The most difficult thing in do-it-yourself restoration polishing of a car body is finding enough time to complete it. Even with a good tool and the right approach, this process, to put it mildly, is not fast. Especially if there is no experience. However, the latter is a matter of time. With the search for time, you can also cheat by dividing the entire body into parts, and polishing it into several approaches. Well, about the tools, materials and the right approach - you will learn from this article.
The purpose of restorative polishing
Before doing anything, it is extremely important to set a goal. No wonder they say that this is 50% success. In the case of restorative polishing of a car body, there may be several goals at once. Therefore, let's start by thinking or talking about what we will strive for, and for what we will spend several hours of our time.
Let's make a list:
- Don't make it worse than it is.
- Turn a matte body into a shiny one.
- Remove cobwebs from scratches visible in the sun.
- Remove single pronounced scratches.
- Protect the result.
Don't make it worse than it is. Unfortunately, restorative polishing is far from a harmless operation. And all because aggressive compositions and a rotating tool are used for its implementation. In just a fraction of a second on the body or its decorative details, you can leave such marks, which will have to be removed by the painter. How to avoid fatal mistakes, what to pay special attention to and where to exercise maximum care - indicated in the right places in this material.
Turn a matte body into a shiny one. Such a paintwork becomes due to the fact that its top layer burns out over time and becomes covered with countless microscopic scratches, drops, tubercles, sagging and other defects. Through the varnish, firstly, it is worse and worse to see the base paint that sets the color of the car. Secondly, a worn and cloudy top layer cannot transmit, break or reflect light. As a result, all the shine that the new car shone with disappears. To return it - you need to literally level the surface of the varnish.
Remove cobwebs from scratches visible in the sun. Such defects appear on the body due to improper care. The first thing that leaves the web is a car wash by any contact method. Be it a foam rubber washcloth or, God forbid, a brush. Under this case, dirt, sand and even the smallest dust turns into an abrasive, which “weaves” a web on the varnish. The second is the incorrect treatment of the body with all sorts of protective polishes. For example, beloved by all waxes. And the last thing, after which an expressive web is provided, is the systematic wiping of the body from dust. To get rid of the web, the goal is the same as the previous one. You just need to level the surface of the varnish, removing a layer from it, as thick as the depth of the scratches of the web.
Remove single pronounced scratches. These remain after contact of the paintwork, for example, with branches of bushes or weeds. More pronounced scratches remain with those who like to lean on the hood or other parts of the body as a fifth point. If the garment has stiff seams on the back, or worse, studded buttons, the scratches can remain "invincible". About them below. Putting handbags, cups of drinks, bottles, grocery bags on the car is the same. Lonely pronounced scratches are a more serious “enemy” than dullness and cobwebs. But the principle of their removal is absolutely similar.
Protect the result. If the body successfully restored by polishing is left as it is, the effect of gloss and the absence of scratches will not last for a long time. Meanwhile, polishing the paintwork with the use of abrasive compounds is a procedure that can be performed a limited number of times. Sometimes, if deep scratches were the problem, there won't be a second time at all. And all because the thickness of the varnish layer is not infinite, and we will deliberately reduce it by polishing. Fortunately, it is not difficult to protect the resulting effect, and this is also discussed below.
Let's sum up the intermediate results. The principle by which restoration polishing works is based on the rough removal of the top damaged layer of varnish, followed by leveling. This can "defeat" cobwebs, dullness, and even lonely pronounced scratches. It should also be remembered that, if performed incorrectly, polishing can not improve the external condition of the body, but, on the contrary, lead to a disastrous result.
We should also say a few words about the so-called "invincible" scratches. These include damage and defects in the paintwork, which in depth exceed the thickness of the top layer - varnish. That is, if the scratch "got" to the base paint, primer, and, moreover, metal, it is useless to bother with polishing. It works only with damaged varnish. Anything deeper can only be corrected by painting.
However, don't rush to find a painter if your car body has this kind of problem. If you have even hands, you can sometimes try to remove them on your own. The simplest method to achieve this goal is as follows. If there is corrosion at the site of damage, it must be removed. Further, in a chip or scratch, it is extremely carefully painted over with paint of a suitable color. This is probably the most difficult thing - to find the paint in color.
