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All about rotary buffers

May 18, 2011
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These are the dominant buffing machines used by professionals for all types of paint finishes, either electric or air. You want to use one that has a variable speed control. The correct buffing speed is determined by the type of damage you are correcting.

  • Low speed (1200 - 1500 RPM): Most effective on newer, high tech paint finishes which are more reactive to excessive heat build-up and static.
  • High speed (1600 - 2500 RPM): Ideal for use on older style, single-stage acrylic lacquer and acrylic enamel paint finishes.

NOTE: High speed buffers require a higher level of operator skill.
Be sure you have a rotary buffer with the correct speed range for the particular products you will be using. Some chemical manufacturers recommend that a high-speed buffer be used with their products; others recommend an orbital or dual-action. In order to obtain the best results, always match the buffer speed to the products you are using.

A relatively new concept in buffing, the BUFFPRO utilizes the axiel motion of a drum-style pad to buff and polish a painted surface. The major benefits of this tool is that it leaves or swirls or holograms in the paint, typical of a rotary buffer. And, it will easily remove existing swirls in the paint. It is easy to use and it’s use can be mastered by a novice after use on one car. Comes with a selection of both wool/foam cutting pads and a foam polishing pad.

Two more cautions regarding the use of a buffer:

  • Many manufacturers recommend using a high-speed buffer, which helps in repairing clear coats — but it may be wrong for special finishes. Just be sure that the products and buffer are appropriate for the finish on a particular vehicle before using them.
  • A high-speed buffer can cut through or burn paint quickly. To avoid unnecessary damage, only a skilled operator should be using a high-speed buffer.

R.L. “Bud” Abraham is president of Detail Plus Car Appearance Systems, Portland, OR, and a nearly 40-year member of the car care industry. He is also the executive director of the International Detailing Association and a member of the Western Carwash Association Board of Directors. Abraham can be contacted at

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