge that makes it easier for contractors to slide into the material. Generally, these would be better suited, say, for removing tiled surfaces on the ground floor.


The specific blade angle can determine how fast and effectively the scraper can bring up the material. In my experience, 90 per cent of the time the blade will have the bevel up—where you can see the angle of the blade from above. Generally, this type of blade is best for removing flooring from concrete. Meanwhile, a blade with the bevel downwhere the bevel is underneath and cannot be seen—is best for removing a covering from wood.

Usually, a contractor will use a bevel-up blade when they really need to get under a material and work as close to the substrate as possible. However, if they are working on the second floor of a wood-framed building and carpet is laying on the wood surface, a bevel-down blade will allow them to skim over the surface while causing minimal damage to the substrate. If contractors select the wrong angle, only some of the material may be removed or worse, a steep bevel up could cause long-term damage to the wooden subfloor.

Contractors can adjust the angle of the blade depending on the application. By adjusting the machine, contractors can give the blade a steeper or lower angle, and, often, they must use trial and error to achieve the optimal plane. We recommend bringing multiple blades to a job so that there is a contingency if the blade wears down or snaps.


The cost of renting dumpsters can range from $300 to $600 per week and, for large flooring preparation projects, the expenses can quickly build. While no surface preparation job is 100 percent clean, combining the right blade choice with good surface preparation can minimize unnecessary waste and keep removal costs under control.

Contractors often assume that a wider blade means a faster removal, but efficiency also depends on the material. For example, regardless of blade type, large ceramic tiles will be heavier and harder to remove than, say, vinyl flooring. Meanwhile, if the contractor hasn’t prepped a softer floor covering by scoring it, this will make the job more onerous for the machine and put greater pressure on the blade because it must cover a wider continuous area.

However, by specifying a blade in line with the machine’s capabilities and crosscutting the surface, contractors can bring up smaller pieces that are easier to fit into dumpsters. More dumpster space means more material can be disposed of at once, saving on rental costs.

Scraper blades play a critical role in floor preparation, allowing contractors to remove old materials and make way for a fresh new surface. The choice of blade will vary depending on the machine, application, and the angle required. Selecting the right blade for the job can help contractors remove any obstacles with little resistance, minimize risks to the equipment and operator, and even improve waste management.

Don’t let incorrect blades hold your surface preparation back. National Flooring Equipment stocks hundreds of unique blade types including wing-tipped and straight guillotine, as well as various bevel up and bevel down options. To see its product range or search for a part number, visit National Flooring Equipment

About the Author: Tom Dunn is vice president of sales at surface preparation expert National Flooring Equipment, stocks hundreds of unique blade types including wing-tipped and straight guillotine, as well as various bevel-up and bevel-down options.