Why Buff and Shine pads?

Our pads are USA-made with the highest quality materials available and are designed and improved based on feedback for end users like you!  With Buff and Shine products, you can rely on three important characteristics:  consistency, durability, and functionality.  Further, we have the best customer service and reviews in the industry.  Read more at our About page.

How many pads do I need?

There are many variables that go into the number of pads to be used, including the extent of the project, the condition of the surface, and the expectations of the customer.  For automotive polishing, it is better to have too many pads than not enough.  “Forcing” a pad to finish a job even though the pad is worn out will lead to excess swirls and extra work to remove technical damage from the worn-out pad.  As a general recommendation, if you are providing paint perfection service on a sedan, have two pads per step available.  That is, two compounding pads, two polishing pads, and two finishing pads.

How often do I clean pads during use?

When compounding or polishing on a vehicle, clean the pad at least once per panel.  On larger panels—like hoods—you may need to clean the pad several times while working on that area.  Any time the pad gums up with chemical, it starts spitting chemical, or it takes too long to get results in the polishing area, clean the pad and re-apply fresh chemical.  When applying final protection (wax or sealant), it is not really necessary to clean pads during application.

How long do pads last?

It is difficult to offer a simple answer to this question because there are so many variables involved—what is the pad used for?  How many hours a day is it used?  How aggressive is the technician?  What type of polishing machine is being used?  In general, pad endurance will be enhanced with the proper care suggested in other FAQ answers.  Wax and sealant application pads can last for hundreds of applications.  Fine polishing pads can also last for many applications because they are being used gently.  A common mistake it to try to stretch the life of a polishing pad; a worn-out polishing pad can actually imitate a cutting pad because the face is so pock-marked with missing material.  Over-using a polishing pad can damage vehicle paint with swirls and other micro-scratches, causing you to do more work than you need.  Remember that if you are charging the correct amount of money for the fine art of paint perfecting, the cost of using fresh pads on each vehicle should be negligible.  Time is money, and if you save time by using fresh pads, you are easily making up for the cost of having lots of pads available.

Which pad do I start with?

A common saying in the automotive paint perfecting circle is, “Use the least aggressive method that gets the job done in a reasonable amount of time.”  Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, test an area with a mild chemical and a soft pad.  If the test fails to yield the results you are looking for OR takes too long, then try a stronger chemical or pad.  Remember that using more aggressive pads or chemicals will require extra steps to remove the “damage” that those aggressive steps put into the paint.

How do I clean foam pads?

Cleaning Foam pads during use:  use a pad-cleaning brush or dedicated stiff-bristled nylon brush while spinning the pad on the machine, holding the back of the machine on your knee.  Make sure to use the brush ONLY on the side of the pad that is spinning toward the ground.  Make sure that your cleaning brush is kept in a spot where it will not be subject to picking up dirt or grit Some technicians prefer to clean foam pads with compressed air, which can reduce the wear on the pad from the brushes. 

Never use wire brushes of any kind to clean any pad.

Foam pad care between uses:  Many technicians like to store their used pads in plastic bags.  You can use the original packaging or use a resealable plastic bag.  You may want to let used pads dry out a bit before putting them into the bag.  Storing pads in a plastic bag will reduce the possibility of the pad picking up dirt or grit.  Never place a pad face down on any surface.

It is possible to wash foam pads with a very mild solution of your favorite all-purpose cleaner.  Do not mix pads used with different chemicals when washing!  If you have a lot of pads of a specific type and purpose, you can even throw them all in the washing machine with a cup of all-purpose cleaner—set the washer on “gentle” cycle, and use only warm or cold water, NEVER HOT.  Air-dry the washed pads on a flat surface.  NEVER put pads in the dryer, as they will warp.

Many technicians find that washing pads is not necessary if they have pads that are dedicated to specific products.  For example, you might have a “compounding” pad that is only used with your favorite compound; and likewise, a “polishing” pad, “finishing” pad, and “waxing” pad, each of which is only used with one chemical.  By dedicating pads as such, it may not be necessary to ever wash the pad.  Simply pull it out of the bag and brush off the dried-out chemical using the technique described above and you’re ready to go!  If there is still a lot of chemical powder coming off of the pad, try misting it with your favorite spray wax or even plane water.  Of course, if you are working on a special project (like a brand new black vehicle), you may want to go ahead and bust out new pads.

How do I clean wool pads?

Cleaning Wool pads during use:  use a wool cleaning “spur” tool.  Washing wool pads is not recommended—just use a spur cleaning tool.  We do not recommend using a screwdriver or similar tool to clean wool pads as this tears up the wool fibers and shortens the life of the pad.

