Polishing & Detailing

There is two categories of polishing we offer, Glazing, where scratches and swirls is filled / masked for a period of time, or to Polish / Correct paint, where scratches and swirl and other defects is permanently removed. The choice of either is according to the existing paint condition, your needs and budget.

The services we offer is done with different levels of detail and precision. Our approach is therefore technical and not comparable to what you may get at a car wash, valet center or even panel beater/spray painter. In essence, detail means personalized and that’s how we can deliver our service.

Our primary goal is to maintain paint in terms of its film thickness, ( original paint is slightly thicker than a sheet of a paper! ) as well its integrity, so that it doesn’t fade or peel in the future. This means that polishing must be done carefully and with precision.

A standard set of detailing is included in every package as well as Paint Protection. If needed, Level 2 & 3 can be upgraded to better paint protection like Ceramic Coatings.

We also offer Maintenance Detail services as well as Products so that proper aftercare is established to avoid unnecessary polishing in the future.

All the content on this website has been written by myself. I’ve tried to be as “light” as possible, in terms of being too technical. I have included an expanded and rich source of polishing & detailing information in my Frequently Asked Questions aka “FAQ” section. If you are unfamiliar with an FAQ, its an area of a website that has answers to typical questions that get’s asked.

I realise that it can be intimidating or tiresome to read through this kind of content. In this regard, you are welcome to arrange with me a free Inspection, where I can visually inspect and polish out a test spot on your car, (so that you can see for yourself what’s needed and what to expect), or I can call you to discuss some options.


Glazing

A Glaze is a light polish that contains a protectant. It works by filling shallow scratches and swirls to give it a smooth look without cutting paint.

This is an option for; budget, time, where your paint is thin or compromised, classic or vintage cars where preservation of paint thickness is critical.

  • Synthetic Wax based glaze
  • Offers the best look but with the trade off of less longevity.
  • Longevity
    • Protection lasts 3 months+- depending on care and usage
    • Looks start degrading after the 6th wash depending on whats used to wash with.
  • We offer a follow up maintenance package from R450
    • This is a wash with the glaze done by hand.
    • Every 3 months for protection and sooner if you wish to keep the looks sharper.

Pricing

  • Small cars up to standard sedan sized vehicles. Example Toyota corolla – from R850
  • Larger cars – from R1100
Whats Included In The Glaze Packages?
  1. Wash
    • to remove loose dirt on the paint surface
  2. Clay treatment
    • Approximately 30min is spent by 2 people (that equals one man hour!)
  3. Re-wash
    • to remove the lifted contamination from the paint surface
  4. Apply Glaze by machine or hand and allow it to cure
  5. Clean windows inside and out
  6. Interior
    • Approximately 15 minutes is spent on the interior
      • NOTE: If you interior needs more time than this either you can option for my Inside & Out full valet package that includes this glaze services or we we can charge extra to spend more time on your car.
    • Blow out interior
    • Brush up carpets and loose mat
    • Vacuum
    • Wipe down interior dash board and console with a dedicated car cleaner and disinfectant or matte shine
  7. Tyre and trim dressing
  8. Buff off glaze
  9. Quick detailer where necessary

PLEASE NOTE: Surcharges may apply


Polishing / Paint Correction

Paint Correction is the detailing industry term for polishing / buffing, where a coarse or heavy cut polish, can permanently remove or improve scratches, swirls and other paint surface defects and a fine polish increases gloss, wetness and reflectivity of paint.

READ MORE: Critical points to be considered before polishing

Critical points to be considered before polishing:

  1. Paint is a thin, multi layer system, with only 20% of the top layer being “polish-able” as that’s where the paints UV protection lies.
    • Original automotive factory paint is approximately 120 microns, which is the thickness of a yellow Post-It / sticky note!
    • If you car is already a few years old, it may have been polished many times with the paint at variable thickness.
    • This is why polishing has to be done carefully, with precision and consideration to your car’s paint thickness!
      • I recommend that you consider our Paint Thickness Measuring service and Tape Up service to help reduce risks!
  2. A Polish microscopically cuts paint to the depth of the scratches in order to remove its appearance from the surface of the paint.
    • Every time you compound / heavy / coarse cut polish to take out scratches and swirls, it reduces paint thickness!
    • The deeper scratches and swirls are in your paint, “more” polishing is required the thinner the paint will be left!
  3. The hardness or softness of your car’s paint also determines what level of polishing may be effective. That’s why it’s best to test polish so you can see if the results of a certain level / polishing combination will meet your expectation.
  4. Is your paint original, partially or is there multiple different repairs that has been done?
    • This becomes complex because your car cant be polished in “one way”, each area where paint differs, will need a different approach for maximum results.
  5. Vehicle body shapes have become more complex / elaborate. This means that for best results multiple size machine/pad combos for the best results.
  6. Your eye. Do you look at your car’s paint critically, like 2cm away? Or do you look at your car’s paint work from 2m away (normal)?
  7. Are you keeping or selling?
  8. How is your car used?
    • Is it mom’s taxi that will get scratched going to the mall or is it a cherished weekend driver?
  9. How is it stored?
  10. How will it be cared for?
    • Would you, your staff clean it? or would you take it to a garage car wash?

