Wet Sanding, Paint Buffing, Orbital Polishing
By Danny Argent ~ 2005
Paintwork restoration has to be seen to be believed. Most people are amazed at how we can take even the most faded dull or scratched paintwork and make it look like new. Over the next few pages we will show you in photos just what can be achieved with our range of techniques.
The most common problem we see on paintwork is swirl marks. These are fine scratches which cover large areas of the car, catching the light and looking like brightly lit cobwebs. This is often caused by car washes. We also see a lot of deeper scratches, often where people have placed objects on the tailgate or where branches have scraped down the sides of the car. There may also be acid etching from bird droppings.
When cars have not been waxed, paintwork is attacked by the environment and becomes dull. With certain colours, the paintwork will fade. This is worst with red, brown, and yellow cars.
The problem in close up
The thing about this kind of damage is that it is often only on the surface. The damage may have only penetrates the top 5-10% of your paintwork, and so by removing a few microns, we can remove all the scratched or dull paint to reveal the good stuff underneath.
The graphic left shows a close up cross section of 'Clear over Base' type paintwork which is found on most modern cars. As long as the damage doesn't reach the base coat, we can polish out the scratches and acid etching.
On slightly older cars where there is no clear coat, the base coat is much much thicker, and as long as the damage is not through to the undercoat, enough top coat can be removed to rid it of faded, scratched of dull paintwork.
These graphics are very simplified, and in reality, if you were to look at your paintwork at this scale you would see that it is full of microscopic holes, and the surface would be rough and pitted where the paint spray had splattered into place during application at the factory. The manufacturer doesn't polish your car before applying wax and selling it to you. So after buffing and polishing, this paint surface is left smoother than the original finish, meaning that your car is even shinier than when brand new. We can take a 10 year old car and make it look better than the day you bought it!
The method of paint restoration we use depends very much on the damage. The deeper the damage, the further down we have to go. With slight oxidization of the paintwork, using a cutting wax or polish applied with an oscillating random orbital polisher will work fine. But with deep scratches it may be necessary to 'wet sand' before polishing with a high speed buffer. In between these two extremes are an infinite number of methods of buffing using combinations of deferent abrasive compounds and polishes, buffing mops, used both wet and dry at different speeds.