Wool pad care between uses:  After “spurring” the wool pad, place it in a plastic bag.  If it is excessively moist from chemical, you may want allow it to dry for a while by setting it out on a clean, dry surface, face-up.  Then place it in the plastic bag.  Upon retrieving the used wool pad for the next job, spur off the excess dried-out chemical before applying new chemical.

How do I clean micro fiber pads?

Cleaning Micro Fiber pads during use:  A great option to clean micro fiber pads of excess chemical during each polish cycle, clean as much as you can tolerate with compressed air with an air chuck; just lean the back of the machine on your knee or upside down on a flat surface, and run it while slowly guiding the compressed air stream back and forth across the pad.  You can also use a brush to clean micro fiber pads with the same technique, but we recommend using a soft-bristled brush, not the traditional “pad cleaning brush” or stiff nylon brush used for other pads.

Another option to clean chemical build-up on micro fiber pads is a terry towel.  While the machine is running on your knee or upside down on a table or cart, bunch up the towel and hold it on the rotating pad.  You can also wrap up a finger in the terry towel and use that as a “brush” to carefully clean the rotating pad.

If you are experiencing a lot of chemical dust while polishing, you can mist the pad occasionally with your favorite quick-detail spray or even water from a trigger sprayer bottle.  Be careful, however, not to over-saturate the pad.

Micro Fiber pad care between uses:  Between polishing sessions or at the end of the day, most technicians like to remove the pads from the machines and give the pads a thorough cleaning.  For Micro Fiber pads, we do not recommend using a pressure washer or washing machine, as these methods tend to beat up the pads unnecessarily, especially if you are trying to stretch the life of your pads.  Instead, moisten the pad with a mild solution of a proper cleaner, agitate with a gloved hand or soft-bristled brush, and then rinse off under the faucet or with a garden hose.  You can tamp off excess water with a clean terry towel, then let the pad dry on a flat surface overnight. 

For drying several pads at once, one idea is to set up a standard household box fan, on low, facing the pads, and let it run overnight.

What is “Hook and Loop”?

This is the fastening system that ensures the pad “sticks” to the backing plate.  The backing plate will have a surface that is made up of dozens of tiny plastic hooks per square inch.  The pads, in turn, have a backing material that is fuzzy and designed to be “grabbed” by the hooks on the backing plate.  Buff and Shine has spent years perfecting its hook and loop system so that you get the most reliable and durable pad-plate connection possible.  No flying pads allowed!

Why thin pads?

Some technicians like the feel of thinner pads, because of the literal and figurative sense of feeling closer to the paint.  Thus, the work being done is not masked by any cushioning of thicker pads.  This can offer the more advanced technician more control over the work.  Performance and speed of work tend to be better with the lower profile interface.

What pads should I start with if I’m new?

This is a tough question to answer, as there are so many variables involved with surface polishing, such as the surface you are working on and the types of defects that you are typically trying to remove.  Nonetheless, initial pad choice begins with the type of machine that you are using.  Is it a simple rotary or dual-action or long-throw?  Buff and Shine has pad line-ups that are designed specifically for each type of machine. 

Next, determine the size of the backing plate that is attached to your machine, specifically, the diameter.  This will allow you to order the correct pad size to choose.

As far as what pad types you should have in a basic kit, we recommend starting with a “cutting” pad, a “polishing” pad, and a “finishing” pad.  This combination will allow most technicians to accomplish most of the paint correction and perfection situations that might come their way.  Once you have mastered these three pads, you can start to expand your collection based on specific polishing situations.  As you gain polishing experience, don’t be afraid to experiment with different pad materials, as you might find something that works much better for your situation.

Do I need to use a wool pad?

Most detailing technicians working on everyday vehicles do not use wool pads except in rare cases where nothing else works fast.  Wool pads have been around for a long time and were critical for cutting the types of automotive paints that were used before the 1980s.  Some technicians and body shops still rely heavily on wool because of its quick and heavy-duty cutting ability.  The problem with wool is that it WILL leave “technical scratches” (those put in by the technician using the wool pad) behind, requiring extra polishing steps to remove those scratches and swirls.  Because of this, most standard automotive detailing technicians do not use wool.  Besides, the newer buffing tool technology [link to polishers page] and pad technology available these days allows for amazing correction capabilities without the need for multiple steps of polishing.

Is centering the pad important?

YES!  Centering will help the machine run smooth and prevent abnormal wear on the pad and the equipment.  Centering will also help reduce vibration and thus technician fatigue.  Moreover, proper centering of the pad on the backing plate will reduce the possibility of adding technical scratches to the paint.

What does “reticulated” mean?

Reticulated foam is closed cell foam that has been put through a special process that changes it to open cell foam.  In simple terms, “reticulated” foam is open cell foam.

What is the difference between “open cell” and “closed cell” foam?

