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  1. #1
    Mike Phillips
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    Here's why you need to polish paint...

    Here's why you need to polish paint...


    Video showing before and after



    My buddy Mike owns this really cool 1932 Ford Phaeton with yellow paint that to the average person looks pretty good. But a little polishing using a tape-line shows why all of us need to periodically polish the paint on our cars, especially our daily drivers, and the reason for this is because the paint becomes stained with a film of dirt that clouds the true color of the paint.

    Here's a section I've taped off on the cowel because me and one of our forum members already buffed out the hood when he stopped by to test out polishers.






    On the left I've clayed the paint and then machine polished it twice and then applied a coat of wax. You can clearly see the left side is now a brighter color of yellow and the right hand side has what appears to be grayish film over the paint.




    Here's the same picture above with graphics....




    Of course I finished polishing the rest of the car to test out some new products...




    Products worked well and now the dirt staining has been removed off the entire body and a coat of Max Wax has been applied.







    The paint on your car gets dirty too...

    The car in the pictures above is a garage-kept, sunny day only street rod, yet... the paint was still stained with dirt.

    If the paint on a car that is always stored in a garage except for sunny days gets dirt stained paint, what do you think happens to cars that are daily drivers?

    How about cars that are daily drivers but are never parked in the garage?


    That's right... the paint gets a dirt film over it and for this reason in order to maintain the paint and see the true color you need to periodically deep clean the paint with some type of paint polishing process. Any of these approaches will remove the dirt staining over the paint,


    • Using a one-step cleaner/wax
    • Using a paint cleaner also called a pre-wax cleaner.
    • Using a compound followed by a polish
    • Using a medium, fine or ultra fine cut polish

    If the owner of the above car had not used one of the above and instead used a finishing wax, or a finishing sealant, that is a product with no ability to clean the paint, what they would have done is simply "sealed the paint" and continued the staining problem.


    Medium to dark colored cars
    It's pretty easy to use a tape-line to reveal dirt staining on white and light colored cars but if you were to do this on a medium to dark colored cars, chances are good your eyes would not detect the change in color to the paint.

    That doesn't mean the paint on dark colored cars isn't covered with a film of dirt, it just means you and I can't see it. It's there however, and it's important to periodically polish the paint to remove the built-up film of dirt and other contaminants.

    Polishing the paint will restore clarity to a clear coat and it will restore the full richness of color to a single stage paint.

    It will also prepare the paint for your choice of a wax or sealant.

    If you choose to use a paint coating, you'll need to do an extra step to prepare the paint for the coating and it's always a good idea to follow the manufacturer's directions.



    Now that you've read this article and looked at the pictures...

    When is the last time you polished the paint on your daily driver?


    It's probably polishing time...




  2. #2
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    Re: Here's why you need to polish paint...

    Great demo, Mike.

  3. #3
    Super Member Evan.J's Avatar
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    Re: Here's why you need to polish paint...

    Quote Originally Posted by Setec Astronomy View Post
    Great demo, Mike.


    Nice little find! Thanks for sharing!
    Official Detailing Team Member of Air Force One
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  4. #4
    Super Member rmagnus's Avatar
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    Re: Here's why you need to polish paint...

    When is the last time you polished the paint on your daily driver?

    I'm due this weekend just waiting for that new DP Coating to arrive. Like most of us here we polish and wax more than the average person. I do mine about every 90 days or more frequently if testing new products.

    All good points.
    ***********************
    Semper Fi
    Ralph

  5. #5
    Mike Phillips
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    Re: Here's why you need to polish paint...

    Quote Originally Posted by rmagnus View Post
    When is the last time you polished the paint on your daily driver?

    I'm due this weekend just waiting for that new DP Coating to arrive. Like most of us here we polish and wax more than the average person. I do mine about every 90 days or more frequently if testing new products.

    All good points.

    For people that are just starting a detailing business, you could bookmark this page on a tablet like a iPad or even print it out to show customers and explain this is why you're going to use a one-step cleaner/wax and/or upsell a multi-step process.

    Especially if after inspecting their car you can tell it's a daily driver and it's been neglected.

    Keep in mind, the average person doesn't have this type of information and part of your job as a professioinal is to educate your customer on the basics.


    Here's another great picture that shows dirt staining that takes it's toll over time...


    1955 Chevy & 1947 Buick Slantback - Show Car Makeover! - Pictures & Videos



    Mike Searle's 1955 Chevy Sedan Delivery

    Right after Mike arrived we did a Test Spot on the driver's side fender. While most people would look at Mike's 1955 Chevy and think the paint looks GREAT in reality, the paint was completely stained with embedded dirt.

    The thing is you can't see the dirt until you buff on a section to remove it. MORE IMPORTANT is it's really only easy to see embedded dirt on WHITE CARS.

    But think about it... if the paint on Mike's hot rod has embedded dirt and you can see it... don't you think all colors of car paint gets dirty BUT YOU CAN'T SEE IT?

    The answer is YES and that's why periodically, especially if your car is a DAILY DRIVER, besides claying the paint you want and NEED to use some type of paint cleaner to remove the embedded dirt. If you don't remove it, then when you wax you simply seal the dirt into the paint.

