Is the time right to buy a ride-on floor-scraper? – Let's do the math!

Purchasing a ride on floor scraper is a really big investment, and if you are a small flooring contractor, I can see it being your BIGGEST equipment investment. So the critical question is… “Should I?”

Well, let’s do the math. I’ll use a typical commercial flooring removal scenario: We have 30,000 ft2 of VCT to remove at $.25 per foot with a total invoice at completion of $7,500.00.

Let’s run some numbers...

Removal Option 1 – By Hand

It’s tricky to estimate how many square feet of VCT can be removed per hour per person since every job varies greatly, but let’s be generous and say the VCT comes up easily, at a nice average rate of 150 ft2 per hour per person. (I have been on many jobs where this was nowhere near possible, but let’s go ahead and use this number). That adds up to 200 man-hours to remove 30,000 ft2 flooring.

At this rate you’re only making $37.50 an hour per person, which is probably unaffordable for the general contractor. Even for an independent contractor, the numbers are not great… that’s why many installation contractors do not want to do their own demolition.

Removal Option 2 – Walk-Behind

What about removing VCT with a walk-behind floor scraper like the BULL from Contec? Again, removal rates vary, but the BULL removes VCT at an average rate of 450 ft2 per hour, which has the job done in only 66.66 hours. Much better! At $.25 per foot, you’re making a lot more at $112.50 per hour. A great improvement!

Now let’s get serious, and talk about removal with the big dawg...

Removal Option 3 – Go for A Ride!


There are a number of RIDE-ON machines out there, manufactured by probably 6 or 8 manufacturers, and all have somewhat different removal rates. But they all do basically the same thing: remove flooring very quickly, some with rates of up to 4,000 ft2 per hour. For this comparison let’s not use a number even close to this, as job conditions making this removal rate possible are not very often seen. That said, VCT removal on a commercial flooring project can easily be removed at 2,500 ft2 an hour! I bet you see where we’re going with this…  2,500 per hour gives our job a removal time of only 12 hours. At $.25 per ft2 that earns you $625.00 per hour!

Let’s summarize these three options:

  • BY HAND. You make $37.50 per hour and take 200 hours to do the job.
  • WALK-BEHIND MACHINE. You make $112 per hour and it takes 66.66 hours.
  • RIDE-ON MACHINE. You make $625.00 per hour and you’re done in 12 hours.

The numbers speak for themselves! On many ride-on jobs, you will do even better than the rate we used in this scenario, and (to be honest) there will be jobs where you don’t do as well. But clearly, you can do very well with a ride-on scraper on average.

In the end, to make this difficult decision, here are the real questions to ask yourself:

Can you get the projects?

If you can get the projects and bid correctly, you can’t help but be profitable.

Do you live in an area that has enough commercial activity to keep a machine busy?

Even a medium sized project every 2-3 weeks can justify the purchase.

If you can say yes to these two questions (and don't forget the benefits you will see with less labor fatigue and fewer injuries) the investment in a ride-on machine starts to look like a BIG WIN!

Still have questions? Your Bartell Global sales rep can help you come up with a plan that works for YOU and your unique position in the market.


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