I always recommend starting from the least aggressive levels or combinations of polishing to; achieve your expected results, preserve paint film thickness and avoid any risks! This approach also helps to minimize your cost! Please read The Risks Of Polishing in my FAQ section at the end of this page.

I offer 3 levels of Paint Correction, from least to most intensive.

Level 1 aka Paint Enhancement is a set formula intended to “enhance” paint. Level 2 and 3 is higher precision, i.e. we go more technical and therefore more personalized to you and your car.

I can advise you by inspecting your car in person, doing a test polish on your car’s paint, so you can see for yourself what it will look like and if that meets your needs and expectations. I can also provide a paint thickness measuring service if you want better insight to whats happening with your paint before and after polishing.

Photographs is not a reliable source due to; object distance, lighting, lack of depth and it cannot inform me whether the paint is hard or soft etc. If you cant bring it in for an inspection, I’m happy to discuss options with your telephonically or via chat, but it would be limited to advising you possible options based on your eye and expectation. It’s important to note that, whatever I may suggest, It will still be subject to testing how the paint responds to polishing.


What is Detailing?

Detailing is the thorough and intensive cleaning, polishing and minor restoration of a vehicle, aircraft or marine vessel

Suits can be bought from a shop or you can go to a tailor that can design and cut you a suit to fit you. Auto Detailing is tailoured cleaning and polishing of your vehicle, done the way you want it to be done.

It offers better:

  • Better Quality of products used
  • Its personalized. We do exactly what you want
  • Better Time spent
  • Better money spent

More abdoout Detailing and what we include:

Detail is determined by how much cleaning or polishing is done and what you expect or can see. In polishing, this is achieved by; how much polishing, what combination of polish, pad and technique, what machine is used and the size of the polishing pad. The smaller the pad the more intricate polishing can be done.

All Paint Correction packages includes Standard Detailing. This is steps like washing, clay (i.e. decontamination), interior work etc. If there is something that doesn’t appear on this list we can discuss it as extra detailing.

Standard detailing:

  • Exterior washing
    • As with everything in life a “strong foundation” is important. Cleaning is the foundation for a good detailing!
    • We do several cycles of washing :
      1. First wash
        • We pretreat for bugs and if there is a light of tar before washing
        • Presoak – to remove maximum dirt
        • Wheel clean
        • High Pressure rinse
        • Foam up and hand wash
        • Clean with a detail brush through of rubbers, channels, emblems and grill
          • We allocate 10 minutes around the car. Complex front grills may require more time and possible polishing after cleaning
      2. Post Paint Decontamination / Final wash
        • Please Note: This is done after claying and if optioned iron remover. This is necessary to properly remove contaminants that has been lifted through claying.
        • high pressure rinse
        • hand wash
        • towel dry
      3. Pre coating wash – This is only done if we are ceramic coating to remove and polish residue.
        • high pressure rinse
        • soak with a co-polymer remover (removes the polish)
        • rinse
        • hand wash
        • towel dry
  • Paint Decontamination
    • Clay bar / pad/ cloth treatment to remove bonded dirt.
      • We allocate 30 min of normal time to do this with 2 staff. This equals 1 man hour and is sufficient for most cars.
    • Iron remover between joints, badges, seams and wherever clay wont get to.
      • If your car has a high level of iron / rust deposits we can apply to the entire car at an extra cost.
  • Polishing
    • We use only the best quality brands of polish on the market namely:
      • Premium production brands e.g. Meguiars, Autoglym, Menzerna, 3D etc
      • High End brands e.g. Koch Chemie, RUPES or SONAX is available*
    • All our polishing machines is from RUPES and includes all polishing movements namely: Rotary, Forced Rotation and Dual Action movements.
      • We also have polishing diameters from 8″ down to 1″ for maximum efficiency.
    • Each package includes an optimal combination of polish, machine and pad size for the best results in the allocated time.
  • Paint Protection
    • We have a wide selection of Glaze, Wax, Sealants and Ceramic Coatings that can further enhance your vehicles looks and protection.
    • Our standard options include premium Ceramic Sealant technology amongst others
  • Interior
    • We spend 15 minutes on your interior and focus on the following:
      • Interior blowout, brush up and vac
      • Wipe down with Autoglym’s car specific disinfectant and cleaner of your vehicle interior’s high touch points, i.e. dash, steering, gear shift, door handles
      • Glass steam cleaned inside and out
    • PS: We offer full valet / deep cleaning the interiors
  • Details
    • Tyre cleaned during washing cycle and tyre dressing applied.
    • Exterior plastic trim cleaned during wash cycle & dressed
    • Exterior rubber trim cleaned during wash cycle & dressed
    • Standard exhaust polish to clean and improve shine (5min)
  • Disinfection
    • As part of our COVID19 protocol, during our wipe down we use a multi surface disinfectant from Autoglym purpose designed to sanitize.
    • Before hand over, we go over your steering and other controls, inside and outside door handles to ensure the highest level of safety.
    • Keys is disinfected before hand over

What Paint Protection Do you Apply?

