Compounds and Cutting Polishes can drastically improve the condition of the clear coat. This step can help faded, oxidized, swirled and scratched clear coats look significantly better. The cutting polish helps restore a transparent clear coat, which allows for light to pass directly through the clear coat, thus creating a bright reflection with a deep shine. This step produces some of the most noticeable results that make you proud of your vehicles stunning appearance. Compounds are more aggressive and usually more abrasrasive than cutting polishes and can remove deeper marks, scratches, swirls and other imperfections on the clear coat.
A cutting polish will remove a micro-thin layer of your clear coat. It helps smooth out scratches, swirls and removes watermarks that are etched into the clear coat. We suggest using a cutting polish once or twice a year or as needed to treat imperfections as they happen. Your clear coat can appear hazy from using a cutting polish. This slight haze is to be expected and will be buffed out with finer polishes, also known as finishing polishes in the next step.
Finishing Polishes are light polishes designed to really shine the paint and restore a glossy finish. As most detailers know it’s how you prep the surface that really determines the end result of your detail. Finishing polishes will help remove old wax or sealant, oxidation, embedded contaminates, very fine surface imperfections and more. This process helps clean the clear coat, which allows more light to pass through, thus creating a deeper shine. Using a finishing polish will restore a brilliant gloss. Hazing that may have occured from a more aggressive compound or cutting polished should be completely removed and the surface should be extremely smooth to the touch. This is the perfect step to take to prep your paint after using a cutting polish or before you use a glaze, sealant or wax.
Recommended Polishing Products:
Is A Buffer Necessary?
Below are some of the major benefits of using the Porter Cable 7424 with the velcro backing plate. The velcro backing plate screws directly into the PC7424 and allows you to easily swap pads on and off. The velcro backing plate is also 6” in diameter, which evenly distributes pressure from the buffer throughout the entire 6.5” diameter of the pad. Here are some other benefits:
A) It saves you time and energy.
When applying coat after coat by hand, you tend to get tired and slow down. Your fingertips exert pressure over a very small area so it requires many passes just to cover a small area. The 6.5" circular pad on the Porter Cable 7424 can cover a larger surface area quickly and easily. The Porter Cable is only 6lbs and has two comfortable places for your hands to guide the buffer. The buffer completes 2,500 to 6,000 orbits per minute, which creates plenty of pressure that’s nearly impossible to duplicate by hand. On average the buffer can help you complete a coat in 50% - 75% of the time it takes to complete hand applications.
B) You achieve more consistent results.
When you guide the buffer across the clear coat it creates pressure that breaks down the product and works it into the clear coat. Alternatively, hand applications force you to attempt to apply the same exact force through a multiple step detailing process. Most hand applications yield varying levels of pressure that may leave the process looking slightly inconsistent or blotchy. You are exerting a lot of energy during hand applications, especially for polishes, which require steady pressure to perform their best. The Porter Cable comes with a dial that controls the buffer’s speed, so you get the exact same results throughout each coat.
C) You obtain better results.
Because of the Porter Cable’s random orbit pattern you will not risk burning the paint like you would with traditional rotary buffers. The even distribution of heat and pressure will break down the product evenly so the results are perfectly uniform. This uniform application is essential for even protection and shine over all the clear-coated surfaces. The PC 7424 is compatible with a variety of different pads that help best work in certain products. Sealants and waxes should generally be applied with a soft finishing pad. The correct pad selection is crucial to achieving maximum results.
Polishing can yield the most dramatic results when detailing. It does so by smoothing out the dips and valleys in the clear coat, aka swirls and scratches, allowing light to reflect the true depth and gloss of the paint underneath.
Prior to Polishing:
At this point the vehicle should be freshly washed & dried and already treated with clay bar. For ease of use and best results the vehicle should be worked on in a shaded area where the paint is cool to the touch. Attach the appropriate pad to the Porter Cable 7424, centering the pad on the backing plate. Whether doing the application by hand or with a buffer be sure to match the aggressiveness of the product with the aggressiveness of the pad
Instructions for Polishing:
- Dispense a few dabs of product around the outer edge of the pad. (Note: If the pad is brand new add a little extra product)
- With the PC off smear the product over a 18" x 18" area on the clear coat.
- To help spread the product thinly and evenly, turn the PC unit on at a low speed setting (about speed setting 3) and spread the product out evenly over the 18" x 18" section
- Increase the speed setting to 5 or 6 and begin to apply light to medium pressure to the head of the PC unit. If the PC bogs down, you are applying too much pressure. (More experienced users may want use higher speed settings to attain better results. Newer users should start at lower speed levels until comfortable.)
- Start in the top left corner of your 18" x 18" area and move the PC from left to right at a pace of 1 ” per second. As you reach the far side of your box, move the PC down enough so that you would overlap the previous pass by about 50%. Continue this pattern until you have passed over each part of the 18" x 18" box. Proceed to follow the same pattern with verticle passes and move the buffer left to right until the entire 18" x 18" area has been buffed.
- With the PC still on, continue to work the buffer from top to bottom a second time, still moving at 1" per second, and overlapping each pass by 50%. This time around, use little to no pressure so the pad spins freely for this set of passes. Continue this pattern until the entire 18" x 18" area has been completed for the second time as described in step 5, just using the weight of the buffer as the pressure. After completing the 18" x 18" area turn the buffer off. (Note: At this time the entire 18" x 18" panel should have received eight passes. If the polish dusts excessively, the product was overworked and can be stopped prior to eight complete passes.)
- After completing a section or panel use a paint safe microfiber towel to wipe off any remaining excess product. Replace towel if it smears or becomes saturated with product. On average we recommend allocating 3 towels per coat to ensure no streaking from excess product build up.
- After a few panels take the time to remove excess product from the pad so it does not get saturated, or ideally, replace the pad with a fresh one at this time. To clean the pad, simply spin the buffer on a low speed and agitate it with a clean soft bristled toothbrush to remove product build up in the pores of the foam pad.
- Continue this entire process until the entire vehicle has been buffed.
- When finished, clean your pads immediately to extend the life of your pads and maintain the highest quality results possible.
After Polishing Your Vehicle...
Following polishing your paint, you may decide using a glaze is the next step you take. A glaze will help fill in imperfections that were unable to be buffed out by polishing. It does so by using oil or clay fillers that cling to the dips and valleys, giving your paint the appearance of less imperfections. The oils generate another level of depth and gloss and is commonly used on show cars and to get lighter colored vehicles to really pop.