What is the difference between Polishing and Waxing My Cars Paint?

Tags: Paint Buffing Polishing

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http://www.howtopaintcars.com/wp-content/gallery/refinishing-products/meguiars-7-polish.jpg?i=701076400Many people get confused about what products they should use to restore and maintain their paint finish.

Although there are many products out on the market that say they can turn a 30 year old paint job into a factory new finish the truth is once paint gets to a certain point even if it is not flaking or crazing to the point you can see it with your eyes the paint will break down and need to be replaced.

Paint is a flexible coating and even though it may seem hard and durable the fact is it never really cures fully. If it did it would chip off your car like a sheet of ice does in the winter.

The easiest way to recognize this is that when you paint a car and release it to the customer paint manufacturers suggest that you remind the customer to wait weeks before they can apply a wax to the area that has been repaired. This is because the wax can be absorbed into the paint causing it to fail.

This is important to understand when you are working with new vehicles or ones that may have had spot repairs or overall paint jobs.

The smoother the surface the better the shine

Without starting a discussion better placed in a Physics class objects that are smooth produce a better reflection.

You can see this on a glass window that is dirty and when you clean it you can see a reflection in it. That is because the dirt on the window takes away from the smoothness of the glass.  The same is true if you ever see a polished rock and a rock that has water on it fills in the crevices of the surface making it smother and shiny.

This is the basic principle behind using a clear coat and polishing it.

If you were to simply start buffing on a clear coat that had pretty bad orange peal you may improve it some but if you use a high grade sandpaper like 1000 grit you can flatten the surface to make it level and then buff out all the scratches the sandpaper makes with polish.

Polish can be thought of as a finer grade sand paper and all you are doing is sanding then buffing to get the surface as smooth as you can to improve the reflection and shine.

Polish is not for protecting the paint surface

Most polishes used by professionals are not formulated to protect the surface of the paint.

As we said above their main purpose is to flatten and smooth the paint and remove scratches to improve the shine.

Polishes are best applied with a BUFFER not a SANDER with a buffing pad.. buffing must be done much slower then sanding or you will burn through your paint in a second.. seriously get a buffer for $50 – $75 that has a speed adjustment.

Polishes are water based and come in a variety of cutting strengths.

Many manufacturers make a 10 grade level system that finishes up with a swirl remover for final passes.

When you use a buffer pad for polishing it should be a dedicated pad that you do not also use for buffing wax.

Polish can be applied by hand or buffer.

Some refinishers also use clay which is basically a grade of polish that we will cover another day.

Once the paint is shiny you need to protect it with a wax.

Some Car Waxes can harm your paint

Although many manufacturers have developed silicon based shine enhancers they really should not be used on paint that you expect to keep in service for many years.

Yes it is a harsh truth that no one really tells you but Silicon can get into the fine cracks in paint and destroy the surface and cause the paint to fail faster.

Silicon based shine enhancers work in a similar way that water on a rock makes it shine. Once the water drys up the shine on the rock is gone. Once the rain and elements have worn the silicon out of the fine scratches on the surface of  the paint the shine will also be gone.

These are quick fix products that high volume used car dealers use to get the car off the lot but as we know the real way to get your paint to shine is not by temporarily filling in the tiny scratches with gook its to sand then buff.

Safe Waxes for Protection of Paint

http://www.howtopaintcars.com/wp-content/gallery/refinishing-products/carnauba-wax-gallon.jpg?i=487816938Carnauba  wax is a natural product that is even found in some of our foods. It is often used in candy to give it a shine or on fruit.

This is probably the best product to use to protect the surface of your vehicle and you can apply it by hand or with a buffer.

Carnauba wax should not be used on fresh paint.

A gallon of Carnauba Wax at your local body shop supply center should last you a lifetime if you are a hobbyist and normally runs about $35 – $50 and is a lot cheaper then all the bottles and cans of crap you can buy at the parts store that really are not safe for your paint.


The basic rule of thumb for Polishing and Waxing your Car

Never apply wax to fresh paint you must always wait about 2 months even if you force dry your paint in a booth.

Use polish to restore oxidized finishes with the knowledge there is only so much you can do for old paint.

Use polish to remove orange peal or after removing dust with a high grit sand paper.

Finally after waiting a few months you can protect your paint with a Carnauba Wax never use Silicon shine enhancers unless you are totally out of hope for the vehicle’s paint and you just need a few more months out of it.

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