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Kevin Brown Method: Pad comparison

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Overall pad performance is dependent on the type and amount of fabric, stiffness and length of the fibers and how they are attached to the pad. The difference between a foam pad, different kind of wool pads and a microfiber pad are discussed in relation to the Kevin Brown Method. This article also gives information about the benefits and disadvantages of the pad in particular.

Foam pad

A foam pad has air pockets or pores and between the pores there are walls. The walls are made from the foam material. The wall-top is every portion of the wall that touches the paint surface while polishing.

If we could measure the surface area of every wall-top and we add it together, we could determine the total area. This total area would be called the netto surface area. This number would indicate the abilities of the pad. But when the pad is in use the surface area changes because the walls are going to:

  • Lay over on their sides
  • Scrunch
  • Move vertically into the pad

The amount of foam that is in contact with the paint surface is dynamic. When we add buffing liquid it’s even more difficult to measure the contact of the foam with the paint.

The walls of the pores can be thick or thin. Although many times the PPI (pores per inch) rating is given, it’s not an accurate indicator of the expectation for the cutting power from the pad. For example: two pads can feature the same PPI rate but deliver a different performance.

Wool pad

Wool pads have rectangular fibers in vertical position in comparison to the face of the pad, but bend horizontally when in use. We should apply buffing liquid on each side of the fiber, because we don’t know which way the fiber will bend. When fibers stick to each other the surface area is decreased. If fibers are too stiff or too large the fibers cannot force the buffing liquid in the deeper defects. By pads with cylindrical fibers, the same principles as with rectangular fibers is applied.

Knitted and twisted wool pad

A knitted wool pad and a twisted wool pad are compared to show how fibers can affect the ability of a buffing pad. Both pads have tufts (groups of wool). A knitted wool pad has thin wool tufts, that have a good cutting ability. But they have to be cleaned a lot for satisfactory results. These pads have a great surface area and good contour ability.

Knitted wool pads
Knitted wool pads

A twisted wool pad has thick strands of wool, which offers less surface area. The first benefit of a twisted wool pad is that the strings are less likely to stick to each other. So you will spend less time cleaning your pad. Also, levelling ability is higher than with a knitted wool pad.
Twisted wool pad
Twisted wool pad

Surbuf pad

The surbuf pad has little surface area with the paint. With downward pressure the surface area increases, because the microfingers are bend and therefore better distribute the downward pressure. But too much pressure causes the microfingers to bend like a fishhook, the ends bend backwards to the face of the pad. This design also has an advantage, namely airflow. As result of the airflow, that can travel between the surface of the pad and the paint surface, the pad stays cool.
The biggest disadvantage is that the microfingers fall off and stick to the paint surface. But with stray microfingers this is not a problem for the levelling procedure because they will not cause scratches or other surface damage.

Surbuf pads
Surbuf pads

Microfiber pad for the Kevin Brown Method

Even after this comparison the Kevin Brown Method prefers a microfiber pad, because that pad has the most advantages. Firstly, with a microfiber pad every corner of the defect can be reached. Second, this pad has a large surface area which means it can cut rapidly. Last but not least, a microfiber pad is the best in minimizing the accumulation of paint residue.

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