This walkthrough is designed to help you with Polishing. This is in preparation for Installing a DIY Ceramic Coating. If you are looking to take care of an existing coating; please refer to this post on "How to Clean Your Ceramic Coating at Home" - If you haven't read the preceding part of this guide I suggest start here "Part 1: Wash and Decontamination"
Alright now that housekeeping is done - let's learn how to polish. I know; with certainty, that you can do this - just take your time. While not overly difficult, a lot can go wrong if you are not completely focused.
Quick Note: Polish Versus Paint Correction
Polish and paint correction are not the same thing. A polish has a very small amount of abrasives (if any). The polish is applied to a very soft black foam pad. It is designed to add shine and will sometimes remove very faint micro-marring. The micro marring mentioned here is likely not visible to the untrained eye. Paint Correction is designed to remove deeper scratching, spider webbing, holograms and more. During this process you would use sanding discs / heavier compounds. The paint correction process is NOT meant to be done at home if you have no experience. Not sure if polish is enough? Grab a very bright and small beamed LED flashlight. Pull your vehicle into the garage and shine the flashlight at the hood. If you see rings around the light or it looks "wavy" - you likely need a deeper level of paint correction (see image below). If you see nothing or very very faint lines polish should be enough. The tighter the beam of light, the easier it is to see defects.
Many people think they can skip paint correction because wax has always hid the scratches. This is not the case with Ceramic Coating. Ceramic Coating does not hide or remove scratches (Even Professional Grade). It is a clear chemical with no fillers. You will get lackluster results if you seal in scratches with a Ceramic Coating. A lot of the shine a Ceramic Coating produces is actually from proper paint correction and/or polish in this step.
Supplies Needed for Polishing
2-4 High GSM Microfiber Towels
A DA Buffer
Black Foam Finishing Pad
Auto Painters Tape
Here I mention a DA Buffer. This stands for Dual Action - name this way because the buffer head oscillates on two different loops at the same time. It is the most beginner friendly buffer. A great entry level buffer (at an entry level price) would be from Griots Garage, Model is G9. They offer a lifetime warranty on their buffers with no questions asked. You drop it - they will replace it.
The best pads in the industry are by Lake Country. If you are planning ahead - it's worth grabbing this on autoality or amazon. If you are too excited for that any black FOAM pad from an auto parts store or Harbor Freight will get the job done. As for Polish - Koch Chemie is what we currently use at Kings Valet. For polishes the brand doesn't matter brand too much, once you break into compounding they play a huge role.
Step-by-Step Guide: How to Polish Prep Your Vehicle
Prior to starting this polish the vehicle should be washed, decontaminated and dried.
Take your auto painters tape and tape off all trim and badges - same as you would taping off a baseboard before you paint a wall. You will also need to tape off any matte sections. DO NOT POLISH MATTE. It will turn glossy fast and there is no going back.
Take your black foam pad and buffer - align the pad so it is centered on your DA
Prime your pad - meaning apply polish liberally to the pad and gently rub in to moisten most of the surface.
Apply 4 pea size drops to the surface of the pad (image below)
Set your speed to a 3 or 4 (speaking specifically to the G9) and pull the trigger with the buffer on the vehicle.
Most detailers work about a 3'x3' section at a time. With polish you can stretch this a little bit. Arm speed should be moderate. Moderate to light pressure from buffer to vehicle. Again, polish is NOT designed to remove scratches - you will be waiting your time "pressing hard" to get marks out.
Use Your High GSM Microfiber to buff polish off. This doesn't have to be perfect, but you should get 90% off. (You have a panel prep step coming up that will remove anything you missed)
Repeat steps 5-8 until vehicle is complete.
Peel your tape off and get ready for Panel Prep! You are almost there.
Note: From the Wash to Actual DIY Coating Installation; every step is all designed to be done out of the sun. Never polish in the sun as you risk it drying / baking on your clear coat. This isn't a huge problem with polish, but if you did elect to attempt paint correction - compound baking is very bad. After completing paint correction get it out there in the sun and see how great you did!
In Conclusion: I know this step may feel overwhelming, it is not meant to be that way. It is possible for most any vehicle enthusiast to do a polish at home. Just take your time, make sure you tape and keep it in the shade. If you put the flashlight on your hood and saw extensive swirls marks or damage - give me a call at Kings Valet a call about Paint Correction - even if it is just a couple quick questions. We also have an Paint Correction FAQ that is worth the read. All finished with your polishing? Time to move onto the final (and easiest) part in the series: Panel Prep.
If you have something you want to see covered in the blog in a future post: email@example.com or 574.347.4445. As always have a blessed day!
Not sure if it's worth saving a couple dollars and doing it yourself? Find out more about the Kings Valet Lifetime Ceramic Coating! A Lifetime of Free Maintenance and a 200% money back guarantee are included with every Ceramic Coating. Kings Valet is located in Mishawaka, IN. Kings Valet offers pick-up and delivery to all surrounding areas including; Granger, Elkhart, Goshen, Niles, Notre Dame, New Buffalo and More. Just ask!