How to buff a car in just five steps! First things first, you will need to decide whether you will buff the car by hand or with a car buffer. A buffer, also known as a rotary, is a small machine used to apply wax to the car; it is much less work than buffing the entire car by hand. Prices of these types of buffing machines range from $70 to $300 US dollars. With that said, the actual first thing you need to do when buffing or waxing your car is to gather the materials that you will need.
Whether you are buffing by hand or rotary, keep in mind that you will want to wash your car to prepare it for buffing and waxing. Beforehand, you will also want to set up a location, ideally inside of a well lit garage out of direct sunlight. It is also important that you set up enough time to finish the job, or a have protected coverage over your car and ideally wind and debris blockage if you have to leave in the middle of the job.
Step 1: Gather and Prepare Materials.
If you will be buffing the car by hand, you will need 2000-3000 grit sandpaper, a rubber sanding block, a foam or microfiber applicator pad, a liquid rubbing compound, swirl remover, and a microfiber buffing towel. A finishing car wax or glaze is optional.
If you will be using a rotary to buff the car, you will need 2000-3000 grit sandpaper, a rubber sanding block, a cutting pad, a finishing pad, cut and polish cream, liquid compound, a bucket of water, and of course, the best car buffer. A finishing wax or glaze, again is optional.
There are different types of machines you can get to aid in buffing your car. You will want to get the best option that suits your needs and experience. There are rotary buffers and random orbital polishers. Rotary buffers are much more aggressive and really help to buff the deeper cuts. Rotary buffers tend to range from 1,000 RPM’s to 3,000 RPM’s. Random orbital buffers, or polishers, on the other hand, move differently than rotary buffers. Because of the different movement, the random orbital polisher does not create as much heat as the rotary buffer and is much easier for a beginner to operate.
Step 2: Wet Sand and Wash Your Car
To get the best results, you will want to wrap the wet sandpaper around the rubber sanding block and then dunk into the bucket of clean water and start wet sanding. It is important to keep the rubber sanding block flat the entire time you are sanding. Do not use the corner of the block to dig the wet sand paper into your car.
After you have wet sanded your car, you should wash and dry it. It is best to wash your car a shady spot. For example, under a tree or the side of a building away from the sun. You want the surfaces of your car to be cool to prevent spots drying up too quickly. You can choose to fully shampoo and soap your car or you can just rinse your car thoroughly with water. Just make sure that you rinse all the soap off of your car. You do not want soapy residue sticking around. Ideally, you will want to use a lint free cloth to wipe down your car. Anything else can cause the dirt on your car to make any scratches worse.
Step 3: Prepare Your Rotary.
(If buffing your car by hand, you can proceed to Step 4: Applying Buffing Paste.) You need to make sure that your applicator pads are for buffing first, not polishing. Press the pad to the buffer using the adhesive on the pad. As you progress through the buffing process and as you change chemicals, you will need to change your pads.
Step 4: Apply Car Buffing Paste.
Remember to always shake your chemicals well before using them. On a cool, clean car, apply the buffing paste in small (pea sized) amounts directly to the area of the car that you are buffing. Note: some prefer to apply the buffer paste directly to the buffer pad and then proceed with buffering. Either way is fine. It is purely preference; however, applying the buffer paste directly to the car itself eliminates the risk of the buffer paste slinging off of the buffer when it is turned on. If you are going to apply the buffing paste directly to the buffer pad on the rotary, it is a good idea to wipe the car in a circular motion before turning on the rotary, smearing the buffing paste on the car to avoid the splattering of the buffer paste when the rotary does get turned on. This too works out if you apply the wax to the buffer pad as well.
Step 5: Buffing Your Car.
The electronic buffer machine rotates the pad in a quick circular motion so it is best to hold the buffer firmly and with both hands. Although you want a tight, controlled grip on the rotary, you do not want to be pushing or applying any unnecessary, extra pressure on the surface of your car. Contrary to popular belief, you will get the best result using a smooth and steady back and forth motion while holding the rotary, not a circular one. (The buffer pad itself is already rotating on the machine.) It is important to keep the buffer as flat as possible while buffing to avoid burning in to the paint on your car. You also should keep moving at all times in overlapping motions, to again avoid damage to the paint. When you buff your car by hand, you should wipe in small circular motions. REPEAT AS NEEDED. Depending on the type of buffer pad and products you are using, you will need to alter the speed of the rotary.
If you are brand new to using a rotary, it is suggested that you stick to slow speeds while buffing. At least, at first. You should start at 1,000 RPM’s and slowly progress to higher speeds only when you feel comfortable and steady. It is a good idea to practice before hand on a piece of scrap metal or even an old car. When you feel good about buffing using the rotary, the suggested speed for buffing while using liquid compound to buff out deeper scratches is about 1,400 RPM’s to 1,650 RPM’s.
All paints are different as well as depths of scratches and sizes of scuffs. You can buff as much or as little as you would like, until you achieve your desired result. As you are buffing, the liquid rubbing compound will dry and turn to dust. As a general rule of thumb, that is how you know you have finished buffing that area of your car. You can check your buff job by simply wiping that area with a lint free cloth to see if it is to your liking.
Step 6: Applying the Finishing Wax (Optional).
For this step, you don’t need the rotary although you can use it. Not all waxes require machines to apply them. A high speed buffer can heat up the wax and cause it to become gummy or too waxy. You will want to apply the polishing wax directly to the polishing towel or soft foam applicator pad you are using, not the vehicle. If waxing your car by hand, use the “wax on, wax off” technique to clean all of the left over paste and cream off of the car. Depending on the manufacturer, some waxes suggest you let the wax sit for a few minutes before buffing it off. For this reason, be sure to read the directions carefully before applying any product to your car. Remember to use the wax as the very last step in this whole process. The wax is essentially sunscreen for your car. It protects the paint from UV rays from the sun, it prevents oxidation, and acts a sealant against things that may hit the surface of your car i.e. weather precipitation, car door dings, dirt and gravel while driving…
Crucial Tips to Remember For Ideal Results:
- It is important that you keep the water in your bucket as clean as possible. It may require several new buckets of water.
- It is recommended to tape off or cover any head lights, tail lights, fog lights, or plastic parts on your car. Masking tape works just fine.
- Never let the buffing pad, polishing pad, or wax pad touch the ground. As soon as the pad lands on the ground, it is a magnet for dust and dirt which can become extremely course and abrasive when going to use the buffer.
- While buffing your car, always keep track of the power cord on the rotary and where it is falling. You absolutely do not want the cord touching your car, especially when there are chemicals on it. It is recommended to drape the cord over your shoulder to make it easy to keep track of and move around the cord without it touching the surface of your car.
- It is extremely important to make sure you always have enough buffing paste, liquid rubbing compound, polish, or wax when you are buffing your car. The last thing you want is the paint burning from being rubbed too fast and dry.
- The perfect buffing result lies in the technique of how you use the rotary, not just the products. You want to make sure that you are using the correct speed of the buffer with the correct product during the correct step in the buffing process. Keep track of those RPM’s.
- Buffing your car requires some time and a lot patience. You will get ideal results with slow sanding, buffing, polishing, and waxing movements. Slow and steady wins the race!
- After waxing, you should continue to use a wash that is specifically made for cars with wax treatments.
- It is important to know that waxing your car often is a great way to preserve the outside beauty of your car. Each time you wax your car, you do not have to buff it.