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What is a polish

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A polish is an abrasive or chemical product that is mostly used to remove surface defects by removing a very thin layer of the product. If the removed layer is the same thickness as the depth of the surface defect, you will end up with a smooth surface that will not have a surface defect anymore. Many polishes are liquid, but not all. There are also polish-paste products.

misconceptions about polish

There are a few misperception regarding polish.

  • Some people are used to the term “polish” when they are describing a wax
    This could be cause because both a polish and a wax are “buffed” in a certain way, which makes the process of working with it a bit similar
  • Polish does NOT hide surface defects, but removes it.
  • Most polishes only show the true result after the surface has been wiped off with a polish-residue-remover (such as IPA)
  • A polish does not have to be abrasive, there are also chemical polishes on the market
  • A polish does not always have to be carried by oils, it is possible to make polishes on water-basis, however these are more difficult (and expensive) to manufacturer
  • There are several products on the market that are actually a glaze, but are called a “polish” because it gives the impression that the surface defects are removed
  • Polishes can be made for any surface: glass, paintwork, metal, plastic, perspex etc.

Differences between products

There can be many difference between polish. Certain characteristics can be very important, and not all the products have these characteristics in the same way. Some are more lubricating than others for example. It takes skill and experience to understand which polish should be choosen for what situation. This can not only be determined by the product itself but also the polishing machine somebody is going to use, the pad they are using, the type of paint, the weather (if applicable) and the color of the paintwork.
Differences between products can be:

  • Level of abrasiveness
  • SMAT or DAT
  • Amount of particles per ml
  • Amount of lubrication
  • Water- or oil-based
  • How long it needs to be worked in
  • Better on soft paint or hard paint
  • Designed to be used by hand, DA or by rotary

AIO polishes

There are products on the market that combine the features of 2 (or more) products. An example of a product that combines a polish could be a “polishing glaze”. This is a polish that contains certain oils that are left behind after buffing. These oils fill in the tiny surface defects that might be left behind because the polish didn’t remove them completely. The polish particles reduce the amount of surface defect and the glaze makes the last little bit less visible, which gives the impression that the surface defect was completely removed.
The advantage with this product would be that you achieve a better result, the downside is also that you might not get a honest picture of the result achieved.

Gradations

polish comes in several different grades. The most common grades are:
Finishing polish
Light polish
Medium polish
Cutting polish
Heavy cutting polish
Compounds
The amount of result is very dependent on the surface it is used on. Some paint can be tougher than other paint. A very tough paint needs a rougher polish to achieve affect. That same grade of polish will have much more result on softer paint.
The polishingpad that is used with the polish also has a big effect on the result.

The article regarding polishing actually contains some further information regarding the use of a polish.

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