Then the painted area is covered with varnish, after drying of which the entire “body” repair is rubbed with fine-grained sandpaper. The goal is to equalize the applied varnish as much as possible with what is in neighboring areas. As a result, the repaired place should be just matte and without scratches. We will remove the dullness in the process of polishing with abrasive pastes.
Sometimes you can do without searching for the right paint, using the one that is right on the body. The damaged area, if it is very small, can be polished, so to speak, by shading. In any case, you can not do without applying varnish. Although, with a strong desire and some experience, even base paint that is not varnished can be polished to a glossy sheen. This has been tested in practice by craftsmen with even hands.
Anticipating the opinions of sofa experts, we note that such scratch repair is a tough artisanal method. It doesn't always work out. It's easy to make it worse than it was. Without experience, unfortunately, most likely, it will turn out crooked. Therefore, if there is no confidence in success, you can go two ways. First, go to a paint shop. Second - practice on an unnecessary body part or, in extreme cases, somewhere in a completely inconspicuous place on your car. For example, under the hood or in the luggage compartment.
Minimum set of tools
Forget about restorative polishing by hand immediately. On some packages with abrasive pastes it is written that the composition must be applied to a small area of the car body, and then rubbed with dry wipes. Are they serious? Perhaps if you need to polish a tiny piece measuring 10 × 10 cm, and you have a lot of time, effort and patience, then maybe it's worth trying to do it. Most likely, such instructions are written in brief instructions on the packages in order to increase sales by hooking into the target audience those motorists who have nothing but napkins and hands.
Manual polishing is for applying wax and other protective compounds. To work with abrasive pastes in this way, to put it mildly, is unreasonable. First, it will take a lot of time. And secondly, you will never get a decent result. The reason is simple. Restorative polishing is not just based on removing the top damaged layer of varnish. It also needs to be warmed up. And it's impossible to do it with bare hands.
Therefore, if you decide to start a serious restoration polishing of a car body, you will have to get a polishing machine. You can borrow from friends or a neighbor in the garage. But, most likely, you will need to buy. Fortunately, today they are sold like sand on the beach. Amateur, semi-professional, branded, professional, nameless, Chinese. To be honest, today, probably, all of the above is done in China. But prices and quality are different.
Which machine to choose? They come in the two most common configurations:
Rotary polishing machine - in appearance it is completely similar to the grinder known to everyone. In fact, that's what she is. The peculiarity of the tool we need is that it necessarily has an adjustment of the speed of rotation of the nozzle. In addition, in an ordinary grinder, this same speed always exceeds 10,000 rpm. And for machines designed for polishing, the maximum speed is 5,000 or 6,000 rpm. And you can adjust it up to 500-600 rpm. And this is extremely important, because too high nozzle rotation speed = burnt paintwork.
Orbital polisher - outwardly similar to a similar tool used in carpentry. It differs from the rotary one in what movements the working nozzle performs. So, for machines like grinders, the disk simply rotates. But with an orbital instrument, it not only rotates, but also shifts relative to the axis with a high frequency. This is realized due to the eccentric mechanism. Such a tool is better because with it there is much less chance of leaving circular risks on the surface of the paintwork.
A few words should also be said about the prices of polishing machines. Here, the opinions are the same for almost everyone who is engaged in this business at an amateur or professional level. Namely, if you need a machine exclusively for yourself, then you simply won’t use it often. Remember that the thickness of the varnish is not infinite. Accordingly, it makes no sense to buy a professional tool for many thousands of money. Moreover, even many pros started their careers with the most cars, and they were enough for more than one car.
In conclusion, one cannot fail to mention other tools that craftsmen use for restorative polishing. The leaders here are, of course, the grinder and the drill. They are in almost any garage, hence the popularity. But, despite the availability, it is strongly not recommended to use them. Even if you found an article on the Internet, where the polishing process is described in detail in serious cabbage soup.
