Polishing and Paint Correction

removing paint defects permanently

When it comes to the overall process of detailing, many terms are thrown around and tend to take on several different connotations depending on whom your speaking to. Terms such as polishing, buffing, compounding and paint correction all make up different aspects of the process.  While there are a lot of differences, the end goals are basically the same, you want your paint to look it’s best! We embrace the approach of being as gentle to your paint as possible, because it not only has the best results in terms of beauty, it also provides the most longevity for the vehicle.

In order to understand the polishing process, we will need to go over a little information about paint.  Most cars on the road today have a 2 stage paint also referred to as a base coat/clear coat paint job.  We could spend pages describing the variations in paint, but we will just mention some of the important highlights for now.  We can discuss more detail about your specific vehicle’s paint during a consultation.


By the time we receive an inquiry from a client, they have noticed that their paint doesn’t look as good as it once did. The main reason paint looks dull is because the surface has become contaminated with debris and marred up from improper washing. With the surface in this condition, the gloss and luster is affected dramatically because light isn’t able to travel through the clear coat to the base coat and then back out again without being interrupted or diffused.  When the surface has contaminants such as dirt, fall out, water spotting,etc... light is physically blocked from moving through the clear coat.  When the surface has marring or micro-marring, also commonly referred to as spiderwebbing, the light diffuses as it leaves the clear coat so you never get to see the true depth of color that the vehicle originally was intended.  Proper decontamination detailing will take care of the blockages in the paint, and paint correction will take care of the light diffusion!

Introduction to Paint Types

Hard paint, Soft paint and pure black paint

This Introduction to paint types is a very broad stroke to understand some of the differences in how different paint types are affected by improper care and also how we fix them. The softness or hardness of a paint can is generally determined in the chemical composition of the paint. Auto manufacturers select the paint type for many different reasons… cost, weight, government regulations etc..

There are some brands of cars that have extremely hard paint. The advantage to this is it is much more resistant to damage from improper washing or even actual damage. It generally found on higher end German and English vehicles such as Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Rolls Royce to name a few. The downside to this paint is generally cost, but for the higher-end cars it generally makes sense. Once a Black Mercedes has gotten marred up and dull, we can correct the paint aggressively to really help remove a lot of the damage and restore it to its original glory and beyond.

Some manufactures choose to use a paint that is softer for various reason such as it being cheeper, fulfilling water-based paint regulations or in some cases because it offers a deeper gloss. Whatever the reasoning, you are now tasked with caring for it.  Softer paint is much more susceptible to marring and some paints are so soft that they will leave surface scratches just from touching them.  It is impossible to keep these paints perfect without some sort of protection. It seems the manufacturers just expect you to look at your car after a few years and think that it’s old and done. We will be happy to show you how you can avoid that or at least repair it and avoid it happening again! Most Japanese paints, some American paints and nearly all pure black paints are very soft.

Pure black paint is the reason we’re in business!!  Not only is it usually extremely soft, but it will also show everything! Of course on the other hand, when black paint is properly corrected, it looks amazing.. which is probably why we keep buying black cars! In order to restore (or perfect) the black paint on a car, we use special techniques, pads, polishes and even the towels we wipe with to keep from adding our own damage as we restore it. Even things as small as the surface temperature can affect the outcome dramatically. There are no shortcuts to fixing soft pure black paints, but once we complete our work you will see just how amazing your car was supposed to look!

How we fix and/or enhance the paint

Restoring paint to better then brand new

To bring the paint back to its former glory and beyond, we need to remove the damaged clear coat.  We do this in the most responsible manner possible to retain as much clear coat as possible.  This is for the longevity of the vehicles paint. There are faster methods, but we chose to utilize long term safety over quick fixes. Here is breakdown of the various techniques and their unique benefits and disadvantages


This process is lowest level of invasiveness to the paint. Generally a soft pad and a gentile polish are used with light pressure to remove the least amount of clear coat possible. This process will remove light micro-marring but will not remove deeper scratches. For brand new cars this is usually sufficient, or it’s a good way to get to a 50-65% correction without having to spend a lot of money


Although ‘buffing’ is a bit of a catch all phrase, the term generally refers to a fast fix style of polishing. By utilizing the high-speed of a rotary polisher, a larger pad and some aggressive polish, a large number of defects can be removed in a very short period of time.  While this sounds good in theory, there are some big drawbacks to this method.  Because the areas are not being inspected individually, buffing will remove more clear coat then is necessary to remove the majority of the damage. If this process is completed more then a few times in the life of the car, it will experience clear coat failure.  This step by itself will also leave cutting marks from the pad.  While not as noticeable as surface marring, it still detracts from the overall quality of the paint’s finish. The other huge disadvantage is by manipulating the paint that quickly, it will leave holograms that will look awful when the sun hits it, especially on black cars.  We never use this method, as the results are undesirable for high end cars.


Compounding - also referred to as cutting, it is very similar to Buffing, except that, generally speaking, a random orbit or dual-action polisher may be used with an aggressive pad and aggressive polish to remove a large number of defects.  With a skilled person operating the machine and constantly inspecting the paint for defects as they’re removing them, the major paint defects can be removed. This step is usually followed up by a less aggressive polish to remove any cutting marks left behind from the aggressive pad.


Jeweling - is an extremely light method of polishing designed to enhance the overall luster of the paint.  This step is usually reserved for delicate paints or for a no- compromise full paint correction on an extremely rare or otherwise expensive car. the outcome is effected by the smallest details such as pressure and heat from the polishing pad.

Flat Sanding

Flat sanding - also referred to as color sanding or texture removal, is the first step in restoring badly damaged paint or for a newer car that wants to eliminate the orange peel effect in the paint.  The process is extremely invasive and should only be performed one time on most modern vehicles

Paint Correction

Paint Correction - is the use of the above methods to carefully and systematically remove as many defects from the paint as possible without compromising the longevity of the paint. It can be as simple as a single stage polishing to a flat sanding, 4 stage correction. The difference is in the method of inspecting the paint while polishing it to ensure that every square inch has gotten the proper attention.  The goal with true Paint Correction is to achieve 85% to 95% defect removal.  We specialize in this process and love watching the true color and the deepest luster of the paint being revealed permanently.

Of course not every car or every budget will allow for 4 stage correction, but there are an infinite number of combinations and compromises that we use to achieve the necessary results and keep the project on budget.  Our expert consultation will help you decide what level of correction is necessary to achieve your goals with the vehicle.  We approach each car as an individual project and it isn’t finished until we have achieved the results that we’ve agreed upon.


Next Step - Protection

Now that you know all about Paint Correction, we will show you the options to protect the beautiful paint we just restored.