Module 8: Professional Polish

Polishing is one of the most important detailing steps. This unit covers topics such as how to buff up oxidized paint, how to use power buffers, and more.


There are many ways to protect the car from oxidation, but if the worst happens, and the paint job starts oxidizing, it can still be saved before complete deterioration.

The key to solving the oxidized paint issue is to start treating it whenever the first signs appear. If the clear coat gets too worn out and damaged, oxidation can spread on the whole surface of a vehicle.

At that point, there’s no other option but to completely repaint the car. To prevent this, you can suggest to your customers that they intervene whenever they start seeing the first signs of oxidation.

The early stage of oxidation involves the paint job losing its shine and the color appears dull. After this, the surface gets white and chalky, at which point it gets harder to restore the paint job.

If the clear coat is heavily damaged, there is no hope of restoring the paint job to its original condition. The only option would be repainting the damaged parts or the whole car if the oxidation is spread too much.

If a car comes in with little to moderate oxidation, you can use a polishing compound on a light pad and slowly buff the affected areas or the whole paint job to restore the shine.

Once again, it’s important to manage your customer’s expectations. Be very clear from the beginning about what can and can’t be done to repair oxidized paint job.

Cutting Polish

Cutting polish can be used to restore light scratches and rejuvenate the faded paint job. Using cutting polish can remove old and oxidized paint and breathe a new life into the color of the vehicle.

Before you can start applying cutting polish, you must give the car a thorough wash to get rid of any dirt and debris that might be present on the surface.

When you are satisfied with the cleanliness of the surface, you can move on to applying the cutting polish by dabbing the needed amount on an applicator and slowly working it on the desired area.

It’s wise to apply the cutting polish in small sections, so you don’t run the risk of it drying before you can go over with a power buffer.

Once you get the cutting polish on the surface, you can wipe off any excess and go in with the buffer. Make sure to use a soft pad to avoid any scratching, and don’t use too much force.

Cutting polish can be applied on areas affected by heavy scratching or oxidation, or on the whole body of the vehicle.

When choosing which cutting polish to use, you can rely on your assessment of the severity of the issue and decide which product to use. Cutting polish is categorized based on its abrasiveness from light to medium to high.

Products and Equipment

Polishing the car is one of the final touches of auto detailing and can make or break the whole experience. It is important to use the correct products and equipment for the job.

Applying polish, wax, sealants or any other coating can be done by hand, but it can become a very long process. Therefore, using a power buffer is an absolute must in car detailing.

A power buffer doesn’t only cut down the time needed to apply a product on the car but it also does a much better job at providing a uniform, even layer that simply can’t be achieved when working with your hands and a cloth.

There are many different types of buffing pads available for different jobs. The pads are usually made from wool, microfiber, or foam.

It’s suggested that you have a wide range of buffer pads to make sure that you have one for every application.

As for the products, there are many different polishes out there. Some of them are more powerful than others.

If the car doesn’t have heavy scratching, it’s better to use less aggressive polish to preserve the clear coat for longer.

How to use a power buffer

When it comes to power buffers, there are two popular options – the rotary buffer and the dual-action buffer (often called DA for short).

The main difference between the two is the way they rotate. The rotary buffer’s head only spins in a circular motion, creating heat and friction that can remove many imperfections from a car. This makes it the more powerful of the two.

The DA buffer spins in two directions, creating less friction. The DA buffer is ideal for removing small scratches and blemishes and for applying various products.

A professional detailer should have both of these tools in their kit because you never know what type of work a car will require.

Using a buffer is a straightforward procedure, but there are several tips that can help you achieve the best result.

To begin, dab a small amount of polish onto the applicator pad and apply it over the area you wish to work on before turning the buffer on.

Buffers don’t require too much pressure, but you must keep your hand steady when working with them. You should always start with a lower speed and slowly increase it to prevent damaging the paint job.

Buffers are great for applying the product evenly. Once you’re pleased with one section, you can move to the next.

When the polish is dry, and you are happy with the result, you can take off any excess polish using a microfiber cloth. Many detailers opt to apply wax after finishing with the polish.

Buffer Pads

Buffing pads come in many sizes, shapes, and materials, and each of them has its distinct purpose. As mentioned, pads are usually made from foam, microfiber, or wool.

Pads can be used on either a rotary buffer or DA, as long as the pad is the same size as the backing plate (where pads are attached) of your buffer model.

Pads are differentiated based on their so-called ‘cut’. The more aggressive cuts are used for completely removing paint from a car, leaving behind an uneven surface. The less aggressive pads are used for leaving a smooth finish on the paint job.

The most widespread, foam pads are divided into three categories: compounding, polishing, and finishing pads.

Compounding pads are the most aggressive of the three and can remove even the most serious imperfections.

Next is the polishing foam pad with lower aggressiveness. Finally, the finishing pads provide little to no cut and are ideal for waxing and other finishing touches.

Knowing the buffer types and the variety of pad attachments is great for choosing the right one for your needed purpose.