When you polish a surface, the level of imperfection defines how much work it will be to achieve a perfect finish. This can either be a 1 stage polish, a 2 stage polish or even a 3 stage polish. Different types of stages needed define slightly what pads and/or polish you are going to need, and might give an indication of the time-frame needed.
What makes it a 1-stage polish
A 1 stage polish is the minimal amount of steps you can do when you polish a surface. Which product you use isn’t very relevant, although it would be unwise to do a 1 stage polish with a heavy cutting polish. Simply because you will not finish with a perfect finish. A 1 stage polish can be done for several reasons, and is one of the types of stages that can easily be done by hand or machine. For novices the 1 stage polish is a safe way to start out with a polish.
Let create a hypothetical situation:
Lets say that 4 different polishes remove an exact amount of paint in an exact frame of time (in real life it depends on many different variabels).
- Finishing polish: 1 micron in 10 minutes
- Fine polish: 2 micron in 10 minutes
- Medium polishing: 4 micron in 10 minutes
- Heavy polishing: 6 micron in 10 minutes
- Cutting compound: 8 micron in 10 minutes
The surface you are going to polish has a surface imperfection that is 5 micron deep.
You always need to work your way down from rough to least rough. So you would always want to finish with a finishing polish.
There are a few different ways you can tackle this:
Problem: takes a very long time.
Problem: takes a long time.
Problem: 3 different stages.
- #1: This would be a 1 stage polish, but because it takes 50 minutes it is not a smart choice.
- #2: With 20 minutes, this 2 stage polish would be a decent choice, but sometimes the jump from a medium polish to a finishing polish might be to big. Would be the choice to make if you are in a hurry.
- #3: Also a 2 stage polish, but it takes 30 minutes. Would be a good choice if you have the time.
- #4: Still takes 25 minutes, but you would need 3 different pads and you will be using 3 different products. Not the most logical choice.
Reasons to choose a 1 stage polish
There can be several reason why you would choose a 1 stage polish:
- You are in a hurry
- You only need to remove surface oxidation
- You only need to remove marring
- You feel/think/know that just claying would be to little
- You don’t have sufficient pads to do a 2 stage polish
- You don’t have sufficient products to do a 2 stage polish
Whatever the reason might be for you, a 1 stage polish has its benefits and its downsides. The main benefit is that it takes a short period of time. The downside is that it might not be enough to fix any imperfection you might encounter. Especially professional detailers that have to work with fixed time-frames sometimes need to make a general decision based upon: what approach will remove the most imperfections in the least time.
In many cases, a 1 stage polish is just used to quickly remove some very superficial imperfections.
How to save yourself time
Make the decision to work with either SMAT or DAT.
When you are working with a medium polish, and you want to skip the need for a fine polish, because you want to jump to the finishing polish, you probably want to use a DAT polish. This will start out with the cutting power of a medium polish, but after working it in, you will finish with a very fine polish. Which will minimize the jump from a medium polish to a finishing polish.
However, keep in mind that a medium DAT polish will remove less microns of paint then a medium SMAT polish, simply because the SMAT polish will retain its cutting power whereas a DAT polish will become more and more fine, cutting less and less as you work it in.
Make the right decision for you situation and you might save yourself a lot of time.
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