Why not? At least because most of the same grinders have horse speed, which cannot be reduced in any way and, moreover, adjusted to the desired speed, depending on the stage being performed. The drill is simply inconvenient to work with. Especially in the sense that it is impossible to provide the necessary and uniform pressure of the polishing nozzle due to the design of this tool. In general, if there is at least some opportunity to acquire a cheap polishing machine, this should definitely be used. The result will be much cooler, and there will be fewer jambs (ceteris paribus).
Minimum set of materials
With a set of consumables, it is a little more difficult than with a tool, since it can vary from three to five points to infinity. This article is not intended for professional professionals who already know a lot. That is why here the minimum gentleman's set is dismantled, with which you can already safely start a restoration polishing. Additional consumables, which can greatly improve the quality of work, will also not be forgotten.
Making a shopping list:
- Polishing wheels.
- Abrasive pastes.
- Protective tape.
- Clay for body cleaning.
- Wax based polish.
Let's now go through each point with brief explanations for those interested.
They are foam and pile. The latter without experience and certain goals are categorically not recommended to use. They work very aggressively, require understanding of what is happening, and are only needed to smooth out serious damage to the paintwork. Foam rubber is sold in several stiffness options. Usually - the darker their color, the softer they are. The minimum set consists of three circles of different hardness, although two are quite enough.
It should also be understood that the same circle for the entire car is most likely not enough. First, it wears out. Secondly, the pores of foam rubber are constantly clogged with polishing paste, which is extremely problematic to get rid of. Also, if you've started polishing for the first time in your life, a couple of spare laps for training will not hurt you. So to speak, so that there is something to spoil. Of course, we select these consumables by diameter in accordance with the existing polishing machine.
This is probably the most difficult. And all because the choice is huge. Cheap, cosmically expensive, with a well-known name, nameless, and so on. It is pointless to recommend any one brand. Firstly, this may not be available for purchase. Secondly, if someone talks about specific names, then in 90% of cases he was paid to praise a specific remedy. That is not the purpose of this article. Therefore, the only thing that can be safely advised: choose from what is available, and not the cheapest. If one of the acquaintances “in their own skin” checked some kind of paste and speaks flatteringly about it, this is a victory.
Regardless of the brand and price, polishing abrasive pastes differ in their aggressiveness. Some are used to quickly and effectively remove a thick layer of varnish and, accordingly, remove deep scratches. Softer ones are needed for finishing polishing and pointing, so to speak, gloss. Professionals usually use at least three different pastes. At home, it is quite possible to get by with two. And if there are no deep scratches, then generally some one.
It is needed in order to close body parts that do not need polishing. Namely - sealing gum, decorative unpainted plastic parts, glass, mirror headlights and so on. Firstly, it is extremely tiring to wash it all afterwards from the seized polishing paste. Secondly, without protection, it is quite possible to yawn and walk with a polishing machine where it is not necessary, irrevocably leaving an offensive mark in this place.
A few words should be said about the choice of protective tape. A few years ago, motorists successfully used ordinary masking tape for these purposes. It adhered well to any surface, was easily removed, left no marks, and did not peel off the paint along with it. Today, the fashion has changed, and a special protective tape is sold for polishing. From the aforementioned adhesive tape, it is better, at least in that it does not come off at the most inopportune moment. In addition, it does not cost sky-high money and is sold in any self-respecting automotive shop.
God forbid you use ordinary stationery tape for protection! It would seem that everyone understands this in our time. However, there are those who sculpt it on the car. What awaits after that is understandable - you can wash off the traces of glue, horseradish, and you can’t glue the paint torn off in places. If you couldn’t buy a special tape, then let masking tape be better. Stationery - well, you understand.
In the arsenal of any motorist this good should be with a margin. Fortunately, microfiber is no longer a novelty, and today it is sold “two kopecks per bag”. So, it will take a lot. It quickly gets dirty with polishing paste, which, moreover, tends to dry out. You can calculate the minimum quantity by body parts. One for the hood, one for the roof, and so on. Almost any microfiber will do. The main thing is clean, not leaving lint (this is how fakes do it). Not too thin and not hard to the touch. Color - to taste.
