Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Buffing for the final finish

October 16, 2013

Buffing for the final finish requires much more thought and care than preparing the surface. Using the wrong buffer, the wrong product, and/or the wrong buffing pad can quickly add swirls to any finish.

Buffing pads: As with the right chemical choice, the right buffing pad is just as important. Using the wrong (or worn-out) pad can put even more scratches or swirls on the finish.

Whether you chose a wool or foam pad, check again with the supplier as to the recommended product to use with a particular pad. A top-quality scratch and swirl remover can certainly produce unsatisfactory results if used with the wrong type of pad.

As with the pre-cleaner/compound do not use a more abrasive pad than necessary. Start with a light to medium cut or polish pad.

Increase the aggressiveness of pad choice as necessary. Look also for manufacturers of pre-cleaners/compounds/polishes and buffing pads which use a color matched system of matching the best product to the best pad.

The pads should be in excellent condition, even if it means using a new pad for each vehicle.

Trying to save a few bucks by over-extending the useful life of the pad also increases the chance of leaving swirls behind by using old, worn-out and damaged pads.

For example, a foam finishing pad can become as aggressive as a foam cutting pad over time as the finishing foam wears down and the pad surface becomes worn.

Don Cornelius is president and co-founder of Distinctive Details, Inc., a manufacturer of products for detailers and carwashes worldwide. Cornelius, a 35 year veteran of the automotive aftermarket, has been associated with the detail industry for almost 20 years. Don can be contacted at