Paint protection is included at all levels. In Level 1 the polish and protection is combined. If better protection than whats included in Level 1 is needed rather upgrade to Level 2.

Level 2 & 3 includes GTECHNIQ C2v3 Ceramic Sealant which will give you 6months protection dependent on use, care and storage. as standard but can be upgraded to a full Ceramic Coating.

For the ultimate paint protection, upgrade to a Ceramic Coating from as little as R750 to as much as R15000 extra


Polishing / Paint Correction Packages:

Level 1: Paint Enhancement

From R1500

The focus of Paint Enhancement is too improve the condition of paint in terms of swirls and scratches and gloss .

We use a fixed formula of polish, pad, machine and technique. This is always based on the best available All In One / AIO technology of the moment.

As with every other polishing package: results is dependent on your paint’s condition i.t.o

  • how deep your scratches and swirls are…
  • how hard or soft your paint is…
  • its best to test polish on your car to see what the results are like
Polishing Application method:

Applied with a single ( forced rotation movement) buffer in 5″ pad diameter size over the whole car including glass.

Paint Protection:
  • This is built in to the polish and would be polymer based.
  • All paint protectant, no matter their chemistry, their longevity is determined by use, care and storage
  • Level 1 cannot be upgraded with a Ceramic Coating as the polish used contains a protectant.
Time:

Approximately 3 to 4 hours with 2 staff which equals 6 to 8 man hours of detail.

Pricing
  • Small cars up to standard sedan sized vehicles. Example Toyota corolla – from R1500
  • Larger cars – from R2250

Level 2: Single Step Polishing

from R2000

In Level 2 we use a separate polish and a dedicated protectant, typically a ceramic sealant like GTECHNIQ C2v3.

In Level 1 we use a single/ combined polish and protectant which gives a BETTER level of correction, finish and protection than Level 1.

The focus is to remove unsightly scratches, swirls and other paint surface defects.

Polishing Application method:

Every car’s condition and client expectation and budget is different. We work with that.

  • We inspect your paint visually to identify signs of repair or damage
    • inspections where visually inspect paint and test polish is absolutely free!
  • We polish out a test spot and identify the best combination of polish / pad / machine & technique.
    • The thickness of you paint determines how much polishing can safely be done
    • The deeper scratches and swirls are the “more polishing” is required
    • The harder / softer paint is the easier or harder it is to polish
  • We start with the least aggressive combination in order to protect your paint thickness and integrity.
  • The cost / quote is therefore either base on the best polishing combination you require and vehicle size or simply your budget.
Paint Protection:
  • As standard we use GTECHNIQ’s C2v3 Liquid Crystal ceramic sealant that gives you high gloss and up to 6 months longevity.
  • Extra protection can be added example more layers of C2v3 or full on Ceramic Coatings.
Pricing

Pricing is dependent on vehicle size and the amount of polishing & detail you want or your paint needs.

Time:

Approximately 3 to 6 hours with 2 staff which equals 6 to 12 man hours of detail.


Level 3: Multi step Polishing

From R4000

Level 3 is our BEST package.

The goal of this package is for the best possible correction and highest level of gloss, wetness and reflectivity and detail that your car is capable of.

The core of this service is doing two or more separate polishing steps and as many repetitions as necessary .

The first step would be to correct paint i.e. remove scratches and swirls followed by a step of gloss polishing to create deep gloss.

After polishing is done we then protect your paint with your choice of paint protection.

Process:
  1. Visually inspect vehicle for tell tale signs of polishing and repairs.
    • This identifies potential risks and issues.
  2. Measure and record your paint thickness over your entire car.
    • This give us a guide on the state of the paint and how much polishing can be done.
  3. Test polish on the car to see what combination yield’s the best correction, gloss and how much paint it removes.
    • This way you get to see for yourself what looks best for you!
  4. Discuss if the standard paint protection or if an upgrade is required and if any extra detail is required.
    • As standard we use GTECHNIQ’s C2v3 Liquid Crystal ceramic sealant that gives you high gloss and up to 6 months longevity.
    • Extra protection can be added example more layers of C2v3 or full on Ceramic Coatings.
  5. We then can then quote you precisely so you decide what option is best for you.
Pricing

Pricing is dependent on vehicle size and the amount of polishing & detail you want or your paint needs.

Time

1 to 3 days


Surcharges:

  • Classic, Super / Hyper Cars, Luxury and Custom cars are quoted at inspection.
  • Vehicle Size
    • Prices quoted includes small cars up to standard sedan sized vehicles e.g. Toyota Corolla.
    • Larger vehicles e.g. Long/larger sedans cars, Range Rovers/X5’s, Bakkies with canopies, SUV’s, MPV’s minibus etc is priced on inspection.
    • The reason for price difference isn’t only the area of polishing, but there is more area to detail and clean. For example: taller vehicles like 4×4’s, the use of ladders is required and hence takes more time.
  • Depending on how aggressive we need to polish, I would recommend a paint thickness measurement report is done to assess how much paint should safely be polished as well as taping up edges.
    • Tape up from R350 depending on vehicle size
    • Paint Thickness Measurements from R350
  • Exterior trim removal and refitting e.g. badges, side vents etc
  • Extra dirty vehicles e.g. excess sand, mud or pet hair etc is extra
    • We allocate 15 minutes to a courtesy vacuum and interior wipe down. Interiors that requires more cleaning time, only if you want it, will be extra on a pro rata basis or you can add a full valet.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

If you have any suggestions or to expand this area or comments, please let me know!
“How much is it to polish my car?”