Body Cleaning Clay
Next came consumables, which are not necessary to buy, but you can improve the result with their help. These first include clay for cleaning the body. It is an elastic mass that can be kneaded by hand, washed in water, rolled and crawled over the paintwork. It works very simply. Various contaminants that have eaten into the varnish, which you cannot take with a regular wash, stick to the clay, and then remain in it.
It is almost useless to try to remove old traces of tar or bitumen with this nano-miracle. To do this, it is better to take kerosene, and get confused with such stains even before washing the body. Various traces of rotted leaves, bird droppings and other hard-to-remove dirt can be easily removed with special tools from a car dealership.
Again, you can do without it, but it's better with it. The simplest and most affordable option today is the so-called anti-silicone. It is recommended to work with a degreaser, if you have already bought it, after each stage of polishing. And practice shows that the final result from this certainly improves.
Wax based polish
This tool will be needed in order to protect, fix, prolong the result. Buying one is not a problem. Yes, and for many motorists who monitor the appearance of their car, this is always on the shelf next to car shampoo. Again, you can do without wax polish. But without it, the shine will disappear in the very first month of operation, which, in the light of the time and effort (as well as money) spent, is very small and unprofitable.
Conditions and rules for car body polishing
An equally important component of successful car body polishing is the conditions in which and how the work will be performed. There are a lot of rules and recommendations here, but they are understandable, and therefore they almost do not need detailed explanations. Adhering to all the points listed below is highly desirable. They are not taken from the ceiling, but from the experience of those who polished more than once, and were convinced of the importance of certain factors from their personal experience.
Here are the conditions:
- Polishing is best done in a dust-free room.
- If this is not the case, then at least in calm weather.
- A body heated in the sun cannot be polished.
- At negative temperatures, that is, in winter - the same thing.
- Direct sunlight during operation should not be.
- Correct lighting is important - at angles to the surfaces of the body, and not direct.
- Dirty car - do not polish.
- Pure only in appearance - the same thing.
- Polish in small areas as the paste dries quickly.
- Large body parts are best divided into two or three sections.
- Did not finish polishing today - tomorrow wash, clean and degrease again.
- Thoroughly wipe the treated surface after each step.
- And fatten up.
- For the toughest circles and pastes, set the speed of the machine to no more than 2,000.
- For medium - 3,000 rpm.
- For finishing - you can raise up to 5,000, but carefully.
- We do not sleep with the machine turned on, that is, we do not linger in the same place.
- After applying a hard paste, there will be risks - we are not afraid, as this is the norm.
- Each change of paste in the direction of decreasing aggressiveness reduces the operating time by half.
- Do not polish the edges from the end.
- Do not start two body parts in one approach.
- On difficult-to-shape areas, watch very carefully the rotating plastic disk of the machine, on which the foam rubber circle is installed - at least a little bit of plastic or metal will touch, and kapets.
- It is better to look at the result from different angles, as much can not be seen depending on how the light falls on the part.
- If the process drags on, and the paste has turned into hard pieces, remove it and start again.
- The polishing wheel is either regularly changed to a fresh one, or carefully cleaned of dried traces of paste.
It may seem to some that the list is too long and many items in it are for complete fools. Never mind. Let's repeat. They are not taken from the ceiling.
Body preparation for polishing
From theory, finally, smoothly move on to practice. The first step in any restoration polishing of a car body is proper preparation. It consists of several steps, the number of which depends on your patience, meticulousness and pre-purchased consumables.
First, in a nutshell:
- Removal of difficult pollution.
- Clay cleaning.
- Again fat loss.
- Pasting parts that will not be polished.
Now let's stop a little at each step.
Removal of complex contaminants
This has already been said above. Depending on what pollution the car body is covered with, appropriate funds are purchased and slowly applied. If there is a feeling that some stains will be removed with a thorough washing, of course, you should not bother with special equipment. It is not necessary to degrease the body before washing, for example, after greasy kerosene (it helps a lot from bituminous traces). It's even redundant.
Better, of course, contactless, professional, many will say. With a good shampoo. But there is a huge downside to this approach. From the car wash to the house or garage you still need to get there. And the roads are dusty and all that. Therefore, from the point of view of logic and common sense, the car, nevertheless, should be washed right on the spot before polishing. A high pressure washer or a washcloth is no longer important, since we are going to remove scratches and cobwebs. Although today only the laziest car enthusiast does not know how to wash a car correctly and without unpleasant consequences.
