Matte paint finishes have many similarities and many differences from glossy paint finishes. One major difference between the two is the visibility of micro scratches.
When referring to micro scratches people usually mean one of a few different things including swirl marks, holograms, spider webbing, and micro marring.
Swirl Marks: Generally caused by debris and contaminants in the paint. Failing to clay the car before polishing is a common reason for swirl marks. These appear as scratches in a tight circular pattern in the paint
Holograms: Also known as buffer trails, these can be caused by a number of miscalculations with regards to machine polishing. The problems can be caused by improper speed control, or using the incorrect pad or product. The end result is that trails are visible where the machine went.
Spider Webbing: Is the cracking of the paint or clear coat. Usually due to improper care of the paint finish, old age, and wear and tear while driving.
Micro Marring: Often times used interchangeably with “micro scratches”, but also used as a catchall term for marks caused by automatic washes and rough cloths.
Reason #1: Matte Paint Structure:
The reasons for why micro scratches are irrelevant when it comes to matte paint finishes are interconnected. Reason number 1 is because of the Matte Paint Structure. Matte paint is not like glossy paint. Duh. OK moving past that. When getting down to the microscopic level of matte paint, you’ll see that the paint already imperfect by design. The paint is made to have little groves and valleys, and ridges, this is in fact why matte paint looks matte. These imperfections are what allow the paint to refract light and give it that “dull” appearance.
So if someone with, a dirty towel were to wipe down a matte car, you might expect that to lead to some micro scratches. That however is not the case because what’s a couple extra imperfections in a paint surface that is purposefully COVERED in them? So you’re not going to need to machine buff matte paint because you will not see micro scratches.
Reason #2: You Don’t Buff Matte Paint:
You’ll probably notice that most of the problems outlined above are caused directly by machine polishing. So because You Don’t Have To Buff Matte Paint, you don’t get swirl marks, or holograms, or micro marring. The whole realm of using machine buffers and polishes is obsolete when matte paint is entered into the equation. Done. Simple as that.
If you do decide to buff matte paint, you’re going to get a shiny spot where you buffed. That is because you’re taking out all the imperfections that are refracting light.
If you do get a visible scratch, it will in fact be a deep scratch that would not be fixable with a buffer anyway. So touch-up paint or a respray is the correct course of action.
If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, please feel free to leave a comment below.