Free Tips On Hand Polishing Cars 


Hand Polishing Car PaintIf you have been wanting to polish a car by hand because you may lack the confidence to machine polish car paint, there is one of two things you can do.

You can either take up a car buffing short course and learn how to use car buffers, or you can buff a car by hand which really, is the hard way to polish a car.

Compounding by hand and then polishing car paint by hand to high gloss polish after being compounded is downright hard bloody work.

There is nothing wrong with polishing by hand. It is the old way most of us use to polish our cars at home back in the day and the only time your car was buffed by machine buffers was when it was at the body shop being attended to by a spray painter.

Having said that, like machine polishing has techniques, so does hand polishing and everything has to be done the right way to achieve a desired result.
If you asked me what do I prefer, hand polishing car paint by hand or machine polishing by hand, hands down I will opt for machine polishing. Why ? Not because it is easier to polish by machine but simply because machine polishing always achieves better results than hand polishing and it is only because machine polishing creates far more heat which aids greatly in polishing of painted surfaces.


Paint Correction By Hand


Paint correction is the art of removing swirl marks and scratches and is normally by today’s standards carried out by machine polishing. Not hand polishing. In this case, however, it is hand polishing or correcting car paint. First, by today’s paints, there usually two types of paints. Your conventional two-pack paint or Nano technology clear coats which are very hard paints.

Most German automakers these days produce their vehicles with nanotechnology car paint which is scratch resistant. I would not advise that if you are dealing with Nano paints you attempt to hand-correct car paint but if you must then there is nothing stopping you from trying these waters.

For the purposes of removing light swirl marks or top-end light damage, you can always use hand polishing with an advanced micro-abrasive which would work well with hand polishing but if you have scratches or swirl marks that are far deeper than top surface, I would advise you abandon hand polishing. Having said that, do not let this phase you. Hand polishing can still achieve results that have depth and gloss. It is just a question of how much damage you remove.



Recommended Steps For Polishing A Car By Hand



Step 1: Paint Surface Preparation


How to wash a carPolishing paint with the vision of achieving the best finish at the end all depends on the preparation from the beginning. For any compound or polish to be as effective as possible, the cleanest possible surface is a must. This means blasting the surface, washing a car properly and decontaminating all painted surfaces with a clay bar if the surfaces feel rough.

If the surface feels rough during the wash process, after having soaped and rinsed the vehicle re-soap again and run a clay bar over all painted surfaces and continue to do so until all surfaces feel smooth to the touch. Only after this can you dry the vehicle ready for polishing. If you are not sure or do not feel comfortable about doing this on your own, you can always check out our car detailing training that you can take up



Step 2 : Choose Your Hand Polishing Products


Swirl Free PolishWhen it comes to polishing cars and removing as many defects as possible, the idea to keep in the back of your head is to always use the least abrasive method as possible. This still also applies to polishing cars by hand. Any car detailer knows this but not all home enthusiasts know this. You should not be using anything that is otherwise described as a rubbing compound.

Rubbing compounds are usually used by professional painters and car detailers or paint correction specialists who are highly versed in their craft.

Anything used by hand should only go as far as a paint cleaner or light swirl remover and even then, you must follow through with a hand polish to complete the job. The problem with hand polishing is that your hand can not generate the necessary heat that is required for removing defects as efficiently as machines can. Professional paint correction with machines achieves this. The swirl remover pictured to the left here can be used by hand. Please ignore the machine.

Hand Polishing Car PaintWe can also provide professional paint correction training should you require it. Moving on, I highly recommend you do not move past swirl removers or paint cleaners.

The general method is to use the swirl remover, then do a second pass using pure polish. The swirl remover is still an abrasive, just not a very harsh abrasive so the chances of you doing any severe damage are very minute.

When you have your swirl remover and applicator pad, apply swirl remover to your pad and pass with straight back-and-forth motions until you see swirls and scratches slowly diminishing.

The reason I say straight-forth and back motions is that most swirl marks are in a circular effect and therefore will show if they are dissipating as a result of hand polishing. Continue doing this until you have completed the entire car.

If not satisfied, do a second pass or a third pass until you are satisfied with the result. Be mindful that you are removing clear coat during this process. If you know the history of your paint, it will help to make an informed decision if you should be polishing. Any action you take here is solely your responsibility. Only you know the history of your paint.



