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What are surface imperfections

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A surface imperfection is an unwanted difference in depth, height or structure to the surrounding area. For example: a scratch, which is basically a sudden difference in depth with an edge that has an angle that is very different to the one of the surrounding area.

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Causes of surface imperfections

There are many different causes to a surface imperfection, many of them refer to the mark that is left behind from either physical contact or chemical interaction. A few examples would be:

  • A small stone being thrown up by the car in front of you and hitting your vehicle
  • A shopping trolly bumping into your car
  • A heavy and hard object touching your vehicle with speed
  • Bird droppings
  • Chemical etching
  • A branch rubbing along the side when you drive to close to a plant
  • A cat walking over the vehicle
  • A sticky object that is being torn off the surface
  • Heavy oxidation
  • Chemical reaction with gas
  • Polishing wrong, to deep, to rough
  • Using the wrong procuts
  • Using the wrong tools, or tool in a wrong way
  • Wrong painting technique
  • Certain processes of polishing

If the cause is physical contact, the mark that is left behind is thanks to the interaction between 2 objects. If one object has energy in a different direction then the other object, the objects that interact will have to absorb that energy by either deforming or transporting that energy to an underlying structure. In the case with vehicle surfaces, most of them deform. This can result in damage in the form of a scratch or the deformation of a structure.

types of surface imperfection

There are several types of surface imperfections, although you could classify them on the type of shape or form they have, it is more common to divide them into the sort of imperfection.

  • Dent, can be removed by a bodyshop
  • Scratch, can sometimes be removed by polishing and/or wetsanding
  • Deep scratch, can sometimes be removed by wetsanding (or made less visible)
  • Random Deep Scratch (RDS), can sometimes be removed by polishing or wetsanding
  • Waterspots, can often be removed by polishing and sometimes even by claying
  • Chemical etching, can be removed by polishing and in rare cases by claying
  • Bird dropping etching, can sometimes be removed by polishing or wetsanding (depends on the severity)
  • Swirls, can often be removed by polishing
  • Paint defects, can sometimes be removed by polishing or wetsanding. Can also need a re-spray
  • Holograms, can be removed by polishing with a finer polish or a Dual Action polisher
  • Wetsanding, can be removed by following up with several steps of polishing

Removing imperfections

Rough paint surface
Rough paint surface
ng will remove deeper swirls, more oxidation, light chemical etching and can make a deep scratch less visible
  • Wetsanding removes more paint, and has a good effect on deeper marks, chemical etching and even paint defects
  • A re-spray should be the last resort. This will completely cover up any surface imperfections if done correctly
  • Dents can only be removed by (paintless) dent removal
  • The art of detailing/valeting

    Detailing revolves for a large part around the knowledge and skill to know how to remove surface imperfection. These are often considered ugly and prevent the surface from looking at its best. Removal of these imperfections is not always easy and can take a lot of experience and practice. If done correctly the results can be stunning.

    Surface Imperfection
    Surface Imperfection

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