This part of our website was created to give the average consumer some base knowledge about paint correction, buffing and polishing, and automotive paint in general.
Understanding key trade words will help you make a better decision on paint correction services.
This information should help you identify your paint issues, as well as the limitation of your paint.
Buffing refers to the process of removal of thin layers of paint (or clear coat) from an (automotive) finish. Buffing is synonymous with compounding, cutting, and leveling. It is the first step of correction in our 3-Stage Cut & Polish service. Buffing differs from polishing, in the way that buffing is used to fix more heavy paint defects such as scratches, heavy swirl marks, etching, oxidization, and much more.
Polishing is used to address milder paint issues such as swirl marks, buffer swirls, or light scratches. In addition to correcting paint, polishing can be used to refine the gloss and enhance the look of an automotive paint. This step in paint correction is where experience shows, as it is the difference between a vehicle's paint being 90 percent corrected vs 99 percent corrected. Being able to deliver the last 10 percent of perfection is what separates our skilled paint correction services from others.
Paint correction is the entirety of the process of removing defects from automotive paint. Paint correction can employ any variation or buffing, polishing, and scratch repair. Claybar is a part of the prep in a paint correction process, but does not correct paint on it's own. Applying sealant is usually the final step in the paint correction procedure, but does not do anything to remove defects.
Ceramic coatings essentially seal in an automotive finish, usually after the paint correction process. They are more durable than your factory clearcoat. They protect your finish from the environment, and prevent defects such as oxidization, UV damage, bird etchings, water spots, and even light swirl marks. In addition to the paint protection benefits, ceramic coatings can enhance the look or appearance of an automotive finish.
Wax is an old school method of adding protection and gloss to an automobile. It is a common misconception that “waxing” is the same as buffing, polishing, and paint correction in general. Waxing does nothing to treat actual defects. Waxing a vehicle simply fills in scratches on a temporary basis , and provides a slick finish. Paint correction is permanent removal of defects, waxing is not.
This is not to say that waxing doesn't have some advantages!
The process of removing automotive paint scratches through abrasion. Some scratches may be repaired with less aggressive polishing, while certain scratches will require heavy buffing, and wet sanding. Unfortunately, certain scratches are not able to be repaired by even aggressive wetsanding, and for these damages we recommend panel refinishing, or repainting.
A claybar is used to remove surface contamination from automotive paint. It is done by gliding a soft man made putty across the surface. With each motion, it removes embedded particles that are not removed during car washes.
Contrary to popular belief, claybar does not remove scratches. It is a preparation step in the paint correction process.
Watersanding is the most agressive method of paint correction. It involves rapid removal of clear coat (or paint) via abrasive papers, lubricated with water. Watersanding is used to remove deep defects where buffing would prove ineffective. Watersanding can be used to remove paint texture, as well as remove ceramic coatings. Watersanding is always a last resort to remove defects. It is important to remove the minimum amount of material to achieve desired results.
Paint Protection Film (PPF), sometimes also referred to as clear bra or paint film, is a protective layer applied to the exterior of a vehicle to shield the paint and finish from damage caused by various environmental factors and minor abrasions.
Clearcoat scratches are light to moderate defects that have penetrated the clearcoat, but not the basecoat. These defects can usually be repaired with buffing, polishing, or wetsanding.
Deep scratches are defects that penetrate the clearcoat entirely. They can be through the basecoat, as well as through the primer. These damages are repaired with either touch up, or panel resprays.
Waterspots generally vary in severity. Some waterspots are only surface contamination, in which minerals from hard water sit on top of the clearcoat. However some waterspots etch into the clearcoat, and sometimes the basecoat, requiring extensive measures to repair.
Micromarring or pigtails are caused by excessive heat, or abrasion in the polishing process. They are sometimes caused by improper compounding with a dual action polisher. The result of micromarring is a finish that has a slight haze, and a random pattern of "ticks" on the paint. This is often remedied by a fine polish.
Holograms, or "Buffer Trails" are caused by inexperienced, or careless technicians. Holograms look like a circular, one directional haze, caused by a rotary polisher. Contaminated pad, and lack of fine polish, are some of the reasons for holograms.
Clearcoat failure is the point where clearcoat is compromised and is no longer protecting the basecoat below. Clearcoat failure is caused by poor quality clearcoat, or paint. It is also caused by an error in the painting process. Most of the time, clearcoat failure can only be fixed by respraying the panel.
An improper ceramic coating installation can have several characteristics. High spots are hazy areas with excessive coating. Also, repairable defects underneath a ceramic coating is tell tale sign of a poor installation. This is usually remedied by either heavy compounding, or watersanding (followed by a full paint correction).
Sanding scratches are scratches left over or missed from the sanding process. Several factors come into play with sanding scratches. Improper lighting may cause a previous detailer to miss sanding scratches when removing a defect. Also, polishes with fillers may give the illusion of the removal of sanding scratches, only to have them reappear after a few washes. Sanding scratches are remedied by compounding and polishing with filler free products.
Orange peel is when a vehicles paint job has excessive high and lows in the finish. There is a wide variety of factors that cause orange peel. With some OEM paints, orange peel is the norm. Excessive orange peel is caused in substandard resprays. In order to reduce or remove orange peel, a variation of watersanding and polishing is required.
Oxidization is caused by UV Damage as well as environmental conditions. A vehicle that is oxidized will appear dull, and hazy. Oxidization is not to be confused with clearcoat failure. Oxidization is relatively straight forward to remove with polishing.
Swirl marks are innumerable fine scratches in an automotive finish. Swirl marks can vary from "light" to "deep". It is the technicians discretion whether they are either or. Swirl marks are the accumulation of wear and tear on a vehicle. The standard procedure to repair swirl marks is with a 3-Stage Paint Correction.
A paint chip is a small section of a vehicle's finish in which the paint has been removed. A paint chip is usually no larger than the eraser of a pencil. If smaller than the above dimensions, a paint chip can be filled with new paint, and polished. If the paint chip is larger than the eraser of a pencil, panel repainting may be required.
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