As a premium car detailing business as well as a car care products reseller, we get asked all the time by hobbyists and D.I.Y enthusiasts about products like “which polish is the best?” or “Should I wax my car or apply a coating?”. They’re all great questions, and of course good products help lead to fantastic results, but the real secrets to achieving a professional finish is all in the processes. The products you use help you to get there either more efficiently or that little bit more effectively. Here is a short actionable list you can use to ensure you can achieve quality, professional results.
1. The result is all in the preparation
Most people will tell you it’s the paint correction, or more commonly known as cut and polish (which we’re not entirely fond of) which gets your paint looking immaculate and lustrous. Yes, that is true, but in order to get your car ready for correction you’ll need to wash it to as close to clinically clean as you can.
Adopting a pre-wash into your wash regiment allows dirt to dwell in lubricating surfactants and be naturally carried off the paintwork before you even lay a mitt (not sponge) on the car. This prevents you from inflicting new scratches and at the same time softens any remaining traces of dirt whilst you wash them off. ArtDeShine’s Organic Shampoo is an ideal product for those of you who do not have a foam lance attachment for your pressure washer. Diluted in a spray bottle, this will help soften and lift particles from the paint with its cleaning agents.
Washing in a systematic approach means that you will not miss spots and progressively move from the cleanest areas first and finishing with off the dirtiest panels to prevent spreading dirt between panels causing swirl marks. We have talked about the two bucket method in the past, so will skip this detail (Do read our FAQ’s to know more though), but start off by washing the top parts of the car such as roof, windows, bonnet and boot. Work your way around the car doing a panel at a time rinsing out your mitt regularly, finishing off with the front and rear bumpers where they collect bugs and exhaust fumes respectively.
If you have tar build up on the car then remove them off with a dedicated bug and tar remover. This is safer than trying to scab them off with your nails where being too aggressive or one slip may mean deeply scratching your car.
2. The step pro-detailers embrace and cheap franchises ignore
In my very strong opinion, the secret and crucial step in achieving a show quality finish is by decontaminating the paintwork. Quickly dabbling into physics, reflection is at its optimal when the light ray of incidence isn’t disrupted by a rough surface.
Lifting off traces of microscopic dirt which couldn’t be removed during the wash stage promotes a smoother surface, not only to touch, but better for light to reflect and subsequently emitting higher amounts gloss and clarity in your finish.
We’re so passionate about this part that the majority of our wash stage is focused on decontaminating paint both chemically through dissolving ferrous particles like railway rust, and mechanically via clay bar to remove the remainder of organic impurities like tree sap.
Another benefit often overlooked is that lifting off these impurities mean you won’t press and embed them deeper into your paint whilst polishing by hand or machine, or seal them underneath your protective layer of wax or sealant.
3. Man vs. Machine
Rewinding a number of years when I used to be another time rich hobbyist who enjoyed hand polishing my car every few months, I wasted a full day to achieve not even half the results I hoped for. Believing you can achieve a show finish by hand polishing is a huge misconception as well as the number one shoulder and elbow workout no gym equipment can match.
Machine polishing allows the speed and consistency which your arms can’t physically achieve. With a machine polisher you’re able to correct paint with deeper scratches more efficiently and finish down finer when the right machine is coupled with the right pads and polish.
Never picked up a polisher before? No worries, with the technological advancements in dual action polishers, they are safe to use without worrying about damaging the paint such as burning the clear coat. The only real way of harming your car is if you drop the machine on it.
The initial learning curve will be tremendously steep which I won’t lie. There are different paint systems by different manufacturers which makes the paint often described as “soft”, “hard” or “sticky”. Various choices of pads and abrasive compounds will produce different levels of correction. Arm pressure and movement dictates how effective your results will be in working the product, and even what towels are best to remove polish after you’re done correcting.
Sounds like a bit much to take in? Don’t worry, that’s where Bon Vivant can take over for you.
Sounds exciting to see immediate and gratifying results? Then you’re probably looking into a very addictive hobby which can be tremendously rewarding.
4. The total package
There are people who are completely obsessed about paint. I am, and I’m not ashamed about it as it’s what I specialise in. But there are people who aren’t and that’s ok because they are part of the majority. Detailing is about presenting an automobile in its best visual appearance, and that means looking at it holistically to include the wheels, engine bay, interior, etc.
These areas have huge visual impact so making sure they’re clean, dressed and protected like how they should look coming out of the factory is just as important as improving the paint.
In fact, trying to perfect your paint and not tackling these areas will accentuate the dirtiness and detract the end result from your hard work.
5. Clean up after yourself
This may sound odd, but a key component of detailing is making sure it doesn’t look like it’s just been detailed.
What this means is that there are no traces from polish residue left on trim and badge work, uneven tire dressing, smears on the glass, water dripping from crevices.
Allocate up to an hour of your time (if permitted) to do a once over with a fine tooth comb. Carry with you a fresh microfibre cloth, a small detailing brush, plastic razor blade, anything you think that can help remove those tiny stains of imperfection.
Once you’re done, move the car outside into the sun and do it again. You’ll be amazed at what you’ve missed from certain angles or different lighting.
Only once you’ve done that, then kick back, grab your favourite beverage and bask in the fruits of your labour. Perhaps even follow up by taking it out on a cruise. Nothing will feel more satisfying than that moment of pleasure knowing you’ve achieved some very professional results.
Please re-tweet, share and like this post if you’d like to read more tips and advice in the future. Email us or Facebook message for topics you’d like covered. Once again, thanks for reading through our blog.