Buffing Tips

MINIMIZE SWIRL MARKS

  • Minimize swirl by maintaining clean buffing pads. Spur wool pads frequently, wash and air dry occasionally.
  • Soak foam pads in warm water and ring dry. Never put in dryer.
  • Cross contamination is another leading cause of swirl.  Keep compound pads separate from polishing and finishing pads.
  • Match the right buffing pad to the right polishing material. We know not all paint surfaces are the same, save time by spot buffing a small area then check results. We have many pad compositions, experiment with the least aggressive and work up to the most aggressive, if needed. Utilize this same principle when selecting the right compound or polish. 
  • Lower RPMs means less friction, less friction means less heat buildup. Try to stay between 1750-2400 RPM when compounding and between 1200-1750 RPM when finishing. 
  •  After using compound wash the treated area with soap and water to eliminate excess compound grit. When finishing with a polish or glaze, don't buff dry. Leave a little material on the car, because without it, you create friction. A final hand or orbital wax will clean up any polish residue. 
  • Refer to Buffing Techniques for related information on reducing swirl.

CAR BUFFING TECHNIQUES

  • Paint preparation is vital. Proper paint preparation makes the process smoother with a better end result. Give the car a good wash and prep the surface with a clay preparation bar. There are several kinds available on the market. This will minimize or remove protrusions on the paint surface such as railhead particles and environmental contaminates. 
  • Proper buffing techniques are a must. In short, work buffer right to left over bead of polish and/or compound. Start slightly on edge and then finish flat. Working smaller areas, keep your pace uniform and in "rhythm".  With increased practice, proficiency increases. Keep the RPMs on the slow side. 
  • Let the weight of the buffer do most of the work. Don't wear yourself out. Work with the buffer, not against it. Keep the buffer in motion to avoid burning the paint. You will get a feel for how the buffer wants to move in time. 
  • Work the car from right to left (right handed) and don't turn the buffer upside down, the cord will get wrapped in the buffer spindle if you do. 
  • Watch for pad grabbers like antennas, windshield wipers and emblems. The cautious approach is the best approach, mask or remove where possible. Have you ever seen a windshield wiper fly? 
  • Avoid or mask rubberized body side moldings, you can burn or stain them.
  • Avoid edges by masking or working parallel with the buffer wheel. Work close but not over unless you have a good touch. If you are a beginner, don’t lock the variable trigger, this will allow you to slow down at any time.

CAR CLEANING SAFETY

  • Use approved implements for elevating yourself. Five gallon buckets and cheap step ladders can tip or slide on slick pavement, especially when there's a lot of tire dressing on the ground. 
  • Wear eye protection
  • Use a spur to clean your buffing pads, not sharp objects like screwdrivers, etc.
  • Keep electrical tools away from standing water
  • Stay within recommended RPMs when buffing car

BUFFING PADS IN THE BODY SHOP

  • Very important to keep buffing pads clean and not cross contaminate pads.
  • Color sanding is common at the body shop level, therefore proper prep, buffing techniques, pad selection, timing the buff are very relevant factors. 
  • Plan your color sanding and buffing at the moment paint is ready; don't wait until the paint is harder than a rock. You wait too long, your work is now work! 
  • You buff fresh paint to soon, dye back.
  • Use sandpaper that will meet the minimum to get the job done. Stronger paper may cut faster; it’s also harder to rub out.
  • Experiment with the right combination of sandpaper, buffing pads and overall timing of the buff.
  • Use plenty of water when color sanding. Allowing grit and particles to suspend on the paint can damage it.
  • A properly buffed and finished painted panel can sell the job.  You can have the best body work in the world but your customer will be most impressed by a swirl free finish. Extra added tip: many body shops are now practicing good delivery points by quick detailing the car.  This can include steam cleaning the motor, random orbital glazing the exterior and freshening up the interior. 
  • Avoid putting too much into the paint, in other words damaging it then covering swirl with an oily hand glaze.  We all know glaze is a temporary fix and will wash off.
Application Charts

BUFFING FOAMS

Buffing and polishing your car with foam pads has been around for many years.  Foam pads work allot differently than wool pads as far as cut, feel and performance.  There are many new technological advances in the foam pad industry and I am writing this to help give you more information so you are able to choose the correct foam for your next job.

There are many ways to identify foam pads in the industry.  PPI is a generic way of distinguishing foam, but not the 100% correct way.  Since there are so many ways to measure foam, we are going to start here with the basic.

OPEN CELL and CLOSED CELL

The first and basic thing to understand about foam is whether it is open or closed cell.  Many open cell foams start out as closed cell and are “reticulated” to produce open cell.  “Reticulation” is a process used in processing foam where they take the bun of foam, put in in a concrete and controlled room, fill the room with hydrogen so the foam can absorb it, and then they ignite the foam.  This process causes the membrane or window of the foam to wrap around the branches.  The window/membrane on foam is the transparent thin layer in between the branches.  The branch is what you feel by hand in the foam when you touch it.  If you look at foam under a microscope, you will see the branches and windows.  Foam that has been reticulated is open cell and foam no reticulated is closed cell.

Once you reticulate a foam it may become stronger in its tearing characteristics.  Reticulated or “open cell” foam run much cooler on the surface as compared to closed cell foams.  The reason for this is that with the cells being open, they are allowed to let air pass thru them to dissipate heat.  With this happening, there may be a chance the chemical you are working with may dry faster and possibly dust since the lubricant in it is getting dried with the air passing thru the foam.

 There are Pros and Cons to each of the foams, and each type works differently with all chemicals:

Keep in mind that not all foams work the same way with all chemicals.  In many instances, it can be trial and error.

There are many other ways foams are measured, this is just a starting point so you are able to pick the best foam for your project.

 

APPLICATION CHARTS ARE COARSES TO FINE

US FOAMS
WHITE 45 PPI HEAVY CUT
YELLOW 50 PPI MEDIUM CUT
GREEN 60 PPI POLISHING
BLUE 70 PPI  SOFT POLISHING
BLACK 80 PPI FINISHING
SOFT WHITE 90 PPI ULTRA FINISHING
BABY BLUE 100 PPI  FINAL FINISHING

EURO FOAMS
YELLOW HEAVY CUT
ORANGE MEDIUM CUT
WHITE POLISHING
BABY BLUE SOFT POLISHING
RED ULTIMATE FINISHING

EXTREME RETICULATED FOAMS
COARSE GREEN EXTREME CUT
COARSE ORANGE MEDIUM CUT
MAROON POLISHING
RED FINISHING

URO-TEC “OPEN CELL”
COARSE BLUE HEAVY CUT
MAROON MEDIUM CUT
YELLOW POLISHING
WHITE FINISHING

URO-CELL “CLOSED CELL”
LIGHT BLUE CUTTING
ORANGE POLISHING
RED FINISHING

STANDARD WOOL PADS
100% WOOL 4 PLY NATURAL CUTTING
WOOL BLEND SINGLE PLY NATURAL MEDIUM CUT
WOOL BLEND 4 PLY TWIST YELLOW MEDIUM CUT/POLISHING
WOOL BLEND SINGE PLY WHITE POLISHING
WOOL BLEND SINGLE PLY YELLOW POLISHING/FINISHING
KNITTED WOOL BLEND  LIGTH POLISH/FINISHING
KNITTED 100% WOOL NATURAL FINAL FINISHING

INDUSTRIAL WOOL PADS
ALTERNATE STITCH DUAL STRAND WOOL BLEND AGGRESSIVE CUTTING & LONG LASTING