It isn’t “how much is it to polish my car” as much as:

  1. How much polishing does your car need i.e.
    1. How deep is the scratches and swirls? – this must be seen in person
    2. Do you have swirls and scratches just “here and there” or is it over the whole car? – this must be seen in person
    3. How hard / soft is your paint? – this must be tested by polishing
    4. How thick is your paint? – this can be measured
    5. Is your car’s paint original or has it been completely or partially been resprayed? – this must be seen in person
  2. What polishing can be done considering paint condition e.g. how thick is your paint? This is the number one issue.
  3. Your budget
  4. Your eye / expectation
    • You might not even be worried about polishing to take out scratches, you might just want your paint squeaky clean and protected!
  5. What’s practical for how you use your car or even if you are selling it

Theses are critical considerations so that safe and quality results can be achieved.

It is best to arrange a free inspection with us where can visually identify paint conditions and test by polishing out a small area.

We always start with the least aggressive methods so that we maintain paint thickness and integrity.

This affords you the opportunity to see for yourself what expect and control costs.

How much is it for an Inspection or Quote?

Inspections

There is NO i.e. ZERO cost to an inspection!

I recommend booking an inspection to help you decide what will be the best in terms of polishing for your car.

There is so many variables such as how deep your scratches are, whether your paint is hard or soft etc, that makes looking at a photo of your cars paint to estimate impossible. Generalisations can be made but it would be not be exact!

In a physical inspection we inspect your vehicle and do a test polish on a small area to show you what polishing would look like on your own paint so you can make a better decision in terms of what suits your expectation / eye / budget.

If you arent able to make it for an inspection before booking, I would suggest we schedule a call and we can discuss options based on your perspective, i.e. the way you see your car.


Quotations

If you require a “written quote”, I charge R200 which is deductible from the job when we do it.


Paint Thickness Measuring

I offer digital paint measurement & reporting which can measure your paint thickness if your paint is suspect or you want a deeper insight. 

Please read more about Paint Thickness measurements further in our FAQ

“What makes ProTouch different to other Detailers?”

Our approach and passion.

Besides our many years of experience. ..

I recognize that each vehicle and its owner is different. I offer different Levels of Paint Correction to suit the different conditions of paint, customer expectation and budget. We can personalize any of these services even further to ensure the best result.

I spend a lot of our profits on new products, pads and machines in order to keep ahead and ensure we are using the most effective solutions.

My process is to always start from the least aggressive and work up as necessary. This is important in preserving paint thickness and therefore its originality, avoiding unnecessary respray of your paintwork and helps controls your budget.

Each Level can also be tailored to suit your needs especially in regards to detail.

I invite clients to arrange a no cost inspection with us where we can polish out a test area and show you what works and what to expect for yourself. I can work with your perception and expectations and don’t impose mine.

2019 Range Rover Autobiography test spots
We check every angle to ensure our workmanship is top notch.
I keep a range of different polishes, pads and machines to give my clients the best possible results.
Ferrari F355 F1 GTS: Detailed for Viglietti Motors in 2008, then sole importer of Ferrari and Maserati in South Africa.
“Why is it so important to know so many things, I just want to have my car polished!”

It’s actually not important its CRITICAL.

You cant just pick up a machine and product and start applying it to paint!

The paint thickness on your car is limited. If its damaged its expensive to replace properly.

In fact, factory original paint, is about the same thickness as a Post It Note / Sticky Note with only the top 20% layer of clear coat being polishable.

Over, incorrect or unnecessary polishing is therefore highly risky.

Polishing, at least paint correction, should be done with precision.

You need to inspect paint and lookout for tell tale signs of damage that may increase risk of polishing through paint, maybe measure the paint to be more certain. Choose the right strategy of polish, pad and even type of machine to polish you paint etc…

If done by someone without experience and care, you will be left with very little paint or damage which would require you to respray, so you want to be sure you get the right people and service to suit you and your car!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is images-1.jpeg
Car paint from the factory is as thick as a Sticky Note!
“I have *something* stuck on my paint”

If your paint feels rough or you have anything “stuck on your paint”, it needs to be first Decontaminated and then polished. We need to determine if the standard Clay method, which is included in all our packages, or more intensive methods, needs to be applied.

Clay is the most common method of paint decontamination. I do not offer clay work if im not polishing as the tendency of clay is to swirl / marr the paint due to it being a mechanical process.

It is not good practice to try and buff a car smooth i.e. not claying and using a buffer to remove contaminants. Polishing without claying will only drive the contamination into the paint!

“What is the difference between Detailing, Paint Correction & Polishing?”

Detailing is the thorough and precision cleaning, polishing and restoration of a vehicle.