So in Easy To Follow Steps :


  1. Wash
  2. Clay Bar
  3. Chamois Dry
  4. Abrasive Pass Using Swirl Remover With Yellow Applicator Pad. Wipe Down And Inspect As You Go Panel By Panel. If Needs More, Do A Second Pass
  5. Polishing Pass. Wipe Down Each Cenescutive Panel And Inspect Till Completion
  6. Mist And Wipe For Final Inspection


Hand wiping car paintMake sure to always wipe down every section you are working on and inspect the surfaces with your microfiber cloth.

Do not use rags or any workshop materials lying around that you can use to wipe down surfaces. Only clean uncontaminated microfiber cloths

Once you have done the entire car with the swirl remover, it will be time for the second pass. Always try and run in straight lines when polishing rather than in circular motions. Here you will choose your polish.

Apply a dab of your chosen hand polish on the applicator pad and work the polish into the paint slowly working out anything left behind by the swirl remover. Always use a flat hand and not the tips of your fingers. Apply firm pressure but not too hard the applicator pad rolls out of your hand.

The swirl remover is an abrasive. It is how it removes swirls but it also leaves behind its own damage.

This is what polishing is for. To remove what the swirl remover leaves behind resulting in the best possible shine on your surfaces.

Continue doing this until the entire vehicle is completed. Aftyer this, all you need do is apply a wax or a car ceramic coating to seal in the new shine on your paint for a long time



Without getting into the science of what a polish is and the many different types, just use a pure polish preferably without fillers. Check on the bottle’s chemical base and see if states if it contains or does not contain fillers. If your hand polishing is not that great, a polish that contains fillers will actually help enhance your finish. Polymers are great for enhancing shine.

On the other hand, if your hand polishing was very good and you removed loads of swirls, whether you have a polish with fillers or not will not matter. You will be surprised what results you can achieve polishing cars by hand but be warned, you are in for a lot of work doing it this way. This is why machine polishing is far more effective. It is still rad work but achieves better results in the same time.

A cut and polish using buffers as opposed to a buff and polish by hand will always achieve mirror results if you understand how paint correction works.

If you have any questions or are concerned about your car paint and what action to take, I am always here to assist


Call On 0452 131 772 Should You Need Assistance


Some Common Questions


Is Hand Polishing Effective ?

Yes, Hand polishing definitely is effective for light swirl marks or point imperfections on car paint surfaces. Hand polishing will remove light scratches, light swirls marks and top surface imperfections which can occur through natural wear and tear. It is not effective for deeper scratches that occur over time from car wash damage or poor washing techniques that break down clear coats. For deep scratches, machine buffing services or paint correction will be required


Is It Better To Hand Wax Or Use A Buffer ?

This comes down to knowledge and personal choice. Using a machine for applying car wax in my personal opinion is always better. Why ? because it applies the wax evenly in a flat uniform application that is not too thick. What is a common problem with waxing? Removing it after it has been applied by hand. A machine applies the wax evenly in a nice uniform thin film which is all you need. Wiping off machine-applied wax is easy., Wiping off hand-applied wax can be a mammoth task.


Does Hand Polishing Remove Clear Coat ?

Yes, it Does. All polishing, whether by hand or machine, whether using compounds or polishes will remove clear coat. The result of achieving an improved shine through either machine polishing or hand polishing is the process of removing physical damage from the top surface by removing clear coat material. Over time, consistent polishing or using abrasives will break through the clear coat exposing paint


What is the downside of polishing your car ?

Although polishing your car can produce beautiful results and shines, It must be kept in mind that every time you polish your car, you remove clear coat material from your paint. Over the years, your clear coat from repetitive polishing diminishes. It is well advised to maintain and practice safe washing techniques to avoid scratches to your paint surfaces that will otherwise require further polishing.

  • Do Not Use Car Washes
  • Do Not Use Rags To Wash Your Car
  • Do Not Use Sponges On Painted Surfaces
  • Do Not Use Brooms To Wash Car Paint
  • Use Only Wash Mitts Or Cloths Meant For Washing Car Paint


How Often Should You Polish Your Car By Hand ?

This comes down to choice. Most times a clean looking painted surface does not require polishing of any kind but if you can see swirl marks appearing, or light scratches it will be your choice as to whether or not you decide to polish your car. In most cases though, when damage on painted surface inhibits shine, it is usually time for a polish


If You Have Any Questions, Please Do Not Hesitate To Call On 0452 131 772




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