    The more time that goes by and the more you just wax the paint, the cloudier and cloudier it will get as you continually seal in more and more dirt.

    Make sense?

    Now let's take a look. Here's Mike's car and in this picture it can be kind of hard to see where I buffed on the top of the front driver's side fender.





    It's still hard to see the before and after difference, but for reference, I've taken the same picture above and placed an arrow pointing to the tape-line where I buffed on the front edge of the fender and left the back side of the fender along.





    Now look... see what I mean by embedded dirt on and to some level, "in" the paint.




    By machine polishing the paint with a high quality compound, polish or pre-wax paint cleaner, you will effectively remove the embedded dirt and restore the TRUE color of the paint.

    In this case we're working on a basecoat/clearcoat finish so the dirt is embedded onto and into the clear layer of paint create a dirty cloudy film that blocks your eyes from seeing the true white pigmented color under the clear layer.

    Robert Diterlizzi shared the way he explains clear coats to his customers and I really like his explanation so I'm sharing it here and giving him credit for it...

    "The clear coat is like a window to the basecoat"

    By that he means in order to see the true color of the basecoat the window, or in specific words, the clear coat needs to be clear. By clear, we mean free from any,

    • Above surface bonded contaminants
    • Embedded dirt
    • Swirls and scratches
    All of the above work to cloud your view to the color under the clear layer of paint. So in a way, the clear coat, that is the clear layer of paint over the basecoat is like a window to the basecoat. If you want your car to look great you need to clean and polish the window covering your car's body panels.



    By the time we finished buffing out both the 1955 Chevy and the 1947 Buick the colors of the paint jobs literally changed before our eyes.

    Besides changing to BRIGHTER white color, we also restored SMOOTHNESS to the finish and GLOSS COMES FROM SMOOTHNESS.



  6. #6
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    Re: Here's why you need to polish paint...

    Awesome post Mike!

  7. #7
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    Re: Here's why you need to polish paint...

    Excellent illustration! It went from "yellow" to "LEMON HEAD YELLOW"
    There is vast amounts of knowledge at your fingertips, use Google, Youtube, and the search button.

  8. #8
    Mike Phillips
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    Re: Here's why you need to polish paint...

    When I first saw this car in Mike's garage I could tell the paint could use some polishing because it wasn't very glossy, I was really surprised at just how dirty it was considering it's a convertible that's only driven on sunny days.

    Mike told me this street rod has been driven from Florida to California at least twice to attend hot rod shows on the west coast, that's a long drive in a convertible.


    Anytime I get a car in here that shows signs of dirt staining I like to try to use the before and after pictures as a "teaching moment" because my guess is that most people don't know the paint on their car is getting dirty over time and that normal washing and claying won't remove the dirt film.

    A picture tells a thousand words though...


    Here's Max's Mustang and it had really dirty paint too and even though it's a medium dark color, you can really see the difference in before and after compounding one section...


    1966 Mustang - Last Chance to Dance Extreme Makeover!



    Test Spot

    I did a little testing using Pinnacle XMT #4 with a wool pad on a rotary buffer followed by XMT #2 with a foam pad on a Flex 3401 and if you look at the lower right hand corner you can see it removed enough oxidation and embedded dirt that the section I buffed now looks like a totally new color of red paint!







    After we buffed out the paint we literally changed the color... here's an after shot...

    Inside the garage



    Outside...





    So for everyone that will read this into the future, if your car is a daily driver, the paint actually gets dirty over time and if you use a non-cleaning wax, that is if you use a finishing wax, the effect is you'll seal dirt onto the paint.

    The right approach for a daily driver is to either use a one-step cleaner/wax or before using a finishing wax, do a dedicated paint cleaning or paint polishing step to first remove any embedded dirt and/or oxidation.


    Here's an article that explains the benefits of using a paint cleaner...

    The benefits of a light paint cleaner, cleansing lotion or pre-wax cleaner


    And this article explains the difference between a cleaner/wax and a finishing wax...

    The Difference Between a Cleaner/Wax and a Finishing Wax

    Subtitle: How To Choose The Right Wax or Paint Sealant for your Detailing Project



  9. #9
    Super Member silverfox's Avatar
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    Re: Here's why you need to polish paint...

    If ever there was an illustration of what restoring "optical clarity" is...those pictures really prove the point.

    The first time I used a paint cleaner on my car (which I thought was really clean), I was shocked at the color of the buffing pad as it turned from white to a dull gray.

    Now this was applied AFTER I polished it with a finishing polish. I wanted to get the "oils" off the paint after polishing, so I used a paint cleaner product. Its possible the cleaner was catching areas that I did not polish out enough, but nonetheless, the paint cleaner did its job.

    Just ordered the new DP prep polish. I already know its worth the investment.
    In my day we didn't have the Internet, iPods,iPads, or smart phones....but we had some really bad-azz cars.

  10. #10
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    Re: Here's why you need to polish paint...

    Quote Originally Posted by silverfox View Post
    Just ordered the new DP prep polish. I already know its worth the investment.
    Will be interesting to see if that becomes the go-to pre-LSP product.

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