How to Polish Car Paint by Hand
May 2, 2016
Polishing car paint is significantly easier with the invention of the dual action polisher and the rotary buffer. But not all car owners have the skills to use these equipment properly or even have the funds to purchase them. In such instances, there is nothing wrong with putting in some extra work and time to polish car paint the good old-fashioned way – by hand. However, just like using machines, there is a method to this procedure. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to polish car paint by hand.
Polishing is a paint correction process where scratches and swirls are removed by the use of an abrasive compound. There are different levels of abrasiveness to this compound, and they are meant to be used on the corresponding type of automotive paint which is also categorized as hard, of intermediate hardness, and soft. However, since establishing the hardness of your automotive paint is not an easy task, it is always best to use the least abrasive compound to minimize damage to the paint.
Hand polishing is a good method to get rid of minor clear coat scratches and swirls, but for deeper paint defects machine polishing is required. A positive of hand polishing is that there is very little chance of paint damage. In contrast, an incorrectly used rotary buffer will burn right through the paint in seconds. But don’t underestimate polishing an entire car by hand as it is very time consuming and puts a lot of pressure on the muscles of your hand.
How to polish car paint by hand – 4 easy steps
Polish works best on clean and contaminant-free paint. Prepare the surface by washing it with a chemical-free car wash soap or shampoo. You can also steam clean the exterior for best results. Once it has been washed and fully dried, use a clay bar to remove minute contaminants from the surface. Don’t forget to lubricate the surface well beforehand. Wipe the surface with a microfiber towel when the claying process is complete.
As mentioned above, choose a polishing compound that is less abrasive. You will also need foam or microfiber applicator pads. Keep a few spare ones at hand in case you drop the applicator in use or it gets too dirty. These pads can be washed and reused, but since no amount of washing can completely decontaminate them, we recommend one use per pad. Lastly, purchase a microfiber buffing cloth to remove residue.
Put a tablespoon of polish on your applicator pad . Because the pad is dry at first it will absorb quite a bit of product, but once you have polished a few sections, reduce the amount of product used. Don’t add the polish directly on the paint. You should also work in small sections. Work the polish into the paint in circular motions. Don’t polish with your fingertips, but put pressure on the pad with the face of fingers. Polish in this manner until only a thin film remains.
Use the microfiber buff cloth to buff polish residue from the area you worked. Do this before the polish has completely dried or you will be left with a hazy surface instead of the beautiful finish you wanted.
Continue to work in sections until you have completed the job. Work in a well-lit area so you can continuously check your work. Once you are satisfied with the results, follow with a coat of wax and paint sealant.
Learning how to polish car paint by hand can be a rewarding albeit time and effort consuming process. If you really want a car that gleams and shines to perfection, consider our Presidential Detailing Package.
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