Paintwork Correction (Polishing – Cutting)
If you’ve read Part I of our series (Polishing – Preservation) then you know why you’d use cutting over preservation. To introduce cutting, let me just say – no, this in no way damages or harms your car. In fact, most professional detail shops will ‘cut’ paint in order to suit their customers’ needs of removing swirls or scratches. Simply put, cutting will remove surface scratches and swirl marks from paint because the polishes used are more abrasive. Like preservation, there still are some scratches that wont come out with a cutting technique; those being deep scratches that have dug into the car’s paint. It’s always a good idea to make sure pick up some touchup paint from your dealer just incase some scratches are too deep to get out. Also, paintwork correction with cutting polishes can be completed by hand with great results, but most professionals will use a machine buffer (there are many options for an at-home, easy to use orbital buffer as well).
What’s the benefit of cutting over preservation?
If you’re a person who swaps cars every 2-3 years, leases often, or simply has a scratch that’s too deep for preservation polishes then cutting is for you. The most common scratches that I see cutting fix are swirl marks, door handle scratches (from keys, etc.), and automatic car wash scratches. Unlike preservation, cutting will allow you to remove deeper and more noticeable scratches from your car’s dark paint due to its heavier grit micro-abrasives.
For more aggressive paintwork correction, you’ll want to be sure to get a leveling polish or compound. Most products will still use micro-abrasive technology, but some are more effective than others leaving out silicones or waxes from the formula. Silicones and waxes not only leave remnants behind, but also give a false image of your paint’s surface by making it appear glossy and shiny. A quality leveling compound will be designed for your car’s clear coat and is safe to use on all painted surfaces, leaving the worry out of the process. Most professional processes use multiple levels of polishing to level the surface and are followed by a finishing glaze to prep the surface properly for waxing.
With removing swirl marks, getting rid of surface scratches, leveling your car’s surface, and correcting your car’s paintwork being the main motivations, the process of which these are achieved makes a world of difference. There are many options for how to apply a leveling compound; by hand, with a rotary buffer (professionals), or an orbital buffer. When choosing which to do, please note that rotary buffers are very powerful and potentially damaging to paint if done incorrectly. Orbital buffers and hand application will yield great results and keep you from further damaging your car’s paintwork.
To begin, make sure you’ve got a clean car and that it’s been clayed if necessary. Apply the leveling polish with either a buffer or a foam applicator, moving perpendicular to the scratches on the surface of your car. I recommend moving one section at a time to be sure complete surface coverage. If the product specifies a second polish application, repeat with the second level of polish to further even the surface and rid the paint of imperfections.
Once polishing is completed, follow the same procedure with the finishing glaze. The finishing glaze will further smooth the surface after the leveling compounds have done their job and leave the surface properly prepared for protection. You’re now ready to wax!
Coming soon! Follow up with Part III of our Remove Scratches from Black Paint series entitled, Protection (waxing/sealing).