I've heard guys talking about using a "tampico brush." What is it?

Daniel Boone, training manager at Sparta, N.C.-based American Sanders, answers:

Tampico brushes are brushes on a drive plate for the buffer. For decades, tampico brushes were commonly used by most wood flooring contractors for paste wax jobs; today some contractors use them for cleaning a floor or knocking down grain raise.

I have three grades of tampico brushes. I don't think they were necessarily manufactured with certain grades, but depending on the manufacturer, you would get a coarse bristle, a medium bristle or—I haven't seen these available in years—a super fine bristle that feels like a real fine paint brush.


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With wax jobs, you could use the medium or coarse grades to knock that dullness or haze off of an existing wax floor, then take the fine one to polish the wax for a shiny finish. (We would also use steel wool to do that.) On a new waxed floor, you could lightly buff over the floor with a tampico brush to get a low luster or you could really dog them to get a high sheen out of the floor. Today, most people working with wax use steel wool or a synthetic pad (like a red or white pad) to do that.

These days, some people use tampico brushes for getting rid of grain raise. The bristles have the right stiffness or bristle texture to not scratch the wood, but they are stiff enough to knock down that grain. Say you're going to do a black floor or other really dark floor … you water-pop the floor and stain it with a dark stain, but a lot of times you will still see these little light shiny specks that are the natural color of the wood from the grain raise. If you use a tampico brush on the buffer with a vacuum before staining, it will remove all those little fibers.

Today people also use tampico brushes for cleaning the floor before finishing, especially with water-based finishes. Once they have done their final buffing before applying finish and vacuum the floor, they use the tampico on the buffer with a vacuum to remove all the little grit or dust from between the boards and end joints so they get a smoother finish.

When we used the tampico brushes for wax, we would clean them by soaking them in a shallow pan of mineral spirits. Today you still need to clean your tampico brush, but you just vacuum it out, making sure there isn't any debris or little wood chunks stuck into the bristles that will leave a little curlicue mark on the floor.



See more on this topic: Wood Floor Finishing