The Quick Guide To Modern-Day Polishing

August 09, 2019


The quick guide to modern-day polishing

Let’s start by talking about how modern-day polishing has changed from the past:

Paints are getting thinner and thinner, the goal in detailing nowadays is to preserve factory paint. We polish to the level of satisfaction of our customers and not to perfection, as our goal is to preserve as much factory clear coat as possible.

The 30 to 40 hours people would spend polishing paint to remove every little scratch or defect actually damages the paint. For example, if you have a scratch that is 20 Microns deep and you have 50 Microns of clear coat, it would lead to almost a 50% reduction in the clear coat around your vehicle. That can lead to clear coat failure happening sooner than anticipated down the line.


How do modern clear coats work?

It’s all about the way it is applied. The clear coat goes on as a liquid and as the solvents are drying up, they leave a crust on the surface. Some modern car paints start off extremely hard and once you break through that crust, you are left with soft paint that can start marring with just the touch of a microfibre towel. While other paints have an even consistency throughout the entire thickness of the paint, each car is unique. Our main goal with modern paints is to maintain the factory clear coat, as this will always be more chip or scratch resistant etc, than any body shop paint.


Not all correcting is done ‘correctly’:

Detailers are now practicing heat control while polishing. If the paint is at 20°c, their polishing methods should not be increasing temperatures to more than 40°c. Why? Well this is because heat causes the paint to swell, and could give a false impression of what is at the surface, hiding many defects. A common product used in dealerships or by cheaper detailers is a glaze which contains solvents that act like botox, leading to a further false impression of a perfect swirl-free finish, which then could last up to a month. This duration depends on several factors, including but not limited to the hydrocarbon content of the polish used. Eventually, through erosion via rain, heat etc., the swirls and defects which were originally present in the paint, start to show again.


Aside from that, cheap products containing silicones are commonly used to fill in gaps temporarily to give a similar false impression for a few weeks, until swirls appear again.


Issues with excessive heat & how is it caused:

Hologram damage has infamously been created by using rotary polishers which generate too much heat from poor technique or incorrect pad choices. For example, methods such as angling polishers excessively, moving across the bodice too slowly or using a microfibre pad, could all lead to holograms being left on the paintwork. By keeping temperatures low, we can avoid any risk to the paintwork. At Shine Easy, we have achieved great results using a thick wool pad on a rotary machine, as this allows plenty of air to flow through it and simultaneously allow temperatures to remain low. It is actually one of the ‘coolest’ ways to polish (in terms of temperature)!


It is not all bad news for the rotary polisher though; a Dual Action (DA) polisher can lead to a micro marring issue on modern clear coats too. This can be limited by using the correct pad and polish blend.


Compound, polish, pad, what are the best combinations!?

The most effective choice one could make is to not mix up different manufacturers, this is really not necessary. Every manufacturer has their unique system for their equipment to work together. If one were to mix and match different polish and pad manufacturers, one may be able to get great results, but may never achieve consistent results. Some may compound paint with one brand and polish with another, but the solvents and abrasives present are sometimes not compatible between one manufacturer and another.


Once you have a single manufacturer’s system in place, it then comes down to personal preference on which combinations you would like to use to cut and to finish paint. Sometimes a stiffer pad may give a better finish on soft paints than a finishing pad, i.e. you may find that finishing with a cutting pad and using a finishing polish is most effective, depending on the machine you are using.



The way we polish in the modern era has changed with the way factory paint is now applied to cars. The methods of old, although still relevant, have had to be adapted to meet customer satisfaction and not detailers’ satisfaction. Top brands spend many years researching and manufacturing their systems. We at Shine Easy are confident that we can achieve consistent results when polishing any car.


Thank you for spending your time reading up on what we enjoy the most! Until the next blog, we hope you care for your car and your environment in every way you can!

Similar articles