Car buffing explained — all you need to know
Discover the secrets of car buffing for a showroom-worthy finish.
Drivers who desire their vehicles to have perfect aesthetic looks always find car buffing a worthwhile venture. Car buffing is when you remove a small layer of paint from your car’s finish to reveal a fresh layer of paint underneath, improving the car’s appearance and restoring its original luster.
Car buffing has its advantages and disadvantages, which we explore in this article. We also discuss how car buffing is done, how much it costs, and if it is indispensable.
What is car buffing?
Buffing is generally a type of polishing. Polishing is a process where smaller ones cover large scratches until all the scratches are no longer visible to the naked eye. The technique hides imperfections in your car’s paint but often makes the car’s paint look dull.
Buffing, on the other hand, also utilizes polishing compounds. But, instead of covering up significant scratches with smaller ones, buffing removes a thin layer of paint from the vehicle’s body. The thin layer of paint takes the dents and scratches along with it, leaving a smooth, fresh paint surface that makes the car look new again. It’s similar to the benefits of ceramic coat, only this time you won’t have a protective layer on the paint, but removing the top paint layer instead.
Types of car buffing
There are three different types of buffing:
Hand buffing is best for minor swirls and scratches. The advantage of this type is that paint damage is kept minimal. However, you cannot use it to remove more profound defects.
You can do it yourself at home by using a rag and a mild polishing compound to remove the paint. It is best used in small areas and is highly effective for clearing out minor scratches.
The downside to hand buffing is that it is time-consuming and stressful. It puts a lot of pressure on your hands and muscles and can end with callouses.
Professionals usually use orbital buffing for finishings. The buffer uses a foam disc which spins about in a circular pattern, ensuring that it stays in one place for a short time so the car’s body does not get spoiled. It is less intense than high-speed buffing but less time-consuming and stressful.
Another advantage orbital buffing has over hand buffing is that the finishing is more even and less prone to mistakes, as an inexperienced hand trying to hand buff might leave apparent errors.
High-speed buffing is the fastest and most reliable way to buff a car. It is also the most efficient as it removes the smallest layer of paint, compared with the other kinds of buffing described above.
However, an amateur hand wielding a high-speed buffing device could do a lot of harm to your car’s exterior. It is best left for professionals to wield; if you must use it as an amateur, it should be under the supervision and after sufficient training.
How to buff a car
Here are three steps you can use to buff your car.
Wash the car
First, park your car in a place with shade. A cool surface will prevent your vehicle from acquiring soap stains which can be unpleasant.
Next, put soap in a gallon-sized bucket, which should be filled with foamy water. For the best experience, use only car wash-specific soaps for this exercise and ensure you follow the manufacturer’s advice on the amount of soap to use.
Submerge a large sponge in the foam water, and squeeze half the water out before using it to wash the car. Ensure you move the sponge in circular motions, paying attention to cracks and crevices where dirt may be trapped on the car.
Choose a buffer
Consider using a high-speed buffer to get the best results. They eliminate blemishes and leave an excellent shine. But you should only use a high-speed buffer if you understand how to use it properly or intend to get a professional to handle it for you.
Get a random orbital buffer to stay safe when buffing your car yourself. The orbital buffer will still give great results and leave a good shine. It is easy to use and does not require prior training for a correct operation.
Though the result would not be as superb as results from the high-speed buffer, you would still get effective finishing. It is also inexpensive and would save you some money.
Moreover, if you have a low budget and intend to carry out the buffing on a small area and small scratches, you can opt for the manual buffing option. Manual buffing is more labor-intensive than the other two and requires the least amount of equipment.
A manual buffing method is not recommended, as it takes up a lot of time and product. Also, the results are usually uneven and only last for a short time, as those obtained from the other two buffing types.
While choosing a buffer, get a compound or polishing product best suited for your car. Deep scratches require a compound, while polishers are best used if the car’s body paint is already in good shape and only requires an improvement in shine.
It would be best to research the products to see how they would fare for your car before getting it. Most drivers use recommendations from friends or professionals to know what product to purchase for the exercise.
Before the actual buffing procedure, ensure the entire car is completely dry. You can use a clean, soft towel or a chamois to dry the vehicle.
After drying, apply a lavish compound or polisher onto the car’s body. Ensure you examine the results as you go and start with the hood for easy examination.
Next, place the buffer on the finishing product and move it around to spread it evenly in small circular motions. If you use a powered buffer, ensure a firm grip on the device while swirling it around in careful circular movements to work the product into the finish.
If you opted for a manual buff, you would have to apply a good amount of pressure along with the circular motions for the product to sink in. If you are using it over a wide area, it may get tired long before the job is completed, so it is best to plan for a powered buffer if the treatment area is too broad.
You know you are done when your car has developed a sheen. The time it would take for this to happen depends on the buffer you use. If you doubt your abilities to buff your car without damage adequately, you should get a professional to get the job done for you.
Why should I buff my car?
Car buffing is one of those many ways you can keep your vehicle looking aesthetically pleasing most of the time. When done correctly, you can eliminate minor scratches, oxidation, etching and other defects from the body of your car. Buffing your car also elevates the quality of protection you put in after that.
When should I buff my car?
When your car loses its shine, it is a good time to buff it. Another fantastic time to buff your vehicle is before adding protection like wax onto its body.
Buffing is not only for cars with old fading paint. Vehicles with new paint jobs would not have a perfectly smooth surface. Buffing is one of the finishing you can perform on fresh paint to get a better shine.
Is buffing my car worth it?
It is worth buffing your car’s body as the results improve your vehicle’s aesthetic look when done correctly. It removes blemishes and sometimes hides imperfections in paint jobs. Drivers that choose to put fresh paint on their rides instead always wonder – how long does it take to paint a car? Because of the time needed for painting the car, as well as the cost, it’s much easier to fix small damage by buffing.
On the other hand, buffing your car often can damage your car’s paint. You should do the procedure more than three times a year.
How much is a car buffing procedure?
Remember that the wrong service will damage your vehicle’s body when paying for your car to be buffed. You can find one for as low as $50 but at most $300.
Looking for the right professional to get the job done will be best. Also, avoid cheap deals as they are mostly offered by amateurs who place your car at risk of getting damaged or not achieving the necessary sheen.
Car buffing is a practice worth it if you get it done correctly. It will not only hide blemishes and improve a paint job but also make your car look newer than it is.
It is best to get a professional to do the job for you, so you get the best deal and good service. Also, it should not be a frequent activity as it can damage your car paint eventually and present problems for your car in the long run.
How much does buffing a car cost?
The cost of buffing a car depends on the shop you visit and their years of experience. Seasoned professionals in the business can charge up to $300, while some shops with lesser experience can charge $50.
Is buffing a car necessary?
Buffing a car is necessary to maintain the look and shine of a vehicle. It is also helpful for smoothing out a paint job and enhancing its finishing look.
When should you buff your car?
You should buff your car when you notice many blemishes and scratches affecting its look. Also, a car buff is necessary after a paint job to ensure the body is even and promote the paint job.
Is buffing a car the same as polishing?
Buffing is different from polishing in that buffing only removes a light layer of paint to give a bright lustrous finish, while polishing is more aggressive and does not stop with a light layer. Polishing gets deeper blemishes which buffing might not get since it’s a light treatment.