In my opinion detail is a state of mind. It’s how thorough and attentive the person(s) that’s doing the cleaning or polishing is and how much time you as the client want to spend that determines the amount of detail. Polishing is a part of detailing and not detailing in itself. As with the definition of detailing I gave, polishing can be done superficially and it can be done with detail.

I include a standard level of detail that occurs in the cleaning process before polishing and then when finishing your car. I’m happy to quote anything outside this scope.

Polishing & Buffing refers to the “same thing” in the auto industry today.

Paint Correction is a detailing industry term for polishing or buffing.

There is two major ways to polish, to Correct paint, where defects is permanently removed or Glazing, where defects is filled / masked for a period of time.

“What is a test polishing?”

The first time I would do a test polish would be part of an inspection before we book the actual work.(PS: inspections is free) so you and I can see what your paint responds to in terms of polish/pad/machine combination and if the results meets your eye / expectation.

The only costs would be if you want:

  • A written quotation, which is R200 and its deductible from the job when / if its done.
  • A Paint Report where we measure paint thickness around the car and then submit it as a report from R350.
    • measuring paint assists in reducing polishing associated risks.

I have different polishes and pads on hand that suits different conditions. With the polish technology today, it makes more of a difference on pad and machine choice as well as technique before we change out to a more aggressive polish.

The actual difference between my packages is the selection of polishing equipment I would be using on your car. This is done to optimise results inthe scope of time & budget.

When I test polish in an inspection I usually only show one combination of polish, pad for a given package. When we eventually do the job, I further test extensively combinations that would give you the most optimal and best result.

This does become complicated when a car has had multiple different repairs over it. This then means that each area, where paint differs, will need a different polishing combination to achieve maximum results.

For scratches and swirls my Level 1 to 2 is sufficient. The best in terms of correction and gloss is Level 3.

A great benefit of testing is that it limits unnecessary polishing which translates to preserving your paint thickness, which reduces risk as well as minimising costs which could always be spent better elsewhere like on a ceramic coating or detailing/valeting your interior!

We keep a wide range of different polishes from different brands so we can optimise every job!

What is Paint Protection?

Paint Protection is a sacrificial layer on top of your paint

In each of my polishing packages we include paint protection.

A paint protectant is referred to as sacrificial, meaning its there to take the brunt of wear and tear instead of the paint itself. This also implies that its not permanent, will eventually wear out and need to be reapplied periodically.

All paint protectant’s help protect your paint from fading due to the suns UV Rays, makes it easier to clean and repel water and dirt. Ceramic Coatings takes this even further by enhanced longevity in the measure of years, ph resistance, swirl resistance, heat resistance, corrosion and graffiti resistance.

Both my Wax based Glaze and Paint Enhancement packages will last about 3 months. The Ceramic based Glaze offers up to 1 year paint protection but in comparision to other package combos, it doesnt offer a huge difference in scratch and swirls removal so therefore suits people that isnt worried about scratches and swirls and wants good protection.

While more protection can be put on top of these packages, I recommend to rather come in every 3 to 6 months for followup maintenance. You can learn more about this on my Maintenance Detail page.

In all my Paint Correction options, the standard protectant is GTECHNIQ C2v3 Liquid Crystal which is a ceramic sealant that can protect for a solid 6 months. We can also finish with a wax or Glaze if the situation requires and upgrade to full Ceramic Coatings starting from R750 up to R7500 for conventional ceramic coatings and from R7500 to R20000 for either high end technology like self heal coatings.

“How does Polishing work?”

Polishing is the microscopic “cutting” of the top layer of your paint in order to remove the relevant defect. The deeper the scratch, swirl or defect, the deeper we must cut the paint thereby thinning it.

Its important to realise that the paint on your car has a limited thickness. The average is 120 microns for the total film of paint from the factory when new.

To put this in perspective:

  • The average human hair thickness is between 70 microns to 90 microns
  • A sticky post it note is 108 microns
  • The average human fingernail is over 400 microns thick!
    • FYI: fingernails is hard enough to scratch paint!

If your car has been resprayed, typically they spray or “blow over” your existing paint. This is to save cost in terms of removing your old paint i.e. taking down to the metal. This does not contribute to thicker better paint.

Illustration by Todd Helme

What Is the Point Of This?

Scratches and swirls is damage that penetrates into your paint. It has “depth”. In order to remove scratches and swirls, we need to polish them out. Certain or even all the scratches on your car may not be safe to remove because they are too deep and would mean to much paint would be removed leaving little to nothing for the future of the vehicle.

This is why

Rule Of Thumb: If you can feel a scratch with your fingernail its too deep to remove! It may be improved though.

“How does polish and polishing machines / buffers influence results?”

Its critical that all aspects in polishing given proper consideration for the proper and careful processing of your paintwork.

Firstly its important to understand polishes, as in the liquid used. All polishes does not “cut” the same. A few years ago and still in common use today, is different grades of polish. These have “fixed cut” characteristics like sand paper.

Sand paper comes in different “grit” sizes. The lower the number the more coarse. The higher the number the finer. Polish is in fact a liquid form of sand paper with and even finer grit than sand paper. In vehicle finishing i.e. after a car has been sprayed. Sand paper would be used to level the paint quickly and without heat. Multiple grits would be used. progressively going finer to displace the previous grit size. To a certain point, on car paint as early as 1500 grit, a liquid polish would be applied and buffed (rubbed) to refine until the polished results is acceptable.