Closed cell foams have trapped gas bubbles inside the foam that form during the foam's expansion and cure. These gas bubbles are permanently locked into place during the curing of the foam.  Closed cell foams tend to prevent heat transfer because they are more insulating.  They tend to be stronger and less flexible and also resist liquid and chemical absorption.

Open cell foams have “holes” in their walls, so trapped gas bubbles do not form during curing of the foam.  The open foam bubbles then interlock and interconnect, creating spaces within the cells that are filled with atmospheric air, much like a sponge. Due to its porous nature, open cell foam does not resist liquid absorption.  Open cell foams tend to not be as strong as closed cell forms, but are less dense and thus more flexible.

For more in-depth information of foam types, please click here 

Foam pads from different companies are basically the same, right?

No.  Some foam pad manufacturers use foam that is borrowed from other industries, like filter material used in the HVAC industry.  Yet other companies use foams based on their color and not on their performance.  In contrast, Buff and Shine uses foams that are designed specifically for automotive polishing.  Thus, you, as the end user, are ensured of the best results and highest durability.

 The pad color scheme is standard across the industry, right?

No.  There is, unfortunately no set standard for color coding foams.  For example, an orange foam from one company may have a completely different impact than the orange foam pad from Buff and Shine.  That’s why it’s best to stick with one company, like Buff and Shine, that has a consistent color scheme and a guide on every pad wrapper to help you choose the correct foam for the job at hand.

Are custom products available?

Yes.  We can make custom buffing and polishing products with reasonable minimums.  Please contact our sales department to discuss--Click here.

 Why can’t I buy products directly from Buff and Shine?

Buff and Shine is committed and focused on the manufacture, distribution, and improvement of polishing pad technology.  So as to preserve that focus, we decided from the beginning to stay out of the sales aspect of the business, instead leaving sales to our trusted distributor network.  Nonetheless, feel free to contact us If you are unable to get the items that you need from your local distributor.

Can I use different chemicals on the same pad?

In general, it is recommended to dedicated one pad for each type of compound, polish, or swirl remover that you might be using.  When you mix more than one chemical on a single pad, the pad becomes cross-contaminated with two chemicals that are designed for different purposes.  By doing so, you lose control of the results that you will get with that pad.  Professional detailing technicians that have several paint-related chemicals in their “tool box” will usually dedicate one pad for each chemical

What type of polisher or buffer should I use?

Boy, this is a loaded question.  There are so many variables here that the discussion could go on for pages and pages.  Nonetheless, the decision starts by answering three questions: “what surface are you working on?” “what are you trying to accomplish?” and “what do your customers expect?”.  For example, if your surface is automotive paint and most of your customers just want a coat of wax, then you can probably just use a dual-action or random-orbit machine and a foam finishing pad.  On the other hand, if you are working on heavily-oxidized RV gelcoat, you may need to have both a simple rotary (high-speed) machine with a wool pad as well as a long-throw dual action with a finishing pad.

If you are just starting out as a detailing technician, we highly recommend that you go to a training class to learn about polishing automobiles.  You can find information about detail training resources at the International Detailing Association website www.the-ida.com.  Most newbies prefer to start with a dual-action or random-orbit machine, which, with the right set of pads, will allow you to lightly polish and protect most paint jobs.

We find that experienced detailing technicians tend to have several different polishing machines so as to be able to approach most polishing situations in the most efficient and effective manner.  Newer polishing machine technology like “forced rotation”, “gear-driven”, “long-throw”, or “high-action” are allowing new and experienced technicians alike to produce phenomenal results with the appropriate Buff and Shine pads—results that used to only be achievable with multiple steps and risky use of rotary polishers.

Click here for more information on polishing machines.

How do I order the right size pad for my machine?

The measurement that you see associated with a pad description refers to the diameter of the back of the pad—that is, the part that attaches to your backing plate.  Thus, a 5” pad will fit perfectly onto a 5” backing plate.  So, to determine the proper size of pad for your machine, measure the diameter of the backing plate that you are using.

Now, the face of the pad—the part that contacts the surface to be polished--might be larger in diameter than the back of the pad, as some pads bevel out from the face to the pad.  Nonetheless, the diameter of the face is not used in distinguishing pad sizes.

Are your pads just for automobiles?

Of course not!  Our pads are used on a number of other vehicle applications, like RVs, trailers, boats, airplanes, construction equipment, trucks, and many other painted equipment.  We are also a favored supplier to the aerospace and composite industries—basically anywhere a material or surface must be machine-polished or shined.

Do you offer “private labelling”?

Yes!  With an appropriate minimum order, we can put your logo on the bag and the pad itself.  This allows your company to take advantage of Buff and Shine’s high-quality standards by offering your customers reliable, durable, and consistent polishing products.  Please contact us to start a discussion about your private label needs.