Nov 10, 2005

Car Tip 11 - Buffing and polishing

Buffing and polishing

This buffing and polishing process is the step in automotive detailing or restoration where you remove scratches, oxidation, and imperfections on the painted finish. This will also restore your finishes luster.

Tip 1 - Never rush through this process.

This process can not be reversed, so take your time.

For this process you will need:
A high-speed buffer
Buffing pads
buffing compounds

Before we can begin, you need to know what type of paint you are dealing with and what condition the paint is in. Knowing these things will help you choose the right products. Clearcoat finished are treated differently then conventional finishes. Since more then 80% of vehicles manufactured today have clearcoat, we will deal with buffing and polishing a clearcoat finish.

In general, painted finishes can be categorized into three stages of contamination:
Stage 1 - heavy oxidation and/or deep scratches
Stage 2 - Mild oxidation and/or scratches
Stage 3 - No oxidation and scratches

Each stage will require a different product.
Stage 1 finishes will require a compound with heavy abrasives, stage 2 will require compounds with mild abrasives, and stage 3 will require polishes, waxes, or product with little or none abrasives. If your finish falls into stage 3, you don't need to buff finish. All you will need to do is top the finish with a good wax. I refer to this step as "final finishing".

Knowing the condition of the paint will help you choose the products needed.

When buffing a clearcoat finish, never use too much compound. Start buffing with a small amount, and repeat if necessary.

Tip 2 - Know the type of paint and the condition of the finish.
Tip 3 - Always use clearcoat save products, if working with a clearcoat finish.
Tip 4 - Use small amounts of compounds.
Tip 5 - Never attempt to buff a warm or hot surface, this could result in staining the finish.

As with any other process in detailing, work with one small area at a time. Apply a small amount of product to the surface, and start working with the buffer. Keep the buffing pad as flat as you can. Slide the buffer in a back and forth direction on the finish. Use the same direction of motion with each stoke of the buffer. Once you are satisfied with an area, move to the next area. Always keep the buffer moving, keeping the buffer in the same place will burn the paint.

Tip 6 - Keep the buffing pad flat on the finish.
Tip 7 - Move the buffer in the same direction along the entire surface.
Tip 8 - Let the buffer do the work.

This process is best completed by splitting the vehicle up in sections. Buff one section at a time, and always buff the entire top of the vehicle before moving to the sides.

Once done with the buffing and polishing process top the finish with a wax or sealant. This will add protection to the surface and remove light swirl marks. I normally wax the vehicle after I have completed the interior.

Often, the buffing process covers the car with product splatter. If needed, wash the vehicle to remove the splattered product.

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