Between washing and using clay to clean the body, this is a highly desirable step. The thing is that this same clay works much more efficiently on a surface that is not covered with a layer of greasy film. In the process of degreasing, the most important thing is not to apply fine dirt to a clean body. It will contaminate your clay very quickly, and it will either not be enough, or you will have to suffer with rinsing it.
Clay is extremely easy to work with. The area to be treated is first wetted with soapy water. This is a prerequisite, since it is impossible to rub or roll the clay over the body dry. Next, the clay is kneaded in the hand and rolled or driven on the paintwork. If it starts to darken or become covered with foreign inclusions, then you are doing everything right. Contaminated clay is periodically either kneaded by hand or washed. In general, there should be a basic instruction on the package, so don't miss it.
This step is optional. After the clay, it is very important to remove at least stains from the soap solution. Ideally, of course, go over the body with the same anti-silicone or other degreaser, presumably intended for the car. It is clear that we no longer touch the body with our hands, since they are fatty with us. It is impossible to cause great harm, but there is every chance to worsen the result.
Dry it either naturally or with compressed air. The first method is for those who do not have a compressor with an appropriate nozzle. It consists in the fact that you just have to wait until the body dries. Rubbing with rags, even if it is microfiber, is not worth it. As for compressed air, the main thing here is not to make things worse. Firstly, the compressor can easily lift dust from the floor, which does not hesitate to settle on an already sterile body. Secondly, the compressor should not "spit" oil, which often happens. Thirdly, compressed air filtration, which not everyone has or does not work.
Small details are pasted over with the tape itself. It is important, however, not to touch the cleaned and degreased paintwork with your hands. Remember the fat that we fought just now. If you need to paste over large areas, such as glass, then a film or even a newspaper will help you. Film is definitely better. The newspaper is often pierced through by pieces of paste flying from under the polishing wheel, and as a result, there is zero sense from such protection.
Actually, most of the "secrets" of polishing a car at home are disclosed above to one degree or another. It remains only to streamline the available information, as well as supplement it with the missing items. The main attention in the process should be focused not on the sequence of actions, since it is elementary, but on the rules and recommendations on how not to harm and do better.
However, the algorithm is:
- Completely prepare the vehicle as described above.
- Choose one body part, preferably a smaller one.
- Beginners are advised to start with the rear right door.
- Put the coarsest wheel on the grinder.
- Apply 5-6 drops of the most aggressive paste on it.
- Rub the composition on the selected (small) area, not including the machine.
- For many compositions, you need to give a couple of minutes of time for them to “work” and brighten.
- Polish the applied paste, controlling the pressure and not stopping in one place.
- When finished, remove excess composition with a dry microfiber.
- Repeat the procedure for the rest of the body parts.
- Degrease the entire surface again (preferably).
- Change the circle to a softer one.
- Apply the appropriate paste in the same amount.
- Rub without turning on the machine.
- Buff to a shine.
Remember that each next step after changing the circle and paste should take about half the time than the previous one. This is not a dogma. But sticking to this advice, nevertheless, is worth it.
Protection of paintwork after polishing
The easiest and most affordable way to protect a polished car body is to use a wax-based polish. These are often used in professional car washes. They are easy to apply, perfectly protect the paintwork, do not wash off for a long time. In addition, rainwater does not leave streaks on the wax-coated body, but collects in large balls and rolls down. Dirt and dust also stick less, as they have "nothing to catch on."
Complicated and expensive ways to protect the body after polishing include:
- vinyl color film;
- liquid glass;
- liquid ceramics.
All these home remedies are not very suitable, as it is easy to screw up with them. In addition, among this junk today there are a lot of fakes that can instantly ruin the paintwork of your car, up to the point that you have to completely repaint it.
In conclusion, we will work out a few common questions that you may have during the body polishing process. Knowing the correct answers to them in advance, you will avoid many mistakes, save time, effort and nerves. Go.
How to polish ribs and why?
