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How to remove a scratch

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Removing a scratch is a very important part of the correction process. However, there are several different ways of removing several different types of scratches. It also needs an explanation on what removing a scratch actually means.

What does it mean to remove a scratch

A scratch is a form of surface imperfection. In many cases, it is a deep valley in the microscopic landscape of a painted surface with high angled edges. The depth of the scratch is deeper then the surrounding area. The shape of the scratch causes light to be reflected in a different way than the surrounding area, making it stand out. To remove the scratch you would either need to fill the gap, or remove the gap.

Filling the gap

Filling the gap is very difficult, the scratch is often only a micron wide, applying sometimes inside this requires equipment that is not available to regular people. Products like glaze and wax have the capability to fill the gap, but the material that fills the gap is not nearly as strong as the paintwork itself. The effect will be very temporarily. Certain light conditions can still make the scratch visible.

Removing the scratch

The second option would be to remove the gap. This can be done by removing the same amount of the surrounding area as the depth of the scratch. If the scratch is 3 microns thick, you would need to remove 3 microns of the surrounding area.

Make it less visible

A scratch stands out because it breaks the light in a different way then the perfectly smooth surrounding area. If the removal of the scratch isn’t an option, you can smoothen the sharp edges to change the way the light break at the scratch. Smoother edges will reflect light in a slightly more similar way as the surrounding area, making the scratch less noticeable. It is still there, but it doesn’t stand out as much anymore.

Different type of scratch

There are several surface imperfections that can be present on a surface. They do not all have to be scratches, some can be chemical damage. A scratch can have different descriptions, but the general consensus is that a scratch is a mark in the surface that is longer then it is wide, and deeper then it is wide. It has a V shape with the mark being wider at the top and more narrow at the bottom. It can be isolated, but it can also be surrounded by similar scratches (like marring or swirls).
For some, you need to feel it when going over it with your nail.

Different ways or removal

Scratches can be removed by a few different methods. The required method depends on the paint thickness, the type/size of the imperfection and the products available.

Polishing

This method will very gradually “sand” away a very thin layer in a controlled manner. The finish will be very smooth.

Cutting

This method will “sand” away more then polishing will do. The finish will me less smooth and will require polishing. This method is faster.

Wetsanding

This method is the most aggressive method, removing a lot of paint and requiring cutting and polishing to finish off.

Respray

When there is very little clear coat to work with, it is possible to prep the paintwork for a new layer of clear coat. However, this is a very costly procedure.

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