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How Much Polish Should I Use on my Pad?

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I am always reading posts about how people are not getting the results they are looking for when polishing and one of the most common mistakes people make is the amount of product they are using per working area.

Polishes are made up of micro abrasives that are designed to even out the dips and valleys of your clear coat.  When you apply more product than needed, the abrasives in the polish never fully get broken down.  When the abrasives don’t completely get broken down, you can be left with marring in your paint since you stopped polishing when the abrasives were not at an ideal size.

The more product you apply, the longer you have to work the polish into the paint to properly break it down.  Some polishes do not have long work times and it can turn into a dusty mess or make removal of product a chore.

A general rule of thumb to follow when it comes to the proper amount of polish to use is somewhere between 3 to 4 pea sized drops for a working area no larger than 18″ x 18″.  An entire coat of polish on a mid sized vehicle should take around 1.5 ounces of product to complete. In the photo below, I am using Menzerna PO203S as an example. A few products that would be exceptions to this rule would be Meguiars M105/M205 because they are non-diminishing abrasives.

4 pea sized drops of polish on a pad

If you have any additional comments or questions, please submit your reply in the comment box below.

Todd Cooperider Esoteric Auto Detail
Todd Cooperider
Esoteric Auto Detail
Columbus, Ohio
EsotericDetail.com

15 comments on How Much Polish Should I Use on my Pad?

  1. Tommy says:

    How much product of the M105/M205 should you be using for a 18″x18″ area? Also how long do you work it in, since they don’t need to be broken down.

  2. Mike says:

    hi todd, i didnt know where was the right place to post to question but ill post it here. i want to buy the lake country set of pad that come with 7x i want to have a wider variety of pad to use from instead of only a few i got from meguiars and i have the meg new backing plate the w68 and i was wondering if you can put lake country pad on it or you need another backing plate

  3. Danny says:

    Hi Todd I would like to ask another question, for example if you use a white pad with SIP or w/e can you use that same white pad for the whole car or do you have to wash it after a few section or you use maybe 2 -3 white pad for the whole car

    • Danny,

      As polish builds up on the pad, it reduces the effectiveness…so it’s best to use fresh pads as often as you can. You can usually expect to use 3 or 4 pads per car for maximum effect.

      Thanks!
      Todd

  4. Danny says:

    Oh I see, could I just wash it with the snappy cleaner and let it soak then spin dry out. will it be ready to go or should it be 100% dry or little wet is ok

  5. Al G. says:

    Does this advice apply to pre-wax cleaners or non-abrasive paint cleaners?

    • It actually depends a lot on the product and manufacturer, and I’d recommend that you read the instructions for each individual product. If you take a product like Chemical Guys EZ Creme Glaze however, I use the same small amount as in this article, however that would work for a much larger area (an entire door for instance instead of a 2″ x 2″ area).

  6. Marco says:

    Do i need to prime the pad first or 4 pea sized drop can be applied direclty on a clean pad?

    • It depends on the type of polish you’re using. Products like Meguiar’s M105 or D300 should be fully primed first, however on most other polishes, just a few drops to start is all you need.

  7. Al G says:

    Finally, someone with similar views. I have seen some detailers show massive amounts of polishes (diminishing type) in swirls and x patterns to prime a pad but when I did that it forever to break down. For priming, I will use 2x the amount I usually do (so 6 to 8 dabs) and then switch to 3 to 4.

  8. Mark Rothschild says:

    “A few products that would be exceptions to this rule would be Meguiars M105/M205 because they are non-diminishing abrasives.”

    Todd: what would be the proper amount of the Meguiars products mentioned above?

  9. Mark Rothschild says:

    http://www.detailedimage.com/Ask-a-Pro/polishing-how-to-with-meguiars-m105-m205/

    OK. I found the answer at the URL above. And the photos are self-explanatory. Thanks!

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