What's Paint Correction + Should You Get It? | Ceramic Coatings by Kings Valet
Do you have a car that's only a couple years old or maybe a classic that just doesn't have the luster anymore? Maybe you rubbed the garage door frame when backing out one morning? There are many reasons to pursue a Paint Correction service.
What is Paint Correction?
The process of removing a microscopic layer of clear coat to return shine to a vehicle. When Kings Valet mentions Paint Correction they are referring to the process of removing defects from paint; not any form of repainting. Kings Valet can permanently fix swirl marks, light scratches, spider-webs, orange peel and scuffs / paint transfer.
When to use Paint Correction / What Can Paint Correction Fix
While there isn't a "right" or "wrong" time for paint correction it is most commonly used when a vehicle lacks luster. Luster is lost when a vehicle has scratches or marring in the clear coat. The scratches cause the light to refract (break a part) versus reflect. If your vehicle doesn't shine like the day you bought it - it might be a great time for Paint Correction.
Every Ceramic Coating from Kings Valet includes an enhancement polish. This polish falls within the "correction" family even though it only removes micro-marring. Even new vehicles will see an increase in gloss just with this simple polish. Ceramic Coatings themselves can also be polished just like a clear coat. A year or two after installation you may have put light scratching back into the car just through living life (jacket zippers rubbing, rubbed a bush, set a box on the hood or maybe dried with the wrong towel once or twice). This is another great time for a polish.
Need a more extensive correction? IE you have some deeper scratches, scuffs or holograms... Great News - this can be fixed, to a point. Light scratching, swirls, holograms and more can be removed easily with compounding and a DA buffer. The rule of thumb (literally) with deeper scratches is as follows: If you run your thumb nail over the scratch and feel it, it is too deep for a DA buffer to remove. Typically a scratch this deep will require wet sanding or the addition of paint / clear and blending.
What is NOT Paint Correction / What Cannot be Fixed?
There are a few things that are not considered paint correction in the detailing world. Basically anything that requires the addition of paint / clear coat should be done at a body shop and not with a detailing company. Common examples include crows feet and cracking/ failing clear coat. Even extensive rock chips are better handled by a body shop. While many detail shops will offer to fill (including us), the quality will never match that of a body shop repainting the panel.
Methods of Paint Correction:
DA is short for Dual Action. This type of buffer's head rotates on two ellipses. This leads to a safe, but aggressive cut. Dual Action Buffers are by far the most common way of performing Paint Correction in the detailing / restoration industry. This buffer will stop rotating if you press it hard enough against the paint - hence the safest way to buff.
A rotary buffer is a single orbit buffer that will not stop buffing no matter the down force (how hard you press against the paint). It is designed for heavy cutting - very difficult for finishing. A rotary will lead to higher heat being concentrated because of its singular orbit; meaning a very real chance for burning the paint. Rotary buffers were and still remain the staple in the auto body industry.
Forced Rotation Buffer
A combination of Rotary and DA Buffers. A forced rotation buffer rotates on two ellipses like the DA; and will not stop no matter the down force like the rotary buffer. Because of the two ellipses the heat is spread so the risk of burning is lower - but still poses a small threat. This buffer is the least used of the three.
The process of removing very deep scratches / orange peel with soap water and sand paper. Just like sanding on wood; wet-sanding starts with lower grit and moves to higher grit. Typically wet sanding starts at 1500 grit. It is a VERY aggressive method of correction; meaning it takes just seconds to sand too much clear coat.
Drawbacks of Paint Correction?
While paint correction is a permanent fix - returning to old habits will create new damage in your now pristine vehicle. This means no more tunnel washes, improving your drying methods and over all care for the vehicle. Other than adjusting habits there are no real drawbacks to minor corrections being done.
Why did I specify minor corrections? Wet sanding and even rotary buffing should be done sparingly. These two methods of correction are extremely aggressive and remove larger amounts of clear coat. The clear on your car is a finite resource. While they have their place in the industry, chasing orange peel on a new vehicle is NOT the right time to use it.
Orange Peel on New Cars
EVERY New Car off the factory line has orange peel in today's world. The clear coat is also thinner than it has ever been. After all, more paint = more time and money, right? Most paint depth readings are about 4 mils today. This is the measurement from metal panel to exposed face of clear coat; meaning it includes primer and paint. The average clear is less than half of these 4 mils. Wet sanding can remove 1+ mils of clear in the blink of an eye. If you have ever seen a clear coat fail, it's a painful sight. Removing half the existing clear to get a defect out makes very little sense and will lead to premature failure of the clear coat. The only situation we recommend correction of orange peel is on show cars.
Can I Do Paint Correction at Home?
You sure can! However, the two factors that usually keep the DIY out of paint correction is the cost and the risk. To buy a decent buffer, set of pads, set of compounds, microfiber towels and an inspection light will run you on the plus side of $500... versus paying a shop like Kings Valet $350 to add Paint Correction to your appointment. As for the risk - burning paint is irreversible.
Should I Have Paint Correction Done?
We certainly encourage it at Kings Valet. The only time we perform Paint Correction is prior to installation of Ceramic Coating. A Ceramic Coating seals the current condition of paint in for years to come. The only reason you shouldn't have Paint Correction performed is if you have no intent to change the behaviors that lead to the poor condition.
Is Paint Correction Permanent?
I made a brief mention of this earlier, but I wanted to touch on it again - Paint Correction is a permanent fix. it is not a permanent shield against future damage. A scratch in your paint is a valley. The process of correction removes the peak around the valley to level the surface. This means we are removing a microscopic layer of clear coat, no cheap fillers or adding paint.
Do New Cars Need Paint Correction?
Not as extensive as used cars, but yes typically a certain level of Paint Correction is required on new cars. The best way to avoid paint damage on your new vehicle? Tell the dealership DO NOT detail it. Dealership details cause a lot of the swirl marks on New Cars that are brought to Kings Valet. From using the same wash bucket for 10 cars in a row, poor drying methods and high volume demands - the experience is poor. If you plan to have paint protection done anywhere in Michiana - an exterior detail will be included as a part of the prep. The reality is the Ceramic Coating Installer you choose, will have to undo all the work the dealership did. Dealers apply a wax which Ceramic Coating cannot be installed over.
How to Protect My Paint After Paint Correction
Can Paint Correction be done without Ceramic Coating? Yes, many shops will perform this service and just apply a wax after; Kings Valet is not one. Kings Valet does not believe that wax is enough protection, but we understand that not everyone is ready to spend a grand plus for a long term and higher level of Paint Protection. Obviously with our exclusive offer being Ceramic Coatings, this is what we believe in to protect your freshly corrected paint. High gloss, easy to clean and protection against mother nature (bug guts, bird droppings, salt, etc).
Paint Correction + Ceramic Coating is a great fit for most who are aiming to protect their vehicle and have care free maintenance for years to come. Never get a Ceramic Coating installed without the proper preparation; which includes paint correction. I have never regretted going the extra mile on something I care about, only when I used a short cut to save a few dollars. A great cliche for this is "The quality remains long after the price is forgotten."
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