Cutting, Polishing, Buffing, Waxing

When customers call Cargroomers, they often use the terms cutting, polishing, buffing, waxing interchangebly. This is not necessarily incorrect. However, it does create a point of inacurracy that can have long term consequences.

Over the next few posts, we will look in detail at each of these terms; what they techincally mean, and how your cars paintwork will guide which one should be used and when.

Today we will have a brief overview. Starting with your paintwork, and then moving onto a brief description of cutting, polishing, buffing, waxing.

The illustration below shows the layers of paint on your car.

Cutting, polishing, buffing, waxing techniques to rectify automotive paintwork

The metal substrate is the your cars body. The primer helps the colour layers adhere to the substrate. The colour layers can occur singly or in multiples. They are then sealed with one or more layers of “clear”. Clear coat acts like a varnish, protecting the layers underneath.

Scratches and marks to your cars paintwork will occur at varying depths. This is shown by the irregular pattern of the clear coat layer in the picture. Some scratches will penetrate through the clear, into the colour, and/or primer layers.

When the scratches damage any of the colour layer, normal detail processes cannot fix the problem, they can only lessen its severity. A paint touch up will be needed for a perfect repair.

When the scratches leave the colour layer reasonably intact, they will reflect light at different angles creating cob-web patterns, or “micro-scratches”

If a buff machine is used incorrectly, it can actually damage the clear coat. When this happens, thousands of tiny scratches form in the same directions. These will appear as “Swirl Marks”

Micro-scratches and swirl marks can both be removed by trained operators with the right equipment. The process is to use a nano sized abrasive to gently rub the surface back. Once the scratches are smoothed out, a heavy duty carnauba wax is applied to protect the paintwork.

What are cutting, polishing, buffing, waxing?

Cutting is used when defects are quite deep. Polishing when defects are moderatly deep. Waxing is used at the end of each job to protect the paint. Buffing is a term which describes the use of a machine to either cut, polish or wax.

Next week we will describe “Waxing” in depth. What we use, why we use it and the normal costs