“Polishing compound” and “compounding” are two terms often used by car detailers and enthusiasts.
But what exactly is a compound or polishing compound, and how does it differ from a polish?
A compound is a form of polish!
Except that it is a more aggressive type of polish, with enhanced “cutting” power.
This also means that a polishing compound is more abrasive than a regular polish.
Okay, so I can use a compound in place of a polish then?
A compound or polishing compound should only be used on paintwork that’s in poor condition.
This means the paint shows oxidation, obvious marring, scratches or swirl marks.
Compounds should also be used when the paint has stains from bird poop or chemicals.
In all other cases, it it best to just use a regular polish.
Always use the least abrasive product first.
Can I wax after using a compound?
No. Although it is a polish, compounds are not formulated to deliver flawless finishes.
Their main objective is the removal of scratches.
The condition of the paintwork should improve after it has been applied.
However, very abrasive cutting compounds will often cause scratches of their own (ouch!).
This is why the next step is a fine polish to remove these marks.
If the polish is good enough, the last step can be the application of wax.
But if not, consider applying a glaze.
Can I compound my car if it is less than a year old?
Only if the paintwork is in a very poor state.
Otherwise, use a good polish and protect the finish with a wax or sealant.
Do I need to clay my car before applying these products?
If you are planning to use a compound, you need to wash and clay your car.
This helps remove any embedded contaminants.
These nasty particles could end up getting swirled around, causing more damage and prolonging the detailing process.
Make sure your detailer knows how to do this!
If they tell you it’s not required, find yourself another detailer.
Good detailers do not cut corners in the interests of efficiency and profits.
They know that a flawless, glowing finish results in a happy owner.
And a happy owner is only too glad to tell the world about how awesome the detailer is.