Back to polishes. The old system of polished were fixed in cut and finish grade for example;

  1. “Stage or step 1” would be a heavy / coarse / cutting / rubbing compound,
  2. “Stage or step 2” would be a medium polish and
  3. Stage or step 3 would be a fine / finishing polish.

These types of polishes is completely outdated. Using them today will “look good” but will take longer, perhaps remove more paint than is necessary but for the worse will not give you accurate / true correction due to the solvents they contain filling scratches instead of cutting them out permanently. So after a few washes the scratches “comes back”. Another nasty side effect is that the solvents is driven into the paint and it’s hard to remove. This has a knock on effect for paint protection particularly if you intend on applying a Ceramic Coating.

The latest polish technology can accomplish all three stages in one single bottle due to intelligent engineered “abrasives” that can either break down as you polish (diminishing abrasives aka DAT) or their “shape” is consistent (aka SMAT).

With just a change in pad and technique, ( as well as polishing machine) you can alter the effect of the polish. This reduces time, increases efficiency and its far safer for your paint in that it doesn’t unnecessarily thin the paint or over heat it. (heat is bad for paint!) It does need some patient understanding of how polishes work, but once mastered it will yield a mind blowing finish.

We find the use of one or two polish systems more than enough to give you the results you want. If you are willing to study / research any of the top detailers in the world, it will be glaringly

Another important input into polishing is the buffer or polishing machine type. Yes you get multiple types of polishing machines! You get Rotary, Forced Rotation (Dual Action) and Random Orbital (Dual Action)


Rotary

A rotary polisher spins a polishing pad from the center axis. Technique is critical to getting the right result.

It is predominantly used in the panel beating and spray painting industry due to its durability and high speed “results”.

Due to lack of technique and attitude by the operators, we see a lot of damage caused with this polisher. From holograms, a type of swirl that moves as you eyes does, to burn or strike through of paint is common.

I began polishing & detailing when there was no other polishing option so we have experience in the proper use of one. When necessary, we use a RUPES Rotary polisher which offers the lowest RPM in the world for precision polishing capabality.

Holograms &swirls on a new Audi RS4 Avant
After correction
Burn or strike through on fender edge from bad polishing

Forced Rotation Dual Action

A forced rotation polisher has both rotation and an orbit (dual action) but in a “constrained” pattern. i.e. the “orbit is inwards”

It achieves this by a gearbox between the driving motor and spindle / backing plate / pad assembly. It is this combination of assembly that has made machines using this movement heavy, hot and prone to vibration.

The latest machines have become more advanced ironing out these issues.

The result is a machine capable of cutting like a rotary but safe with more “detail” around small areas and curves.

We use The RUPES Mille Forced Rotation machines for the best results!


Random Orbital Dual Action

A Random Orbital Dual Action machine rotates and freely / randomly orbits outside of the center axis.

These polishers don’t create swirl marks, (unless the pads used it dirty!) and the probability of damaging paint is low but not impossible!

They come in various sized orbits, which is categorised as long throw (a big orbit) i.e. 15mm or 21mm and short throw (a small orbit) of 8mm or 12mm.

Smaller orbits exists but would only be suitable for sanding applications.

The higher the orbit, in millimeters, the longer the orbit and higher the cut would be and vice versa.

If the correct orbit size and pad/compound is used, it can deliver awesome results in as little as one step.

When using the Random Orbital movement, because of it’s outer orbit. It requires different tool sizes in terms of pad diameter, to cover every area of a vehicle’s paint work, especially on edges, curves and in tight/small spaces.

We use the RUPES Bigfoot Random Orbitals. We have all the different orbits and different sizes to give our clients the best!

Another detailer is offering me a 101(+) step detail and you only offering XYZ?

A stage or step is used to describe the different things done to a car in an overall detail or polishing specific process.

Every detailer uses these terms differently. Sadly a lot of the time, its used to wow people by numbers.

Some people count the various types of polishing done with or without the paint protection step. Some count everything from putting water into their bucket to saying hello and goodbye to you. I’m not kidding, I’ve seen detailers offer a 100+ step detail!

In my services, I refer to steps or stages of the polishing I do because that is a differentiator. Each of my correction packages includes standard detail which is quite extensive. Not to mention the paint protection that we do.

I have it structured like this so that everyone can understand it clearly.

Bottom line: Be thorough and careful in assessing what you are getting from who!

“What Is A 3 Stage Polish / Buff?”

I go into more depth of what a 3 stage polish is in my “How does polish and the machines influence results?” FAQ

In short…

To me, the most important use of the terms “steps and stages” is in describing the amount of polishing done as it has serious implications in terms of thinning and over stressing paint by over polishing.

Just a few years ago there used to be the concept of a 3 stage polish job. This used to be a heavy / coarse cut, then a medium cut and a finishing fine polish to process your paint. At this time, it was necessary to go through all steps without skipping in order to have a proper result. Where 2 stages were offered, it would start with a medium cut and then finishing polish.

