This question gets asked a lot by both enthusiasts and up and coming detailers. Knowing what combination to use when doing only one stage of machine polishing is essential in pleasing clients or simply reaching a better result on your personal vehicle. There is always the compromise of correction and finish, which needs to be balanced perfectly for different kinds of paints and vehicles for optimal results. The short answer is that there is really no “right” combination for all paint jobs, simply because there are way too many variables between paint, vehicle manufacturers, etc. That said, here are a few of my favorite combinations and the reasoning behind them.
This is a combination I use for harder paints that aren’t too sensitive and can benefit from a bit extra cut. The M205 paired with the orange pad can do some fairly serious swirl correction on many paint finishes, which is why I almost always reach for it when my goal is to get as much cut as possible out of only one polishing stage and when the paint will allow it. The orange pad I find is one of those that can be both aggressive and not so aggressive depending on how it’s used, so it’s a very versatile pad. M205 as we all know is also versatile in that it can be used as a finishing polish on most finishes, however with some pressure and specific technique, it can surely remove some deeper defects on certain paints. Thus, I like to combine the two mainly when working on somewhat hard clear coats in order to get that correction but leave a marr and hologram free finish.
For paints that aren’t as hard and forgiving, I step down the pad in aggressiveness and use the crimson finishing pad with M205. The crimson pad is a very fine pad so it’s sure to never leave any marring in the paint, which makes it a great pad to use with a variety of polishes. When it comes to such a pad, the polish is mainly what is used to determine how much of the defects you can actually remove. That’s why I like to use M205 with it because I know that I can get pretty good correction with proper speed and pressure, all while making sure I don’t scour up the paint with an overly aggressive pad. The M205 and crimson pad combo is great for softer paint jobs where the finish can be a bit finicky to work with and requires a gentle touch to finish down correctly.
Last, but certainly not least, is my go-to combination for paints that are a pain to work with and require a very fine finishing process in order to leave the paint free of any user induced defects. This combo works well to remove a lot of light swirl marks from such paints as softer jet black, but it also leaves a nice finish that is ready for waxing. Sonax Perfect Finish is a great polish here because while it can be used to slightly remove some light and moderate defects, it finishes down very well to leave a nice and glossy finish. It’s my main choice of finishing polish due to its ease of use compared to other fine polishes out there, so I like to pair it with the finer crimson pad when performing only one stage of polishing on sensitive paints requiring a very gentle combination.
Well, while those are surely not all the combinations I use for one stage polishing, they are few of my favorites and some I use most of the time. As I mentioned already, with all the variables involved in paint polishing, it’s just about impossible to find a single pad and a single polish to use on every paint and get maximum results from just one polishing stage. However, having 2-3 different combinations (2-3 pads and 2-3 polishes) will pretty much take care of any paint one can encounter.