Those parts of the body, which are commonly called ribs, are covered with an extremely thin layer of varnish. Therefore, they cannot be polished to the end. In addition, if you press the circle to such a small area, it is easy to miss with the force of pressure, and burn the coating. Accordingly, the ribs need to be polished in two approaches: first, on one side, then on the opposite side. In extreme cases, you can walk through a narrow place manually, without a typewriter. In general, it is better not to touch the ribs. It won't affect the result in any significant way.
Why divide large areas into small ones?
Polishing pastes, unlike wax polishes, quickly seize, turning into a solid substance. It crumbles under the circle, turning into a very rough and uncontrollable abrasive. It is clear that, having missed this moment, you can make deep and "invincible" scratches. The optimal size of the plots, which you can slowly cope with on time, is about 50 by 50 centimeters. That is, if this is a door, then we polish the whole thing at a time. Divide the hood in half. Roof at all for four. Etc.
Why is the paste difficult to remove after polishing?
Pay attention to the cleanliness of the microfiber with which you are trying to wipe off the remaining polishing paste. If it is already dirty, then change it to fresh. This often happens with low-quality compositions. Finally, the paste can be poorly removed from the "fat" body. Missed a step with degreasing? Either don't skip or change your microfiber more often.
Why does the polishing wheel wear out quickly?
There are only two reasons for this. The first - the circles are the cheapest and, accordingly, of disgusting quality. If you buy these, then with a margin. The second common cause is excessive pressure or overheating of the wheel. This happens if you do not correctly calculate the forces, the speed of rotation of the tool, and also when polishing areas with a very small contact spot (the same edges that were mentioned above).
Why can't I remove some scratches?
If you do everything right, but you still can’t remove individual scratches, this means that they are “invincible”. These can be detected even before the polishing process begins. Firstly, they are easily felt tactile with a fingernail. Secondly, all scratches that can be removed by restorative polishing are usually hidden from view on a heavily wetted body. If some damage remains visible on a wet paintwork, most likely polishing will not help here.
What causes holograms after polishing?
In fact, the holograms that remain after applying the roughest circle or polishing paste should not be frightened. This is quite normal. They should be removed without problems in the process of finishing polishing using softer consumables. If they still remain, you are probably doing something wrong. Including, check if you are “rubbing” a third-party abrasive (dust, grain of sand, whatever) that accidentally got on it on the body.
Is there any way to clean the polishing wheel?
Yes. There are at least three adequate ways to do this. First - using a plastic spatula (something similar to a bank card will do), collect the remnants of the polishing paste by turning on the machine at minimum speed. The second way - do the same, but instead of an impromptu spatula, take a not very hard brush. Usually helps in such cases, the one that polishes shoes. If the farm has a compressor, then the third method is suitable for you - blowing with a jet of compressed air.
How hard to press on the machine?
By and large, if you have a normally balanced polisher, you don’t need to put pressure on it at all. It must work effectively under its own weight. However, some orbital machines, nevertheless, have to be pressed a little against the body so that they do not bounce in the process. In any case, the pressure should always be minimal, since excessive force can lead to overheating of the treated area, as well as to the formation of deep risks.
Why does the paste scatter too intensely around?
The first obvious reason is that too much paste has been applied to the polishing wheel. She quickly clogs his pores and, as a result, scatters in all directions. It is clear that it is rather dreary to clean it afterwards. The second possible reason is that you did not carefully prepare the surface of the body for polishing. Everything is elementary simple here. The cleaner and smoother the paintwork, the less tool resistance. Degreasing and additional cleaning of the body with clay helps to remove the unpleasant scatter of the paste.
How much paste to apply per circle?
For a one-time treatment of a standard small area, the optimal amount of paste is 5 or 6 pea-sized drops. If there is too much composition, you will quickly encounter a clogged circle that needs cleaning. Not enough paste is also bad, as scratches can remain as a result.
Do-it-yourself restoration polishing of a car body is a long process that requires careful preparation and endless patience. The success of the result is affected by strict adherence to the rules and recommendations presented in this article. Much, of course, depends on your experience, so if you don’t have it, practice first on an inconspicuous area of the car or even on some “left” body part.