With the cutting edge polishing technology we have available today, its possible to do all polishing using a single polish (with the key difference in the pads and or techniques used) to do these multiple steps and most often in just one step with even less passes than ever before!

This is tremendously significant in that its more efficient and does not over polish your car and thin it out like older polishes and methods. If thinning paint isn’t a concern, polishing causes heat by the buffing or rubbing friction. Over polishing can therefore pass too much heat, that it can swell the paint causing paint to get damaged by burning or failing down the line. (modern paint is plastic!)

I have different polishes, pads as well as machines in all available movements rotary, forced rotation, dual action as well as in different diameters, from 7″ down to 1″ to give you the most optimal and efficient results. We currently use RUPES branded polishing machines / buffers.

The Risks of Polishing

The biggest risk in polishing is unneccesary polishing. This is primarily caused by incorrect washing, drying and other contact with the paint that causes swirls, which dulls the look of paint. (which is why I ask customers how their care will be taken care of before I advise what to do!) If you keep on having to polish to remove swirls or other scratches, you will in short order have nothing left.

Another is chasing perfection. Getting that last deep scratch out might be impressive but the cost of someone having to respray is less so!

As you would’ve read by now, polishing reduces paint. In specific the top clear coat when you are polishing to remove scratches and swirls. Please note this excludes glazing or gloss / fine polishing. So if you polish too much then the chances of leaving the paint too thin or even burn or strike through of the clear coat is extremely high.

Polishing is irreversible, once you’ve removed a layer of the clear coat, it cant be replaced other than respraying it or minimally improving it by adding a ceramic coating.

The clear coat is a protective top layer, over the base colour coat, that shield’s it from UV rays, dirt and grime to help it maintain its colour and integrity. Thin clear coat may not be apparent to you now, but will manifest down the line by your clear coat fading and peeling or when polishing some time after ward. All of which will require respray to rectify.

Burn through or strike through, is if you go through the clear coat or even the under lying base coat. Other than thin paint from prior polishing, it can also be caused by the operator using a rotary polisher, aggressive pads or runs high rpms or a combination of these.

It is expected that a factory original paint work can be heavy (using a compound) polished a maximum of 3 times. It can however be Glazed (its a polish that fills rather than cuts i.e. non abrasive) or it can be gloss / fine polished.

From our side, we mitigate risk by careful washing and drying both before a polishing job or in our maintenance details as well as claying before polishing. Keeping to the recommended rpms , setting 3-4 rpm for the RUPES brand, as well as starting from the least aggressive polish and pad combination. It is also part of our standard operating procedure to continually monitor and control surface heat while polishing.

Before starting to polish each section, staff is trained to check every panel before they are about to start. If any damage or issue is found they alert me and I raise it with you. You may not be aware of the damage and when you bring the car to us, its likely dirty, so neither party can see anything until we start on it washing etc.

Checking the panel beforehand also allows us to baseline the paint condition before and if our “process” is producing the intended result. If my staff don’t get the right result, which is shown to them when either myself or a senior does a test area, then adjustments in polishing will need to be made. The reasons for this is perhaps the panel was resprayed and it’s harder or softer than the rest or simply the scratches on that panel they working on is deep.

Another strategy is that we polish with the vehicles doors, bonnet and boot open when polishing on them or adjacent panels to reduce the risk of edge burn through. I however recommend taping up with masking tape all prone areas like edges, body lines, vents, emblems, badges, rubbers, seals etc to reduce this risk. Taping up is an optional service.

Another way to reduce risk is to measure your paint with a Paint Thickness Gauge (PTG) before polishing and after so that your can get a better idea of whats going on and we can devise the best polishing strategy. This is optional.

A paint gauge works in the following way:

  1. Measure the depth of the paint of your car’s door jamb to see how thick it is.
    • This will be used as a reference because it usually doesnt get polished or resprayed.
  2. Use the gauge on a panel to get a reading of how thick it currently is.
  3. Subtract the panel reading from the door jamb reading and this will tell you how much paint has already been removed.
  4. Measure the paint after test polishing to get and idea of how much paint is removed through the process.
  5. Decide on the least aggressive approach or whether to risk for maximum result.

Most new cars give a reading of around 120-150 microns. This includes all the layers, primer, base and the clear coat. You don’t want to go below 90 microns.

Using a paint depth gauge isn’t a guarantee that it’s safe to polish. It’s meant to be a useful guideline.

You should also consider a Ceramic Coating to provide a protective layer that preserves the look of your paint from the elements and to add extra protection against swirl type scratches in particular.

“How Thick Is My Paint?”

A Paint Report is an optional service where I identify defects and measure the paint thickness gauge from the beginning till after the paint has been corrected.

Our gauge measures the total paint thickness from the metal to the top clear coat.

It does not give individual readings. ( A gauge like that is well over R60000! which not a lot of detailers in the world owns! )

While we don’t have a precise read of how much clear coat, we can determine an average thickness, compare body paint thickness to door sills as well as comparing to general thickness by manufacturer.

It benefits any intensive polishing by reducing the risk of damage like burn through of the clear.

As this service takes additional time, I do charge for it.

This is also a great service if you are buying a vehicle and want to be sure of the condition of paint on a potential car purchase.

