What does polish really means?

What does polish really means? (In the context of Auto Detailing)

Ever gotten confused with all those detailing jargons? Well, we will try to shed some lights in this post.

Firstly, the definition:
Pol-ish (verb)
To make smooth and glossy, especially by rubbing or friction.

But in auto detailing context, I’ll say polish is actually one of the steps used during ‘Surface Preparation’ (the act of “doing” up the paint surface so that it is free from defects and ready to proceed with wax, sealant or coating).

There are mainly 4 steps for Surface Preparation:

  1. Compound
  2. Polish
  3. Glaze
  4. Paint Cleaning (not to be mistaken for car washing/cleaning with shampoos or degreasers)

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So what are the differences of the steps? Here’s the explanation in layman terms:

  1. Compound
    – “polishing” using tools & polish (product) with heavy cutting power
  2. Polish
    – “polishing” using tools & polish (product) with moderate cutting power
  3. Glaze
    – “polishing” using tools & polish (product) with light cutting power
  4. Paint Cleaning
    – “polishing” using tools & polish (product) with ultralight cutting power, which contains silicone and/or wax
    (When we talk about cleaning the CAR or washing the CAR, yes, it means using car shampoo. However when we talk about cleaning the PAINT in particular, it means removing stubborn/embedded dirt, grime and light oxidations, in which normally washing can’t do much to these defects.)

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Why do we need so many types of polish (products) with different “cutting” power? Well in our terms, cutting means abrading the clear coat to reveal a fresh defect-less surface. Meaning to say that, if you have watermarks, scratches, swirl marks, oxidations, blemishes and other defects on the paintwork’s clear coat, you’ll have to abrade them away to reveal a new, flawless clear coat.

Generally a polish (product) with high cutting power will produce a lower gloss finishing while a polish with lower cutting power will produce a higher gloss finishing:

High Cutting ===> Low Gloss
Low Cutting ===> High Gloss

So if I have heavy defects on my car’s paintwork, I would need a high cutting polish to abrade them away but it’ll leave behind a low gloss and some swirls (Swirls are scratches caused by compounding or polishing)

High Cutting ===> More Swirls
Low Cutting ===> Less Swirls

Swirls created from compounding
Swirls created from compounding

Which also means:
High Cutting ===> More Swirls ===> Low Gloss
Low Cutting ===> Less Swirls ===> High Gloss

Back to our problem, let’s say if I’ve got many defects on my paintwork, how do I deal with it?

So in theory,

Step 1: Use a Compound (Product)
Results from step 1: removable defects will be removed and swirls will be created.

Step 2: Use a Polish (Product)
Results from step 2: Swirls will be removed and light Swirls/Holograms will be created.

Step 3: Use a Glaze (Product)
Results from step 3: Swirls/Holograms will be removed and a flawless finish will be produced!
(In theory! However when talking about craftsmanship, there’s no such thing as 100%, 99.9% is just as good!)

*Of course if the initial defect is not severe, probably just some light defects, I’ll just start with step 2 and then step 3 to get my 99.9% finish.

However with modern chemical engineering from our guys at the lab, we’re always determined to shorten the entire surface preparation process by creating products with the highest cutting power whilst producing the highest gloss.

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