Paint "Finessing"

-Written by eHow member: BTripp


This is an all too typical "scuff" on some clearcoat.  It appears to be from something being drug across the paint.  Most scratches and scuffs, as well as "orange peel" can be "finessed" out, depending on severity.  You need to tread lightly, most clearcoats can be 3-5 mils thick, and a typical "finesse" job can remove .5-1.0 mils of clear

If the scratch is very light, it may just need to be buffed out.  However, if its deeper, then you'll need to "wetsand" it to blend it in with the surrounding paint.  I prefer to use 2000 grit "wet-or-dry" sand paper on a foam sanding pad.  The foam pads are great because they absorb some water, they are flexible, and the end can be used as a squeegee like shown in the picture so you can gauge your progress.  Remember, do only what is needed, to avoid removing excessive clearcoat.  The final product should be a dull chalky appearance, however it should be smooth.

The first stage is to buff out the wetsanding scratches.  I like to use a foam Meguires pad and some 3M Machine polish compound.  I stay away from Wool Bonnets because they are very aggressive and can leave severe swirl marks and are more likely to "burn through" the paint.  This is a W-8000 pad which is just right for working on wetsanded paint. One thing to look for when selecting a buffing compound is that it contains no WAX  and no SILICONE.  If you are working in a painting environment, or working on freshly painted surface, these are two things to avoid!  3M Machine Polish contains neither.

Put some of the polishing compound on and begin to buff it out.  Some people recommend most of the work be done between the 3 and 9 o'clock positions on the pad, and some recommend between 2 and 10 o'clock.  You just need to experiment and see what works best for you.  I favor the 2 & 10 position.  You should see good results in just a few passes. I used a polisher from Harbor Freight tools.  It has variable speed which I set at 1500 RPM and one great feature is that it comes with a Velcro backing which will let you use the Meguires pads.

The next step is to clean up whatever the buffing stage may have done (i.e. slight swirl marks) and to give it a finer gloss.  I like to use 3M Swirl Mark Remover and a Meguires W-9000 foam pad.  Its softer than the W-8000 pad we used in the previous step.  You'll apply this just like the previous stage.  Keep the pads and the polishing compounds separate.  Don't use the soft pad with the polish and don't use the aggressive pad with the Swirl Mark remover.  The pads should be dedicated for the polish you are using.

If this is a freshly painted panel, then simply clean off the excess compound with a soft, clean terry cloth towel and you are done.  If this is an old panel, I like to finish it off and protect it with a good quality wax.  Once the wax dries, it can be polished off using a polishing cloth or a clean, soft terry cloth towel.  Don't forget to get all the excess out of the cracks and seams!

And here is the final product!  You'd never even know there was a scratch there!