We use NEXDIAG’s Advanced PTG which is linked to a Smartphone App
Progress is captured as the detail progresses
Bad paint on Porsche Cayman S needing wet sanding
Paint being measured
Great results achieved thanks to the help of paint thickness guage to guide
“I didn’t see that before?”

If you have ever washed or polished your own car you will know for yourself that you will notice new scratches and swirls each time.

It’s especially the case when polishing. Many times after we polish we notice a scratch or other defects more prominently. This was likely “camouflaged” by swirl. So that lone deeper scratch is now isolated and stands out by contrast.

Either more polishing would be needed. Which would further thin the paint. In this regard its best to take a measurement of thickness with a guage.

Or simply let it be.

“What Is Wet Sanding?”

Wet sanding, aka flatting, is a method of removing or improving deep scratches and leveling paint texture, known as orange peel, ( because it resembles the skin texture of an orange) It is an alternative method of leveling or cutting the top portion of your paint system compared to polishing.

Like polishing, It removes the top most part of the paint which on modern cars is a clear coat layer and older paint systems, which is known as single stage, the colour. In fact, pre 90s it was also called colour sanding.

I regularly use this method for spot scratches but for a whole car I would prefer it done by a spray painter. My main reason for this is risk and a secondary is that spray painters are more efficient at it as well as if things goes bad, which the risk is high, the car is right there to be touched up / done over.

The only time you would want to do a whole car is if its severely scratched all over or the orange peel is bad.

Here is a recent example of deep scratch removal using the wet sanding method. While I don’t have photos detailing the process, the area was cleaned and decontaminated with clay, sensitive areas ( folds and edges in metal ) was taped up and then we proceeded to start sanding. For consistency, we count our strokes i.e. back forward draws. We constantly check by cleaning and drying our progress. This area required 60 strokes. After sanding we cut with a rotary polisher followed by a Dual Action machine to refine and leave the surface hologram free.

Before

After

“What is a Glaze?”

A Glaze will improve the look and protect your paint by making it appear smoother, glossier and reflective.

It’s a light polish with minor cut capability but I prefer to explain it as a cosmetic treatment, think ‘cosmetic foundation and sunblock’ in one for paint. It fills and masks defects rather than correct it.

If you come 1.5m and closer to your paint, you will then start to see the deeper scratches and swirls it couldnt fill, ( which a Paint Correction or Enhancement will sort). So the end result after applying either a Glaze or Wax will depend on the current condition of the car.

This service is ideal for pre sale prep, you have a tight budget, time or for paint that is fragile i.e. thin, old, vintage, classic and so forth.

Note: I can add extra spot / “here or there” of panel polishing to permanently remove deep swirls and scratches ( I have to see your car physically to quote you). However if you have deep swirls and scratches everywhere on your car you need to consider Paint Enhancement or Correction.

What Does A Glaze Include

  • Wash – to remove loose dirt
  • Clay – to remove bonded contaminants / dirt / fallout
  • Microfibre Towel Dry
  • Machine (or hand applied if your prefer) Glaze with Wax based or Ceramic
  • Glass cleaned in & out
  • Tyres & Exterior Trim
  • Interior vac and dash wipedown (15min)
When should you Glaze and when should you Correct paint?

A Glaze works by filling and is temporary (i.e. weeks/months) while Correction cuts paint to remove or improve scratches & swirls permanently but reduces paint.

The importance of understanding this difference is knowing what you are getting as well as if its safe to do.

I advise a Glaze when you have a tight budget, your paint is thin / comprimised, you have a classic / vintage car and you want to preserve maximum paint. Or when you want to sell a car. It’s the make up of the car care world!

Correction is best if you have the paint thickness for it, when you are keeping your car, just bought it or want to get maximum value out of your car when selling it.

After care must however always be considered and done carefully to avoid unnecessary polishing as much as possible. Unnecessary polishing will typically result from bad washing, drying and unnecessary contact with the paint like touching it whether clean or dirty.

After care / Follow Up Maintenance

The main aim of careful maintenance is to avoid unnecessary polishing that would thin or comprimise your paint

I offer products so that you can DIY as well as Maintenance Detailing Services if you want us to take of things for you.

Follow Up Maintenance needs to be done periodically to maintain the look and protection of your car and the frequency is dependant on how your car is used, stored and generally cared for.

The most critical aspect is when washing and drying your car. In general avoid unnecessary contact with your paint like touching it.

Follow up maintenance includes:

  1. Regular washing as needed.
    • Avoid letting dirt pack on, harden and overwhelm your paint protection.
  2. Careful washing and drying technique
    • This is mainly to avoid swirls from washing, which would force you to polish again, which in turn thins your paint!
  3. Using a QD (Quick detailer)
    • boost protection wash to wash
    • gives you a safe solution to “detail” clean your car after washing
    • increase shine and slickness
  4. Periodic boosting of protection with a spray wax / sealant / ceramic sealant as appropriate.
  5. Periodic decontaminaton with a protection booster
    • decontamination removes “stuck on” dirt
    • if you have a ceramic coating, dirt can still build up and harden if washing was irregular. decontamination will help for that
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