How to get the perfect finish - Professional Carwashing & Detailing
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Waxing, polishing, buffering, detail, detailing


How to get the perfect finish

Detailers can use advanced tools to get optimal customer satisfaction.


Today’s technology allows detailers to obtain permanent correction using the most advanced tools, pads and polish not available previously. The backbone to this system is a powerful, large-stroke orbital tool that removes most defects and has been developed along with new pads and new polish for a system approach that allows even a novice detailer to obtain professional results.

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Finish correction evolution

Special microfiber foam pads and conventional foam pads have been manufactured for these tools to withstand the high amounts of friction heat they produce. Polishes have been reformulated to offer adequate lubricity and effectively remove defects in one step. The powerful large-stroke orbital machines are available from many tool manufacturers. These tools were first developed for use at car manufacturing plants in a smaller version that required a large air compressor to power them. Common sizes were three- and five-inch diameter used for spot correction. Dust nibs and sand scratches were easily removed in just four seconds per defect. Many finishes were saved from a multiple step repair or a costly paint touch-up that would be needed without this system.


These systems soon became popular in body shops, and the demand rose for an electricity-powered tool with the same characteristics and a larger size so larger surfaces could be buffed. Requiring no air compressor, these new electric tools could be used by all detail shops. As more manufacturers became available and made this tool, the price was lowered, making them more affordable. Time was saved and results were tremendous. Before this multiple steps were needed to correct problems that now could be done in much less time. The overall finish looked much better because a higher gloss was obtained using this powerful tool.


Special, heat-resistant microfiber foam pads and conventional foam pads are manufactured using the latest heat-resistant glues. These glues will not break down like previous adhesives, and the pads are machine washable even with strong detergents and hot water. The pads last much longer, which results in a cost savings.

One-step polishes have been developed specifically for this system. They offer just the right amount of cut for major correction of defects and yet create results that have impressed even the most demanding customer.

Waxes and sealants can be applied for added durability, obtaining an even higher gloss than the original finish from the manufacturer. Using the tool to remove the polish residue speeds up the process and burnishes the finish, resulting in a higher gloss and added durability. The end results are a remarkable high gloss finish with easy maintenance for the customer. This guarantees satisfaction that will ensure a higher customer retention rate and increased business referrals resulting in lasting success.


Buffing methods

It is important to wear safety glasses, an apron tied to the back so the ties will not become tangled with the polisher, and protective gloves that will grip the tool for added safety. A new technique should be used to obtain desired results. Begin by starting on the hood of the vehicle, because this will be the area you spend the most time. You can easily inspect to see what you are accomplishing.

Use a polish applicator to dispense the polish evenly. Make an X on the pad using a fair amount of polish. Next, move the pad to the middle of the hood and apply medium pressure while keeping the pads flat.


Move the pad in a back and forth motion to spread the polish evenly before starting the polisher. Then start the polisher at a slow speed with medium pressure as you increase the speed of the polisher to the desired speed.

Keep the pad completely flat and slowly move the pad to the next area to be polished. Do not buff the polish until it’s dry. Leave the finish with a thin film of polish that can be wiped off later with a microfiber towel during the final steps.

Continue to buff all flat areas. Inspect the pad often and use a nylon bristle brush to clean polish residue that has built up and could mat the pad’s surface, resulting in lost effectiveness. Remember to be careful with the electrical cord when buffing the sides and top of the vehicle. It can easily tangle in the buffer and harm you.


Cleaning up

During the buffing process the tool could hit protruding parts and cause damage to the vehicle. To remove the leftover polish residue, take a microfiber towel and wipe off all of the remaining polish residue, flipping the microfiber towel often to keep the towel’s surface as fresh as possible.

Use all sides of the microfiber towel until you see that it is not removing all of the polish residue. Change the microfiber towel often. You may also want to have another microfiber pad and several microfiber towels available so you can continue servicing another vehicle while they are being cleaned and dried. When you are finished, wash the microfiber towels and microfiber pads in warm water using a strong detergent. Do not wash them with cotton towels or rags. A cup of vinegar can be added at the beginning of the rinse process, but do not use a fabric softener during the drying process.


Dry the towels on low heat thoroughly before reusing. Another method is to clean microfiber pads by hand, washing them with a strong detergent, then rinsing them in vinegar to remove the polish residue. After this, place them in the middle of a dry microfiber towel and tightly turn the towel to squeeze most of the moisture out of the microfiber pad.

Afterward, attach the microfiber pad to your polisher and run at the highest speed for several minutes until sufficiently dry. A slightly damp microfiber pad is fine to use. You may also want to have another microfiber pad and several microfiber towels available so you can continue doing another vehicle while they are being cleaned and dried.


If you utilize several different polishes, label each microfiber pad with a permanent magic marker with what polish was used. You may also want to mark each pad with the time it is cleaned so you know the number of times it has been washed. After several cleanings inspect the microfiber pad for wear that could affect its performance. Inspect the backing plate to make sure it is not worn or has polish residue that could affect the ability to grip and hold the pad. Inspect the polisher’s cord to make sure it is in perfect condition. These steps are needed to achieve the results you desire. Perfection leads to satisfied customers and repeat business.


Dave Hornby is a veteran of more than 45 years in the detailing industries as a manufacturer, distributor and inventor. He was a founding member of the Professional Detailing Association (the current International Detailing Association), and holds multiple international patents on buffing products. Today as a consultant he wishes to offer advice to professional detailers and detail suppliers to the industry. Email questions and comments to [email protected]

Professional Carwashing & Detailing